The A-TEAM (after Mt. Rushmore National Memorial by Borglum and Borglum)

A TeAm Sky01Last year I auctioned a sculpture commission to raise money for a friend. Within moments a kind soul bid (a fair bit over the minimum, too) and won his choice of anything he wanted me to sculpt.

And then he asked for something awesome.

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In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

The A-TEAM, created by Frank Lupo and superproducer Stephen J. Cannell  was supposedly the most violent show on TV when it was airing in the mid-1980s, but I don’t remember a lot of bloodshed or onscreen death. When I was asked to replace the presidents on Mount Rushmore with these four great American heroes, I felt I was asked to solve a problem and no one else could help.

A Team HannibalA Team FaceA Team MurdochA Team BA    ATeam (17)

Wesley Dodds, THE SANDMAN

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Created in 1939 (one month after Superman first appeared) by writer Gardner Fox and and artist Bert Christman, Wesley Dodds was a somnambulist-turned-superhero who wore an eerie gas mask and used a sleep-inducing gas gun, a kind of nonlethal variation on the Shadow. Inspired by the success of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN series (Gaiman’s Sandman being inspired by the earlier iteration) Wesley Dodds was revived in 1993 by writers Matt Wagner and Steven T. Seagle and artist Guy Davis in Vertigo’s SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATER, a moody crime comic set in the late ’30s.

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SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATER artist Guy David depicted the Sandman’s alter ego Wesley Dodds and his girlfriend and confidant Dian Belmont as a rumpled, bookish, roly-poly couple, unusual for mainstream comics. I was inspired by Davis’ interpretation of the Sandman, as well as the rotund, overcoat-wearing protagonist of a Moebius story, To See Naples.

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This piece was sculpted with a gray mix of Super-Sculpey and Sculpey III over an aluminum armature, molded in Smooth-On Oomoo 30, cast in Smooth-Cast 300, primed and painted with acrylic paints and accented with chalk and pastels. The finished piece stands about 7″ high.

Joss Whedon’s FRAY

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From the comic book series by Joss Whedon and Karl Moline, this is Melaka Fray, Vampire Slayer of the future. Closely tied in with Whedon’s TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fray tells the story of a Slayer disconnected from the lineage of Slayers, in a world that’s forgotten what vampires are.

Fray’s look here is taken from her look in issues #5 and #6 (although artist Karl Moline alternated between giving Melaka a holstered laser gun and omitting it- deadlines!), my favorite of her several looks. I tried to copy the weird glyphs on her t-shirt without having any idea of what they mean. I was amazed when the Scythe, which  first appeared in the FRAY comic book, appeared in live-action on Buffy. In the comics it looked slightly different, so I went with the more finalized, real-world prop’s appearance.

Down at Fray’s feet, you can see a tile floor depicting martyred saint Margaret of Antioch slaying a dragon. Wires, insulation, and machinery have been clumsily threaded through, the future intruding into the past.

Fray was sculpted a 1/6th scale; I made a guess at her height based on Moline’s drawings, but made her taller than Buffy star Sarah Michelle Geller. This turned out to be wrong when Fray and Buffy finally met in Buffy comic books, where Buffy was a bit taller. It was sculpted with Sculpey III, Sculpey Firm, and Apoxie over an aluminum armature. The Scythe was carved wood and a brass rod. These were molded in Smooth On urethane rubber and cast in Smooth Cast 300 resin, primed, and painted with acrylics and Tamiya enamels.

My friend, photographer Patrick Lentz, shot reference photos of a model, Sue, for this piece. I wanted Fray to have a kind of weary but still defiant look here, and I couldn’t have done it without them. Thank you, Pat and Sue.

Grr. Argh.

Frankenstein’s Monster

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How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.

Based on Mary Shelley’s description of the literate, bilingual, articulate monster of her novel, Sean Downey and I designed this piece which I sculpted. It took us a while to finalize this design, which we wanted to be true to Shelley’s description above, but also possess some visual appeal.

The black lips we decided to make a kind of blue-black, like the lips and tongues of bears or Chow Chow dogs, and we extrapolated that his nipples (which, shockingly, Shelly failed to describe) would be, too. Scarring isn’t described in the book, but we utilized the popular idea of the monster being composed of the parts of dead humans as well as animals, which was suggested, hence scars. The scars we did were mostly cosmetic with not a lot of thought given to how they’d actually work (Sean added circular, almost branding-like scars on the shoulders).

We wanted our take on the monster to have a youthful quality, despite looking like he’d racked up a lot of mileage, so we gave him slightly oversized eyes and fine features, including too-small ears and nose set too-high on his head.

His eyes, described as “watery […]that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set” are alternately described as yellow, which seemed contradictory. We decided to make the corneas an unnatural yellow and keep the whites of the eyes white.

The monster is depicted here after having been rejected by Frankenstein and living in the woods for a while.

The sculpture was made with a mixture of Sculpey III, Sculpey Firm, and Apoxie over an aluminum armature. The original was molded in Smooth-On PMC (forgot which number) mold rubber and cast in Smooth-Cast 300, primed, painted with acrylics, and given a loincloth and crepe hair, set with clear fabric glue.

Batgirl of Burnside

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I was excited by the new creative team on BATGIRL- writer/breakdown artist Cameron Stewart, co-writer Brenden Fletcher, artist Babs Tarr, colorist Maris Wicks and letter Jared K. Fletcher- and I wanted to sculpt Barbara Gordon in her new costume.

I based this pose on the cover of her first appearance in Detective Comics #359, as drawn by Carmine Infantino, with additional design input by John Vukelic. This was done for the 6th Annual Hub Comics DARK KNIGHT ON A DARK NIGHT Batman art show.

These pictures were shot on-site in the display case. I’ll try to get some better pictures soon.

Howard the Duck Redux

I’m thrilled that Marvel has tapped the hilarious Chip Zdarsky and nicest-guy-in-comics Joe Quinones for a new HOWARD THE DUCK comic. I’m, uh, kind of a fan from way back. I based this Sculpey Firm relief sketch on Joe’s cool development sketches.

HTD

Howard the Duck was created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik.