Monday, October 24, 2011

Nostalgia Time: Maxx & Batman 'Mixed media' covers... sorta.

New Chickens update ... plus I joined Jon in posted some more process painting pics on the Chickens website...  check it out... also just finished an interview with MTV Geek about it. Will pass that along when it comes out too..

BTW: I'm scanning these a little bigger, so give a second click for a slightly larger view of the pics below.

Okay, i admit it - i threw in this batman one above up front, just to catch your attention. It's from the Scratch mini series, and there's more bat-crap below.

But don't skip down just yet ( as if i could stop you?) ..

BEFORE we get t that.. here's something chalk full of nostalgia from the dusty old sam vaults.

Here's an old maxx cover.. i forget which one..

It's funny how mixed media was still sort of tentative for me back then..

This is the first time anyone's seen it out side of the printer version. Not like it's some big deal, just kinda weird i never got around to throwing this old stuff up.

Before some of you put on your rose colored glasses about this old thing, please remember a few things about this sophomore effort from me?  Mixed media wise, it's kind of a cheat. The paper i used behind the cat? ... all those swirls in the background?

Not *my* doing - just a textured paper i picked up at an art store. Same goes for the multi-grain looking straw looking crap on the borders.. i had to staple it in in fact. (pre-glue days)

In fact, outside of the figures and the tree, the leaves I added in the corners are only quasi- original thing  I pasted them in.

Looking back on this i can see how i struggled to pull it all this stuff together... not super successfully either. The cat is so white because it's pasted on bristol of course. Not that I hate it, it's just kinda wonkey...

But,  this point *is* where I started to really explore all this really eclectic mixed media stuff I'm knee deep in now with bonsai on leather and stuff..

Now onto some Batman covers from Scratch. It's odd how tall and distended bats got here.. i must have been looking at old Jelly Jones covers, huh? : )

Speaking of folds, (and no one was... but I remember Frank P was asking about them ) ... here's a few 'zigzag' & 'half lock' folds in Bats cape. Not to get off on the subject too much...

Here's that George Bridgman page listing the folds I mentioned in last weeks comments and link to Frank showing what I mean.

..and here's some more subtle folds I did with Dana last week..

But back to bats for now...

Funny how below bat's tummy is very softish Wrightson-like brush strokes, very delicate? Which seem totally at odds with the almost violently raw looking Sienkiewcz-like pen strokes on bats shoulder. The whole spectrum of styles right there in one cover... ouch. 

No wonder some fans don't 'get' my stuff sometimes - who could blame them with how i bounce around? : ) 

Not admiring it, just surprised how ill at ease they really are together. Or maybe doesn't. The colored comic 'makes' (persuades?) ... our mind blend the differing styles in a way, doesn't it? 

This an unused splash from Batman: Secrets i threw up top.

Maybe it's a stretch to call this 'mixed media', but i remember with that series the office i worked in had a 11x 17 photo copier, so i was experimenting, pulling art in circled as the machine would copy.. (an old trick for distorting crap before digital took off. )

You can see the paste ins where i tried to blend the india ink and the photo copy here..

and here..

Again, fledgling efforts to try something NEW... not always successful , and I still fumble and flounder a lot.

It's like a have a bigger 'artistic vocabulary' now, am less intimidated by mixed media, and now I do try MORE things now that before...

But truth is I also have less 'fire' or 'drive' i did in my youth.  So one of the trade off's of aging i guess.



:' )


cody said...

Love scratch, all the lines give it a lot depth and movement. I really liked the scratch story very deep. The Maxx cover really held up well, that is one of the things that scares me about mix media is it falling apart.

jennifer kraska said...

'fire' and 'drive' come from least for me. Do you find harder to get inspired now that you know more?

Daniel said...

It's amazing Sam, thanks for sharing that kind of stuff.

You say that some fans don't *get* some stuff but this is exactly what I love of your work. When you mix that backgrounds with textures and suddenly you have (as you already said) this kind of soft style with brushes, is like listening to music for me hehehe :-)

If I try to do that it will look weird, or not professional at all, but you are making me think in trying again this kind of stuff I learn long time ago at school (I took graphic design classes and we had some art classes when computer wasn't still so advanced). With the computer now we tend to use digital coloring and other stuff and keep forgetting how awesome is to use traditional tools, mostly in coloring.

Thanks again, I found in just one of your posts much more interesting stuff that in 100 politically correct superheroes magazines with reboots and crazy gimmicks to attract readers.


Sam_Kieth said...

See? I *knew* Vassilis would be all sentimental if I dug out some maxx stuff! : )

Thanks gang! Scratch was never collected so not many readers out side of my usual fans saw it, but nice the story moved Cody and some others.

Jennifer, i actually feel MORE inspired now than before. I guess I am just used to be clobbered over the head by the 'your best stuff was the older stuff' mentality. I do't see it liner though, at least not technically. I am less impressed by skill than imagination now anyways.

Btw Jen, I happened across some of your watercolor birds and that's some very evocative stuff you do! It's amazing how many astounding artists follow this blog. (not just kissing up!)

Dan, thanks a bunch. Yeah, the digital vs. hand drawn debates continue. I guess we're all trying to figure it out for ourselves. I'm not against digital, Arkham Asylum was 70% digital, but I am just personally drawn towards the tactile feeling and fear of art without an 'undo' button. Esp. now that i do the paintings are more frequently coming.

Maybe it's a balancing act? I know doing stuff my hand makes you a dinosaur in a way, which stands out in a world where so many folks do 99% digital. Again, not taking sides.

What do you guys think?

- sam

NWilson said...

I find that digital is just another medium to explore, and not a replacement for traditional methods.
The fact is that digital cannot communicate everything that our own hands can.
So any debate arguing which is better, is like arguing whether a pen is better than a pencil. They both are lovely tools which are capable of different things.
That's how choose to see it anyway.

Thanks for being an influence Sam!
Beautiful stuff as always.

Daniel said...

Personally I agree with NWilson says, I think of the computer as one more tool.

What I'm still not getting or understanding is that most of the time everyone is trying to imitate traditional tools on digital. Why they do that if you can go directly with real stuff?

I try to use the the wacom tablet for example (I have an Intuos 4), for stuff that I want to look clean, mostly commercial stuff like logos, etc… but for comics I prefer to get my hands dirty and continue inking the traditional way. I still find uncomfortable with digital inking, but I keep trying. I'm not against computers, if I can add one more tool to my drawing artillery I'll do it.

The only thing I'm doing right now with the computer is coloring. I scan the inks and I just add the color in photoshop. Because it really looks almost the same as painting with an airbrush and is really much faster doing masks and selections in photoshop than with a traditional airbrush. And the results for me are almost the same… I don't know.

I think is a matter of balance as you said Sam. And looking at the results, I'm more and more inclined on going back to our roots, that it really is using *traditional tools*, at least that was the way I learned, and now digital is trying to imitate that.
In the end the balance is going to go towards what you feel more comfortable working and what gives you the best results.

And about lettering, I'm doing my own font in Linux with a software called Fontforge. I will let you know how this goes if you are interested. I vectorized all the letters in linux too, using inkscape.
So, I'm kind of trapped in this weird balance with technology. Kind of love and hate relationship.

It's an exciting and passionate subject.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us...

Frank Patriot said...

wow. i really appreciate the extra help on the fabric folds, Sam. Now I can tell people I was schooled in technique by Sam Kieth. In which they will reply 'Bullshit.' and I'll say' Hey, its true.' And they'll say 'Yeah, true like that time you said Michael Jackson stopped by your house to use your bathroom?' And I'll say ' Okay, so maybe he didn't come to my house to use the bathroom. But his sister did.' (<=== Obscure Goonies quote) No, seriously, Not many well known comic artists would go through the trouble to share the kind of stuff with fans that you do on your blog, dude. Muchas gracias.

Frank Patriot said...

btw, thanks for posting the Maxx 'cat' cover. that is my favorite maxx cover ever. I love how it's 'pieced' together, it's so rad.

jennifer kraska said...

Whoa! Thanks for the comment, very cool of you!

You hit on something with the 'undo' button. I love / hate it. I find myself in search of the perfect line....then 30mins have gone by and I'm nowhere! With paper, I just do's exciting, no safety net. I see the value of both though, I need both. My job requires digital. But when iI'm doing art for me, it's gotta be paper....the trashier the better.

Thanks again!


in my first trip to usa when i attended the san diego comic con... i found this batman piece in albert moy's booth... and i was so excited by it... it looked so great with all the collage and inkwork....

unfortunately it costs as much as my stay in san diego...

but i was so glad i looked at the originals of yours...

the same with this years new york comic con...

i spent a few hours looking at your originals in albert's booth...

zero girl...batmen...hulks... all great...

thank you again...

ant said...

wow, scratch in black and white looks so much better than the colored version, consider releasing a b&W collected edition?

and as far as digital vs. hand drawn, others here already said it best, just another tool, but i personally do not do any digital tampering with any of my hand made drawings or paintings, i like to kick it old school

but i do like to rock the microsoft program "paint" from time to time

cody said...

I don't care for digital, it doesn't have the same organic feel as by hand, no reall happy accidents when you use a computer either, old school original all the way.

José A. García said...

Sam: I like you work since i see for first time te cover of a isuee of Batman of knightfall, a lot of years ago. Then i look for more of your work and reed Maxx, Epicurus, and a time later Ojo and Zero Girl. All of then are greats in many ways.

I´m looking por Legs and the two isuees of I Before E, but I can´t findout yet. With them I will have almost all your borks published!!

And find that yuo have a blog is bonderful!

Sorry, but my inglish isnt very good.


José A. García

Sam_Kieth said...

WOW - 14 comments???? this may be a record for the most comments so far. I'll try to be brief and hit everything brought up:

NWilson and Daniel; Yeah, Digital vs. Hand done... tactile pleasures aside, it's unfair to either to try to do the other's work. It also seems to defeat the point trying to use digital to look hand made.

I agree with Daniel it does make comic coloring a breeze, even if your using your own hand drawn & scanned layers, it's still nice to have a dozen backgrounds to choose from. People has these same debates over airbrush realism or computers and sync 'taking over' modern music.

It's sorta the wrong question to be asking, isn't it?

It has made it a LOT easier to letter comics and making changes are no longer the headache they were by hand, that's for sure.

I think working either way can hold you back, if you let it.

Frank: Hey, don't say you were schooled by me in fabrics... or anything else, i'm such a demented 'art teacher' .... they'll probably throw tomatoes at us both! Glad you liked the cat one... i still think it;s the straw border and leaves that makes it.

Jennifer: 'Undo' buttons - how i wish i had one of these every time i say something stupid to my wife - but yeah... Paper has no parachute .. and is not for sissies. I realized i was getting too far into digital during Arkham... loved your line about art: "the trashier the better". After my own heart!

Vass: This guy again? : )

I thought Moy had run out of art by now, he still has something left to sell? Glad you liked it, i feel that way too, about OTHER people's art. My own just seems, well, boring. cause i did it. no magic secrets there. ( yawn )

but thanks buddy!

Ant: I soooo WISH DC would release a black and white scratch. The colorist is a great artists, but it was conceived as a black and white horror book. Meanwhile maybe i should dig out a few pages to throw up on the blog, eh?

Cody: Yeah, 'happy accidents' are sorta a specialty or hand done work, aren't they? I am not against digital... it does level the playing field - in a good way.

Creativity finds it's way out of practically any tool we use, doesn't it? It's just more direct when paint flies around.. not 'better', just different.

Jose A. Garcia: Thanks man, glad your digging everything so far. Don't worry about your English, with how lame MY spelling is,

my english isn't so hot either. : )

Okay, think i got everybody - please , i beg of you... let's official STOP posting on this blog post please, or else we'll be in danger of bumping past 15 comments!!!!!

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Plasmite said...

And there it grail. Thanks to the fellow Kieth collector for pointing this out to me. Sam and I had a great conversation about this Maxx cover in Boston. I am sure the pictures only do it a little justice. Sam, it's just a great and wonderful piece. So vibrant. You say you cheated, but the intent shows through immensely. Well done. I am going to have to double my efforts, I have a spot that is ideal for it :)

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