Sunday, July 31, 2011

Studio Tour Part Five: On the wall

Here we have some of the pieces hanging on the wall in the studio -- starting with Mitch O'Connell's portrait of Ms. Tree, drawn for the 50th issue of the comic. I really should have this in a better frame -- but there it is. It shares a wall with a George Petty cowgirl pin-up -- a framed print (original Petty art is beyond my budget, sorry to say).

I grew up watching all sorts of Westerns on TV -- and that childhood interest has hung on through adulthood. Here are six arcade cards of cowboy stars, popped into a nifty frame found at a large chain craft/hobby store. Richard Boone as Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel, James Garner and Jack Kelly as the brothers Maverick and Dale Robertson as Jim Hardie in Tales of Wells Fargo are my favorites here.

This Gil Elvgren pin-up calendar is not only lovely -- but is from the year I was born -- my January birthdate on display. The Aurora Captain America Comics Scenes model kit is represented by the cut box art front only -- art by John Romita, Sr. Gil Kane art is featured on the Lone Ranger kit -- which is a complete, sealed boxed version. A boxed Shmoo from Al Capp's Li'l Abner sits in front of a stack of Leave it to Beaver books atop a pair of Batman and Superman boxed book/figure sets. A tin lithographed Comic Book Corral (with unauthorized/look-alike Roy Rogers and Trigger image) holds a bunch of vintage comics. My childhood Barrel of Monkeys sits in front. An early Lone Ranger printing set (in plastic sleeve) is reflecting a little too much light to be seen well -- I'll have to post another shot of that sometime. A few other odds and ends just happened to have landed on the shelf, including a few recent comics, a vintage digest Carnival magazine and an Iron Man mask that I couldn't resist at a clearance price at the nearby Target!

Here are the comics and magazines taking up residence in the Comic Book Corral at the moment. These will get filed away at some point and others will take their place, as it's pretty much the place where I keep whatever comics I've been looking at lately. Fanboy is a xeroxed fanzine spoof by underground artists Jay Lynch, Denis Kitchen and more -- it's the rarity here.

This issue of Green Lantern contains the Gil Kane at the drawing board panel that opened my young eyes to the fact that people drew these things -- I credit it with triggering the youthful decision to be one of those people when I grew up. And apparently I own two copies of Spectacular Spider-Man #2! I didn't even realize that until shooting these pics for the blog! The Rustlers is a beautifully drawn Western by Wm. Overgaard -- the Spider-Man Annual #1 is one of my all-time favorites -- and the only major early Marvel title I still own from a huge childhood find (which I'll discuss here sometime) -- and the Teenie Weenies is a stone cold mint Dell file copy.

Back to the wall with an original pencil drawing of the Thing in cowboy mode by Joe Sinnott. I asked Joe to throw a "to Terry" on there somewhere -- and he ended up signing it twice. I'm amazed at how Joe's pencil line is as sharp and clean as his ink line!

I have no idea who this lovely cowgirl is -- but I love the image. The horse looks a whole lot like Trigger....
A '60s vintage Wyatt Earp print by the great Jack Davis. This is from a set of Cowboy and Indians prints offered for sale by mail order back then -- an antique shop find.

Another antique shop purchase is this set of vintage RoyRogers and Dale Evans paint-by-number portraits -- nicely done and in their original frames. I saw them in an antique shop on the way to St. Louis for a kit collectors' show a few years back -- I resisted them at first -- but stopped again on the drive home and picked them up.

This signed photo of Al Capp was an eBay buy. Listed as a printed signature, I had a feeling about it and bid anyway. Turned out to be an actual inked signature! Sometime you've got to trust those feelings. I figure Al would be happy to share wall space with the lovely Pontani Sisters. This trio has done many tours with surf guitar band Los Straitjackets -- and headlined burlesque tours of their own.

That's all for now -- more studio tour posts to come!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Studio Tour Part Four: Figures, books and one baseball card

More books this time -- though the top of this bookcase is loaded with figure kits and other figural items. From left to right, here's what's what.

The small figure of Julius Caesar is a piece I found in an antique shop as a kid, while accompanying my parents on one of their many weekend antiquing jaunts. Had to have it -- and they were good enough to get it for me.

Behind him is a vinyl figure of Ray Harryhausen's Talos from Jason and the Argonauts. The small ape in the foreground was a gift from my UMA (Universal Monster Army) pal, Packy. The seated devil with sleeping apprentice is a resin "garage kit." The alabaster copy of Venus DeMilo was something that was in the house when I was growing up. At some point it became mine.

My Trick or Treat Devil Girl (a resin kit I sculpted and produced) is flanked by garage kits of Gil Elvgren pin-ups. The girl in the barrel is a Steve Kiwus sculpt, while the Aiming to Please cowgirl is by Tim Bruckner, and is a particular favorite.

In front of the cowgirl is a little glass birdcage Christmas ornament that belonged to my mother -- and was a family piece from her childhood. The little metal sexy private eye is a Phoenix Phollies model kit from the UK. Superman is a Chris Ware-designed piece that was part of a boxed set of figure, book and comic book reprint -- I think it's just superb. The puffy B&W fellow in the hat is a doll of Doug Allen's character Steven. In front of him is a resin casting of my sculpture of '50s kids' TV star Mary Hartline (of Super Circus fame). A copy of my Johnny Eck sculpt, primed but not painted yet, sits in front of her -- leaning against him is the original wax sculpture of Miss Hartline's head.

Here we have the first of several shelves in my studio packed with books by my friend and collaborator, Max Allan Collins. My sculpt of pin-up model Bernie Dexter as "Switchblade Siren" seems quite at home here. One of these days I'm going to produce a limited edition run of this figure -- it just hasn't happened yet. The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics reprints a Ms. Tree story by Max and me.

More books placed on the shelf in no particular order -- though I do have all the Hastings House/Nostalgia Press Prince Valiant books all together. The black book resting on top of the others is a photo album of my dad's -- pictures of him growing up on the farm in the '30s -- and in the service in the '40s. At some point, I may scan and share some of those photos. The gorilla is a Mold-a-Rama figure from Como Zoo in St. Paul.

A pair of books illustrated by the great N.C. Wyeth.

One of several books in my collection illustrated by Frank Godwin -- artist of the Connie and Rusty Riley comic strips. We had a Godwin illustrated version of Robinson Crusoe in the house when I was growing up, and I adored the drawings in it. Somehow, I did not end up with that -- but I've since collected many other books with Godwin illos.

Books, books and more books -- and a resin Dracula "Soaky" -- a fantasy item, as one was never commercially produced ( a gift from another UMA pal).

I loved this goofy Animal Lore book when I was kid, and recall many an hour flipping the pages to make the different combinations of animals. I also recall my father and me making our own versions -- folding paper and each of us drawing a part of the animal. That original copy is long gone -- this is a replacement I bought a few years back.

Somehow or another I seem to have started a collection of Joe Bonomo items! I think it started with this little boxed set of mini-books, which, if I recall correctly was a gift from my friend Barry Luebbert Phillips. All the books in the next picture down are stuffed into this little box!

This copy of stuntman Bonomo's self-published autobiography/photo scrapbook came from an auction of the the estate of Herman Cohn. Herman ran the local newsstand where I bought all my comics, magazines and paperbacks as a kid. Bought my first Playboy there, too! This copy is signed to Herman by Bonomo.

Another Joe Bonomo item!
A wonderful book -- Forty Illustrators and How They Work -- a few selections from the interior shown below.

I was thrilled when I opened this collection of editorial cartoons to discover it was a signed copy. I've since learned that pretty much every copy out there is signed as well! OK -- maybe not a rarity -- but I still like it!

A recent find at a Half Price Books store -- this '30s Mickey Mouse book is pretty darn sweet. I don't actively collect Disney items (except for Pinocchio stuff) -- but when something like this falls into my hands for cheap (ten bucks!), I'm not going to walk away from it.

A pair of the Prince Valiant volumes I collected back in the late '70s. I think I got all these at Readmore Book World in Rock Island. Readmore was (is?) a great bookstore, and I used to drive there several times a month to pick up new books, magazines and comics.

The only baseball card I own -- Bob Uecker! Why? Why the hell not?

More cool stuff coming up in Part Five! Come on back and check it out -- soon!

Studio Tour Part Three: Books and magazines

Below the Batman collection I shared with you in part one of this studio tour, there's a three shelf bookcase, loaded with books and magazines. These are mostly haphazardly organized -- on these particular shelves simply because they fit there. Sometime down the line, I may attempt to get these in some kind of order. In the meantime, I'll just share with you a few favorites from this bunch.

There are many collectible toys and such in my studio -- but the bulk of my collection is books. I can't tell you how many hours I spent combing through used book stores, going to library sales, yard sales and flea markets -- always with an eye out for desirable titles. These days it's book stores, eBay and amazon that account for most of my book buying -- and it's slowed down a great deal -- but I still can't resist a great book.

1001 Riddles by cartoonist George Carlson was a childhood favorite. The copy I grew up with had no dustjacket and was full of crayon marks. As an adult, I picked up this clean copy in dj (jacket art not by Carlson, I was disappointed to discover) -- and still think it's a nifty little book.
Carlson's art does appear on the front boards of the book -- dig this great drawing of a laughing parrot.
Every page of this is chock full of drawings by Carlson. No crayon at all in this copy, thank goodness!
Anatomy and Drawing by Victor Perard is a wonderful art instruction book -- and has seen many printings. I love the embossed decoration on the front boards of this one.

Stan "the man" Lee signed my copy of Origins of Marvel Comics back in '75. My buddy Dave Askam and I skipped a day of high school to attend a lecture by Stan at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. I was thrilled to get the autograph -- but found Stan's pronunciation of Spider-Man as "Spoyda-Man" a little disturbing! Also met Murray Bishoff, then a columnist for Alan Light's The Buyer's Guide for Comics Fandom for the first time at that event.

Ah -- a great used book find -- I paid a whopping 75 cents for this George Burns book about his life with Gracie -- a fantastic read and a real treasure.

Illustrated books make up a large part of my collection. Here is one of many gorgeous interior illustrations by Fritz Eichenberg for Reynard the Fox -- one of several books on this shelf that are part of the collection that came from my father's cousin Ruth -- there were a few too many to fit them all in "Ruth's bookcase" (see Part Two of this tour).

Another used book find. I was not familiar with S. G. Hulme Beaman's work before finding this volume -- but loved it on first sight.

Another case of discovering an illustrator on pulling this book off the shelf at a used book store (likely the Source in Davenport, Iowa) -- Kimo is richly illustrated and every page is a visual delight. Here's a link to a brief biography of artist Lucille Webster Holling.

The bottom shelf of this case is full of magazines -- mostly my Famous Monsters of Filmland collection -- but a number of other monster magazines and assorted titles -- below are a few highlights from the collection, starting with Marvel's Spectacular Spider-Man mags. That John Romita cover painting for #2 still strikes me as one of the best comic book covers ever.

Frank Frazetta and Mickey Spillane! These mags are practically oozing testosterone.

I spent hours and hours drinking in the pictures in this Super Heroes magazine when I was a kid. Imagining the adventures of these Saturday afternoon serial heroes was (mostly) a better experience than actually seeing the movies years later.

Monster mags! Spacemen! Aurora kit ad on the back of a comic book.

Random issues of Creepy and Eerie -- and the Phantom of the Paradise issue of Cinefantastique -- along with the only issue of Judge I own.

1st issue of Castle of Frankenstein!

More monster and movie mags.

Some early issues of Famous Monsters. I had many of these as a kid -- but they didn't survive -- many of them cut up to make collage posters that were displayed in my room -- and eventually thrown away. I've rebuilt this collection (which is far from complete) as an adult.

Creepy #1 and several issues of the FM doppleganger Monster World.

More books, collectibles and wacky stuff in part four -- coming soon!