Friday, August 31, 2018

Marie Severin 1929 - 2018

Above: a self-portrait by Marie Severin for the Twomorrows collection, MARIE SEVERIN: THE MIRTHFUL MISTRESS OF COMICS, which you can order here.

Marie Severin, a silver age comic book artist best known for her work on The Incredible Hulk, Kull the Conquerer and Not Brand Ecch, died yesterday. She was 89.

She followed her brother, John Severin, into the comic book business in the 1950s. John needed someone to color the pages he was drawing for EC Comics, and Marie answered the call. She stayed on at EC as colorist until their comic book line folded. She then went to Marvel Comics, doing production work. By 1972, she became a Marvel artist.

From The Hollywood Reporter:
In addition to her interior artwork, Severin designed the original costume for Spider-Woman, and designed and illustrated merchandise for Marvel’s special projects division. In the 1980s, she was one of the core artists on the short-lived “Star Comics” line, aimed at younger readers.

Outside of her Marvel portfolio, she contributed to titles for DC, Claypool Comics and Fantagraphics. She was named the Best Humor Penciler in 1974’s Shazam Awards and won the Inkpot Award at 1988’s San Diego Comic-Con. In 2001, she was inducted into the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Cartoon Books Selling

I’m so grateful to McKenzie’s Farm here in Milton, NH. They have ordered two dozen of the books I did this year! This was their idea — to sell books by a local cartoonist.

I didn’t think it would work. This is a place you buy your tomatoes and flowers. I'm happy to be wrong!

Here are some original sketched I did just this morning for the books HOW TO DIE DOWN EAST (I drew the cover and 30 interior illustrations) and LOBSTER THERAPY (for which I edited and drew some of the cartoons).

You can order a signed copy over at this link and I'll also add a sketch and mail it to you. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Sketchbook Pages

A few drawings from my sketchbook.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby

Born on this day, 101 years ago.

Video: Jeff Raglus: "The Quintessential Bowerbird" Short Documentary

Here's Australian artist Jeff Raglus in a short, thoughtful documentary about him and his work.

Jeff Raglus -  The Quintessential Bowerbird. A short film directed by John Laurie from john laurie on Vimeo.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Russ Heath 1926 - 2018

Above: a photo taken for a book cover in the 1970s.

Comic book artist Russ Heath died Thursday night after a battle with cancer, his grandson, Lee Kosa, announced. He was 91.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

The artist had lived in Van Nuys, California, for 40 years before moving to a retirement community in Long Beach, where he died. A winner of multiple awards — including the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Award in 2014 and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame five years earlier — Heath’s career lasted from 1948 until 2011, and included work for multiple publishers in multiple genres. This included Marvel’s Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt, DC’s Our Army at War and The Haunted Tank and the famous Little Annie Fanny strip in Playboy.
Most recently, he came out of retirement for Marvel’s The Immortal Iron Fist No. 20 in 2009, as well as for illustrations in the independent series glamourpuss in 2010 and 2011.
Perhaps most famously, Heath’s work on DC’s All-American Men of War No. 89 in 1962 was the source material for pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings “Brattata,” “Whaam!” and “Blam,” produced in 1962 and 1963. In 2014, Heath wrote and drew a comic strip about Lichtenstein’s appropriation of his work, titled “Bottle of Wine” [see below], in which he wrote, “The Museum of Modern Art invited me to the opening when they displayed it. However, I couldn’t make it due to deadlines… but I figure Lichtenstein owed me a drink at least.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

Graham Nolan: My Creative Process Part 2

Continuing Graham Nolan's creative process for making comics pages. Part one is here.

Here's Graham:



Tightening the pencils

Nothing too dramatic at this stage. Basically trying to make the inking stage that much easier. 

Note the change to Dukes arm in the last panel. It’s a constant evolution to get everything right before the inks.


I begin the inking process by outlining small figures, faces and hands with a crow quill pen. When that is done I will tighten them up, thickening lines that need it before going in with the brush.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Graham Nolan: My Creative Process

Comic book artist Graham Nolan posted this to his Facebook page and I asked if I could rerun it here. He said yes. Thank you, Graham! Here are some fascinating insights into his comic book making process:


I started in on RETURN TO MONSTER ISLAND yesterday so I thought I’d share my process along the way.

When I’m working on creator owned projects I tend to work in what’s called “the Marvel method”. This was developed so that Stan could churn out more books on a monthly schedule, but it put a lot of the heavy lifting on the artist (without compensation or co-writing credits). If the writer and artist are a one man show, however, then it’s an excellent way to work because it allows for the fluidity of change at various steps along the way.

I start with a plot that I type out that basically brakes down key story points, character bits, and where I need to end up. Then I break the story down visually with loose thumbnails. I add and subtract panels as needed to make the visual narrative flow neatly and dynamically (because it’s comics, people!).

As this process is going on, I rough in basic dialogue to remind me what I want them to say. This part is heavily edited along the way because different ideas on how to turn a phrase may be thought of, or I might decide there is a great opportunity to go back and have a character’s dialogue foreshadow something to happen later.

This is really where the heavy lifting is done. The story now exists visually. Everything from here on out is polishing.



This is where everything gets tightened up and falls into place. This part I do digitally so that I can import any reference I may need or move elements around. This is still a “layout” but it has everything where I want it. Some small details still need to be refined and I will do that after it is printed out on the board in blue line. Sometimes it’s easier to add small details at full size. I don’t need tight pencils because I am inking it and I like to be able keep an organic feel by doing some drawing in the ink.

Compare the tight layout to the thumbnail and you can see I made changes that help enhance the page and storytelling.

Part 2, Inking, is here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Happy Birthday, George Herriman

Happy Birthday to George Herriman, cartoonist creator of "Krazy Kat." He was born on this day in New Orleans, LA in 1880.

Dan Rosandich: "My Russian Cartoonist Visit"

I was emailing cartoonist Dan Rosandich about another matter and he mentioned that he was, at that moment, drawing cartoons in a hotel in London. Typical cartoonist: always working, even when on vacation. And then he told me that, soon, with luck, he would figure out how to visit Russia.

"Figure out?" Yes. Really. I thought that this would devolve into a "moose and squirrel" joke, but it was no joke. Dan was serious about Russia. He was going to go.

Dan "spontaneously" figured out how to get to Moscow. He literally walked over to the Russian Visa Application Center in central London, parted with time (about an hour to fill out forms) and $250 for a month-long Russian Federation tourist visa. So Dan flew to Moscow and then, another 600 miles away, to Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad). And there's a site he always wanted to see:

The Motherland Colossus or “Mamayev Kurgan” is a phenomenal monument, a statue the size of a skyscraper which stands atop a mountaintop overlooking Volgograd.
The way it is built makes it even more impressive as it’s mounted atop a massive pedestal at the very center of the hilltop overlooking the city.
This excellent video about the history of Mamayev Kurgan (please make time to read some of the comments section) will provide you with further insights on this war monument.

Go read his entire Russia story here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Here's a review of a 1999 movie I saw -- but there is still a question I can't answer: where oh where did I get that story about Larry Harmon lending Bronson Pinchot Stan Laurel's shows? Read on:

Who knew there were two mummy movies in 1999?

19 years ago this movie, THE ALL NEW ADVENTURES OF LAUREL AND HARDY IN FOR LOVE OR MUMMY, with Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham in a supporting role, came out of the blue. Maybe it played the theatres for a day or a week, but I never saw it nor heard of it. It popped up on cable some years later, running regularly in the twilight hours. I watched some of it. The plot was stunningly bad, but I was fascinated by the two leads. They did a good pastiche.

Why it seemed like a good idea to do this, I don't know. Bronson Pinchot and Gailard Sartain star as descendants of the original Laurel and Hardy. They do a good job of mimicking the comedy duo, but it's like New Coke. Ha ha. Remember New Coke? Do not want. Do not need. Best left alone, y'know? 

I read a story that Larry Harmon, who managed the Laurel and Hardy property (he created the animated shorts and comic books in the 1960s), was a friend to Pinchot. For Pinchot's 1980s PERFECT STRANGERS sitcom, he (Pinchot) portrayed Stan Laurel in a dream sequence. The story goes that Harmon loaned Pinchot a pair of Stan Laurel's actual shoes for the sequence. 

Perhaps this movie was, sincerely, a dream of Pinchot's and Harmon's to create. With Harmon as co-director, the movie was made, for good or for ill; for love, rather than for money I would bet. The silver lining of this: Perhaps it has served as an introduction of the duo to kids.

Here's the trailer for the movie: 


Laurel and Hardy Together Again (a rarely seen 1983 documentary).
"I sure do miss Mr. Hardy," a letter from Stan Laurel to a fan.

-- the above is an edited version of a blog entry from August 10, 2011.