Dave Stevens 1955–2008

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I didn’t want my first post back to be something like this. I’ve been caught up in a lot of personal stuff (good stuff, but more on that tomorrow).

I never really met Dave Stevens. Oh, sure, I took stuff up to have him sign it at a bunch of San Diego Comicons. I gushed about how much I loved his work. He was always incredibly gracious and modest. However, I never had the guts to show him my work. I never felt it was good enough.

That’s a shame. Given what I know about Mr. Stevens (from accounts by his friends), he probably would have been very kind and generous looking at my awkward attempts to emulate his work. And by all accounts, he was always sincere in his compliments of other people’s work—even those less-talented than him (which is about 99% of the artists working in comics).

But I was a wuss. And I regret that.

Lately, I had been studying a lot of Stevens’ work. A lot. Trying to understand the expressive nature of his brush line. Trying to figure out how he so perfectly balanced juxtapositioning a slick, controlled line with loose, lush, rendering lines.

My mind still boggles at how perfectly he managed it.

I’d also been looking at his work in an attempt to do justice to a Rocketeer commission for my friend Matt. Pictured here are the pencils.

I’m really daunted to try and ink this.

Thanks for everything, Dave.

Steve Rude: Artist in Motion

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Two weeks ago, I got a treasure trove of art books in my DCBS order—among them, last week’s review, Modern Masters Volume 15: Mark Schultz, and today’s book, Steve Rude: Artist in Motion.

Usually, when I receive art books, I look at the pictures and read passages that interest me, eventually working my way through the whole book. With the Schultz book, I read it start to finish and devoured every image in the sequence of the book. It was such an enjoyable process that I decided to do the same with the Rude book.

Wow. This book is an artistic journey. Rude has long been one of my top 5 guys, but this book only increases my appreciation of the man and his work.

And it makes me want to draw. A lot.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough—whether you’re into comic art, illustration or the artistic process, you need to own this wonderful volume.

Mark Schultz, Modern Master!

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It’s no secret that I think Mark Schultz is one of the finest comics artists of the last 30 years (oh, hell, EVER). An incredible draftsman, superb storyteller and excellent technician, Mark is the real deal.

And the latest volume of the terrific TwoMorrows Modern Masters series (vol 15) celebrates Mark’s talents.

Every volume of the Modern Masters series is top-notch, and I’m now at the point where I buy each one regardless of my familiarity with the artist. I think there are a lot of people who are that dedicated to this series.

And therein lies my one gripe about this book. I would have preferred to see TwoMorrows include notations of the media for each piece (pencils, inks, etc) in the cut lines next to the illustrations. While I know the level of inking ability Mark has, I’m not sure that someone first exposed to Mark’s work would realize that some of the tonal pieces featured in the book are not pencil drawings, but incredible drybrush pieces created 100% in ink. The b/w piece that accompanies this entry is an example. No pencil. All brush and ink.

Aside from that, it’s a beautiful book.

If you enjoy this book, be sure to check out Mark’s Various Drawings series from Flesk Publications, as well.

Paul E. Bryant, 1928–2007

I’ve had a significant lack of posts here for a while.

It started with juggling my work on the forthcoming 24: Cold Warriors (more on that, and preview art in the coming days) and recently culminated in the death of my dad, Paul Bryant.

I received a phone call from my mom three weeks ago today. My dad had a dizzy spell and was having trouble adjusting afterward. I hurried over and was pretty sure that he had, indeed, had a stroke. I carried him to their van and drove him and my mom to the hospital (my folks are of that generation of “not wanting to be a bother” and my dad wouldn’t hear of me calling 911).

While in the hospital, we learned that, in addition to the stroke, he had lung cancer. Not quite a newsflash to any of us involved (he was 79 and had smoked since he was 16), but it was bracing, none the less. The plan was that when he was able, we would move him to a nursing home to begin the rehabilitation process from the stroke. When he was strong enough, we would start chemotherapy.

Last Saturday night (December 8), four days after being moved to the nursing home, my dad passed away in his sleep.

This sort of thing is never easy, but none of us make it through life—well—alive. In all honesty, it could have been much worse. Had it been sudden, none of would have had the chance to say goodbye. Had it dragged on for months, it could have affected my mom’s retirement money (our health care system doesn’t like to step in until poverty has been achieved by the surviving spouse). It sounds silly to think about stuff like that, but I know that would have weighed heavily on Dad’s mind.

He wasn’t in pain in the post stroke days, either. And the last doctor he saw was his granddaughter, Dr. Amanda Bryant.

I talked to him on a daily basis when he was alive. I think I talk to him even more now. After all, I don’t have to pick up the phone to call him. He may not answer, but most of the time I know what he would have said. With how much I miss him, I find that to be both sad and comforting.

Before all of this came down, I had plans for Ursula Wilde and Athena Voltaire, all pending my completing the 24 job. I hope that those plans will be realized in 2008. For now, though, I’m keeping my nose to the grindstone with 24. My dad taught me that when you work for a person you work for them. So that’s what I’m doing on 24: Cold Warriors. Working my ass off.

I hope you’re watching, Dad. I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Some San Diego Pics

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I split my time between the Ape Entertainment booth and a in the small press area with my pal Jim Heffron of Lawdog Studios. Molly McBride, whose work as editor on Athena Voltaire, was there, as well.

The top photo is me with hometown pal Tim Bradstreet outside the Hyatt.

Next is the Ape Entertainment booth. From left: Ray-Anthony Height (Cereal and Pajamas), Kevin Freeman (Ape editor-in-chief, Subculture), me and Rob Guillory (Teddy Scares)

Molly and me at the Lawdog booth.

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