Richard Stark’s PARKER (in the style of Darwyn Cooke)

PARKER

Created by Richard Stark (the pseudonym of writer Donald E. Westlake), the violent and remorseless criminal Parker was the subject of twenty-four Stark novels from 1962-2008. The first PARKER book, The Hunter, was one of four adapted into graphic novels by the late artist Darwyn Cooke. Although Westlake, who died in 2008, never saw the finished graphic novel, he worked with Cooke and even approved the use of the Parker name, something he’d refused the several film adaptations of Parker novels.

This sculpture is based on Cooke’s design for Parker, one authorized by Westlake, as he appeared in THE HUNTER (in subsequent stories, Parker underwent extensive plastic surgery so he wouldn’t be recognized by the criminal underworld; Cooke redesigned Parker’s face accordingly). It was sculpted in Super Sculpey over an aluminum foil and wire armature and stands about 7 3/4″ tall. It’s painted in a high-key color scheme where I tried to match the style of the colored inkwash technique Cooke utilized in his graphic novel adaptation.

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JOHN CARTER, DEJAH THORIS, and WOOLA of BARSOOM

JC Group

Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs (writing as “Norman Bean”) in A Princess of Mars, first serialized in ALL-STORY magazine in 1912, here are John Carter, formerly of Virginia, Princess Dejah Thoris, and loyal Woola, a calat (a kind of reptilian Martian dog). Burroughs, also the creator of Tarzan, created a detailed, heavily-populated fantasy Mars, or Barsoom as the natives named it. I tried to be as faithful to Burroughs’ descriptions as possible, which still left me a lot of room to interpret visually.

JC Carter Detail

As described in the novels, both humans are naked except for armor and ornamentation. Carter wears the decorated fur of a Martian White Ape scalp (a touch I think I appropriated from Disney’ JOHN CARTER movie), indicating he’s a Barsoomian chieftain.

JC Dejah Thoris Detail

A Red Martian, Dejah Thoris is traditionally depicted wearing a kind of an Art Nouveau bikini, but I decided to steer into a more science fiction look, with flexible gold ornaments. Her shoulderpiece has eight rings, suggesting the orbits of the other planets of the solar system. The two empty circles represent Mars’ moons, and the large circle is for Barsoom itself. She’s wearing blue body paint, which I imagine to be reserved for royalty, and references both the native flowers and the markings of a calot. Like all Red Martians, Dejah Thoris was born from an egg and has no belly button.

Woola was the trickiest. The makers of the 2012 JOHN CARTER movie had done such a great job creating an accurate Woola, I had to work hard not to duplicate their work. Described in A Princess of Mars as having “…ten short legs …about the size of a Shetland pony, but its head bore a slight resemblance to that of a frog, except that the jaws were equipped with three rows of long, sharp tusks,” Woola is also supposed to be the fastest land animal on Mars. I figured he’d have a flexible spine like a cat, but then I needed to figure out how he’d run and arrange all those legs in a way that (kind of?) made sense. I painted him to blend in with the land and foliage of Mars, incorporating the blue of those Martian flowers. My thinking was it was camouflage to sneak up on prey. I also tried to suggest the loyal puppy qualities Burroughs gave Woola.

This was a side project that got away from me. Originally it was just going to be Carter, but I thought “well, without context, that’s just a nude dude,” so I decided to add Woola, but then thought that felt a little out-of-balance and decided to add Dejah, too. Here are some work-in-progress shots, including a briefly bearded Carter:

John Carter and Woola were sculpted in Super Sculpey and Dejah Thoris is a mix of red, brown, and translucent Sculpey III, all of them over aluminum wire and foil armatures, painted with acrylic paint and Dr. PH Martin dyes, and adorned with found objects. Carter stands at about 8″ high, Dejah 7.5″, and Woola is about 4″ high.

 

 

 

 

Tezuka’s ASTRO BOY (Tetsuwan Atomu)

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Created in 1952 by Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy (or Mighty Atom) is one of Japan’s most enduring characters of both manga and anime. Astro is a robot boy powered by a “100,000 horsepower” engine whose greatest attribute is his giant heart.

I did this mostly from memory, knowing I was taking a lot of liberties with Tezuka’s design. I wanted to recreate how Astro feels in my memory, not make an exact replica. Tezuka often placed the artificial Astro Boy in natural environments, and I did the same, with man-made detritus (including the arm of an older, ill-fated robot) on the ground; nature reclaiming it.

In Naoki Urasawa’s wonderful manga PLUTO, an updated retelling of Tezuka’s Astro Boy story The Greatest Robot in the World, Atom makes his entrance saving a snail off the sidewalk, and I paid homage to that story with Astro’s little snail pal here.

Astro Boy is 1/6th scale, approximately 8″ high, made of Super Sculpey, and Apoxie Sculpt on an aluminum wire and foil armature. He’s painted with spraypaint, acrylics, and enamel. The base is mostly found materials like dried, used coffee grounds, bits of tubing, and glue. The severed robot arm is scratch-built from wire and styrene plastic, and painted with Tamiya enamels.

SPACE SAMURAI FANG

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SPACE SAMURAI FANG (Supēsu Bushi Fang) aka ROCKET WOLF FANG (aka Roketto Ōkami Fang) is a character I made up when I was a little kid. I wrote a lengthy origin story on the Harvard mainframe (where my mom worked), which garnered me a fan letter. He’s the last survivor of an alien race, whose been recruited by the emperor who killed his people. (I think the plan was that Fang would eventually get revenge: I’ve always been about the long-unfolding plots, I guess.)

This 1/6th scale mini-bust was sculpted with Sculpey Firm, Super Sculpt, and Apoxie, and painted with acrylic paints.

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Here’s a teenage drawing of the character, then a sketch from memory from a week or so ago that lead to the sculpture:

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THE SHADOW

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Created in 1930 as a disembodied narrator for radio crime dramas, the Shadow eventually gained a persona, backstory, and has had many bloody adventures on radio (voiced by a young Orson Welles, among others), pulp magazines (mostly written by magician-turned-author Walter B. Gibson under the pen-name Maxwell Grant), comic books, and film (a 1994 feature starring Alec Baldwin). Having learned to “cloud men’s minds” in the Far East, Lamont Cranston (a.k.a. Kent Allard) returns to his native New York City and wages a brutal war on crime, aided by agents from many different fields of expertise. His famous catchphrase “who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” was often accompanied, on radio, by his chilling, humorless laughter.

The Shadow was a precursor to Batman, and a huge influence on Batman’s creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Batman spent his first year occasionally toting a gun and dispatching criminals as ruthlessly as the Shadow did.

This 1/6th scale mini-bust was sculpted with Sculpey Firm, Super Sculpt, and Apoxie, and painted with acrylics and cel vinyl.

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GRAY GHOST (Goodbye Adam West)

Adam West died last Friday. Synonymous with his portrayal of Batman in the 60s, he also provided the voice of Batman’s childhood hero on the animated episode “Beware the Gray Ghost.”

This relief was done on Sunday afternoon in Sculpey Medium.

Farewell, old chum.