Friday, 25 February 2011

Chris Weston - Quick on the Draw!

Chris Weston has been gracing the pages of 2000AD for over twenty years. The meticulous artist, taught by the legendary Don Lawrence, is a firm favourite with readers for both his amazing attention to detail and his mind-bendingly trippy visuals.

I am a huge fan of Chris' work, but admit that I was blind drunk when I emailed him to ask for the commission - in fact, the first I knew about it was the next day when he emailed me back to say he was available!

Unlike myself, Chris was the model of professionalism, with this superbly detailed prelim sent within a day of that initial drunken contact..

Naturally I agreed with the image straight away (alas, this was before the days of the fabled 'Pete Wells Block') and I was surprised to receive this 'detailed rough' shortly after...

Chris says "All my roughs are drawn A4-sized paper, then, once I've been given the all clear, they are blown up and inked on A3 paper. For some reason I find it easier to compose the picture when it's smaller."

As if I was thrilled enough with the detailed image then wallop, the intricately painted A3 art was finished and delivered in little more than a week! Amazing!

I love this commission, the work that's gone into it is breathtaking. Furthermore, my commission made a cameo in Chris' excellent Future Shock 'Counts as one Choice' in Prog 1645 which was a nice surprise!

I can't recommend Chris highly enough. Super fast and professional with constant communication throughout, if only all artists were like this! His prices are more than fair, especially considering the level of detail and the amount of work he pours into your piece.

Another satisfied customer is Eric Moore, who got Chris to do him a commission of a character they both love, The Spider!

Over to Eric "Dunno quite know how this came about, think it was Chris talking about British boys comics he grew up on his Blog, coupled with my decision to try and collect modern artists takes on my favourites from that time, prompting me to email him to see if he could do his version of the Spider. He said sure, when he had a gap in his schedule."

"A couple of months later he got back in touch to say that he was free and was I still up for it? Sure was, so just like with Ian Gibson we established just how completed a piece I was after. Again, I went with B&W with a touch of colour."

"Just what the fella would look like i totally left up to Chris. Stunned and well chuffed to receive this while later..."

"A brilliant take on the character, with clever use of red to make the background of the web. Top work!" Thanks to Eric there for contributing to the blog again!

Here are a few more commissions from Chris, firstly this brilliant Judge Death commission for Chris Caira's esteemed Trophy Wall series. Chris gets very highly artists to depict a character (generally classic villains) with their kills behind them. Chris obviously asked for good old Judge Death...

Of the prelim he says "This is, if can believe it, a PRELIM by Chris Weston. Amazing attention to detail even in preliminary form. Chris and I discussed the elements of this piece once he finished the prelim and changed a couple small things..."

Below is the beautiful finished piece, can you spot the different victim?!? Chris says "Here's the final finished piece. Just amazing detail level by Chris. Judge Dredd's Sinister Villain and Chris Weston was the perfect choice for this piece. He filled the piece with wonderful bits everywhere and a couple little jokes."

Another famous set of commissions for which Chris has contributed is Michael Finn's 'One Minute Later' series showing famous covers erm... one minute later! Michael commissioned Chris to do a 'What happens next' on the golden age Captain America cover shown below:

Here's his freaking amazing inks (all logos etc, were hand drawn, not stuck on!)

And finally the digitally coloured image.

When asked about the his colouring methods in Photoshop for the above image, Chris said "I have a catalogue of home-made textures (scanned in bits of paper, photos of gravel, peeling paint) and I merely overlay them as a seperate layer in Photoshop... and "Multiply" the layer. I have a theory that the human eye doesn't like looking at flat, smooth surfaces... probably something to do with our primitive brain that's always looking for hand-holds to help us climb. Anyway, I like to chuck in a bit of grain and dirt... make it look weathered somehow."

A fan of early heroes, Chris got the chance to do a commission of popular character The Shadow for collector Alan Henderson. Again, his 'rough' is amazingly detailed...

With the finished piece being mindbogglingly good!

And finally, back to familiar 2000AD territory for me. Again, at the risk of repeating myself, here's the bloody amazing roughs for BSC's Dredd, Rogue, Archie and Dan Dare spectacular...

And the cracking final image, simply brilliant.

You can see more of Chris' fantastic work on his excellent blog and site. Go on, contact him today!!!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Cute Work of Ian Gibson

Welcome to another instalment of “Yes Commissioner!”

This time we’re going to look at a few commissions from the legend that is Ian Gibson. Ian has been with 2000AD from the start, though after a very public spat, it is unclear if he is still on speaking terms with old Tharg!

I am a HUGE fan of his, as an adult I love his character designs, his beautifully elegant line work and his mastery of the airbrush. As far as I know he still hasn't gone digital and I love him for it. And as a kid he was the first artist I remember noticing - it was his strips I looked forward to in the prog, his work I poured over for hours and hours and his ladies that made me feel all... funny.

However, it was his work on Dredd that I particularly adored. He somehow managed to make it quirky and funny, yet seriously cool all at the same time. His distinctive citizens, sexy Anderson and amazing robot designs all screamed 'Mega-City One' but what I really loved was that he actually brought Dredd's shoulder eagle to life. It's a daft idea, it shouldn't work, but bloody hell, it does! I used to love catching it emote or craning it's neck to look around at the action in the frame. As a child I imagined it was a little game I was playing with the artist and I loved it.

There's a fine example on the beautiful star scan below:

Naturally, my first ever commission was a Gibsonof all the artists I could have chosen, it simply had to be him. I was given some cash that I wasn't expecting and decided, as opposed to just drinking it, I was going to do something special with it. And hence my commission addiction began! But more about my first commission in another post, in this one I want to look at my second Gibson commission, Dredd vs. Mean Machine at Pete Wells Block.

This commission came about by chance, the artist contacted me and asked if I fancied another painting. Of course, it was impossible to say no, so I decided I'd like to see Ian's take on Mean Machine (having somehow completely missing his Daily Star strip featuring the lovable psychopath.) Before long Ian sent me the sketch below which I approved straight away...

A few months went by with a couple of Ian's trademark mischievous emails - he kept going on about size and wall space and how I may be surprised with this commission... Again, before too long he sent an update, this gloriously rendered image with a blue base wash. I can't convey how excited I was when I got this!

Again, several very friendly emails went back and forth and after a few more months Ian blew me away by sending the scan below. When the package arrived I got the biggest surprise though... the painting is HUGE, A1 I think, and is perfect in every way!

Generally, Ian is a pleasure to work with. He answers most emails and is cheerful and very interesting in his correspondence. Both of his commissions took a looooong time but are absolutely worth the wait when you finally get them, absolutely faultless. Price-wise, he is very fair for a man of his considerable experience and history and is one of the few artists who are still offering fully painted work which really does make a difference. I must say though, in recent years I've tried to contact Ian again as I'd love another commission from him and have found it increasingly difficult to get a response, I blame Farmville!

Another satisfied customer is collector Eric Moore, who got this wonderful Alias/Avengers mash up below...

Over to Eric who takes up the story: "Back in the summer of 2004, my wife was deeply into the Alias TV show. She's also a huge fan of The Avengers, especially the Diana Rigg years. I'd been thinking about what to get her for Christmas and just so happened to have finished the Grant Morrison/Ian Gibson mini series, when the penny dropped that Ian would be at the upcoming Dreddcon."

"I sent him an email if he'd be up for doing something combining the two shows and I had it in mind to have the most up to date female spy teaming up with the most iconic. Ian said 'sure', and that he'd talk to me at the convention."

"Ian was looking forward to it - well, he was looking forward to attempting Jennifer Garner's face as "she's odd looking" and therefore easy to capture. He wasn't as keen on having a go at Diana Rigg though as he'd learnt from experience that her face was "too perfect". That is, she didn't have anything that was distinctive!"

"Anyway, I had a few emails on the lead up to Christmas saying work was progressing and it arrived about a week before. We'd already established that it'd be pen and ink with maybe a bit of colour so was surprised to find that he'd put quite a bit on - its more a colour work than black and white, no?"

A brilliant piece I'm sure you'll agree, featuring some of Ian's trademark sexy ladies too! Speaking of which, we'll end with a beautiful picture of one of Ian's most beloved creations, Halo Jones, it's brilliant...
You can visit Ian's website here and gawp at some of his amazing work...

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Swashbuckling Simon Fraser!

Today the blog looks at a real comic aficionado, the wonderful Simon Fraser. This passionately creative artist is not only responsible for co-creating one of 2000AD's most popular characters (Nikolai Dante) but is the creator, writer and artist on Act-i-vate's Lilly MacKenzie. The popularity of the latter strip led to it being picked up by the Judge Dredd Megazine.

Simon is very busy, often juggling strip work with covers and his various blogs. In fact, it was on his blog in October last year when he announced he had a gap in his schedule and was open for commissions. I, and fellow fan James Stacey, jumped at the chance!

James' amazing commission can be seen above, He says "Here's my Dante / Lilly commission Simon did for me. I asked for a Frazetta inspired piece with Dante's bio blade in one hand, wine in the other and Ms MacKenzie taking the place of adoring eye candy. I think he's done it proud!"

I asked for two commissions from Simon. Firstly, I needed a Dredd in MegaCity One! I absolutely adore Simon's architecture, especially his futuristic buildings so simply had to see his take on Pete Wells Block.

A day after I contacted him, he came up with the brilliant image below! Simply sunning design work with wonderful framing, I was a very happy customer!
Naturally, I also asked for a Nikolai Dante pic, how could I not from the character's daddy? I asked for a swashbuckling Dante swinging from the page and the day after Si had sent the Dredd image I was delighted to receive the Dante one below! Superb.
Below are are a couple of other commissions taken from Simon's site. Of the artist's strong points, I feel that Si draws really 'believable' women which seems to add strength to their character. Below we have Cassandra Anderson and the beautiful but deadly Lulu Romanov.

The aim of this blog is to try to give an indication of what the artists are like to work with. Hand on heart I can say that Simon was a joy - his prices are very reasonable (if anything a little too reasonable) and he is super, super quick! As a result of Simon's speed, there are no WIP sketches to show in this post but when dealing with someone with such formidable the design skills, you know you can trust the artist to come up with something amazing. Finally, communication with the artist was also superb with prompt and cheerful replies to all emails.

So, next time Simon has a gap in his schedule, get in there quick!

Thanks to James for getting in touch with his cool Dante pic and Mr Fraser for the cool commissions!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Mighty Cliff Robinson!

Well, it simply wouldn't be proper if I didn't start this blog with the stunning Dredd vs Death commission I got from the legendary Cliff Robinson. A veteran 2000AD artist of nearly 30 years, Cliff's Dredd work is absolutely iconic, resulting in him being responsible the second most 2000AD covers and his images being used to market everything from socks to scented bubbles!

Quality(?) goods featuring Robinson's Dredds!

I initially got in touch with Cliff totally by chance, or rather he got in touch with me. Following a commission I'd had done by Ian Gibson, a 2000AD message boarder's wife contacted me ask advice on getting a surprise commission for her hubby's wedding anniversary. I suggested a couple of names, with Cliff being one of 'em.

Shortly after, I was stunned (and a little starstruck) when Cliff contacted me out of the blue to say thanks for giving the lady his details (though to this day, I'm sure it was actually Rufus Dayglo who got her in touch!) After a few sickeningly sychophantic emails back and forward I asked Cliff if he'd do me commission and sent him one or two ideas. Being a proud new dad I thought I either wanted Dredd with my new baby or an action piece with Judge Death. Thankfully, Cliff opted for the latter.

I was pretty vague in what I asked for, just Dredd and Death having a good old barney at Pete Wells Block on Deadworld. I always get Pete Wells Block in my commissions instead of my likeness as I've found that putting 'me' in the picture often detracts from everything else, especially with non-comic readers who 'just don't get it!'

With half of the cash paid up front (as is often the case when getting commissions) Cliff sent the amazing rough below, which was obvously born of the two images below it. I was thrilled and urged him to carry straight on...
The roughs

Soon after I was sent the inked version of the roughs which, to be honest, I would have been more than happy with as my finished commission. It's brilliantly detailed with faultless design and even suggests in own story - Dredd without his Lawgiver using anything and everything at hand to beat his deadliest foe. As you can see, Cliff is a perfectionist, so a commission from him certainly takes a while but is always more than worth the wait!

With the figures inked, Cliff began working on the background, sending me this Deadworld tower with my name on it in huuuuge bones!
Note, in the preliminary picture with Dredd's legs on it there is a skull. This would have been photoshopped to make a field of bones which Cliff would then have inked and, tada... we have my amazing image! The image itself is huge, A2 I think and is proudly in my study above the very computer I'm typing on now!

As a bonus to this story - Cliff contacted me a few months after and said he had found another load of preliminary sketches which he kindly sent me. Have a look at them, they're mental!



My eyes!

In summary, I can't recommend Cliff highly enough for commissions. He's by no means the fastest artist but that is because his work is absolutely flawless and stunning with many intricate details that you'll notice long after your commission is finished. He offers excellent value for money, especially considering his status in 2000AD lore and the fact that his work is universally admired. His imagination is fantastic, taking limited ideas and turning them into something that seems to already have it's own back story. He is generally good with communication though sometimes, when deadlines are swamping him, he can be a bit remiss.

If you wish to contact Cliff, you can get him through his blog or facebook.

So that's my first proper post on "Yes Commissioner!" Please let me know if there's anything you'd like to see changed for the next one...

Welcome to "Yes Commissioner!"

Welcome to my brand new blog, "Yes Commissioner!"
In this blog I want to share my, and hopefully other 2000AD fans' experiences of commissioning Tharg's greatest droids to produce something just for them! Usually, getting a commission is a wonderful process, an exciting chance to converse with someone who's work you really admire, resulting in a totally unique piece of art that's all yours! Sometimes... it's a little different.
Using this blog I hope to share the highs and lows of the process but mainly, show some amazing artwork that is guaranteed blow your socks off!