Saturday, January 11, 2014


(Forgot to add this last time. One of the Shang Chi pages I inked...with Dr. Fu Manchu, my favorite villain.)

When you are lucky enough to have your work finished by truly gifted craftsmen, it really is a treat. One of my favorite jobs over the years was a Wonder Woman story that Dick Giordano inked. He brought a subtlety to the work and solutions and simplifications that astounded me. I only wish I had had the chance to work with him more often. By the way, I did "ghost" a few pencil pages for Dick for a Modesty Blaise graphic novel in the 80's…but I've never seen a copy of the book. Anyone have access to this?

(This and the two pencils below are a few pages from the Modesty Blaise graphic novel...which I've never seen.)

Alfredo Alcala also had the opportunity to take some very pedestrian pencils I did for a Conan story and just make them sing. Of course, no one was every going to be confused that the brunt of the work was done by Alcala and certainly not by your's truly. What a master of the brush.

During my long run on The She-Hulk the venerable Frank Springer did most of the inking. I think I learned more from him that any other single artist about bringing a professional looking finish to my pencils. Maybe it didn't hurt that were both left-handed. Oddly enough, while we both drew really fantastic looking women, our She-Hulk was never the perfect combination  of our skills. The book looked terrific, but our heroine somehow lacked a bit of sex appeal.

It was around this time that I was at the first Pro-Con which featured a panel with Joe Kubert and Dick Giordano talking about the inking process. The latter proceeded to tell the audience that he tried to have as much respect as possible for the work of the penciller so that none of his personality was lost in the finish. Kubert succinctly commented: Once the inker hands me any pages, they are MINE!

That's has always been my approach to this whole process. I found in my own work that I didn't want to overpencil and produce very tight originals that were simply going to be traced over in the inking. For me, I do as much drawing when I am inking as I do in the preliminary work. The reality is, that pencils are always going to be grey, while the finishes will be black. Understanding  the balance needed to make that work just doesn't happen in the first stage.
(A couple of recent pinups I did of the She Hulk for my favorite comic art collector.)

I was just reading the excellent book on inking by Klaus Janson. ( Now there is someone I would have loved to have seen ink something of mine. ) In the introduction. Frank Miller makes the point that while tools and hand dexterity are assets, the real essence of inking is simply an extension of the illustrator's mind: drawing, composition and storytelling. For me that's what makes the difference between the good guys and the great ones. The latter have the ability to do all the work on their own, but for whatever reasons, they have chosen to only work on the finishing part of the work.

There is also the major problem of style and identity in the work. As Kubert stated:"I want the finish to represent me". That is the essence of the creative process. While the results of having your work taken to another level can be a thrill, it is still less than satisfying in the end if you aren't doing it yourself.


Here is a glimpse of some of the finished colored pages from the first issue of The Mad Mummy. More on this in next week's blog.

For those in the LA area, Center Stage Gallery in Burbank is hosting a show of my illustration collection, which includes a number of pieces by Robert Fawcett as well as others by Dean Cornwell, Robert McGinnis, Leonard Starr, Jon Whitcomb, Austin Briggs, Noel Sickles, Fred Ludekins and many more. I'll post information about the official opening (slated for Friday, January 17) early next week.


  1. Mike - here's the link.... Wished I lived a bit closer!

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