Tuesday, August 31, 2010

12 Angry Men

I have no idea why I started in on this piece, but one afternoon I "saw" that famous group shot of them all in a sort of monochromatic fashion and I just sort of went with it.

I liked the idea of doing an entire movie poster with just two colors (okay, two colors plus a little bit of white), to see if it would work. And while I don't think this is one of the best things I've ever done, I do think it works!

One addition I felt I had to make: the famous shot of the titular angry men features only eleven of them, looking at the twelfth--Lee J. Cobb. Since I wanted all twelve men on there (plus I just love Lee J. Cobb) I shoehorned him into the shot, eighth from left. He deserves a more prominent spot, but it was the only place he fit. Sorry, Mr. Cobb.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lee Marvin

It was suggested on my illustration Facebook page, after I posted the Humphrey Bogart piece, that I try my hand at Lee Marvin. Since I had never done an illustration of him, and he was a perfect subject for the rough-edged, "tough guy" look of the Bogie piece, I figured why not?

I knew I wanted Marvin's white hair to really stick out, so I had to use a grey-ish tone for the skin. It kind of makes him look like he's made of granite, which he kinda was.

Friday, August 27, 2010

From The Vault: Lobster - 2004

I honestly can't remember who/what this piece was for--it was never published, which is maybe why it looks a little unfinished to me. I think I got pretty far along and then the whole thing was scrapped. The rest is lost to the mists of time.

This piece was a change of pace for me, since its anthropomorphic, humorous approach isn't the kind of thing I'm known for. But I don't think it came out too badly!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Time Out New York: Justin Long

I was asked to do this week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York, the subject this time being actor Justin Long.

I originally had a dot pattern behind the straight-ahead portrait, but since I had a little extra time to work on it (a rarity) I set it aside and opened it up a few days later.

When I did, I immediately ditched that background and added this kid-like, cartoon drawing of a heart, which obliquely refers to the new movie Long was promoting, Going The Distance. That seemed to fit perfectly, and another Hot Seat was ready to go!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Violets Are Mad

This faux-vintage paperback cover violates my guidelines for doing these things in two ways:

1)Its entirely made up by me--title, author, tag line, the whole thing, and

2)Its really not vintage in any way--faux or otherwise

It started out with the portrait of the pistol-packing mama, and as I played with it I liked using weird, day-glo colors. Once I decided to go that route, I realized she had to be named Violet.

And once I decided that, I realized there wouldn't be any old-timey paperback cover that I could match it with, so I decided just to come up with the whole thing myself. Since our young miss Violet is aiming a gun at someone(s), I figured this would be a "women's revenge" type of story, and everything else fell into place.

Monday, August 23, 2010


This was one of those weird pieces that I whipped up in between working on other projects, having no idea where I was going when I started.

This version of Humphrey Bogart is from a time before he was the iconic Bogie--when the actor was stuck playing gangsters, prisoners, and all-around Second Tough Guys.

As I worked on it, I realized I wanted it to be as angular and rough as possible, which I think works to the piece's overall strength. I added a grimy pattern to the shirt, and did the background old school. I turned out as one of my favorite pieces in a long time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

From The Vault: Fashion - 2001

This was just a little doodle I did, wanting to create something high fashion-y. I think my favorite part is the background--its different than anything else I've ever really tried before, or since.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chief Martin Brody

After last week's Charles Foster Kane pseudo-trading card, I let my mind wander to try and find another iconic movie character that I would enjoy drawing. It didn't take long, because Jaws is on my shelf just to my left as I type this.

One thing I did notice about these--there's something about the way syllables read, combined with the established design, that requires whatever character is the subject to have three names. So, going forward, I have to stick to only three-named characters. Anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dope Doll

This is more of a "drug book" than a mystery/thriller, but that's okay--sometimes sex and drugs are enough!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monster PSA: Darren McGavin

The idea for this one came out of nowhere, and I had a few moments free to put it together almost immediately.

The original tagline was something to the effect of Darren McGavin being the coolest uncle you never had, but that didn't seem quite right. Sure, I wanted to reflect McGavin's iconic role in The Night Stalker, but he's also equally famous as the Dad in A Christmas Story, and I thought it was necessary to reference that too, somehow.

So, riffing off the first idea, I combined the two approaches and had McGavin as a crusty, avuncular uncle/dad-type who takes you monster-hunting as a day out--ending with ice cream, comics, and a ball game, surely. What kid wouldn't want a day out like that?

Friday, August 13, 2010

From The Vault: Count Dracula - 1998

It's Friday the 13th! To celebrate the occasion, I wanted to go back into the vaults and find something appropriately spooky--which is hard, because pre-my Universal Monsters posters, I really didn't do that much horror-themed art, despite my lifelong affection for horror movies.

But I did find this, the second in a row of Christopher Lee as Dracula portraits I did in 1998. While I think the first one is more interesting visually and overall a better piece, I think this one has its charms, too--I like the off-kilter angle and how Dracula's skin just blends off into the background.

Looking back at this piece, I realize it would make a great centerpiece for some sort of Dracula-themed poster. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Charles Foster Kane

I'm not sure why this image popped into my head, pretty close to what you see here; but it did, so I tried to get it down as faithfully as possible.

There's something trading card-ish (again with the trading cards!), as if Topps decided to do a Famous Old Time Movie Characters series.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jager in Armani

I was asked by a German magazine called Wirtschafts Woche to do an illustration for an article about headhunters, clad in Armani, doing their thing on the streets of Germany.

They asked me to do it in the style of my faux-vintage paperback book covers, which of course was a lot of fun. I did several versions until we settled on this more modern approach (inevitable, with the Armani suit, cell phone, etc.). It feels more Tom Clancy-ish than the other paperback covers I've done, but heck his books are in paperback, too.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I was very saddened to hear the news that legendary screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz passed away last week, at the age of 68.

Of course, like most comics fans my age, Superman: The Movie remains one of--if not the--greatest superhero movie of all time. Growing up, I had no idea who wrote the movie, nor did I care: I just knew I loved it (and its sequel). I was familiar with director Donner, but outside of him I didn't know who were the geniuses behind it.

But then when DVDs came out, Superman: The Movie featured a commentary track by director Richard Donner and screenwriter Mankiewicz, and listening to these two old friends reminisce about the movie was a revelation: I realized then just how important Mankiewicz's contribution was to the movie, and was masterstroke it was for Donner to have asked him to come in (under the guise of "Creative Consultant") and rework the script, which was a mishmash of action scenes and Batman TV show-style jokes.

I loved the commentary track so much I went out and bought other DVDs that featured Mankiewicz (Live and Let Die, for example--Mankiewicz wrote several of the early 70s Bond films), and his funny, humble, and self-effacing completely won me over. I considered even finding a way to contact him and writing a gushing fan letter, but for all the normal reasons, I didn't.

Now of course I'm sorry I didn't do that, because I'll never have the chance. Even if I had embarrassed myself, it would have been nice to let Mr. Mankiewicz know how much his work meant to me.

I originally thought of doing a portrait of him as a tribute, but that didn't seem like the kind of thing Mr. Mankiewicz would have wanted. So I decided to a portrait of his crowning achievement, Christopher Reeve as Superman. As I was finalizing it, I also decided to make it look slightly reminiscent of a movie trading card, hence the clipped background. Its no masterpiece or anything, but it was done with total admiration and respect and a joy to work on.

Rest in peace, Tom Mankiewicz.

Friday, August 6, 2010

From The Vault: Sheepdog - 2003

This was one of a huge wave of animal portraits I did in 2003, old school: cut-paper, glue, and paint!

My style doesn't mesh well with cuddly animals, but I thought this one came out pretty well. I must not have been the only one who thought that, because I later sold it at a small art show where I had a lot of my animal stuff on display!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Torgny Sandren, Live in Concert

Last week, I got contacted by Torgny Sandgren, a musician in Sweden who liked my work and asked me to do a concert poster for him. Teh internets are amazing.

Anyway, Torgny had only a loose idea of what he wanted, and pretty much allowed me free reign, which is always nice. He sent me a bunch of ref photos, and all but one had him looking into the camera and smiling. That was fine, but I thought this one pic of Torgny looking down, away from the camera and at his guitar--better suited the mood he wanted for the poster, so I used that as the basis for the portrait.

Torgny also wanted a slightly rougher look, nothing too clean and perfect. So I added a halftone pattern and (although you really can't see it here) a black "ink" line along the edges of the dark blue layer, giving the piece more of hand-drawn feel.

Torgny really liked it, and after working up an alternate version of the poster in Swedish, I sent them off. I had a lot of fun with this, Torgny was great to deal with, and I hope he gets a lot of use out of the poster!

(I must confess: I partly stole the whole black-and-blue-with-white-block-of-text look from the VHS box to a 1986 Bob Dylan concert movie, Hard to Handle. I've always wanted to emulate that design, and figured this was the perfect opportunity. Thanks, Bob.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Murder Times Five

This was an idea for a faux-movie poster I had months ago, and despite numerous false starts (where whatever I tried just didn't work) I never quite gave up on it, determined to try and see the concept through.

The concept, as I saw it in my head, was a central figure--a detective or cop of some sort--surrounded by colorful puzzle pieces, which would each feature portraits of some shady dame that would, in true film noir fashion, be sexy and dangerous.

At some point in the process, I decided to make the film be a modern one, but with a twist--it would somehow integrate modern actresses (clockwise from left: Amanda Seyfried, Michelle Monaghan, Scarlett Johannsen, Charlize Theron, and Cate Blanchett) with Jimmy Stewart. Of course, as a film fan, that's a horrible, gimmicky idea, and one that I would never actually want to see as a real movie. But for the purposes of this poster, it worked just fine.

I played around a lot with the bottom half, but virtually anything I added made it look too busy and took away from the all the stuff up top, so I just added the requisite text and trademarks. Looking back on it, I'm not sure I quite pulled it off--at least compared to what I saw in my head--but at least I can say I saw it through!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sweet Lips, Swap Lips

This is one of my favorite faux-vintage paperback book covers, because its lighter, more whimsical than these things usually turn out.

It didn't start that way, but as I messed around with it I realized I liked what I was doing, which I find is usually the best way to go about these things. Unless I have a rock solid vision in my head for what I want, I try and relax and let the muse (such as it is) take over.

This title and author are real--its from a book I have of paperback "drug" book covers, and I have absolutely no idea what the title means. It doesn't even make sense, really, but hey I didn't write it!

I did add the tagline, since the original book didn't have one. Once I added the red leafy effect in the background, I conceived the book's plot--some saucy dame shows up in a sleepy town (in the Fall?), and its like throwing a grenade. Hilarity ensues.