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Location: Long Beach, California, United States

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Monday, December 06, 2004

"You know what you are? You're a bunch of ar-ar-ar-ART FAGS!"

Since I found a tattered copy of Captain America #155 on the playground during recess my kindergarten year, I knew I was going to grow up to draw comic books.

There was never any doubt in my mind. Grown ups would ask me, "What do you want to be when you grow up, Johnny Boy?" and I would instantly respond, "Be a comic book artist." They'd chuckle and make some comment about how unique that was, pat my head and sometimes ask to see my drawings. I'd produce fully scripted and drawn 17-page epics, my favorite being my own superteam of Marvel Comics characters I dubbed The Intermediates.

The Intermediates was made up of Captain America (my ultimate favorite), the Human Torch, Captain Mar-Vell, and Namor the Sub-Mariner. Basically, The Invaders, my favorite comic at the time, plus Captain Marvel, my second favorite book.

Why "Intermediates"? It sounded like "Invaders", plus referred to the heroes second-tier status, beneath such more popular characters like Spider-Man and the Hulk. Hey, I was a pretty advanced third grader. My teacher, Mrs. Porter, allowed me to mimeograph copies and pass them out to the class. I would then solicit letters and print them in the next issue. My own little publishing empire.

I worshiped at the altar of Jack Kirby, the most innovative artist ever to grace the medium. Of course, by the time I was reading comics, he was an echo of his younger self, working on books like the Black Panther and Eternals. My other comic reading friends made fun of his art, with its square fingers and blocky knees, not to mention those meaningless metallic squiggles on everything. I didn't care. Kirby was king.

I also loved the covers by Gil Kane, but for entirely different reasons. The exagerrated and highly defined musculature made my pants feel tight. As I got older, I would stay in my room for hours, drawing and drawing, avoiding the fights downstairs, the bullies at school, reality. As a result, my figure drawing got to be quite good. Except for one thing: while I could draw men very well, I couldn't draw a woman to save my life.

Wonder why that is?

When I hit high school, I decided to be an art major. I took tons of art classes, entered local art shows and even had a few figure drawings win and get sent to national shows. Sadly, most of these pieces got tossed in the trash after I left home and joined the Army.

Ah, yes...the Army. Drawing super-heroes was not going to pay my way into college. I was in the weird position of not being eligible for scholarships because my parents made "too much." Keep in mind we had eight kids living under one roof, but it's purely a numbers game when it comes to qualifying and the numbers came in a hair too high. So, off to the Army I went.

And the sketchbook got put away, alongside dreams of being the next Jack Kirby.

Here is the type of thing I was doing around senior year of high school:
Marvel's Captain Marvel meets DC's Captain Marvel and steps on his foot, apparently.

An original character named Sonik, who was so original he looked exactly like Lobo.

Since I've been more or less homebound the past few weeks, I decided to pick up the old sketchbook and try to do something that wasn't a rough ad layout on a paper napkin for the first time in about 15 years. But I needed inspiration. Looking around the apartment, I found an old issue of Details with Vin Diesel on the cover that I've been saving for "research purposes." Bingo. I sharpened a pencil, sat down and went to work. Here's the result:

The head's too small, the left arm is funky and my line isn't as loose as it used to be, but I was pleasantly surprised. I've lost a bit due to my far too long layoff, but some practice may bring it back. I also found myself overthinking the process too much, being very hesitant to place lines, being overcareful with things, afraid to make mistakes, where before I would hit pencil to bristol and just let go, then clean up the mess later.

Insert life metaphor here.

Fine Folks

"...and by hubris, I mean overweening pride!" - Johnny's Greatest Hits

25 Year Loop
Fucking Woof
David Live
The Night Before
Jobriath Was First
She's in Parties
She's in Parties Pt. 2
Tales From the Dragon Club
Tales From the Dragon Club Pt. 2
Okay, California...You Win
How to Sell Used CDs

Previously on "Johnny Is a Man"...

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