Monday, July 15, 2019

Patriotic Pen and Ink: An Orphaned Commission!

Perhaps it's all the deep divisions right now in this great land of ours, or (more likely) my own perverse prankishness, but when a collector contacted me about doing a commission over the weekend with instructions that he wanted me to be me, this is the idea I woke up with this morning. So, I let 'er rip. Unfortunately, at the pencil stage (below), said collector balked, informing me that he was "really not a Marvel fan." Okay. So I went ahead and inked it anyway.

Pen and India ink on Strathmore 400 Drawing paper, 14" x 17".

Because of its patriotic theme (and more than a little suggestiveness), I expect this orphaned commission drawing won't stay orphaned for long. If you would like to adopt it, or have something else you'd like me to draw, please consult my convention sketch and commission price list page, and contact me! Thanks, as always, for your support.

Blue and graphite pencil on Strathmore 400 Drawing paper, 14" x 17".

PS: Don't worry, I'm doing Batman and Catwoman for said collector instead!
Read my YA experiment Ms. Megaton Man Maxi-Series! New prose chapter every Friday!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Commission Artwork Price List, Summer 2019

Don Simpson Commission Artwork Price List, Summer 2019

Update: I've been drawing comic book convention sketches and commissioned art pieces for fans and collectors since 1984, and most of these can be found on the internet (there are almost as many Don Simpson drawings of Spider-Man, a character I've never drawn professionally, as there are of Megaton Man, my most famous creation!). Some of the better examples can be found on the Comic Art Fans website and on my Donald Simpson Facebook page.

As convention season rolls around again in 2019, I look forward to crafting at least a few more (I'm planning on 3 Rivers Comic Con in Pittsburgh May 19-20, 2018 and NEO Comic Con in Northeast Ohio Sunday, August 4, 2019). If you are planning on attending one of those shows, it's always a good idea to make your commission/sketch request ahead of time, and if you're NOT going to be anywhere near a show this summer, you can still purchase a piece of Don Simpson art with your favorite character via USPS/Fedex/UPS!

I am particularly grateful for the commissions and freelance assignments I have received since the spring of 2014, when more than a decade of college finally came to an end (I now consider myself a "recovering academic")! Thanks again for your support, and help me pay back my student loans!! -- Dr. Donald E. Simpson, PhD

Don Simpson Commission Art Price List, Spring-Summer 2019

Email me what you have in mind and budget: donaldsimpson1713 - at - gmail - dot - com.

Collector commissions are so unique and personal that any price list attempting to be comprehensive quickly becomes impossibly unwieldy. Recently, I have created several commissions in the neighborhood of $200-$500, for single character pin-ups in ink to multiple characters in cover-like compositions. A number of factors, including complexity, number of characters, background, medium (pencil, ink, watercolor, color pencil), subject matter, etc., and good old-fashion availability and schedule affect this price of a given commission.

Generally, a commission consists of a full-figure drawing of a character in pencil or India ink. I don't have separate pricing for "head shots," "torso up," or other configurations, as do other artists--because I don't do much besides full figure drawings. I don't use markers or anything impermanent or that will fade or discolor over time; I use only the finest archival materials! (An exception to this is some of the non-commission preliminary layout work I do professionally as an illustrator, and occasionally in person for sketching at conventions.)

(I also have not done very many "sketch cards" or blank variant sketch covers -- but please inquire!)

Sketch cards for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund set, 2011.

Sketch cards for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund set, 2011.
 Drawing a sketch in your sketchbook obviously entails additional shipping and logistics.

What follows is only the most basic ballpark of price lists:

My characters/creations (including Megaton Man, Bizarre Heroes, Border Worlds, "In Pictopia," etc.)

Basic 11" x 14" Strathmore 400 Drawing or Bristol, pen/brush and India ink: $200 on up.

Display 14" x 17" or 12" x 18" Strathmore 400 drawing or Bristol, pen/brush and India ink: $500 on up.

Color pencil on Strathmore Toned Grey, 9" x 12": $200 on up.

Other media may be available; please inquire.

Particularly complex or detailed characters such as Megaton Man, Yarn Man, and Jenny Woodlore (in her textured spacesuit) are more involving and labor-intensive, and may be priced 25%-50% more.

Number of characters, backgrounds, color, etc. will influence pricing.

Postage: add $20 to cover packaging and shipping via USPS First Class in the US. (Special shipping instructions may involve additional fee.)

"Special Requests" (and what isn't a "special request" in a custom-made commission)?!):

Popular characters that are not mine (straight or parody): Since I am drastically limited in the ways that I can publicize and exploit images of characters that are not my own creation (and not under my trademark or copyright), I generally charge 25% more, on up.

Requests likely to antagonize copyright holders legally, morally, or otherwise will not be considered. So please don't request Marge Simpson in a BDSM scene with Buzz Lightyear. For that matter, please--no Simpsons jokes! :)

Frontal Nudity/Explicit Erotica: Ordinarily, I will NOT draw my mainstream characters (Megaton Man, Bizarre Heroes), or other popular characters that are not mine, completely or partially nude or in compromising sexual or suggestive situations. I reserve the right to turn down any request I find objectionable for any reason. Please inquire if you have any questions.

Border Worlds, a "Mature Readers"/"Adult" title, is a different matter; many requests are subject to ordinary pricing, but commissions involving nudity or eroticism begin at 150% of the above prices, and may be turned down for any reason. Please inquire.

Commissions for Anton Drek characters (Wendy Whitebread, Forbidden Frankenstein, et al, signed using the pseudonym "Anton Drek") involving nudity or graphically explicit situations begin at 150% (mild nudity) to 200% (graphically explicit), on up. Please inquire.

Pen and ink commission for connoisseur Dean Focareta.
Please note: I reserve the right to turn down any request I find objectionable for any reason. I'm repeating myself.

Approval: For many commissions involving ink and/or coloring, I am able to email a preliminary sketch or pencil version to make sure it the buyer's expectations before finalizing the art.

Payment: check is preferred (mailing instructions will be provided); Paypal fees must cover the price of the art and shipping fee, plus 2.9% of the total + .30 (30 cents) per transaction. Please don't try to scam Paypal by claiming you are "family!"

The Paypal Fee Calculator is a handy online tool for estimating total prices.

Note: This list does not cover everything by a long shot, so you'll just have to contact me!

Go for it: Describe your commission request to me at donaldsimpson1713 - at - gmail - dot - com and please be as detailed as you can. I will respond as promptly as possible. Thanks!

Update 2017: Some recent convention sketches and commissions have been colored pencil on grey or tan paper:

Ms. Megaton Man and Kozmik Kat. Colored pencil on grey or tan-toned paper has proven very popular with many of my collectors, lately.

More traditional pen and ink commissions are below:

Pen and ink, private commission for Brian Cremins, presented to Harlan Ellison in 2015. Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., and Mary Marvel are ™ and © DC.

Pen and ink, private commission for James Hall, 2015. Dracula's Daughter is ™ and © Don Simpson, all rights reserved. Mr. Monster is ™ and © Michael T. Gilbert, all rights reserved.

Pen and ink, private commission for Flavio Pessanha, 2015. In Pictopia is ™ and © Alan Moore and Donald Simpson, all rights reserved.
 Blank cover variants (you supply):

A recent commission for a blank cover variant! (Scroll down to the bottom of this post for more recent commissions.)
Characters created by Don Simpson are ™ and © Don Simpson, all rights reserved; the artist exclusively retains all rights to reproduce commissioned artwork in any medium whatsoever without limitation. Ownership of physical artwork by collectors does not include any right to reproduce or exploit such copyrighted images without express written permission of the artist.

Gallery of more convention sketches and commissions (see elsewhere on this blog for even more):

Sketch blank variant cover

Sketchbook commission (2-page spread with Inida ink and guoache)

India ink and watercolor

Cover sketch in India ink and watercolor.

Pen and ink variant sketch cover.

Pen and ink and watercolor commission.

Computer-colorized version of a pen and ink sketch commission.

Pen and ink commission from back in the day (colorized later by another artist).

Pen and ink convention sketch from 1989.

Pencil commission.

Pencil sketch for Steve Bissette.
 All other characters are ™ and © their respective owners.

More commission examples here.
Read my YA prose experiment: The Ms. Megaton Man Maxi-Series! New chapter every Friday!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

SpideyCat and the Chopper Cube: Marvel Samples Then and Now!

I started reading comics in earnest at the age of ten in the summer of 1972. The first comics I devoured were from the Marvel Comics Group with the cover date of September. Virtually the last comic book on the spinner rack at Howard's Drugs at Six Mile and Inkster Road in my neighborhood of Livonia, Michigan--with a Marvel banner that I hadn't read already--was Amazing Spider-Man #112, which I bought somewhat reluctantly. I don't know what it was that turned me off of Spider-Man; maybe it was the awful Ralph Bakshi Saturday morning cartoon of some years before, with the dreadful theme song that still haunts the current Marvel movies.

The following week, Amazing Spider-Man #113 appeared, with the October, 1972 cover date. Reading those issues in quick succession got me hooked. Undoubtedly, it was the John Romita art; maybe it was the Gerry Conway (Law and Order) script; but in any event, Spidey immediately became my favorite character to read and to draw.

Also debuting that month was Marvel's Doc Savage, which introduced me to that classic pulp chatacter; I soon sought out the Bantam paperbacks, and read at least fifteen or twenty of them over the next few teenage years.

An unfinished sample, circa 2002, of two of my favorite Marvel characters I read thirty years earlier.

Another book that debuted in October was Beware! The Claws of the Cat (in the indicia, simply The Cat), with pencils by Marie Severin and overpowering inks by Wally Wood. Severin had been a major force in the first Marvel Comic I ever got my hands on, Not Brand Echh #12, which I glommed onto in a coverless version. More on that later.

So, Spidey and the Claws of the Cat (as I called her) were linked in my mind as a virgin comic book reader. I would be several years before I'd even attempt to draw a female character, but I drew Spidey--along with the FF and the core Avengers line-up, Luke Cage (Luke Cage, Hero for Hire was another debut in October, 1972), and a few other Marvel stalwarts--compulsively on the back of my math homework ditto sheets, during indoor recess and--when I could get away with it--during class time. And I usually got away with it a lot, mostly, I suspect, because teachers preferred me being quiet and not causing trouble.

I continued reading Marvels almost exclusively over the next five years, which means I watched Greer Nelson (the Claws of the Cat) turn into a were-tiger called Tigra, and 50s romance star Patsy Walker become one of George Perez's Avengers, the Hellcat. This progression seemed no more stupid, in my opinion at the time, than Luke Cage becoming Powerman, or Gwen Stacy returning as a clone. But no doubt it was idiotic storylines like that that soon turned me off of superheroes altogether. I had outgrown them, and by 1978 had turned to underground comix, Heavy Metal, and classic strip reprints like The Spirit. (I had also progressed from Doc Savage paperbacks to Philip Jose Farmer, whose A Feast Unknown mysteriously disappeared from my bedroom; by Born Again father having tossed it out. It didn't help; by then, I was seventeen, and I just went to Howard's Drugs and bought another copy, which I kept hidden above the ceiling time in our unfinished basement bathroom. I was also hiding copies of Cheri and Club magazine; I always had a raunchier sensibility than Playboy or even Penthouse.)

The Claws of the Cat (more likely, Hellcat) takes down Spidey! (Milo Manara, eat year heart out!)

Since I was still preparing for a career as a Marvel penciler in my teenage years, I continued to keep an eye on superhero comics, even though I was more likely to purchase Robert Crumb comix from the Classic Movie and Comics Center in Farmington, Michigan than crap like Marvel's aborted Howie Chaykin rush-job, Star Wars (one of the singular worse adaptations, at least until Rick Hoberg came on as inker late in the series).

I should have known about Spidey Super Stories #39 (March 1979), if for no other reason than both Spidey and the Cat appear (in the story, she has black hair like Greer Nelson, although they try to redden it to repurpose it as Patsy Walker, Hellcat--I suspect this was an inventory story that lay around in the bottom of some drawer for years before seeing print). But, it completely escaped me. No wonder; I had written off Spidey Super Stories from the outset as hacked-out juvenilia--even worse than the "serious" Marvel books, whose quality in the seventies went from bad to worse.

Now, I broke into comics in 1984 with Megaton Man #1, a parody of all those superhero cliches that I had outgrown, but whose hyper-drawing style still clung to me like an acrid stench. While I tried to purge myself of those stylistic excesses, it never escaped me that Marvel Comics had taught me to draw--How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way having been an object of study of mine since it came out in 1977, which led directly to immersion in Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy.

14" x 17" Bristol board, India ink with Hunt #102 "crowquill." This was about the time I was completely giving up on sable brushes that characterized most of eighties and nineties work.

While I couldn't take superheroes seriously any more, and had moved onto more serious comics such as I mentioned above, I never really hated superheroes, and always flirted with the mainstream. When I was hired by Mike Gold for DC's Wasteland series in the late eighties, I was also thrown a couple of the more campy Flash assignments.

Even though I had what I considered a "classic" mainstream superhero style--schooled as I was in John Romita, Gil Kane, John Buscema, Jack Kirby, and Wally Wood--I never made much headway in the mainstream at DC. Maybe, to stay with that metaphor, I was swimming against the current. Editors saw my recreations of the classic Silver Age style in the same light as they viewed Megaton Man--as sardonic satire.

Despite this, at comic book conventions I sold more Spider-Man sketches (which I generated on my own when business was slow, and I was tired of drawing Megaton Man), and to this day Spidey sketches are more prevalent on the internet, thanks to fan and collector postings, than any other character except my little ol' Man of Molecules.

Around 2002, may career as both an indy cartoonist and a self-publisher at a low ebb, I made a concerted effort to generate some Marvel samples and score some real freelance work. I drew samples of Spider-Man, the Avengers--even Marvel's mutant Exiles, and I'm no mutant fan. Needless to say, my old-school layouts and Romita-Kane-Buscema-Kirby-Wood (with Joe Sinnott) stylings got little more than derisive chuckles from editors like Tom DeFalco and Axel Alonso.

Spidey pencils on Strathmore 400 Drawing from June, 2019.

But one such set of samples--which I never finished and post here for the first time--featured two of the characters that I was introduced to in the summer of 1972. This three-page vignette features Spider-Man and --take your pick--The Cat, the Claws of the Cat, or Hellcat (I don't know which, although the fact that I left the hair open linework instead of black indicates I was respecting continuity and going with Patsy).

Flash forward to this year, 2019. In the meantime, that issue of Spidey Super Stories has become a cult fetish, because of the absurd foe Spidey and the Cat team up to fight--or more accurately, the conveyance which that foe uses to get around. Needless to say, "The Cat and the Cube" has become a whaddyacall intenet meme.

Spidey in pen and ink on Strathmore 400 Drawing, 2019.

Just a few weeks ago, a Marvel Entertainment (whither the Comics Group?) contacted me about contributing to a parody revival: a one-shot CRAZY! comic book. Among the ideas he suggested was the getaway vehicle from Spidey-Super Stories #39, which had become a viral Mattel Hot Wheel.

To make this too long story short, I have sold one pin-up (in my zany, hyper Megaton Man style) that has already been inked for CRAZY!, and am still in the midst of working back-and-forth with said editor on more ideas, including the aforementioned meme theme. Since I write, draw, letter, and ink, I have the bad habit of doing the whole thing and presenting pages as a fait accompli (which editors hate!); I also keep trying to push my "straight" superhero style (which my fans say they like--even art dealer George Hagenauer has said I "should have had a shot at working for Marvel"). But I think it's too retro for them--only Mike Allred is allowed to do retro, apparently.

The Cat, Hellcat, or--as my ten-year-old self prefers, the Claws of the Cat, pen and ink on Strathmore 400 Drawing, 2019. I think I learned how to draw girls!

So, I'm also posting a couple of snippets of the 2019 attempts. I'm assuming these are destined for one of my fan's original art collections--I've sold most of my failed Marvel and DC "straight" superhero samples over the years to folks who appreciate them--but we'll see. Stay tuned.
If you liked reading this long-winded essay, maybe you'll enjoy reading my long-winded prose YA experiment: The Ms. Megaton Man Maxi-Series!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Scream Queen Studies and Pulp Pencil Sketches

Here is a slew of studies from recent weeks since the semester came to an end. First are several studies of Viola Conley, model and wife of pulp cover artist Hugh Joseph Ward, who collaborated with Viola on countless covers for Spicy Mystery and similar titles. Viola's features are reminiscent of Joan Cusack, and greatly expressive--largely grimacing in terror, and has a great body language. Ward's style is brushy and impressionistic--sketchy, almost watercolor, although he probably used oils. My studies--they would be "swipes" in another context--are attempts to capture some of those ephemeral qualities and, more importantly, to have those overtones seep into my natural drawing style and hopefully come out when I'm drawing from my imagination.

Viola Conley could rank as arguably the most prolifically-depicted pulp character in the history of magazines, and one of the more frequently portrayed American of the twentieth century, at least in paint by a single artist (Doc Savage and men's adventure magazine model Steve Holland might have more appearances, not only by James Bama but other artists). Mostly she's menaced by thugs, bad guys, space pirates, etc., but I thought it might be fun--for purposes of a few collector commissions--to have her play the role of Ann Darrow (immortalized by Fay Wray--the original scream queen). I don't quite get Viola's inimitable features, but I enjoy drawing her body language.

In a totally unrelated lark, I drew this pencil sketch of Veronica Hamel (Hill Street Blues), who was a longtime model for Virginia Slims cigarettes. One of her early ads have her in a female superhero getup, which suggested further adventures. I've tried to be true to the costume, and naturally I had to conflate the persona with her Hill Street co-star, Daniel J. Travanti.

Finally, I've been reading a good deal of Philip José Farmer, who virtually created a different fantastic world with almost each novel he wrote (as did many of his generation of sci-fi and fantasy scribes). One of his mid-sixties works, Dare, is a pretty uneven outing, but introduces a tantalizing character named R'li. Too bad further stories were never written--I think it would have been amazing. I'm not often inspired to draw renditions of literary characters, but I didn't like any of the various interpretations of R'li  that I've seen on various paperback editions--so I drew my own. Farmer doesn't describe her ears as pointy, but details such as body hair patterns are faithful, I think.

These interpretations are pretty earthy, but that's my sensibility. I've been reading a good deal of pulp prose lately--Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester Dent (the principal author of Doc Savage as "Kenneth Robeson"), and James Blish (most famous for adapting Star Trek TV episodes into short-story anthologies in the 60s and 70s. There is something extremely regressive about most pulp adventure--characterization of females is mostly sparse--but there is also something terribly important about what it says of the American century in which it was created as a mere distraction--now we are distracted by entertainment that is far less substantive and in many ways even more socially regressive.

I have said elsewhere that the bankrupt discipline of art history has missed the boat on American illustration, opting instead to genuflect before the one-percent investor-friendly art world (replete with MeToo contemporary theorists in academia). Literary studies also has missed the boat on popular American fiction. These overlapping entertainments are more than "visual culture studies" and "popular culture"--they are important products of an era now vanished forever, as Philip José Farmer himself pointed out. If your object is to study the American psyche, this material deserves our scrutiny.

Read the Ms. Megaton Man Maxi-Series every week! New chapter every Friday!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Woonan the Barbarian! Summer 2019 Sketches and Commissions!

Here is a slew of some of the things I drew at this past week's Three Rivers Comic Con, kicking off the summer 2019 convention season! The warm-up began a week, earlier at Free Comic Book Day, with a caricature of me courtesy of Howard Bender (below; his contact info is on the image, if you want Howie to sketch at your event). Other examples includes Dejah Thoris for Eric Anderson, and some sweet Ms. Megaton Man sketches.

Read the Ms. Megaton Maxi-Series YA prose novel!

Flat-colored linework.

Here's the inked version, using Hunt #102 crowquill and India ink.

Woonan the Barbarian (why didn't I think of that years ago?) with Deja Vu-This for Dean Focareta.

Dejah Thoris of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series for Eric Anderson of Northeast Ohio (NEO) Comic Con.

The Human Meltdown encounter Ms. Megaton Man!

A laid-back view of Clarissa James, Ms. Megaton Man.
Ms. Megaton Man shows her smile!

Megaton Man for Mike Easton of The Impossible Family comic!

Caricature of Mega-Don Simpson by Howard Bender!
All characters, character names, likenesses, words and pictures are ™ and © Don Simpson 2019, all rights reserved (unless otherwise noted).