Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blast from the Past #331: 2003 Christmas card

Jeannine and I got to talking a few days ago about our Christmas cards, and realized that we don't have an organized archive of all of them, which we both thought would be a neat thing to have. So I am going to try to put that together, which means starting with searching the hard drive on my desktop computer for any Christmas card-related files. So far, I have only come up with three -- not an auspicious beginning.

But one of them is something that before I started looking, I'd completely forgotten about. It's the card I made for us in 2003, and it was unusual in that unlike previous cards, this one was folded differently, in thirds in a kind of accordion fashion. That way, the image of the Turtle on the Segway was on the front of the card, and when unfolded you could see the whole image.

I kind of like this one... I think the colors work well. -- PL

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blast from the Past #330: Pete at Fred Wolf's office

I found this one while rummaging around in the horrific mess which is my room (I was going to say "cleaning", but that would not be at all truthful). It's a photo taken by Kevin Eastman, I believe, during our first visit to the Murakami-Wolf offices in California back in 1986 or 1987 (at this point in time, the dates are starting to blend together). It was during the time when the original TMNT show was being developed.

Kevin and I were out there to meet with Fred Wolf and go over what they he and his crew had already come up with for concepts for the show. Some of them were pretty bad, in our opinion (for example, they had the Turtles defeating the Shredder and his minions at the end of the first three episodes and then moving into the Technodrome, making it their headquarters... which made zero sense to us), but others were good. It was an exciting time.

In this photo, I am sitting at the table where Kevin and I were going over the stuff and sketching out our own ideas for the show. I think I am working on a design for a Foot ninja costume -- it's hard to tell. -- PL

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Christmas card

When Jeannine and I shared our first Christmas in Dover, NH, I drew our first Christmas card, a tradition I kept up with for around ten years (I've posted one or two of them on this blog). As time went by, I moved from drawing the cards to creating them with various computer graphics programs like KPT Bryce and Photoshop. And for the last few years, I've just taken some wintry photos and tweaked them a little bit in Photoshop to make them more Christmas-y.

They were fine, and served as decent Christmas cards, but I felt then and now that something was lacking. There was something about actually drawing the card that brought me closer to the holiday somehow… and I'd lost that. I'm not completely sure why -- quite possibly it was in part due to laziness -- but in any case, this year I wanted things to be different. This year I wanted to go back to drawing our card.

And not only that, I wanted to try to recapture some of the -- well, let me be blunt and call it what it was -- wackiness of some of those cards from past years. I recall things like "The Christmas Snail", a drawing which depicted a slightly anthropomorphic Christmas tree riding a huge snail on a beach.

So after I told Jeannine of my intentions, and she enthusiastically approved, I started thinking… and within a few hours an idea came to me in the form of an image of an octopus standing on its head on the ocean floor, its tentacles twisted into a rough approximation of the triangular shape of a Christmas tree, and holding in those tentacles, at the very top of the "tree", a starfish.

I got to work and within a short time had sketched out the idea.

Over the course of the next few days, I inked it with a variety of black brush markers.

Around  this time, I asked Jeannine if she would be willing to write a poem to go along with the art, and to my delight, she agreed. So while she was musing about that and trying out different rhymes, I had to decide how to color the piece. I'd thought about doing the colors in Photoshop, but decided I wanted to keep more of a hand-drawn look (though I knew I would probably tweak the art in Photoshop). So I got out my new box of Pitt brush markers -- I think there are sixty-four different colors in it -- and got to work. This was the result.

I liked it okay, and Jeannine thought it was fine, but for some reason, I wasn't totally happy with it. I decided to try a second version, this time using watercolors over the black and white line art. (I think I was inspired in this not only by that Jerry Pinkney show I talked about a few blog posts back, but also by seeing some of the beautiful watercolor art Jim Lawson has been doing recently.)

I don't have a lot of skills in this medium, but I figured I should just jump in and try it. And it went more easily than I expected, and I liked the results.

Now I had to put a background into the image, and rather than try to carefully mask out the image and attempt to do a watercolor background, I decided to cheat a little bit and use my computer to create something that I could play around with until I got the look I was going for… and after a few tries, I was satisfied with this one.

By this time, Jeannine had finished her poem. I made a few suggestions, of which I think she may have used one, and she tweaked it a bit further. This is the version that ended up inside the card. (You may have to click on it to get a bigger, more readable version.)

(Here's the poem in plain text in case the above is too difficult to read -- it isn't the clearest font, though I like the shapes of the letters.)

"Some say reindeer can't fly to rooftops

and holidays don't happen in the seas.
They say the sky is up, the ocean down,
and octopi can't be Christmas trees.

But there's more than one side to a story
and more than one side to a tree. An octopus
can twinkle. And special stars can swim.

We wish you many merry days with fishy lyricism!"

And because I was a little concerned that my original idea (that of an octopus pretending to be a Christmas tree) might not come across as clearly as I wanted, and also because I wanted to make sure that Jeannine got her due credit for the poem, I put the following on the back of the card.
It took more work than the cards I've done these past few years, but I have to say that it was much more satisfying than all of those. And I believe it marks the first (though I hope not the last) time that Jeannine and I have really collaborated in a words-and-pictures fashion. -- PL

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Designs from TMNT 2K3 show for Christmas episode

While searching my hard drive for some Christmasy stuff to put up on my blog, I found the following designs which were sent to me some years ago from 4Kids for approval. I am not sure which episode these were done for, but it was definitely a Christmas-themed show which featured the reappearance of Usagi Yojimbo and the Daimyo from the Battle Nexus. Here's the Daimyo spiffed up in some Yuletide accoutrements...

... Usagi dressed up as an elf...

... Klunk the cat in the snow...

... Michelangelo as an elf...

... and Santa Splinter. -- PL

(Usagi® and © 2010 Stan Sakai)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some of my stuff is up for sale... or will be shortly!

I mentioned some time ago that I was planning to winnow down my hoard of TMNT comics and stuff, and over the last couple of days I have started to make good on that promise. I spent a number of hours in the storage area under my studio going through things, throwing some crap out and putting other stuff in piles to give away. And then I found a carton of these that I didn't know I had:

Some of you may remember this beautiful limited edition Leonardo bust sculpted by the talented A.C. Farley. They've been sold out for quite a while, but when I found this carton I realized I didn't really need all these, so I brought them in to Mirage today and asked Katie to work with Dan to put them up for sale on the Mirage website. I think there are about a dozen of them, and I am not sure exactly how much they will cost. (Note: I believe these are all the unpainted white resin ones.)

Then I moved on to my boxes and boxes of multiple copies of old Mirage TMNT comics. I am planning to only keep a few of each one, except for the first printings of the very early issues. I have not yet gone through all of the comics, but so far I have this stack of boxes ready to be taken down to Mirage and sold through the website:

There are copies of pretty much every Mirage TMNT book, I think (though I can't offhand say exactly how many), with the exception of first printings of TMNT #1 (I'm keeping all my copies of that one). Hopefully, I can get somebody to help me load these into the truck (Dan? Gary?) and get them down to Mirage in the next few days. -- PL

UPDATE 11-5-2010: I ran into Dan Berger at Mirage yesterday, and he informed me that ALL of the Leonardo busts have been bought already! Crazy fast.

Blast from the past #327: Found sketchbook part 3

Here's the third and last bunch of stuff from that sketchbook.

First up is a "wolverine mutant", clearly intended as part of the TMNT toy line -- probably as a bad guy.

Next is a very rough "rough" for an ad for the "Leonardo One Issue Micro-Series". I can't remember if this was meant to be a "house" ad, one we'd put in various Mirage comics, or something we'd use in publications like the Comics Buyer's Guide. In fact, I can't remember if this design ever made it to a finished piece.

This next one may be that same mutant wolverine character, slightly tweaked. I like his goggles.

This next one isn't a sketch, per se, but it is kind of interesting (well, I find it so, anyway). It's my chart of the proposed contents of the Gobbledygook special.

I get a kick out of this one, done just for fun, of Donatello whistling nervously as he is stalked by a big, creepy monster.

This next one might have been a rough sketch for a proposed TMNT portfolio piece, but I can't remember for sure. I'm not certain it is obvious enough in the sketch, but the Turtles here are -- for some reason -- on top of some gigantic beast, maybe Godzilla-sized, and that thing next to them is one of the creature's dorsal fins… and the little bug-like things on the left side of the drawing are parasites living on the creature.

This one is interesting, and I've rotated it sideways for easier viewing, as it was drawn in the sketchbook in this orientation. I am pretty sure these are quick doodles by the great dino man himself, Steve Bissette. I think he may have been trying to give me some pointers on how to draw dinosaurs, from back when we were starting work on the never-completed "Commandosaurs" project.

And the last thing from the sketchbook is from that same project -- here I was trying to work out a design for the "Commandosaurs" logo. -- PL

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blast from the Past #326: Found sketchbook Part 2

Continuing with the drawings from the sketchbook I found recently..
I'm not sure exactly why I drew this "Savanti Romero Bull-Dog Guard" thing (seemingly a literal combination of bull and dog) -- it was never used in any of the comics MIrage published which featured Savanti Romero, and Playmates didn't do a Savanti Romero figure in the toy line back when this drawing was done… so maybe it was just a fun thing. But it seems too specific to be just a random drawing. Oh well -- that's memory for ya!

These "other storm drain/sewer mutants" are another mystery -- they don't REALLY seem to fit in with the somewhat goofy nature of most of the Playmates TMNT toys of that era, but I also can't recall having plans to use these ideas in any of the comics. I have to say that I do like the "telekinetic baby alligators", though.

This is kind of a curious one. As some of you may know, I was never that crazy about the initialed belt buckles that Playmates gave the Turtles in the original toy line. It always seemed superfluous to me. So why did I do this drawing of a Mirage comic book-style Leonardo with an "L" on his belt buckles, and then sketch in another version with his entire name written on his belt? I have no idea.

This is, I believe, a slight variation on a design that Kevin and I came up with for an alternate costume for Leonardo, with a little armor somewhat inspired by samurai gear. Not totally sure why I drew it in this sketchbook.

This is another oddity. The pose of this lightly-sketched Leonardo figure makes me think Kevin must have drawn it. But why was he drawing in my sketchbook? Again, no idea. I suppose it's possible that in this drawing I was trying to ape Kevin's style, but it really looks more to me like he drew it.

These doodles were clearly done with Playmates in mind. The "rising sun" bandanna was something Kevin and I had come up with as part of a possible alternative costume for Donatello. It's interesting to note the other ideas for elbow pads. And I like the "bamboo frame" idea -- this would have been used as a look for the sprue, or "tree", that would come with a Turtle figure and hold weapons that you would have to twist or cut off to use. I don't think that idea ever made it into the toy line, but I could be wrong.

Another page obviously devoted to musings about ideas for Playmates' TMNT toy line -- this time trying to come up with concepts for mutated bad guys, apparently intended to be henchmen (or would that be henchmutants?) of the Shredder. I think the crab with the pop-up machine guns would have been cool.

Here's another one of my ideas for Turtle sewer playsets -- I don't think this ever made it into the toy line back in the old days, but I think Playmates DID do something sort of like this in the 2K3 toy line. -- PL

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blast from the Past #325: Found sketchbook Part 1

In my continuing, somewhat slightly-faster-than-glacially-paced efforts to go through my STUFF and sort it into piles of things to keep, things to give away, and things to throw in the trash, I still occasionally come across some stuff I'd forgotten… such as this sketchbook, with things drawn in it probably from the mid-to-late 1980's. There are some concepts that I clearly sketched for Playmates Toys, with the hopes that they might find their way into the TMNT toy line. There are I think twenty-four pages in all, and I'll post them in three "Blast from the Past" installments, in the order in which they appeared in the sketchbook.

First up are these somewhat goofy concepts for Shredder vehicles.

Next is this basic pencil sketch of Donatello -- I have no specific idea WHY I drew this.

After that come these two wacky ideas -- wheeled vehicles for the Shredder and the Turtles, and some brief notes on  other ideas for the line. (I like the "Penthouse of Doom" name.)

Then, some ideas for the Turtles' "Secret Hideout" playset, including some disguise concepts for the Turtles themselves.

Next is this concept for a space suit for the Turtles. I think I have drawn several variations on this theme over the years.

Then we have the Shredder's jet-powered "Death Kite" (like that name too!).

And last in this group is an idea for a "Flying Foot Assault Car", as well as some variations on a Foot logo graphic. -- PL

Sunday, October 17, 2010

TMNT Volume 4, #31

From the "Better Really Late Than Never" Department: Here's TMNT Volume 4, number 31. I don't know if I'll ever get around to concluding this story, but I realized it makes little sense to have this comic essentially completed, and not at least post it so fans of Volume 4 (and I know there are a few of them) can read it.

First, Michael Dooney's beautiful painted cover:

And then the "guts", layouts and pencils by Jim Lawson, inking by Eric Talbot, and tones, plot, lettering and script by Peter Laird. -- PL