Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Society of Illustrators Profile: Robert Peak

Bob Peak was born in Colorado, grew up in Kansas and attended Wichita State University before serving his country in the Korean War. Obtaining his formal training at the Art Center he arrived in New York in the early fifties working on top ad campaigns for different advertising agencies and drawing for American magazines like Sports Illustrated, Good Housekeeping, and Time. But his big break came in 1961 when United Artist hired Peak to design the movie poster for Robert Wise's "West Side Story". His imaginative new solution was to do a montage of characters and scenes that became the prototype of over one hundred posters he did for UA throughout the years. As the Father of the modern movie poster, his multiple image format was woven into a complicated design to create one spectacular image was highlighted in poster such as "Camelot", "Star Trek", "My Fair Lady" and "Funny Girl". Winner of numerous awards for his superior artistic skills, for his thirty year contribution to the film industry, Peak received from The Hollywood Reporter their Key Art Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. A larger than life figure, the artist lived most of his life with his family in Connecticut before ending his career spending time in both Arizona and California.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Greatest Adventure: Dial H For Hero

After stumbling into a hidden cave, Robby Reed discovered a strange dial from another dimension that had weird inscriptions carved on its surface. After studying the device in his private lab at home, the school boy found that dialing the translated letters H-E-R-O changed him into one of a thousand different super beings. Billed as the most original character's in comic history, Dial H For Hero, debuted in DC's House of Mystery #156 in January 1966. Written by Dave Wood and illustrated by Jim Mooney, this short-lived adventure series initially lasted only two years, but had some of the wildest story lines in comic's as Reed's fantastic secret created three new heroes every issue. The only problem the boy faced though was Robby never knew which hero he was to become or what powers he would possess. The Hoopster, Human Starfish, Giantboy, and The Squid were just a few of the colorful characters Robby dialed up ever month with his signature saying, "Sockamagee!".

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sensational Strips: Flamingo

Surviving just over a year, Jerry Iger's independent Phoenix Features produced an beautiful new strip, Flamingo, in February of 1952. Initially drawn by one of the Golden Ages premiere "good girl" artist, Matt Baker, it quickly gained an strong following, highlighted by equally sensational scripts by Ruth Roche. Flamingo was a dark haired shapely Gypsy dancer whose various adventures took her all over Europe and she helped others with her many good deeds. With the help of her American boyfriend, Joe, and her loyal father, Old Pepo, Flamingo foiled kidnappers, caught burglars, and drove all the men wild with her exotic dancing and extreme beauty. A feature ahead of its time, it scripts dealt with issues like prejudice and intolerance, as well as being written by a woman and illustrated by one of the first African-American artists in comics. Unfortunately Baker left the feature half way into the run with John Thorton taking over the artistic chores, whose illustrations could never lived up to the high standards set by Baker. Even with adding a enjoyable Sunday page and continuing entertaining story lines, the feature finally closed in March of 1953 with Flamingo marring her one true love.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Charlton Comics...Son of Vulcan

With his first appearance in Charlton Comics Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds #46 in May of 1965, Son of Vulcan, was one of the company's most unusual short-lived heroes. Johnny Mann was a newspaper reporter for Worldwide News sent to cover a civil war on the Greek island of Crete. Exploring the ruins of the Hall of Jupiter, Johnny pondered why the gods would allow such war and killing and was instantly transported via a thunderbolt to Mount Olympus. Confronting the Olympians with his question, they replied that since the gods did not create man's evil they would not deal with it. Vulcan was the only deity to defend Mann and decided to provide his assistance in weapons and curing Johnny's crippling war injury. Now as the Son of Vulcan, our Greek hero has the sword of Ulysses, mace of Vulcan, and other mystical powers of the gods, like controlling fire and the elements to fight the many evils on Earth.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Alex Kotzky...In His Own Words

It seems that as as far back as I can remember I have always been drawing. It was, then, a natural conclusion for me to earn my living in some art endeavour. However, before Apartment 3-G was released as a syndicated strip, I had traveled a circuitous route in the free-lance art field. I was born in the Bronx, New York in 1923. I attended the Music and Art High School, Pratt Institute, and the Art Student's League. During the war I served in the 4th Division, and I toured the scenic spots of the European continent amidst a restless native element. With the conclusion of the war, I plunged back in to the real in New York...and I was wounded severely many times. I did advertising art and illustration. I also received good comic strip experience by ghosting several of them.

In May 1961, Apartment 3-G was released. The immediate problem that Apartment 3-G posed was to depict three good-looking, shapely career girls living together in an apartment. Each girl had to have an identity of her own, not only professionally and as a personality, but each had to be recognized physically as an individual. I tried to solve this problem by thinking of Lu Ann Wright as the smallest of the three, with a blonde pony-tail and a rounded face. Tommie Thompson is a red-head, medium in stature, and with a square face. Margo Magee is the tall brunette you usually see in the offices of many large advertising agencies, high cheek-boned and long-legged. It is very useful to have clear-cut personalities established because it seems that after a while dictate their individual mannerisms. This does much to help animate a particular strip which is necessarily devoted to discussion and conversation.

Perhaps the most important element in drawing a strip is to establish its personality. You should decide what you want to say pictorially, and then concentrate all your efforts on that theme. Everything in the strip should be positively stated. Space in a strip is at such a premium that no opportunity should be wasted to keep punching the story across. I use a 2-ply kid-finish board. I use the smooth side because it seems to provide a better surface for pen work on small drawings of heads. I generally use a #3 sable brush for figure work. The brush gives the figure more zip and vitality. I use a #290 point for heads. This is a flexible point, and I can get a thin and thick quality of line. For backgrounds and mechanical items I use a #659 pen. The point is more rigid, and enables me to get a firm, consistent line.

Try to get your art work reproduced. You can them check ways to get better reproduction. You will also see your work in a reduced size, and you can determine ways to improve it. Most often you will find that you can greatly simplify your art. Best of luck to aspiring young cartoonists. In my own case a patient and understanding wife, Emma, has been my most important asset, without her cooperation, my weekly deadlines would be sorely tried.