Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Secrets of a Super-Hero Sketch Artist: Con Artist with a Cause

I used to attend the Comic-Con International held in San Diego quite regularly — seven years out of the decade of the naughties, in fact. This was just before the event had exploded into the massive pop-culture phenomenon that now offers extremely slim odds of my being able to attend.

Very interesting that it was only now that I made my first submission into the event’s Souvenir Book. I would admit that my then lack of confidence in my rendering of human figures made me apprehensive to participate a decade before. Perhaps my 100-plus weeks on The Line It Is Drawn had finally emboldened me...

The subtext of this piece was obvious. While Bob Kane may had triggered the initial imaginative spark, it had become more and more apparent that his collaborator Bill Finger provided much of the tinder to the creative fire that forged the enduring concept, and legend, of the Batman. It was very likely that the red-garbed, Flash Gordon-esque mystery man I had depicted above, which was based on Bob Kane’s original Bat-Man concept, may had been what Kane would have pitched to National Comics (now DC Comics) if he had not first consulted Finger.

Much of this had been brought to the public light recently thanks to the exhaustive efforts of author and historian Marc Tyler Nobleman and his book, Bill The Boy Wonder (a great read for all ages). While Kane profited by the Batman creation, Finger lived and eventually died, in the words of Nobleman, “poor and unheralded.” Nobleman had been leading a… dare I say, noble crusade to demand DC Comics and Warner Brothers to grant Bill Finger the co-creator credit Nobleman felt Finger deserved.

And it was not just Nobleman who believed this. Decades before Nobleman had written his book, though it was years after Bill Finger’s death, Bob Kane himself had publicly stated that Finger deserved co-creator credit for his invaluable contributions to Batman (two examples I had encountered in the 1980s were in Kane’s biography, Batman and Me, and a one-page essay Kane wrote for the History of the DC Universe 1988 special edition hardcover; there may had been others). It was my understanding that DC Comics had been contractually bound to credit only Bob Kane as the sole creator of Batman, and yet said contract was arranged by Kane himself. So I was forced to wonder why Kane, who (albeit sporadically) eventually acknowledged Finger’s right to co-creator credit, never renegotiated his contract with DC to award it.  

I started to sketch out this Souvenir Book submission idea back in the beginning of this year, and almost didn’t follow through after seeing a brilliant piece by Ty Templeton (the illustrator of the Bill the Boy Wonder book) that truly emphasized the importance of Finger to the Batman mythos. However, my wife reminded me that my idea did focus on one key Finger contribution upon which Templeton’s piece did not explicitly touch. Therefore, I pressed forward to create this piece that may also serve to add one more voice to further the Nobleman cause.

Art by Xum Yukinori. Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger (see, that was not that difficult). Batman and all related characters copyright DC Comics.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

This is an actual Father's Day card I had received a few years back from Isamu, who is currently 8.

I always keep it as a reminder that:

1. There will always be times I'll receive this message from my kids
2. When I do, they do not actually hate me, they just think they do
3. Kids always change their minds... in many cases very easily
4. Most likely they actually hate something I did, so I should assess how I have done them wrong
5. There is no perfect Dad... or perfect kids

I wish the best to fathers everywhere, and to the kids that put up with them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Secrets of a Super-Hero Sketch Artist: Publications from a Parallel Dimension

As a fan of the wonderful-yet-no-longer-produced “Green Lantern: The Animated Series”(GLTAS), I immensely enjoy the opportunity to draw characters from that programme in a number of submissions to “The Line It Is Drawn” (responding to Twitter suggestions from whom must be other fans of the series). This led to a number of GLTAS-related art commission requests from other fans of the programme (some of which have been featured in my “Unapologetic Zaree [戯絵]” series on this blog).

This piece pictured is a compilation of some of those works (with a little additional art for the front cover). Ever since parts of this piece was posted by Josh Keaton on his blog a few weeks ago, I have received a number of questions (and some hate mail) about it. The intent was to create a facsimile of the next DVD release if the series had continued for another season, but not as a hoax to make people believe the show was being renewed (and my sincerest apologies to those who were inadvertently deceived). It was essentially a “thank you” gift for certain GLTAS cast and crew members that were scheduled to attend the recent WonderCon event in Anaheim, California -- with the message being along the lines of “hopefully one day you’ll be able to share the stories you currently do not have the chance to tell.”

Right now this is the closest I can show of the complete piece, as I do not have the actual label art file at this time. While I did create all of the artwork and indicia here in Japan, the label layout was put together and printed by a friend of mine in the States (who also delivered the gifts and provided the above photo). 

Enjoy. And please note that these labels are not real and these cases are empty -- for now.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Secrets of a Super-Hero Sketch Artist: Spotlight on… the Background

My submission to this week’s The Line It Is Drawn sketch challenge was both a comic book cover homage (to John Byrne and Terry Austin’s classic Uncanny X-Men #141) and a love letter to the numerous no-longer-produced comic-book related cartoons I have enjoyed over the years, from the Superfriends to Green Lantern and Young Justice.

Many of these shows were represented in a “wanted poster” in the background, with taped “updates” containing an overgeneralized reason why these shows are no longer being produced (and for the sake of accuracy, there is really no single factor that ends the production of an animated television show, so these simplified explanations are not to be taken as hard fact).

The 16 characters on the poster were obscured either by these taped updates or the figures of the animated Hal Jordan (from Green Lantern) and Artemis (from Young Justice) in the foreground. So as a “DVD extra” (and to demonstrate that I can be irrationally obsessive with detail), I am showing the full poster unblocked. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Getting to Know Xum

For a change of pace, here are five facts about Xum Yukinori that he has not yet posted on his blog:

1. The 12 countries Xum has resided in are: South Africa, Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Greece, and Spain.

2. One of Xum’s favorite aunties loves to tease him and Namiko about their marriage being “dekichatta kekkon” (although love had everything to do with it).

3. Namiko has never told Xum about Isamu’s biological father; and Xum has never asked.

4. Xum had never attended art school; the only “formal training” on illustration he had received was during his tenure working in a manhua studio in Hong Kong, where he picked up valuable tips and techniques from his fellow artists.

5. “Professor Xum” is not really a Professor (but he believes that you already knew that).

More to come.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Unapologetic Zaree [戯絵]

Number seven in a series.

[Scene from "Father Figure", the seventeenth episode of the non-existent second season of the wonderful "Green Lantern: The Animated Series"]

Wednesday, April 23, 2014