Sunday, August 31, 2008

"Blast from the Past" #3 repost -- "Cyberinking Experiments"

In the early 90's, I became intrigued by the possibilities of bypassing the traditional inking step of creating comic book pages. I had been playing around with my new Macintosh computer and some of Adobe's wonderful software packages -- Illustrator, Photoshop, and Streamline.

I realized that a pencil drawing could be scanned in Photoshop, auto-traced in Streamline -- which would create an editable vector graphic file which could then be opened, tweaked, and printed in Illustrator (a process I dubbed "cyberinking"). The result -- due to the way Streamline did its autotracing thing and the infinitely scalable nature of vector graphics -- was pure black and white, sharp-edged linework.

While I had some success with the process, I quickly realized that it had some serious drawbacks. The main one was that to be workable, the pencil drawings had to be very tight and very clean -- essentially inking in pencil (VERY time-consuming). Also, the final result had a kind of sterile quality to it, without the nice organic feel of real ink lines done in pen or brush.

The three pencil drawings shown here were done specifically to test out this new process. They are unusual in the sense that -- at least when I am drawing something that I plan to ink myself -- I don't pencil this tightly. But it was necessary for the "cyberinking" process.

Since those initial attempts wiith Adobe Streamline, I have found another program online -- Silhouette -- that gives even better results.

(I guess I should probably try to find find the finished "cyberinked" versions of these three pieces -- if I still have them -- and post them too. -- PL)

UPDATE 09-05-08: I couldn't find the completed cyberinked versions of these pieces that I did years ago, so I took a few minutes to work one up today, using Silhouette to autotrace the art and convert it to vector art, Illustrator to open it, add the border, then save it in EPS format, and Photoshop to open the EPS and save it again as a JPEG. And here it is. -- PL

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Blast from the Past" #2 repost: Pencils for cover of Tales of the TMNT Volume 1 #7

This is an interesting (and rare) collaboration between two of my favorite pencilers in comics -- Jim Lawson and Steve Bissette. Steve, as most people know, is a big dinosaur fan, and he draws them with great panache and verve. For this cover to issue number seven of the original "Tales of the Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles" (an issue that I plotted and laid out), we got him to pencil the dinos, and then Jim added the Turtles and Renet the Timestress. (Side note: Jim is also an excellent dino art guy, as anyone who has picked up his "Paleo" comics can see.)

I can't remember who laid out this cover artwork -- it might have been a joint effort between Steve and Jim. I have a vague memory of those two guys working on this piece in the old Cutlery Building space that Mirage had for a few years, but I could be mistaken. Maybe Jim (or Steve) will remember and add their comments. In any event, it's a lovely piece of art. I believe it was eventually inked by Ryan Brown. -- PL

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Blast from the Past" #1 repost: TMNT #1 fifth printing cover (pencils)

For the fifth printing of the first issue of TMNT, I pencilled this somewhat symbolic cover, which was inked by Kevin Eastman. It was drawn on tone paper (or Graphix DuoShade, to use the commercial name of the product). The inked art was toned but not colored, and the art --with the characteristic sepia tints created by the chemicals use to bring out the two mechanical pre-printed tones -- was shot as color art for the cover of the reprint book. -- PL

"Amazing Fantasy" #15 cover parody

Back before the Turtles -- or perhaps more correctly, the Turtles BUSINESS -- took over our lives, Kevin Eastman and I would often draw just for fun (imagine that!). This drawing (penciled by me, inked and colored by Kevin) was one of those done to amuse ourselves, as an affectionate homage to/parody of Jack Kirby's cover drawing for Marvel Comics' "Amazing Fantasy" #15, which featured the first appearance of Spider-Man.

(Spider-Man and "Amazing Fantasy" are ® and © Marvel Comics.)

I'm having fun picking up the reins of my "Blast from the Past" project, and while looking through the old BftP's to make sure I don't duplicate my efforts, it occurred to me that when I was doing BftP before, it was on the Planet Racers website where it was "view only", as opposed to this blog, which allows comments. That made me wonder if it might be fun to repost all of those old BftP entries on this new blog, so people could have the option to comment on those pieces of artwork/history. What say you? -- PL

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Mystery Art" no longer

A few weeks back Steve Murphy posted on his blog ( about this piece of art -- a framed print of which we had received at Mirage from Imagi, with no note of explanation. (It's now hanging on the all outside my office, in case you want to know.)

Well, I now have some info about how this art came to be, courtesy of Galen Walker, producer on last year's TMNT movie, who recently gave me a very nice copy of this same piece of art, printed on canvas. According to Galen, this art was created by an artist named Sam Michlap, who painted it after hearing a pitch about a possible TMNT movie sequel by some creative folks at Imagi. The pitch apparently involved a plot idea which had three of the Turtles affected by an anti-mutation serum, and only Michelangelo was left unaffected... and the only one who could save his brothers.

Just to be clear -- while I really like the art and I very much appreciate the fact that there were people at Imagi who were still interested in the Turtles enough to be discussing this stuff, this is not the direction we will be heading in for the next movie. -- PL

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Turtle Tunneler" designs

My pal Jim Lawson is a genius at designing and drawing cool vehicles. Going through my files of stuff related to the 4Kids TMNT show, I came across these intriguing sketch concepts he did for the "Turtle Tunneler", used in a number of episodes of the show. -- PL

San Diego, long ago

I found this (pre-digital) photo recently -- it's from the 1986 San Diego comicon (my second trip out there, if memory serves). I'm posing here with Stan Sakai, and I think the other gent is Jim Groat, creator of a nifty comic titled "Equine the Uncivilized" which featured an anthropomorphic horse barbarian. -- PL

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mouser designs

Back in 2001, when we were in discussions with Kids WB about doing the new TMNT tv show with them, I did some sketches for a possible new look for the mouser robots that Baxter Stockman creates. (Trivia note: Many years ago I had also designed the mousers for their first appearance in issue #2 of the original comics.) With this redesign, I wanted to keep the basic elements of the originals but add something a little more creepy. Too bad these were never used. -- PL

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Serling head concepts

When we were working on conceptualizing the "Fast Forward" season of the TMNT show, I drew these sketches in an attempt to work out a good look for Serling the robot's head. It was a fun design exercise. -- PL

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Toronto 2005

Delving once more into my archive of digital photos, I found these from our first trip to the Toronto comicon back in 2005, and seeing how some of the Mirage dudes (Jim Lawson, Eric Talbot, Mike Dooney, and Steve Lavigne, I believe) are heading there this week (in fact, I think they started the drive early this morning), I thought it would be fun to post these.

These first two are of sketches I did at the show. I can't remember if these were commissions (I rarely do full-body sketches at shows these days) or if we had a slow period during the show and I did them out of boredom.

This is a really nice TMNT "group shot" sketch Jim Lawson knocked out during the show, which I think some lucky fan ended up with.

We did several touristy things while in Toronto, including a harbor boat ride, which was actually quite pleasant, as it was a hot day and the breezes off the lake were very refreshing. Here are Steve Lavigne and Mike Dooney on the boat, along with a nice view of the Toronto city skyline.

I hope the guys have a great time at the show this week. Maybe I'll join them next year. -- PL

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Digging into my folder of Sony Mavica floppy disk camera photos again, I came up with this one from a group of about four or five. I think we got Mike Dooney to take these for use either on the PLANET RACERS website or in the actual books (maybe both). This one shows me and Jim Lawson with a KTM "Duke", a "hooligan"-type streetbike on which I witnessed Jim do the scariest "stoppie" I'd ever seen. (A "stoppie" is kind of the opposite of a "wheelie" -- while moving forward, the rider jams on the front brake and allows the rear end of the bike to rise up in the air, the height of which is dependent on the speed the bike was going, the strength of the front brake, and the courage and skill of the rider.) This one was scary (to me, at least, given that Jim performed it as we both came up to the same stop, and he and his bike were about five feet away on my right side), but I'll also admit it was impressive. -- PL

Monday, August 11, 2008

TMNT #30 cover

I thought you fans of the TMNT comic book might get a kick out of an advance look at Mike Dooney's cool cover painting for issue #30, which I am continuing to work on. I'm hoping to get it out sometime in the next couple of months.

In other TMNT comic news, I finally finished the plot for issue #31, which I gave to Jim Lawson today (actually, I just left it on his desk -- he departed the studio before I did today). -- PL

08-16-08 UPDATE: Jim got rght into it and finished the thumbnail layouts, which I approved, a few days ago. Now he's on to penciling pages! -- PL

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Team Mirage minimoto

Have you ever seen a "minimoto"? There was a fad for these a few years ago, and I think they're still being sold. Basically, the average minimoto is a tiny motorcycle with, I think, a 50cc two-stroke engine. You can get an idea of how large (or small) this one is by the fact that it is sitting on a weight bench in my old studio. I think it's slightly less than three feet long. Note the sophisticated starting system (the pull cord)!

Believe it or not, an adult human being can ride these things (looking quite silly, however.) This particular one, with its bodywork painted in the original Team Mirage colors, was a gift to me from the Lashways, whose two sons -- Larry and Gerry -- were sponsored by Team Mirage to race motocross. -- PL

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tommy Norton's "Team Mirage" KX125

While out in my old studio a couple of days ago to take photos of those "Demon" sculptures, I had to take a snapshot of this cool vehicle, a memento of the days of "Team Mirage" back in the 1990s, when I sponsored a motorcycle racing team. This is one of Tommy Norton's hare scambles bikes, a modified Kawasaki KX125.

Tommy was the first person to win the notoriously difficult Blackwater 100 off-road race on a 125cc motorcycle (this was some years before he was part of Team Mirage). I had the pleasure of going trail riding with Tommy once -- the dude was amazing. He was easily riding over fallen trees and other obstacles that would have had me scratching my head looking for a way around, or simply turning back.

The Turtle graphics on the bike's gas tank were designed by me -- these are actually the second year's graphics, as the first year I had designed a more abstract look which, while incorporating the basic elements of a TMNT head profile, just lacked a certain something. -- PL