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.

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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.

ROSE THE HAT

I just read Stephen King’s DOCTOR SLEEP, his semi-sequel to THE SHINING. The villain, Rose the Hat, is an immortal psychic predator who feeds on the “steam” of children with the shining. Seemingly beautiful, her true face has one long, tusk-like tooth and, serpent-like, she can open her jaw so wide it touches her chest.

I was probably too literal in visualizing it, but the image of the saber-like tusk struck me and wouldn’t leave.

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I made this mini-bust with a mixture of Super Sculpey, black and white Sculpey III and Sculpey Firm over an aluminum wire and foil armature. I also used a mixture of Super Sculpey and Apoxie, the recipe for which can be found here. This combination created a self-curing, water-thinned, more durable material that I used for the tooth and the hair loops, which would have been difficult with regular Super Sculpey. It’s a great material with the only downsides being a shortened working time and less self-adhesion.

CAPTAIN AMERICA (After Kirby)

DSC02997My 3D rendition of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s Captain America. This is based on Kirby’s cover for CAPTAIN AMERICA’S BICENTENNIAL BATTLES

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(He gets a little John Buscema-esque when viewed from the side.)

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DSC02991DSC02990DSC02996This piece is dedicated to my late friend James, Cap’s biggest fan.

Apparently there a new Captain America movie out. I don’t know how it could top Albert Pyun’s masterpiece.

(I’m really looking forward to it! If you enjoyed it, consider making a donation to The Hero Initiative in Jack Kirby or Joe Simon’s name. )

JFSculpts READER MAILBAG!

At the conclusion of 12 Days of the Batman, John Vukelic left this comment:

“12 sculpts in 12 days is a very cool accomplishment. Did you learn anything new working on those 12 busts?”

(John’s site chronicles his process as he learns to become a fantasy and sci-fi artist, and it’s filled with great art resources as well.)

In answer to John’s question: I hate to say it, but I learned very little. But it did reinforce a lot of lessons I discovered with other sculpture sprints, such as Mighty Marvel May, as well as from years of trial-and-error. What I have learned:

Plan ahead:
Particularly when I don’t have a lot of time to execute, it’s much better to have a concrete idea before I start and not try things out as I’m sculpting. I’m terrible about sketching. I virtually never do it, to my detriment. On longer projects, I usually start sculpting and make adjustments as I go. I don’t have that luxury when trying to work this fast, but ten or twenty minutes sketching would probably have helped a lot. Also, making good armatures is always important.
If you get off to a bad start, start over:
If I didn’t make a good armature and started sculpting over it, I immediately regretted it. It actually saved me time to scrap what I’d done and do it over from scratch rather than fight with it.
Keep your materials handy:
Seems obvious, right? I tried to have all my tools, workspace (which was often my lap), and even the camera, light, and backdrop ready before I started. Except I ran out of the Sculpey Firm I use and tried gray Fimo instead (I use a mixture of Sculpey Firm, Super Sculpey, and black and white Sculpey III to make a grey, just-right material). Not the same thing, and it worked- kinda- but the last three or so days I was working with what felt like substandard material. I shouldn’t do that.
Form is more important than detail:
Silhouette, shape, proportion are all much more important to the overall look of a piece than any detail I’m going to tack on. Does it read from across the room? If not, keep working. A rookie mistake- when I can tell I’m choking- is to go to detail too soon. Make sure the form is right, then start finessing.
When working this fast, compromises have to be made:
Forcing myself to put the work up- ready or not- by the end of a day meant I wasn’t going to finish it to my satisfaction. I had to make choices about what was most important and what just had to go. Sometimes happy accidents occurred: I really liked how Poison Ivy’s hair came out in the limited time I had to detail it.
If you do a bad job, you’ll do better the next day:
Sometimes events on the day kept me from putting as much time in as I could, and resulted in some clunkers (I’ll let you decide for yourself which ones I’m talking about). I had to finish them, put them up, and move on, no time to look back.
There is never enough time, so do the best you can in the time you have:
The clock is always ticking. If you have an hour or a month you’ll never finish to your satisfaction, so just work with what you’ve got. You always have right now.

 

Thanks for the question, John!