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.

Boston Comic Con is Coming (and I’ll be there!)

 

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The BOSTON COMIC CON is coming up this weekend, the 8-10th, and I’ll be there. And I’ll be taking commissions for and producing mini-busts right there at the con. Mini-busts are $40 each, and if you’d like to get on the commission list early, send me an email at jfsculptsemail01@gmail.com. Mini-busts are approximately 1/6th scale (about 3″ in height), made of durable gray polymer clay and epoxy. Each will be sent home with you bubble-wrapped and boxed.

I’m sharing a table with the incomparable Sean Downey, and maybe we’ll be ready to talk about our upcoming secret project (I’ve said too much!).

Below are some examples of the kinds of mini-busts that I’ll be making. You pick the character, you pick the style!

We’ll see you at the con!

 

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