Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Adam Strange of Rann

I don't know a blessed thing about Adam Strange...aside from what I read on Wikipedia. As that great pot of knowledge indicates, Strange is basically a thinly veiled riff on John Carter of Mars (as pretty much half of Sci-Fi and comic books are)...a heroic man is being pursued by a group of natives in Peru, whereby he's mysteriously transported to a far away planet called Rann. He's championed as a hero by the people of this strange world, falls in love with a beautiful member of their race, and goes on to have a wide array of wacky exploits. Despite my ignorance of the character's comic history, I have always loved his design. Obviously inspired by Buck Rogers, he has such a classic retro feel that I've always kept him on the back of my mind as a potential custom project. And so here he is. As is often the case, I try to imagine the costume as it might appear in real life, removed from the tights and defined musculature through said tights. I also try to think of what the character would have looked like if Columbia or Republic Pictures made a serial of the character, but slightly more 'big budget.' The head is a really friggin' old Razor Ramone sculpt (I thought the expression and lantern jaw were perfect for a serial actor), the body is a Marvel Legends Banshee, the hands are from a Kaneda figure (from Akira), and the boots are Marvel Legends Bullseye. Cloth, some styrene, leather, a Magneto helmet, and epoxy putty round out the materials. The retro ray gun's my favorite's made from two sizes of styrene rod/tube, and some styrene sheet.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rocketeer Redux

These alterations have been a long time coming. The head that I used for my Rocketeer custom was a cast from a Bend-Ems figure that was released in 1991. The rudder/fin of the figure was too short and stubby, but I was always afraid that I'd ruin the helmet if I altered it. Also, the resin cast was obviously made from a mold of a figure who had been chewed by a dog...not good, and as you can see from the first image above (the unaltered original custom), he really needed a new rudder/fin. I very carefully removed the inaccurate rudder with my dremel, and carved a shallow channel into the helmet. I then crafted a new rudder from styrene, glued it into the channel I had made, and filled the gap with Apoxie Sculpt. I also revisited the sculpt on the pants, making the thigh section much more pronounced and added some more realistic folds in the fabric. The boots and arms were smoothed out as well. I sprayed the helmet with some gold paint, weathering it with a mixture of brown and black, then wiping away the excess to leave behind a natural patina. I painted the lenses black, then clearcoated them with Tamiya Clear Gloss Green. The paint job on the Rocket Pack was spiffed up as well...I sprayed it with silver lacquer and cleaned up the paint around the nozzles. This was one of the custom projects that prompted me to make figures in the first place, and my recent reading of the Dave Stevens book inspired me to clean up my original work. I think he looks a lot better.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The League of Marvels and Joshua Izzo

The most satisfying project I've ever taken part in was my collaboration with Joshua Izzo. The two of us elaborated upon an idea that Joshua had...combining steampunk/victorian aesthetic with Marvel superheroes, and developing a massive, epic story that spans the globe. Over two years (2005-2007), the two of us contributed a suite of custom action figures and background stories to fill out the concept, and these combined efforts were presented during the on-line Custom-Con events that take place a few times a year. What you see above are my contributions. Why am I posting these now? Well, to celebrate the launching of Joshua's fancy new site at ...he's among my favorite customziers, and an early influence on my style and interest in customizing. Be sure to explore his website in it's entirety...he has some great illustration work, and the site design is extremely attractive and easy to navigate. Also, to check out the Custom Con entries, follow the links below:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The Escapist!

This will probably be the oldest custom I'm willing to post on this blog...he was made in April of 2005. I just recently re-read Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for a book club I run. The first time I read it was in 2002, and I thought it was fantastic. It was even breezier the second time around. The Escapist here is not without his lumps and bumps, but I still really think this recipe worked well. I gave it to my friend shortly after I made it (he was the one who actually recommended the book to me), so I may one day make one for my own collection. The head is a DC Direct Aquaman, and the body combines Aquaman's body with some Namor parts as well. The key logo and mask are made from vinyl.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pirates of the Carribean

In 2006, I was blindsided by how much I enjoyed Dead Man's Chest. I was very lukewarm on the first Pirates movie, thinking that it was okay, but overrated. Dead Man's Chest had this strange, offbeat humour, and was unlike anything I'd ever seen. The visual effects are incredible, and the art direction and design in the film is just fantastic. The crew of the Flying Dutchman is probably one of the best and niftiest group of villains I've ever seen in an adventure film, and Bill Nighy's wierd performance as Davy Jones is a wonder to behold. The third film, while visually stunning, did little for me in terms of drawing the series to a satisfying conclusion...but to be honest I wasn't expecting it to. Dead Man's Chest does have some bland performances from the leads, and really doesn't make much sense, but there's a boldness to it that I can't help but admire. And, since the design was so important to the film's success in my eyes, I felt compelled to make some customs. Captain Jack, Davy Jones, Maccus, Conjoined Twin Pirate (which I saw as a concept drawing, but have yet to spot him in the film), and the guy with the big iron balls (don't know his name) all got the Marvel Legends treatment. Fabric, epoxy putty, on top a variety of Marvel Legends parts are what make up this handsome group. They're older customs, but I think they hold up okay.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Brush With Passion: The Life and Art of Dave Stevens

I don't intend to make a habit of posting reviews, but I felt compelled to give this book some free publicity. I received this wonderful volume in the mail yesterday, and finished reading the text sometime this morning. Stevens was in the process of writing the text when he tragically passed away last March. What was completed has been pieced together by Arnie and Cathy Fenner (who are responsible for the amazing Frazetta collections), as well as some thoughts and reflections from those that knew Stevens. The finished product is marvelous. There are many gaps and unanswered questions, but that was primarily due to the fact that the book was unfinished, and the Fenners opted not to include some information at their disposal for fear of disrespecting Stevens and some of the people in his life (mainly his friendship with Bettie Page). What we do have here is a volume that is lighthearted, amusing, and conversational, but also sad and bittersweet. The people involved with making this book are obviously coping with the loss of such a young and gifted man, and their pain can't help but come through. That being said,the book is no doubt a celebration of this quietly important artist...a man that left his modest but influential mark on the comic book medium, and always struggled for his craft. I don't want to reveal any of his story, because I think the book has some surprises for even the most devoted of fans. All I can do is recommend it, and lament the loss of one of my all time favorite comic book artists.