Inspiration 1 Dave Cockrum

Dave Cockrum (1943-2006) was a comic book artist of some prominence in the 70s and 80s. He co-created Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Black Cat, and the Starjammers for Marvel comics. Cockrum redesigned the Legion of Super-Heroes, the X-Men, and Ms. Marvel.

Cockrum was Marvel’s main cover artist for almost a decade. He won an Eagle Award in 1977 and an Inkpot Award in 1982. He eventually left mainstream comics to publish his creator owned Futurians. His career faded as his battle with diabetes grew, eventually killing him.

I met Dave in 1983 at a comics convention in Pittsburgh, PA. It was the first con I went to. I was so excited as Dave was my favorite comic artist at that time. I had just started trying to draw comic pages, having no idea of the dimensions or, really, anything. I was dying to show him.

I waited in line, met him and chatted. He asked me to come back when the line was done. I went back, we sat together on the edge of a stage, and he went thru my sketchbook page by page and gave me advice, criticism, how to draw comics, storytelling, and so much more. If there is one individual that set me solidly on the path of an artist, it is Dave Cockrum.

I met Stan Lee and the Great Kreskin at the same con. They paled in comparison.

An Expression of Terror

Nosferatu 1922

I first saw Nosferatu (1922) in college. The library had hundreds of VHS films that were rare. I took advantage. If I had free time I would sign out a film or two and sit at the line of players with small TVs and headphones. The library didn’t believe in censorship so they had films that were not supposed to be seen available.

Every sci-fi, horror and film magazine had Nosferatu and Metropolis as must sees. I owned a copy of Metropolis, loved it, and craved viewing Nosferatu. The library had it. It was on!

Two movies have scared the shit out of me: The Shining and Nosferatu. I was petrified the first viewing, tense and anxious the next several. I was stunned at the power this film had. It took years of reading about it, analyzing it, to learn why.

Nosferatu, to me, is a kind of filmic touchstone. German expressionism influenced me quite a bit as an artist. German expressionistic film is what I want to be when I grow up. The unrealistic exaggeration of forms that make the sets, the shots and the costumes makes my heart sing. The overwhelming creativity of it all astounds and intrigues me.

Cool Comic Covers 1 – Battlestar Galactica #16

Battlestar Galactica #16. My all time favorite cover.

Walter Simonson was drawing the series at a time where I was just beginning to notice differentiation between artists. The cover, as well as the story, are always in the back of my head when I make comics. I want to make something as cool and resonant as this.

The cylon mark III is a kind of Red Baron robot that flies a classic Simonson jet fighter spaceship. Apollo fights it. The mark III becomes a one and done proto antagonist that survives and never returns.

This cover influenced my sense of design, creating a story in one image, the importance of dynamic posing, breaking rules by creating a character that makes no real sense, using interesting fonts, foreground/background color usage, and keeping away from a bullseye layout.

Is it great art? No. Is it silly? Yes. It is also creative and, to me, incredibly memorable.

When I had the opportunity to speak with Simonson, I asked about this story. He didn’t remember it. I showed him an image and he said it was just churning out stories to impress an editor into giving him better work. I wasn’t surprised which made him happy. We talked about his time in the industry which got him smiling, so it was still a good moment. He was appreciative that I love his work and that it continues to inspire.

Riffing on blogging non blogger blog

This is to be referred to in the future

I do not care to write more than I do. I may elaborate if asked, but only if I have the time and interest.

I do not profess exhaustive knowledge on a subject unless I specifically say.

I consider myself knowledgeable enough to be an authority on managing a cinema, projecting film, drawing, sequential storytelling, the art of bullshit, comics (not as much as I have been), Cuchulain, and, in general, film.

I can speak authoritatively on those subjects. Everything else is likely poppycock or gibberish. I am a flawed, depressed artist with a lovely wife that keeps me straight and 3 cats that keep me.

I am visually minded. I read slowly. I love Shakespeare. I hate television. Chimps are dangerous. Kraft Mac and cheese is heaven. Everything boils down to class warfare and nothing else. I despised Andy Warhol and danced when he died. I prefer winter because there are no bugs. I prefer subtitled. I’m old enough to begin forgetting things I want to remember. Black Lives Matter. And my food delivery is here…..

Silent movies speak to me

Lon Chaney and his amazing make-up kit

Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces. I enjoyed the curiosity of silent movies when I was very young. My dad and I watched a lot of black and white movies together. We saw a Harold Lloyd picture and a couple Chaplin pictures. I didn’t see how it would go much past that given the opportunity to see the Keystone Cops.

At some point in high school the public library had a film series. I went to a few. It wasn’t for kids so I was a little out of place amount the old timers revisiting their youth. To their surprise and mine, I was quiet and attentive. At this point in my life I was solidly into art. I was beginning to understand film as an art form and wanted to expand my perception of film.

I’m not sure what films I saw at that time. It was either The Blackbird or The Hunchback of Norte Dame. That was my exposure to Lon Chaney. Having a mind filled with moviemaking and special effects, I was stunned. How could this man do what he was doing? Being in the library, I immediately began finding books on the subject. Stunned again. He did it all with his little box of pain.

Since then I have had a passion for silent films. Only in the last handful of years has the ability to actually see the films come about. It was damned near impossible in the 80s and 90s. Thank you, YouTube.

I just wish I could watch them while I draw.

Hello, New People

Armitage controlling my mind

First, hello to you poor souls that are following me. I will inevitably take too long between posts, forget this exists, and make panic posts that make no sense. I’m not good at blogging and I don’t have much time to dedicate into really in depth posts. Because you are there, I will try.

Second, I would appreciate feedback. Any advice or critiques are welcome. I began my first long post and it went in a different direction than planned. I am letting it go that way. Curious what you think.

Blogging for a non blogger

My intentions are to create blog posts that express my opinions and generate traffic for my site. They will be entertaining and informative enough that you will want to give me your money. You need to wake up every morning with the internal struggle over feeding your children or buying my art.

I intend to post at least once a week. Small posts. A new image I’ve made. Something I am working on and would like your feedback. An opinion about a song, a show, a film, a book, a comic. Maybe some random thing I find on the net.

I intend to make a long post once a month. A long film review, espousing on a a comic character, artist, real world event, and the like. I may show the process of creating an image. I am a process person.

I intend these things. Honestly. Sometimes depression will interfere. Sometimes family. Sometimes general frustration with the world. Stick with me. I will make it worth your while. The blog is the only place that I will publish art not made by me.

Please feel welcome to engage with me. I will answer your questions, address your criticisms, and likely will ask you questions.

Alex Raymond

Re-Opening my studio

Taking care of my aged mother, COVID, and stress made me close my studio for a time.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.