Inspiration 2 Leiji Matsumoto

Leiji Matsumoto 1938-? Mangaka

Leiji Matsumoto came into my life in high school with my discovery of Captain Harlock and Queen Milenia. His film, My Youth In Arcadia devastated me. I scored a copy of it on VHS, back in the dark days of anime trading and no subtitles, and watch the crap out of it. I cried from how unrelentingly depressing it was. The sequences with Harlock and the Arcadia made my imagination soar.

The storytelling was incredible. That’s what made it stick. It was pure storytelling.

Eventually, I found more of his films and tv. This lead to manga. I lost my mind. Galaxy Express 999 has made an indelible mark on how I view technology, especially environments. all of the dials and switches embedded in a polished, blacker than black setting is how I want the world to look.

  • Helped create Space Battleship Yamato
  • Created:
  • Space Pirate Captain Harlock
  • Galaxy Express 999
  • Quinn Millenia
  • Queen Emeraldas
  • Gun Frontier
  • Sexaroid

Matsumoto created an entire universe filled with his characters, telling different kinds of stories. His popularity is enormous in Japan. maetel, seen to the left, is one of a selection of his characters made into sculptures scattered around the country. The Harlock universe has new content added continually.

Final Yamato, another film he made, I believe is one of the greatest animated features ever. The color scheme is reminiscent of dark Disney and resonates with me.

Storytelling is the main drive in all of his work. He never shies away from heartbreak, creating rich, deep characters in fascinating situations. I encourage you to seek him out. Getting started will be complicated but the payoff is worth it in every way.

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Cool comic covers 4 – Uncanny X-Men #138

This was the first X-Men comic I ever purchased. It was at a 7-eleven on the road to Busch gardens. I knew nothing of these characters. After this, I began collecting comics seriously. I needed more. It lead to comic shops, conventions, drawing seriously, and much more. All from the issue after the key issue of phoenix’s death.

I don’t feel nostalgia for it. This cover is always living in my mind. John Byrne would quickly become an emulated favorite artist.

The colors are the big thing for me. The layout and design are interesting. There is a story being told. And look at all the characters. A lot of body language, especially with Xavier and colossus.

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Silent Movies 2 – Shadows

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

There are three aspects of silent film that I study: acting poses, storytelling, and use of shadows. This post will focus on shadows.

M

Silent filmmakers were very aware of light and shadow because their cameras needed extreme amounts of each to create good images. As creative as the Lumiere Brothers dived headfirst into fantasy and pushing what film could do. The German expressionists went full tilt light and shadow. Their design esthetic was crafting light and shadow into shapes and characters.

Haxan

Shadow is integral to the storytelling, the emotional content, and set design. The power they were able to create is amazing to me. I think the best movies use what the expressionists made. It is a specific language of light that shows up in every decade of film, mainly in the Noir period.

Warning Shadows

Strong, cutting shadows could show magic, internal thought, emotion extending from a character. Shadow could focus your attention to a specific spot, add depth or importance to something. It can make light brighter. It can expose intent. It can also be used as artifice and create interesting shapes and patterns.

Faust

I try to incorporate this into my art when it’s appropriate. It also influences my sense of design. In my comics work, it plays a more important role.

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Faces 3

I occasionally do a series of Black Power images. I’ve been an ally and an advocate fighting against racism in a real way since 1987. I spent time learning about black history in college, given lectures with the NAACP, protested, supported black politicians and fought racism in every job I’ve had. Different forms of African art has permeated my color sense and design aesthetic.

I was feeling I needed to do something with flourishes. I was playing in garish colors as I do. This was a little new as I was using the flourishes to add texture as well as moving the eye.

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Cool comic covers 3 – Judge Dredd #8

Brian Bolland 1983. I discovered Judge Dredd a scant few months before his debut in American comics. John Byrne had drawn a story in 2000AD, the British comic home of Dredd, and I managed to get a copy. I fell in love with 2000AD and Dredd.

While I like most of the artists that worked on Dredd in the 80s, Brian Bolland and Carlos Ezquerra were the most influential. However, Bolland pulls ahead when it comes to covers.

There is so much dynamism in this cover. You know exactly what is going on. The violence, the speed, the determination, the danger, is all there. Bolland is a master of design and tight line work.

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History of Cinema 1 – Earliest Cinematography

I am going to document the factual history of cinema in a very random order.

In the 1600s-1800s artists were discovering a concept later called cinematography. Painters were trying to find a way to improve their realism for a variety of reasons. This led to a crude Camera Obscura, a hole in the wall of a dark room that acts as an iris, projecting the reflective light coming into the hole on the opposite wall. Like our eyes, it projects it upside down.

As this process was refined, it became an entertainment. Mirrors and lenses were incorporated to better capture, project and focus the image. This entertainment version of the Camera Obscura was no longer a tool for artists, rather it grew past its usefulness as a tool.

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Faces – 2

I wanted to do a piece on the hundreds of years of death the average indigenous person carries. Something subtle.

I know more about indigenous people than the average American, which is horrifying as I know so little. The majority she’s a face, a race, an controlled image. Not a person or a people or a culture. Indians, to use the name most still use, are different from indigenous people. Indians are a carefully crafted fiction that takes the place of the people. It is malleable. It is deceptive. It absorbs guilt and allows one to imagine Indians as anything you want without confronting reality.

I crafted a generic Indian face, an elderly indigenous man who typically is what is used. Harmless in his age. Foreign in his look. Non threatening.

He is ghostly. Vaguely there in front of you. Behind him is death. Acres and decades of death. You aren’t supposed to see it. You aren’t meant to. That would make him real.

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A Touch of History of Both Me and of Digital Art

James Cagney

I have been 100% digital since 2019. When I was in art school, back in the eighties, I took my university’s first computer art class. I participated in heated debates within the department about computers and art.

I had an Atari 800 with a disc drive and a drawing pad in 1983. I was no stranger to computers and was already dabbling in the digital world. I entered the fight knowing what was going on in the tech world and what potential it had.

The debates were this: should computers be used in art? The idea was that the computer would create soulless images that would never be art. Computers were the enemy. Mass producing images, made of little squares, limited colors and size, and tainted by maths.

I am a lifelong detractor of math. Hate the stuff. However, the computer does not create images by this ludicrous concoction of numbers. It doesn’t create images at all. It doesn’t create at all. the user creates. The computer is but a tool like a palette knife, pen or brush.

In the eighties this meant struggling with inadequate tools. There was little non-commercial software, what was available was incredibly basic and there was no decent way to display the digital creation. MOMA and a handful of other museums accepted it and dedicated to screens to display what they chose. Occasionally it was connected to a computer but normally it was presented via vhs tapes. there were haggard attempts to find a good way to print the files. Nothing stuck.

One mastered the software you had. One learned to abuse, contort, and bend the software to meet the imagination. Some artists began creating work thought impossible by the limitations of the tool. This growing idea of digital working its way into one’s process improved. Mixed media was the key. An artist could create images, print them or film them, and manipulate them through other media. Soon, it was recognized as art.

The first digital art began in the 50’s using oscilloscopes.

Oscillon 40 by Ben Laposky

Teletype was used in the 60’s as well as the invention of the light pen and CAD

The 70’s brought computer assisted drawing, a term created to better explain what the process was.

Untitled Computer Assisted Drawing by Paul Brown

The 80’s gave us the Macintosh, allowing the tool to go from this…

Flowers by Bernard Cohen

…to this in 2020

Van Gogh exhibit.

The tool the computer provides has irrevocably changed how we see art. The concept, the process, the viewing, the commerce of art has caught and and surpassed my adolescent imagination.

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Cool comic covers 2 – Spectre #5

There are certain characters that lend themselves to creativity. Spectre has gone thru multiple iterations including a series that seemed published solely for the covers.

This is by Charles Vess. His style harkens back to illustrated childer’s books of the 19th Century. All of his work is delightful. Vess made several Spectre covers that are both dark and whimsical.

I particularly enjoy this cover because it is moving towards an image that can be depicted successfully solely in comics. I am all about things only comics can do.

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Faces – 1

I’ve been working on a series of faces for over a year. The current batch is all digital.

The inspiration for the series came from being intrigued by the number of artists who paint less and less detail as you move away from the subjective target. The less relevant to their perceived focus, the less detail. While I find this a valid and sometimes interesting way to manipulate your viewer, it has become overdone and a way to say you are stylistically lazy.

In the series, I have expanded on my arm series and set some rules. The focus is the entire face. A neck and hand may be occasionally appropriate, but not the norm. The background must enhance the face in some way. The face must have an appropriate style used to convey its emotion. Above all else, the face must be interesting.

So we have the above. This was the first face to successfully achieve my criteria.

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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.

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