The Day That Would’ve Been Free Comic Book Day 2020
Saturday May 2, 2020 would’ve been Free Comic Book Day 2020 had it not been delayed. A special free comic book excerpt of my upcoming book “Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics” was going to be released to stores across the country as part of this event, a Gold Sponsor Book. The image above was an early cover concept for the book back when the working title was simply “Kirby.” The image shows Jack Kirby when he was a newsboy, like the ones he would later write and draw when he pioneered the “kid gang” genre with comics like “The Newsboy Legion” in the 1940s. “Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics” is the life story of Jack Kirby told in comics form. It covers the story of his parents, his childhood, his early experiences breaking into the newly formed comics industry, his wartime service, the postwar era of romance and horror comics, his comic strip days, his collaboration with Stan Lee, his auteur ‘70s work, his animation career in the 80s, and the ways his work continues to live on. You can preorder it here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/608042/jack-kirby-by-tom-scioli/?pdivflag
Jack Kirby’s pencil drawings have a warmth, character and depth that even his greatest inkers couldn’t capture. I’ve always been curious what Kirby’s art would look like if the inking process was skipped, and his pencil art was colored directly. I thought I’d try it myself. I chose a sequence from “The Mighty Thor.” Here’s the original printed version. It’s a classic example of clearly-delineated traditional comic book art, inked by Vince Colletta, Kirby’s main artistic collaborator on Thor:
Here is a photostat of Kirby’s original pencil drawing, printed in The Jack Kirby Collector. I love the softness of the lines, and the rich tonal quality. This is from an old photostat, state-of-the-art in the sixties. One can only imagine what a high-resolution scan of the pencils would look like. Looking at Kirby’s pencil drawing, his oft-cited Alex Raymond influence becomes much more apparent:
I created a layer of flat color:
I softened the forms and added some texture:
Then I added a yellowed newsprint texture to hold everything together:
I did this exercise quickly, as a fun warm-up between issues of Transformers vs. G.I.Joe, but you can see the potential in this approach. It’s a different aesthetic for Kirby that is every bit as valid as the ways his work has traditionally been presented.
March 2017 is a big month for me and IDW. I have three books coming out that month simultaeneously, which are now available for order in the Diamond Preview Catalog:
Transformers vs. G.I.Joe: The Movie Adaptation is a new one-shot that I wrote, drew and colored. It’s my triumphant return to the Hasbroverse. It’s the comics adaptation of the movie based on the comic Transformers vs. G.I.Joe.
American Barbarian: The Complete Series in Softcover
My creator-owned swords-and-sorcery-and-superscience webcomic is now being released from IDW in a new softcover edition with a new wraparound cover. It’s the story of a young warrior’s adventures in a post-post-apocalyptic America.
This coffee table book is an oversized hardcover collecting the entirety of me and John Barber’s original crossover event series.
Here’s the ordering information for all three books:
Transformers vs. G.I.Joe: The Movie Adaptation
Order Code: JAN17 0502
(JAN17 0503 for the Robb Waters variant cover)
American Barbarian: The Complete Series
Order Code: JAN170566
Transformers vs. G.I.Joe: The Quintessential Collection
Order Code: NOV16 0422
Not from IDW: A new issue of Cave Carson, featuring the lastest chapter of my Super Powers series is in stores tomorrow from DC comics. Thrill to the adventures of Batgirl on a BMX bike, The Demon Angel Etrigan, Wonder Woman and basically the entire DC Universe as you’ve never seen them before.
Jack Kirby created the original Super Powers by merging his Fourth World New Gods Pantheon with the classic superheroes of the DC Universe in the service of selling toys. It’s a series of historic importance because it’s the first comic that Kirby got profit participation for a superhero comic he worked on. DC also gave him, in an unprecedented move, retroactive profit participation in his 1970’s work for the company.
On Friday at DC’s Young Animal panel at San Diego ComiCon, this image was released. It’s the wraparound cover for the upcoming Super Powers comic by Tom Scioli. Here’s a quote from Gerard Way and Jim Lee regarding the series:
Here’s the process that went into making that image, starting with the inital thumbnail:
Then comes a sketch the size of a printed comic:
Then the sketch is tightened up via lightbox:
Pencil tones are added. Formerly crayons were used for toning, but crayon sticks to scanner glass and is difficult to clean:
Tones are combined with a layer of flat color:
All the elements are combined with some digital trickery for the final image:
Tomorrow, Wednesday August 5th, American Barbarian returns in a new hardcover edition from IDW Publishing.
American Barbarian: The Complete Series tells the story of Meric, the last American on a revenge quest across the POST-post-apocalyptic landscape of New Earthea. The half-tank/half-mummy Two-Tank Omen murdered Meric’s family and payback is due. The young barbarian will fight every zombie, mutant motorcycle gang, and robosaur (robotic dinosaur) if that’s what it takes to keep the American Dream alive.
American Barbarian: The Complete Series collects Scioli’s experimental webcomic in its entirety along with the never-seen-before process section “American Barbarian Apocrypha.” The story changes gears and shifts tone both in its writing and in its artwork. Kirbyesque cartooning gives way to watercolor and photocollage. It’s Jack Kirby meets Robert E. Howard meets Chuck Jones. “It’s not just Kirby-influenced, it’s Kirby being channeled.“ – Robot 6
“American Barbarian is equal parts He-Man, Kamandi, and Braveheart, but with all of those known influences, it still somehow manages to be unlike anything you’ve read before.” – Multiversity Comics
“Traditional comics with all of the familiar elements turned up as loud as the knobs will go, pedal-to-the-metal, flaming, screaming, guitar-soloing, ne plus ultra COMICS with a capital C, O, M, I, C, S.” – Comic Book Resources
Here are some thumbnails drawn in preparation for the upcoming series, Transformers vs. G.I.Joe by Tom Scioli and John Barber. Issue #0 will be available on Free Comic Book Day, May 3, 2014. You can meet Tom Scioli on Free Comic Book Day at The Beguiling in Toronto.
BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT…the long-out-of-print Godland Hardcover Celestial Edition is finally returning to stores. LET THE COSMOS TREMBLE!
GØDLAND CELESTIAL EDITION ONE HC (NEW PRINTING)
story: JOE CASEY and TOM SCIOLI
art / cover: TOM SCIOLI
JUNE 4 / 360 PAGES / FC / T / $34.99
Collects GØDLAND #1-12 plus a universe full of cosmic-powered extras!
BOOK ONE OF THE EISNER AWARD-NOMINATED CELESTIAL EDITION HARDCOVER IS BACK IN PRINT! See how the greatest cosmic superhero epic of our times began! Thrill to the adventures of Earth’s emissary to the cosmos, Commander Adam Archer! Not to mention Basil Cronus! Maxim! Friedrich Nickelhead! The mystery of Iboga! And much more! If you’ve never experienced the wonder of GØDLAND, it starts right here! THE CELESTIAL EDITION HARDCOVER IS THE MAXIMUM FORMAT TO EXPERIENCE THE GØDLAND SAGA! BIGGER IS BETTER!
Godland, as an ongoing series, has ended, but as a creator-owned series it will always be part of my life. I’ve just finished the artwork for the wraparound cover for the sixth and final trade paperback collecting the final 7 issues of the series. It starts with a pencil drawing:
If you want a textured line, rather than a smooth line, you can ink the drawing with a pencil. I did a tighter pencil drawing:
No matter how much practice I get with a brush or pen, it will never catch up with the facility and control I have with a pencil. “Inking” with a pencil feels more natural, it’s easier, and I prefer the results to inking with actual ink. If you want a line with character, pencil is the way to go. Next step is to mess around with digital color and you’re there:
These notebook sketches were an attempt to get the lay of the land. Even when you create a character, you have to draw it a bunch of times before you get really comfortable. Think about how funky The Thing looked in the first few issues of The Fantastic Four, how much his look fluctuated before it eventually gelled into the classic trademarked version. It’s that much more of a challenge to get comfortable with a character somebody else created. You have to know these things backwards and forwards, to be able to put them in all the different situations and express the range of emotions the comics form demands while having the characters be themselves, while still maintaining my individual artistic voice. That’s a lot to juggle. That means practice…lots and lots of practice.
I’ve devoured the reference IDW sent me. There’s more reference material on the way. I can’t wait. I’m studying the Masters of Transformers art. Don Perlin:
John Ridgeway, Mike Collins and Jeff Anderson:
I’m also sketching furiously while watching cartoons old and new, trying to figure out the essential elements that are common across all the iterations, so that I can recontruct them in my own particular idiom.