Friday, March 14, 2014

Maxx, Worlds Sketches. . . 20 years ago today. . .

            ( Update added to bottom of this post! ) 

FYI:  The Sandman exhibition at Cartoon Art Museum ends on April 27th. 

There's a sandman piece Mike penciled and I inked in the a Museum catalog, limited to 1,000 copies pre-order copies now, since they won’t be going back to press with this one once it sells out. (I didn't post it because i forgot to scan it - sorry.)

If your a sandman freak, GET this book. 
Just remember my and Mike's Sandman pin up are only one one page of it. But it does help a worthy cause, (the Museum), so here's order info

Hopefully your not too sick of the Maxx. . .  

. . but here's a few versions of another painted cover.

Thanks to everybody - looks like IDW blew through those Maxx Limited books pretty quick. 

Promise to make the Maxx sketches worth it - I'll throw them up online as I work my way through them . . . so everybody gets a chance to check 'em out too. (remember, *this* one is a Maxx cover, not a sketch!) 

I'd be forever if i tried to draw every sketch with this much detail. 

Wanted to try something a little different with this Maxx cover, hmm. . . . not sure about the orange under-lighting.. 

getting a little psychedelic. .  even for me. Let's see if i can't save it.. 

. . or make it LOTS worse...

 either one. Okay, still a little busy? Too much going on? Probably.

 Above's an earlier version and one i painted a little later, side by side. Tried to ground all that orange in the 2nd version. 

Which do you like better? 

Notice i painted over my signature. it was too big anyway. : )  

I still think i can make the top of the 2nd version darker on the edges. 


I'm also doing some sketches for a few friends in some Worlds books too. 

Notice the ink's still wet here. Can't close this cover yet. I love working on this brown paper.  So restful this stained coffee brown isn't it? I love 'defacing' all my own art here.. scribbling over the inside pages like this. 

Here's another one.  

i'm not sure this is enough, seems kinda boring... 

let's adding something else here. little blobs of white out floating up from this guy's eye ball... 

Okay, this one's totally out of control now! * sigh * 

In fact take a look at the same page ( below) in another Worlds book for comparison, see?  

By now you've spotted the third book, and the little orange guy. 

Just another weird same monster. Outback creature. whatever. Just more weirdness. 

if the eye looks a little odd around the edges it's because i pasted it in. couldn't get the acrylic smooth enough. 

That's what sketches are always hit and miss aren't they? It's like musicians playing live. No safety net. Esp. if you doing it in a big-ass art book, more pressure not to screw up. 

But this (my worrying) is just me psyching-myself-out. . . because you couldn't ask for a more appreciative buncha fans than you guys n' gals out there..  'course with friends there's should be even less pressure, right? 

But it's fun too. A challenge. I'm leaving this guy alone. No need to busy it up top any, less is more here, eh? 

Check out how the flash caught some of the paint texture in one pic, and hid it with a secondary source of light.  Funny how light can either . . hide. . .  or expose. . .  brush texture, isn't it? 

Okay, enough of this little guy... 


It's weird looking at all this old Maxx art. Most of my problem with Maxx had to do with publishing/editorial/printer things that had nothing to do with the story itself.  Production crap, and various professional 'dirty laundry', ego, greed, gossip, tons of worthless crap that won't help anyone by being aired publicly and most of which have - thankfully - faded from everyone's memory. 

For me, Maxx is like having Four Ex Wives, all getting together and revisiting you, and each compare notes.  Tons of mixed feelings, affection, regrets, embarrassment, ambivalence. All that. But that's MY own personal baggage and neurosis, and damage, not yours. 

Yeah. Maxx lasted. Weird. Kinda pretentious sounding, but I don't mean it in an ego way either. For some odd reason, it HAS left an imprint. 

I know for a fact it's changed some people. . . because of the TONS of letters I've received over the years. 

And even at SDCC, various strangers, who in an instant touched my arm, leaned into me, looked eyes with mine, and this weren't strangers at all... people who assured me yes, they *were* deeply moved by something in Maxx. Or that something happened in their life, *while* they were reading it. 

Key moments, teen angst, someone they loved, lost, or discovered. Personal hardship. Trauma. Abuse. Broken heart. Healing. Recover. In the middle of a whole world or crap, they found . . . some glimmer of hope in the stories. words. ideas.  

I know, because you've been kind enough to share it with me. This humbles me.  Drawing him is second nature to me.  All this, reminds me that, in a way, " I ", really have nothing to do with the Maxx. 

It's something that travels far beyond me . .  

even if it happened to have started  because of me, you know? 

Okay, enough of my babble. Thanks for listening. 

. . and looking. 

- Sam 



Also, kinda interesting fact, as you can see above, the original Maxx 9 panted cover is NOT red colored.

The original art's (right) was actually PEACH colored..!!! ~  years ago, i had the production guys at Image reddened  the cover up in photoshop because i though the original didn't look 'violent' enough. Now, i actually prefer the original peachier colors. Which do you like?

Above is a cool contrasts.. my New Maxx 9 cover. on the left, and the classic Maxx 9 cover on the right. In some ways, how i paint Maxx is totally different than how I used too, and in other ways, some of same weirdness. . . .  carried on with a changing bag of tools, tricks, ideas.


Here's the same cover, hours earlier. Paints still wait on top, as I've darkened a new upper layer.

This is like the third variation on this cover's background. So much gets lost in the printing too.

Started so bright and psychedelic.  Now look at it..

Another shot, but this one catches more of the texture.

Some things i would have never done back then, like the orange under-shadows.. also Way$hak pointed out for some odd reason i'm making Maxx's claws curlier now.. never noticed that.

I threw it up here again, since my black Maxx logo covers the top background,  so now you can *what* the black logo actually covers up. Notice once it's dries, much of the texture is lost in a scan. But that's what's cool about seeing art from different lighting angles.

Okay - enough already! 

- Sam 


chain said...

Thanks for posting,Uncle Sam

jennifer kraska said...

Hey Sam, good to see you 'back'. Great post.
I am guilty of enjoying seeing the new Maxx stuff you've been posting.
LOVE the sketches in the Worlds books.....especially the orange dude. So cool. Lucky friends ;)
Well, hey, thanks for continuing to inspire.
Take care.

champloo said...

Sam, I'm so glad you're uploading stuff. As for the maxx, i have to say that I was about 9-10 years old when I first saw it. At that time I was starting to read some underground sci-fi comics and some Image stuff. I remember seeing the covers of the maxx in the las page of some spawn comics and thinking "what is that? I have to know what's inside those comics". Your art really moved me, those pencil hard lines, the mixing of techniques, I was not sure how i felt about it, but i knew that it felt cool in a crazy way. Then i saw the animated series, and i didn't understand anything, and that felt great, you know, some cartoon or comic book that's making you think about stuff, making you think about reality, life, the mind... Man, that purple guy can say so many things by just being there, the design of the character itself is like a punch in the face and your chaotic style says to the world "fuck you, people, this is how i work"
Thanks man, really!

ARBE said...

As always, your posts are incredibly inspiring, dear Mr. your depiction of the entire process, compared to the thoughts leading your brushes.Find your work so amazingly spontaneous and dynamic, but u always manage to ballance that energy with something deeper, thoughtful..Just got the Words book, and im totally i am since i saw the Maxx in 94 on MTV)

Tom said...

I'm loving the new Maxx stuff!! Will there be prints available perhaps of these covers??? They're really beautiful.

Sam, do you have an e-mail address you can be reached at? Do you take commissions at all?

Please e-mail me,


Marcus Collar said...

great post I prefer the peach as well for 9

and yeah Maxx changed my life BIG TIME. Helped me realize some deep dark stuff.

thank you and I can't wait for Nola!

Piotruposz said...

I think peachy version is better :-)

That paint texture looks amazing.

Mike Boast said...

Orange under-lighting ... a big Yes.

It adds an inner-light and freshness to Maxx.

Justin B. said...

Sam I really love how you show the progress of the pieces of art you're working on. When you get a chance to work on my Maxx/Jungle Queen commission, please take some photos of it's evolution for your blog.

Mike Boast said...

The purple line work is super-great, too.

VeganMike said...

I never liked the red tinge to the cover of #9... honestly, it always looked to me like someone was trying to make it look angrier. Guess I was right! I really, really like the peach though :)

Thanks for all the text, btw... I maintain that I like your art a whole lot but really really love your storytelling, and your personal reflections on the blog are really wonderful. To this psychiatry resident, anyway!

Any idea whether we'll get any thicker Maxx collections, btw? I'd love a set of oversized slipcase with 15 or 20 issues in each, but if it's not happening I'll start grabbing the 4-to-five-issue ones!

Anonymous said...

sam, which is the first appearance of the maxx?

cody said...


Chris H said...

Hey Sam, I very much enjoyed this I have enjoyed your work for the last two plus decades. Both Sandman and The Maxx resonated with me in ways few other titles ever have. Sincerest thanks.

I am planning on springing for one of the Sketch Ltd. books...I need to justify the expenditure to my GF, or rather justify why I didn't get her one too. (She's also a fan) Maybe I'll just throw a picture of David Mack at her...should buy me enough time sneak the order through.

Are you ever gonna swing out to one of the east coast cons? Philly? NYCC?

Also..loved The Hollows. We need an Urp plush.

cody said...

Love the colors on these new maxx covers!

Tom Dell'Aringa said...

Sam this stuff is great to see, I loved Maxx. And I would love to be following what you do these days, but trying to follow you on Blogger isn't going to cut it.

Would love to see you at least on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter - something where I can hear about your work when it happens. I'm sure lots of people out there like me would like to stay connected with your work.

I don't see any links like that here.

Mightyduke said...

Sam I would love to see a post of a new buffalo. Did you draw a new one for your mom for mothers day?

adrian trela said...

Hey Sam.
I'm little pissed off and You know why? :)
Last page of "First Born" #1...
I'm sure on 90% that image used on this FULL page is the same image of your only card from topps' Mars Attacks from '90s. I can't find image of that card now but like I said before I'm almost sure that's this one.
Ain't we lazy here? Is it really so hard to draw one single page? :(
I look forward to hearing from You.

Katherine Bailey said...

I'm sure you have heard it all before but I have loved your comics since I saw The Maxx on tv as a teenager. Ive collected as many comics with The Maxx in it as I can get my hands on and Im collecting the new issues. This past summer I was able to finally get something that I have wanted for years. I was finally able to get my Isz tattoo :) I wanted to share the awesome tattoo that I had designed by tattoo artist Keith Murphy while he was guest tattooing at Haven Body Arts in Northampton, MA.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on a live action version of The Maxx on Indiegogo.
Here's the link:

Anonymous said...

So what happened? Why'd it get delayed for two months? Just curious

VeganMike said...

Hey Sam, did you see that The Maxx was on ComicBookResources's list of the top 15 feminist comics? I always thought you write women very well, and I guess that female comic readers think so too!

Marcus Collar said...

Keep kicking a$$!

Fernando Valencia said...


Limne said...

I was rereading the 6 volume DC reprint of the Maxx today when I decided to see what Sam Keith's up to. Seeing this made me smile.

It's funny, when I was just a little kid, I used to steal my brother's comics to read all the time. We only had about two issues, but I was totally obsessed with them. It took me nearly fifteen years before I got the whole story. To this day though, I kind of take for granted what a huge influence Sam Keith has had on me as an artist.

Tytus said...

Hey Sam! Thanks again for all the content... hope you post some more stuff soon! Going to be at Comiccon again this year?

Mightyduke said...

Sam, you now have 800 followers!! Let's celebrate with a new post!

VeganMike said...

Just saw the October IDW solicits... all-new Maxx story for a benefit comic?!?

I'm not under the impression it'll be more than a few pages, and I'm not under the impression it'll suddenly answer some of the questions that fans have, but I'm still pretty excited. Also, I've got to say, revisiting something you weren't planning to ever revisit because it'll benefit a charity is a pretty classy move, Mr. Kieth :)

Fernando Valencia said...

I was going through my collect of your work & a thought came to me. Are you planing on doing anymore Batman Black/White statues? I'm sure I'm not the only one that would love to have a Joker, Mad Hatter, Lobo, or Scratch!!! in your design to go with our Batman. Just a thought. What do you all think?

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Mike said...

Hey Sam,

I've posted here before but to know avail. I was just wondering if you would sell one of your Maxx paintings? I'm a big fan and I would love to own your a piece of your artwork since you are the only artist I really like. If you can help can you email me at mikeream79@gmail? I'd have a budget of $500 (wish I had more money..not trying to be insulting with that amount...just all I have) I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks! ~Mike