Oddball Art Gallery

As described in the Many Faces of Grease Monkey article, the story has a long publishing history prior to its presentation here. I generated a lot of artwork during that time that had one purpose or another (sometimes none at all) but did not appear in the print versions. Every piece has a little story attached to it, so I decided to dig them out of my file drawer and dust them off for the sake of entertainment. Here they all are…

Part 1: Early works

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This was the very first inked drawing I ever did of Mac and Robin. It was for the front page of the proposal I sent around to various comic book publishers after I started drawing the comics in ’92. Mac and Robin look a bit different now, but this was the point where I felt like I knew who they were as individuals.

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At left are the first headshots I drew way back in ’92 for the pilots of Barbarian squadron. I used them as reference while drawing Episodes 1-6 the first time. When I got the chance to revise those episodes for later editions, these faces were thrown out or modified. The name beneath each head was meant to be a callsign, and these were used in the first version of the comic. I later decided they were just a wee bit pretentious, so I dropped them from later versions.

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The drawing above right is a little embarrassing, but I’m including it for the sake of full disclosure. Prior to Grease Monkey’s very first appearance in Up’n’Coming magazine, the editor suggested that a full-page ad with some girly art would be just the thing to catch readers’ eyes. (Obviously, most of the readers were male then.) When I said this really wasn’t the sort of image I wanted to represent the story, he responded that if I just did it once I’d never have to do it again. This art ran with the headline “Look out! Comics are fun again!” Consider this my confessional and personal apology to each of the Barbarians.

Though the cheesecake ad will never be used again, the little drawing at the bottom turned out to be one of my favorite cartoons of Mac, and I’ve found all sorts of uses for it since then. I’ve looked at it over and over, but never felt like I could improve a single line.

Part 2: The Kitchen Sink years

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Left: this was my first attempt to design a cover for the Kitchen Sink Press edition of Grease Monkey #1. The concept is the same as the finished version, but the poses and expressions needed some work. Plus, the logo had to go on top. I thought this might make a good ad, though.

Right: the first proof I received from Kitchen Sink for the cover of Grease Monkey #1. They added their own typeset logo, which I nixed in favor of the freehand one I was already using. Tor Books also decided to go with a typeset logo years later on the graphic novel, but I liked their version much better than this one, so no nixing was needed.

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Kitchen Sink published two full-color Grease Monkey postcards to promote their edition of the comic. The sketch at left shows one idea I came up with but didn’t finalize.

The art in the center was featured on one of the postcards. (The other used the “first portrait” seen at the top of this page.) I was quite happy with the pose I came up with for Robin, since it has just the right momentum to snapshot the pre-impact. For some reason, Mac seems to have shaved his arms.

Right: This art was also intended for use on a Kitchen Sink postcard, but didn’t make the final cut. Here as well, Mac apparently went a little nuts with the clippers.

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This was the first time I ever drew Kara Soki, some time during the long gap between Episodes 6 and 7. This piece was originally part of the pitch for an animated version of Grease Monkey. As that project evolved, Kara slipped out of it and into her rightful place in Book 1. Ten points to anyone who can tell me the pun behind her name.

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Left: the first “clean” drawing I did of the F300 fighter craft. This came after I drew Episodes 1-6. If you look closely at early episodes, you can see the design evolving up to this standard. I’ve drawn this thing hundreds of times since then.

Right: the first “clean” drawing I did of a Barbarian pilot’s spacesuit. Betcha didn’t know the nozzles on the helmet were for emergency air tanks stored on the boots. Well, now you can sleep at night. By the way, I later decided to adopt this design for Kim Barnett in Book 2.

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It’s a little known fact that when a publisher likes your comic, one of the first questions is usually, “Who is your intended audience?” You have to figure that out to come up with ideas for promotion. Here are two ads I devised for Kitchen Sink, during a time when eight out of every ten comics was about angry & violent superheroes and/or bad girls. They still exist today, but are not numerous enough to warrant the use of reactionary ads like these. And I am ever so grateful for that.

Part 3: The Image Era

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Left: I came up with this sketch while developing a cover for the first Image edition, but I decided I didn’t want to cover up the “No Crap” symbol on his T-shirt.

Center: another idea for the first Image cover. I decided against it since I didn’t want Robin’s face to be obscured for his debut. Mac came out nice and beefy, though.

Right: yet another idea for the first Image cover. I went all the way to ink and then changed my mind at the last minute because the chest-thumping motion seemed a little stiff. Plus, Robin’s expression didn’t quite communicate what I wanted. Sometimes you don’t realize these things until a drawing is done.

Far right: had the Image edition lived past two issues, this would have been the cover to issue 3. It’s based on the events in Episode 5, just like the cover that appeared on Kitchen Sink’s issue 2. I think the composition is more dynamic in this version, though. Click on it to see an enlargement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Part 4: Later works

Left: there was a period of about a year (’97 to ‘98) when I was so deep into my animation career that I had almost no energy left for comics. I drew this portrait of Mac to remind myself that there was no hurry, and my pals would be there for me when I was ready to go back to them.

Center: a random drawing of Mac in which I experimented a little with texturing.

Right: a quickie ink drawing I did to play with line weights. It was one of many pieces I sent to Tor Books for general use. To my complete surprise, they decided to emboss it onto the cover board of the graphic novel. (Look under the dustjacket!)

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Left: I did this drawing to console myself once when my girlfriend broke up with me. We got married a few years later, so it all turned out okay in the end.

Right: these sketches were my attempt to work out a body shape for the accelerated dolphin seen in Episode 15. I did away with the support devices when I decided it was necessary for the dolphin to stand on its own so it could look as awkward as possible.

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In 2006, a website called fantasybookspot.com ran a contest to give away copies of the graphic novel along with original sketches for each winner. These are the sketches I came up with.

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Left: Damon Caporaso, the administrator of fantasybookspot.com, was one of Grease Monkey’s most enthusiastic supporters. I sent him this drawing as a thank-you for all his cheerleading.

Right: since the day I designed the F-300 I hungered to see if my drawn version would translate accurately to 3D. I had the chance to find out for myself in 2000 when I took a class in CG modeling and decided to build it. The first step was to blueprint it, which worked out pretty OK. See the finished results here.

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