One of my favorite games on the original NES as a kid was Super Dodgeball. Like many games on that system, the graphics were not great… in fact, the system couldn’t really handle so many sprites moving on the screen at once and characters would often flicker in and out of view. But the gameplay was easy to pick up, competitive, and addictive! The variety of different “super balls” you could master (unique to different players) and the different countries the teams came from also made it a lot of fun. This game is responsible for a lot of sore thumbs from my friends and I back then. I was playing this game on the Wii with my daughter (thankfully it’s available on the virtual console) a while back and thought it would be fun to draw two of the main characters from it… Sam from Team USA and Boris from Team USSR. I’ve always been sad that they never made a newer version of this game for more recent consoles.
The Monkey Island games must be some of my favorites of all time. There are very few point-and-click adventure games like this made anymore (although Double Fine is trying their best to continue the tradition). Chock full of hilarious characters, ridiculous situations, and GREAT dialogue… these games were more about working your way through a goofy story and less about destroying obstacles. My favorite has still got to be Curse of Monkey Island, but the new ones from Telltale Games are pretty good, too.
As some of you know, Guybrush Threepwood is the main character in all of these games, a pirate better known for his witty banter than his swashbuckling skills. One of our fans, Shane, requested a sketch of him at the last Free Comic Book Day, so I went ahead and colored him. He’s talking to one of my other favorite characters from the series… Murray:
There is nothing quite like finding something new that is really good. The old classic comic books are always fun, but they’re like visiting an old friend comfortable and safe. The Sixth Gun is a story that I could tell almost immediately was going to be good, but also had the mystery and surprises that more mainstream comics rarely can deliver.
The story is set in the old west, not long after the Civil War and jumps into the action quickly. There are two main pushers of the story at this point. They are Drake Sinclair who is seeking out treasure and Mrs. Hume who is trying to track down a gun.
As you can likely guess from the title the gun is important. It is in the hands of a dying preacher, but very early in the book ends up the possession of the only real hero of this story Becky. And since the only way for a new owner to take it is to kill her she is forced to keep it though every sign is that it is evil. It also gives visions to the person who uses it.
The people who want this gun are the same people who have the other five, each of which gives some type of power to the person who uses it. This means that in some odd sense there are superpowers in this book, but only rarely does it feel like that. It instead holds the western feel very well.
Much of the fun of this book is the discovery of what is going on, and slowly learning the answers to the secrets of the guns and hints to there being more. I also enjoy the supernatural elements being added into a genre that generally has not had them. The mixing of genres, especially when they make sense is almost always interesting and the supernatural western makes a lot of sense. Magic has always been in the less civilized places and the borderlands and the old west was both of these, and connecting the magic to the civil war is also a good touch.
The art in the story is excellent. It really feels like the west that you have seen in movies and TV without feeling cliché and while it tends to be dark that is the tone of this story and it is important that it helps to keep that tone. Still, it might have been nice to brighten it up a bit more on occasion if only to break the tension.
I am certainly glad that I picked up this book and especially happy that the next graphic novel is already out because I really don’t want to have to wait too much longer to find out at least a few more of the secrets of this story. I am also looking forward to hopefully watching a TV series though I plan on continuing to read the book no matter what comes of the show.
What a great series of games the Zelda franchise has been. Skyward Sword is definitely one of the best so far, and my five-year-old daughter and I have played the heck out of it. Currently, her favorite thing is to hunt down the Skulltula spiders in the game. So I painted this the other night while she was playing. She would stop every few minutes and check on my progress… making color suggestions, of course. Then she would go find another spider, so I could have some reference to look at.
I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, but the important thing is that she likes it.
Like many other people, I absolutely loved the new True Grit that came out last year. Everything about this movie was perfect… from the casting to the writing to the cinematography. The dialogue was so great and had me chuckling throughout the whole movie.
So I was pretty excited when someone at HurleyCon requested a commission of Rooster Cogburn. As much as I love John Wayne, I think Jeff Bridges totally owned this character. This was fun to draw, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
Before we get too far into 2011, I wanted to take a minute to recommend some truly excellent comics collections I picked up last year. These are all such great books that I can’t imagine any comics fan that would not enjoy them thoroughly. This was a great year for graphic novels, and there’s many that came out that I’m still waiting to pick up. These are just the best of the ones I did get a hold of. So, in no particular order…
Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson(Dark Horse)
Some of the most human characters I read this year weren’t human at all, but dogs. This tale of a group of canines who protect their town from the threats of the paranormal features spot-on characterization from Evan Dorkin and beautiful watercolors by Jill Thompson. I was surprised at how much real emotion and genuine sense of foreboding they were able to pack into this book. Here’s hoping this is just the first of many volumes!
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Set to Sea by Drew Weing(Fantagraphics)
I started reading this story a few years ago when Drew Weing started posting it one page at a time on his site. He finished it up this year, and it’s great to finally have it in print. This story of a giant with the heart of a poet who becomes something of a pirate is also one of the most artistically impressive things on this list. Each page consists of only one large panel, but Drew packs within that panel a ton of intricate detail. He is definitely someone worth studying if you want to become a better inker (like I do). It’s a unique tale told with its own sense of pace and atmosphere… and just a great read.
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The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kerschl(Self-published)
Easily my favorite webcomic for the last year or so, The Abominable Charles Christopher finally saw print this year in a beautifully put together book by Karl Kerschl. What makes this comic great is not only Karl’s flat-out amazing artwork, but the way he can seamlessly switch from everyday comical adventures of forest animals to the larger epic tale that Charles finds himself in. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
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Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard by various creators (Archaia)
Mouse Guard anthology? Yes, please. The collection of creators that David Petersen was able to get together to craft tales in his Mouse Guard world is pretty incredible. Some of my very favorite artists (Karl Kerschl, Guy Davis, Ned Naifeh…) contributed tales, along with many other talented folks. The frustrating thing about some anthologies is the unevenness of quality, but you won’t find that here. I also loved the interstitial scenes that David created to set the scene… a tavern full of mice trying to win a contest to pay off their tab by telling the best story. Again, I hope this is just the first of many.
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The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
My love for all things Hellboy is deep and abiding, but the Amazing Screw-On Head might just be my favorite thing Mike Mignola has ever produced. It is just so quirky and fun, and it’s so obvious that he had a blast creating it. When I heard that he was collecting it, along with some other quirky, non-Hellboy stories… well, I was pretty happy. This book didn’t disappoint at all. The one thing that I didn’t expect was that most of the stories would actually have subtle connections. Such a good book… full of monsters, heroes, tragedy, legends, and great humor.
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The Marvelous Land of Oz by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young(Marvel)
You gotta love these Oz books. It’s so great that Marvel is finally letting some uber-talented creators put the tales into comics form. Skottie Young continues to be one my absolute favorite artists out there, someone whose loose and fun approach to his artwork inspires me constantly to improve myself. I really enjoyed how quirky the characters were in this volume, especially Jack Pumpkinhead and the Woggle-Bug. And the next series is already on the shelves!
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Wednesday Comics by various creators (DC)
An 11″ x 17″ hardcover that is easily one of the most massive books I will probably ever own, Wednesday Comics is a truly amazing book for many reasons. First, the collection of talent here is second to none. I won’t even try to list all the great creators, but let’s just say it’s some of the very best. I appreciate the fact that they let some relative newcomers do their thing in the same pages as living comics legends. Second, as a lover of anthologies it is great to see one that features some of the biggest characters of all time in shorter, stand-alone stories outside of continuity. And finally, the epic size of the pages leads to a truly unique reading experience. Even though each story is only twelve pages long, the larger page format makes it feel like you’ve read a full issue each time. Beyond that, as an artist it is fascinating to see the different creative storytelling approaches these writers and artists took with the larger page. This is another book I’ll be studying for a long time. It felt like a long wait for them to collect this thing, but it was so worth it.
By the way, almost all of these books were purchased at our awesome local comic store… Hurley’s Heroes. If you’re anywhere near the southwest Missouri area, you owe it to yourself to check them out!
Congrats to Jason Lysinger, the winner of our last contest. Jason correctly guessed that the image was from the wonderfully bad “Hercules in New York” movie (Arnold Schwartzeneggar’s first ever movie). If you’re ever in the mood to heckle a movie… check out this one. Arnold’s accent was so thick (and his delivery so bad) that they actually dubbed another generic voice over him. Luckily, on the DVD you can listen to the original Arnold track. This is definitely my favorite movie that features a mythological hero wrestling a bear in Central Park.
As part of his prize, Jason requested the above sketch of Esmerelda. Thanks, Jason… your sketch and free comics are on their way to you!
Heh heh… this image is based on my all time favorite horrible movie. One of those that’s much more fun to heckle (a la Mystery Science Theater 3000) than to just watch. Back in college, we used to have “Stupid Movie Night” and this one blew us away.
HERE’S THE CONTEST…
If you are the first person to EMAIL US the correct name of this movie, you will win two of our comics and a free sketch of the character of your choice! It’s that simple.
Want to give it a shot?
(Disclaimer: If you have actually watched this movie with me, sorry… you are not eligible!)
A great comic that I picked up a while ago is The Cryptics by Steve Niles and Ben Roman. Basically, it’s about the adventures of Wolfman, Dracula, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Jekyll/Hyde… as kids. It’s a really silly concept that leads to all sorts of awesomeness. Ben Roman’s art is the perfect blend of edgy and cartoony… it really sells the whole thing. I hope they make some more comics with these guys soon!
This image was a blast to draw. I actually finished it quite a while ago, but just now got a chance to color it. If you enjoy it, you should definitely check out the book!