Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dandy Demo: A Workshop Wonder

For years I ran a cartooning workshop in Pittsburgh, mostly at the Community College of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, but also at Sweetwater and the Carnegie Museum of Art. These character poses, of Gower Goose and Megaton Man, respectively, are from a demonstration piece I did in one workshop, probably around 2000. I scanned it and colored it digitally in 2018.

Megaton Man and Gower Goose!

The original 14" x 17" sheet of Bristol board. I would improvise such demonstration pieces on the spot, and they would turn out only slightly less coherent than my more planned-out work!
[I belatedly realize I should have posted this to my Megaton Man™ blog, but it's too much trouble to change it over at this point! Oh, well, Clarissa can use the traffic.]

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Greetings from Nukehead Beach: A Swimsuit Postcard Pin-Up!

Back in the roaring 80s, a fanzine called Amazing Heroes published an annual swimsuit issue edited by the late Mr. Kim Thompson, one of the founders, along with Gary Groth, of Fantagraphics Books.

The newly-colorized postcard version!

In 1990, the cast of Megaton Man™, including our very own Ms. Megaton Man, Clarissa James, took their turn for some fun and sun. The original, printed in gritty black and white on newsprint, has been colorized for the 21st century!

A limited-edition 11" x 17" print of this piece will be coming to NEO Con 2018 in Olmsted, Ohio, August 19, and you'll be able to get yours autographed by Don Simpson!

The original: pen, brush and ink with dot screen on Bristol board.

Note: There was also a Border Worlds™ pin-up that will be coming to blog near you soon!

Stella Starlight™, Tad ‘n’ Rover™, Yarn Man™, Clarissa James™, Partyers from Mars™ and other characters Megaton Man™ and © Don Simpson 2018, all rights reserved.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Stretch Before You Sketch: Ms. MM Warm-Ups!

Update (April 7, 2018): Finally colored these figures in Photoshop:

Originally posted October 30, 2014:

I have been doing a lot of penciling and to warm up, and I have a tendency to sketch Ms. Megaton Man in one form or another. (It's important to stretch before you sketch, particularly when a comic book is in production; otherwise you can pull a muscle!) As a character that straddles the comedic and dramatic, Clarissa has all the energy that I always loved about comics, and she just rolls out of my pencil.

Light Blue Col-Erase and Staedtler Mars Lumograph H pencil on Strathmore Recycled Sketchbook.

Update November 7, 2014: Some of these warm-up sketches seem worthy to develop further, so I scan and print out (often, slightly larger than the original). This frees the drawing from the sketchbook (where they often originate) and also preserve the original pencil drawing. This gives me a sense of freedom when I ink (I know I can't screw it up, since I can always go back to the original and try again), and that relaxation paradoxically is usually enough to ensure a positive outcome on the first try (go figure!).

The ink finals, below:
Hunt #102 Crowquill pen and India ink on Clearprint Design Vellum.

Hunt #102 Crowquill pen and India ink on Clearprint Design Vellum.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Clarissa Project: The Secret Origin of Ms. Megaton Man!

Reposted from the Megaton Man blog!

Starting out as Stella's Ann Arbor roommate sidekick in Megaton Man #4 (June 1985), Clarissa James has evolved into one of the most prominent characters in the Megaton Man narrative.
A sophomore infatuated with Yarn Man in Return of Megaton Man #1 (July 1988) and subsequently present at the birth of Megaton Man and Stella's son Simon in Return of Megaton Man #3 (September 1988), Clarissa realizes she has Megapowers and dons the primary-colored costume to become Ms. Megaton Man in Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1 (April 1989). Initially attributed to a sexually-transmitted Megavirus, Clarissa learns that the true reason for her Megapowers derives from the fact that she is the "love-child" of Silver-Age Megaton Man Clyde Phloog and an African-American hippie mother in Bizarre Heroes #13 (September 1995), making her the second cousin once removed (or something) of Trent Phloog, the Baxter-Age Megaton Man. In the current work in progress (release date TBD), we will see Clarissa emerge as one of the most powerful Doom Defiers, the Megatropolis team that emerges after terrorist attacks deplete the city's Megahero population.

Clarissa James in her very first appearance, registering for her sophomore year in Ann Arbor with Stella Starlight (Megaton Man #2, Kitchen Sink Press, February 1985). Original coloring by Ray Fehrenbach.

Originally, Clarissa was just a sidekick whose sole purpose was to show former See-Thru Girl Stella the ropes on campus as she adjust to post-Megahero life (from MM #2; recolored in 2015).

Clarissa was also a highly studious student and something of a Megahero skeptic, or at least someone who thought of Megaheroics as a distant distraction. In any event, the notion of giving her Megapowers was the furthest thing from my mind, and in fact, she doesn't appear again in the first ten issues of Megaton Man. Nonetheless, the collegiate iconography of Ann Arbor already seems to subconsciously foreshadow her Megaheroic future (from MM #2).

Once Clarissa realizes who Stella is, she is somewhat starstruck by her celebrity status (from MM #2).

With Trent Phloog, as a de-Megapowered Megaton Man, Clarissa has joined the communal Ann Arbor household by the time of Return of Megaton Man #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, July 1988).

By this time, Clarissa has become the roommate of Megatropolis exiles Stella (now far along with her pregnancy) and Pamela Jointly, as Trent struggles with his returning Megapowers (from Return #1).

Infatuated with Yarn Man, Clarissa cannot restrain herself when Megaton Man's pal appears at the doorstep (Return #1).

Fun with Clarissa and Yarn Man from Return of Megaton Man #3 (September 1988).

Protecting civilian Trent from a toppling stack of firewood, Clarissa strikes a Jack Kirby "Big Barda" pose, and realizes that she now, somehow, possesses Megapowers. Subsequently, Stella sews her a primary-colored costume patterned after Megaton Man's.  From Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, April 1989), originally in black and white, colorized in 2015.

Clarissa assumed that her Megapowers were somehow sexually transmitted from Yarn Man, but learns from her African-America mom that she is in fact the "love child" of Clyde Phloog, the Silver Age Megaton Man. From Bizarre Heroes #13 (Fiasco Comics Inc., September 1995), originally black and white, colorized in 2015.

Clarissa in Megatropolis Central Park with Megaton Man, Rubber Brother, Phantom Jungle Girl, and Yarn Man, as a bronze monument of the allegorical figure Columbia, a pre-Liberty national symbol for America from the 19th century, comes to life. From "Megaton Man and the Liberty Alliance: Columbia Rising," in Liberty Annual 2010 (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund/Image Comics, October 2010). Coloring by Paul and Mary Fricke.

Clarissa gets tested by Preston Percy, Yarn Man, and Rex Rigid in the headquarters of the Megatropolis Quartet (unpublished).
What I like about drawing Clarissa is that she is a much more dramatic superhero character, and a nice foil to the irreducibly comedic Megaton Man! -- Don Simpson.

More about Clarissa James!

All coloring by Don Simpson except where noted.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Body Image: Missing Winnie Wertz!

Clarissa ponders shape and size while waxing nostalgic for the days of yore when Gargantuella was a Doom Defier! Inked on Clearprint Design Velum, from the work-in-progress Megaton Man: Return to Megatropolis graphic novel. More previews on Megaton Man's blog!

CJ rummages through the closets of the Doom Defiers beach as as Preston Percy looks on.

Clarissa stumbles upon some useless electronics and some even more useless old comic books!

The woeful tale of Winnie Wertz is told.
Clarissa takes consolation in the art of sequential narrative!

Preston is unmoved by the story or the display.

To glimpse some of the original pencil roughs, go here!

To see an early conception of Winnie Wertz, go here!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cape Catch-Up: CJ Soars!

This sequence from the all-new fifth issue of Megaton Man: Return to Megatropolis (which I plan to release as a graphic novel, not individual issues, publication details TBD) features Clarissa James, Ms. Megaton Man (who has the distinction of having the most nicknames of any of my characters -- Missy, Sissy, CJ) coming to the rescue of the beleaguered Man of Molecules. I began penciling this sequence in summer 2015, and finished in February 2016. Some adjustments were made, primarily on tier 4A, in which I altered the background. (More previews over on the Megaton Man blog!)

Light blue Col-Erase and graphite pencil (with some Pilot Razorpoint pen) on bond layout, 11" x 14".

Original figure with background penciled in; the action in the background, however, no longer seemed appropriate considered the way the preceding tiers worked out.

New background penciled today!

Foreground and background fused together in Photoshop. The tiers will be inked on Clearprint Design Vellum over printouts of the roughs.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Points from the Paint: Clarissa vs. Fanny!

Here is a couple of unpublished pages from c. 1993 featuring Clarissa James (Ms. Megaton Man) and Donna Blank, the Phantom Jungle Girl, shooting some hoops on some suburban driveway. This sequence was intended to be a part of Bizarre Heroes, and I don't know why I was too lazy to ink the sparse backgrounds and finish them up (including the last panel with Jasper Johnson, Rubber Brother). This scene offers some important backstory to the Phantom Jungle Girl and her historical origins and I still may use it as a flashback scene in some future project.

What is unusual about these pages is that they are largely inked with a Hunt #102 crowquill pen and some brush on plate finish Bristol, which inks a lot smoother than the usual medium surface Bristol I used with brush. It is also significant that my female characters tended toward more realistic proportions much earlier than my male characters. Prior to this, I tended to make everyone cartoony so as to match the unwieldy proportions of Megaton Man, a tension that I struggled with for far too long. One of the reasons I always found some release in drawing Ms. Megaton Man was precisely this release from the feeling that everything in the Megaton Man narrative had to appear exaggerated and humorous. By this time I was growing comfortable with the idea that things could be light and humorous (and character-driven instead of parody-driven), and drawn in a less forced way.