Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Tale of Two Michaels: Michael Moorcock's Vanishing Tower with Illustrations by Michael Whelan

It's been a while since I've posted so I thought I'd publish a few scans of a book I picked up last year at Dragon*Con. Those of you who know me know that there are a few things that really cause me to brighten up - this particular item is a combination of several of them: 1.) I love books, especially signed, limited editions; 2.) One of my favorite authors is Michael Moorcock - I own over 100 editions of his novels in various publication forms; 3.) One of my favorite authors is Michael Whelan. Now I must admit that I already own a copy of this book - in fact the reason I showed up at Michael Whelan's booth at Dragon*Con was to get my edition signed.

First a bit about the book - this edition of "The Vanishing Tower" was published by "The Archival Press" in 1981. It's the second Michael Morcook volume from the publisher - the first (which I also own) was "Elric of Melnibone" done in a dark blue but otherwise similar fashion (leather with slipcase and illustrations - in the "Elric" books case done by Robert Gould). "The Vanishing Tower" is done in red.  Each edition is lavishly illustrated - not your typical sketchy drawings but full, nicely done renderings. Besides the black-and-white interior illustrations there's a nice full-color painting printed on one of the first pages with a glassine cover-page for protection. The copy I owned is/was immaculate and now signed by both Moorcock and Whelan.

Slipcase Painting (also used for interior painted print)
The book itself has gilt printing on red leather.

"The Vanishing Tower" by The Archival Press
And finally, the pencil illustration by Michael Whelan:

I won't relate how much I paid for this, but for me, this was indeed a prize worth having. I never dreamed of actually owning a Whelan original, so this entirely made my Dragon*Con attendance for 2011. His paintings more than anything else inspired me to read the DAW editions for Michael Moorcock's books. Check out Michael Whelan's work on his website,

-- John

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Superhero Exhibit at the William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, GA - 2011-05-08

It's been a while since I've posted - seems my other blogs take up most of my time. That's not to say that I haven't been doing things with my collection or with art in general. Most recently I visited the William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, GA - the exhibit was called "The Superhero" and unfortunately for any of you who might want to see the exhibit in Atlanta, I ended up going on the last day. This was my second visit to the Breman Museum - previously I visited while the museum featured a Maurice Sendak exhibit on "Where the Wild Things Are."

"The Superhero 1938 to 1950" featured original artwork from the Golden Age of comic books. Wow, the exhibit was much better than I expected, featuring original works by: Simon and Schuster (creator's of Superman), a whole slew of Batman creators including Dick Sprang and Jerry Robinson (creator of the Joker), works by Joe Kubert, Lou Fine, Alex Schomburg, Mac Raboy, Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon - the list goes on and on. My favorite was the cover of Ghostrider #2 by my favorite fantasy artist, Frank Frazetta. Most of the works I've never seen in-person - these were illustrated covers and interior artwork, really spectacular stuff.

The exhibit was enhanced with a film room featuring clips from old superhero serials (Superman starring Kirk Alyn) - I believe there were others but I only stopped to watch the first two episodes. There's also a long-running interview of various creators including Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang, etc. on video before a recreation of a typical comic book studio from the era. Amongst the furnishings were relics of various creators like hats and other articles once owned and lent to the exhibit by the various estates. There were also many priceless comics to compare to the various original artworks with anecdotes and explanations regarding the various pieces. All-in-all a very well-rounded exhibit - I'm so glad I managed to catch it before its end.

There were also quite a few activities for kids, something you don't often see in museums. These included costumes for the kids to wear and a Batmobile ride and played the Batman theme from the 60's Adam West TV series as it moved back-and-forth. I took quite a few photos - actually they all ended up being images of original art. Note that I did not use any flash photography (it would have just added to the glare in any case as everything was under glass or plastic) - without further ado.

Mac Raboy!

My Favorite - Frazetta!

What a great cover!

Original concept of the Joker by Jerry Robinson

Note that part of my review was also used on Yelp. I hope this exhibit travels around the country - it's quite worth seeing!

-- John

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sketchbooks and Scanners

I've been rather remiss at making new posts but that will change soon. For the record I purchased a new Windows 7 computer and of course it's not compatible with my large bed scanner - I just recently bought a new scanner (not a large bed but we'll se what can be done with it). More sketchbook posts shortly.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Sketchbooks - 1989 Part 4

More sketchbook illustrations from 1989. All of these are from the San Diego ComicCon (now called ComicCon International).

Sketchbook 1, Page 21: Mark Pacella
Mark has a very good eye for human anatomy - I really don't see enough of his work.

Sketchbook 1, Page 22: Dan Clowes
I met Dan through the Hernandez brothers back when he wad doing these minis (Doofus was one of them) right around the time when he was getting Lloyd published - I instantly became a fan, both of the humor of his writing and his fine illustration technique. This illustration was done prior to the first Eight Ball.

Sketchbook 1, Page 23: Steve Leialoha
I met Steve through Bob - actually at the time he hadn't been doing much drawing so this is probably a rare sketch for him. He thought my Japanese was pretty bad (he actually told me it was the first time he had ever heard Japanese spoken with a southern accent!)

Sketchbook 1, Page 28: Pander Brothers
These guys I met through some of the early guys at Dark Horse - I don't think they do many shows. They had done a 12 issue run of Grendel - and have a very interesting technique (at least the way they did this sketch) - basically they sat side-by-side and each started on opposite pages moving towards the middle, then embellishing each other's work until they were satisfied with what they produced. I like it a lot and it's not something you often see.

Sketchbook 3, Page 6: Brian Stelfreeze
This is one of my larger format sketchbooks so it gave Brian a chance to do something a bit larger - after looking back at his earlier works you can see how his illustration technique is beginning to change a bit.

Sketchbook 3, Page 7: Paul Chadwick
I've been a big fan of Concrete since its inception - Paul has done several sketches for me over the years and I've got a few pages of original artwork - his line work and layouts are just awesome - what a story teller! I'm especially fond of the storylines that feature Concrete being under water - here's a good example!

More to come...

-- John

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Sketchbooks - 1989 Part 3

Continuing with the 1989 sketchbook illustrations. This batch has those guests I encountered at the San Diego ComicCon (now called ComicCon International). I got quite a few sketches during the week-long convention.

Sketchbook 1, Page 11: Kim DeMulder
Kim is one of those artists that you learn to appreciate while he is executing figures - his anatomy and sense of proportion are, to simply to it, excellent. I love the casual pose of this figure and also the 60's vibe I get from it (face makeup probably).

Sketchbook 1, Page 12: Jaime Hernandez
I also once again encountered Los Bros Hernandez at ComicCon - did I mention how much I liked Love and Rockets? Here's another from Xaime - a bit more tasteful that the earlier image in my other "Bimbo" book - I"m glad I got examples in both.

Sketchbook 1, Page 13: Beto Hernandez
My favorite part of this is the hammer - it's such an essential part of the figure that its omission would certainly diminish the sketch - ah to be in Los Palamos...

Sketchbook 1, Page 16: Tim Vigil
I first encountered Truman's work on Grips - a sort of odd Woverine-ish rip-off distributed by an indy company in the 80's - I really liked Tim's raw style. This is a quickie but I'm glad to have it - I hope to get him to do an Elric for me some day...

Sketchbook 1, Page 17: Moebius
Have you ever had a dream and thought you would never see or experience something -which then happens and you think - was that real? I'm such a huge fan of the are of Moebius that it's insane - following his work in Heavy Metal and then those published by Epic/Marvel I thought I would never meet him, much less have the opportunity for an art sample (since he lives in Europe I didn't think I'd ever get a chance). I was minding Bob Burden's table at San Diego talking to Bob when this guy comes up and Bob introduces him and says "Hey John don't you have a sketchbook?" - this was done in a loose, almost continuous sweep of the pen in less than a minute - wow what an artist!

Sketchbook 1, Page 18: Kent Willaims
Another painter, I started encountering Kent doing books for DC which eventually became part of their Vertigo line. I ran into Kent and George and they were taken to me - something about the southern accent from what I recall (I think I reminded them of a friend from back home) - both are great guys as well as great artists.

Sketchbook 1, Page 19: Robert Gould
One of my favorite literary figures is Michael Moorcock's Elric - I first encountered Bob's artwork when he did a short Elric piece for Star*Reach back in the 70's - when he got the job of reworking all of Moorcock's covers in the 80's I faithfully bought each as the came out - I love the style.

Sketchbook 1, Page 20: George Pratt
As mentioned above, I met George with Kent almost by accident and hung out with them as they walked the floor at San Diego - quite the painter, this image is of particular beauty to me.

-- John