Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RIP: Glen Orbik

We were shocked today to learn that artist Glen Orbik has passed away. We first met Glen back in the late 90s because we had a mutual friend who ran a tiny comic book shop out of his garage. Every Friday we'd run into Glen there and find ourselves caught up in hours long conversations about comics and illustration. He always struck us as a super-nice guy.

It wasn't until later that we really became familiar with his work. Glen was an amazing painter whose beautiful pictures graced the covers of so many comic books and Hard Case Crime paperbacks. Wow! Every new piece was better than the last. If you're not familiar with Glen's work, do yourself a favor and Google his name. It will knock your socks off.

In 2004, when we were choosing artists to do paintings for The Illustrated World of Robert E. Howard, we immediately thought of Glen, and asked if he would contribute a painting of Skull-Face. He did, and as usual, he hit it clear out of the park.

He was a great guy, a great painter, and far too young to leave us.

Our deepest sympathies to his family, his friends, and his partner, Laurel Blechman.

SKULL-FACE (click on image to enlarge)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 4

On May 22—24, we'll be in Kansas City, MO at the Flesk Publications booth (#202) for Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 4! We set-up at the first Spectrum Live back in 2012, and it was easily one of the best conventions we've ever been to. It seemed as though almost every living illustrator we admired was there in that room -- plus, the thrill of being introduced to the work of so many new artists for the first time. What a wonderful weekend. If you're able to make it, please stop by the booth -- we'd love to say hello!

Check out the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live website at:

And visit the Flesk Publications Facebook page at:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

"Dreams, and dreams and the ghosts of dreams"

Back in 2008, we did an Adventures of Two-Gun Bob strip based on a dream described by REH (the strip ran in Solomon Kane #1). We felt that the dream imagery should stand apart from Bob's usual waking life, and asked our friend Gary Gianni to draw the dream sequence for us, while we drew the final panel with Bob waking up after having fallen out of bed (a tip-of-the-hat to the great Winsor McKay's classic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland).

In Conan the Avenger #12 (which hit the stands last week) Bob finds himself lost in another dream, and once again we followed the same formula, except this time we asked our good friend Mark Schultz to draw the dream! We were thrilled when he agreed, and Mark turned in his usual beautiful job -- see the two panel sample below.

We should also note that Mark Schultz is this year's Guest of Honor at Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains, Texas! If you're a Howard fan, we can't recommend it highly enough. REH Days is always a lot of fun! Mark has also illustrated a special postal cancellation stamp featuring Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft that will be used to stamp all mail sent out from the Cross Plains Post Office on June 12th! So, if you can't make it to REH Days, but know someone who is attending, you might want to ask them to send you a postcard!

If you're a fan of Mark's work, you should also pre-order his upcoming book, Storms at Sea. Mark has been working on this book for years and the result is way beyond outstanding. To paraphrase Carl Denham from 1933's King Kong, "They'll have to think up a lot of new adjectives once this book hits the racks."

Storms at Sea will be released by Flesk early this summer, and is currently available for pre-order from Amazon.

Check out this link at Comic Book Resources, which features an interview with Mark, along with several illustration samples.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The First Time I Saw Conan, by Ruth!

Ruth likes to keep sketchbook diaries in which she doodles comics of our day-to-day life, as well as random memories of her childhood. Here's a page she drew back in 1999, remembering her first exposure to Conan back in her high school days (it didn't go well). We color-toned it for the blog. Click on the comic to make it bigger.

Monday, January 26, 2015

New Books!

This week, we received our copies of the Centipede Press limited edition of Logan's Run -- William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson's famous 1967 science-fiction novel. We provided the cover and about two dozen B&W illustrations that run throughout the book. If you've only seen the 1976 film of this story, the book is considerably different (yeah, no surprise there):

Two copies, side-by-side, showing the back and front cover wraparound art.

The signed edition of the book is limited to only 200 copies, which seem to already be sold out, but Centipede Press still has some unsigned copies for sale at their SITE.

Also this week, we received the much anticipated index to the Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard:

The book's cover features one of our Two-Gun Bob drawings, originally used as a postal cancellation stamp at the Cross Plains Post Office back in 2010. Jeff Shanks (who wrote the foreword and annotations for this volume) owns the original art, and designed a nice collage combining the drawing with scans of some of Howard's letters. This book is available from The Robert E. Howard Foundation and Create Space.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

What the Voice Said

Prepare yourselves, prepare yourselves
For doors that open by themselves;

For trunks that lock without a sound,
For paw-marks of a great black hound,

For muted whimpers in the wall,
And fearful scratchings in the hall.

Your doom will come by tens and twelves:
Prepare yourselves, prepare yourselves.

-Stanley McNail

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Mystery of the Lincoln Stones [UPDATED]

In our last post we talked a little about how creating a biography in comic strip form, and having to draw the elements involved, can sometimes lead to questions no one thought to ask before. Today, we'll give you another example.

After leaving Roswell on the morning of June 19, 1935, Robert E. Howard and Truett Vinson drove to the town of Lincoln, NM -- epicenter of the bloody Lincoln County War of 1878.

Lincoln today is virtually unchanged from when Bob saw it, and not only that, it's virtually unchanged from its heyday in the 1870's and '80's. Pretty much the entire town was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and has been called "the best preserved cowtown in the United States." One of the highlights of the town is the courthouse where Billy the Kid was being held prisoner before gunning down his guards and escaping on April 28, 1881.

REH wrote of touring the courthouse, trying to follow in the Kid's footsteps from that infamous day, and at one point looking out the window from which the Kid gunned down Pat Garrett's deputy, Robert Ollinger.

Outside the courthouse today, there is a marble stone marking the site where Olliger fell after being struck by the Kid's buckshot (and a similar stone marking where Deputy James Bell likewise died). Obviously, the stone would make a great visual to go with REH's text -- but, we had to ask ourselves, were those stones there in 1935 when REH visited the courthouse, or were they added later?

We assumed it would be no problem to establish the date they were laid. We simply called the on-site Historical Society and asked. Unfortunately, the very nice man we spoke to did not know, but he did put us in touch with another very nice man, Mike Pitel, who is a historian and a Billy the Kid / Lincoln County War expert, as well as a former New Mexico state tourism official. Though he had spent over twenty years researching the town of Lincoln and other related Lincoln County War sites, he admitted that it had never occurred to him to ask about those stone markers.

He did, however, share a glimpse into his vast historical knowledge of Billy the Kid, and kindly put us in touch with other BtK and Lincoln County War experts. They also shared fascinating Billy the Kid information, but none of them had any idea about the stone markers.

In the end, with the deadline looming, we couldn't in good conscience show the Ollinger marker. Instead we could only show Bob looking out the window, with no indication of what he might be seeing down below.

So when WERE those stones put there? The consensus among the Billy the Kid scholars was that they were most likely added during a WPA restoration of the site in 1937 -- though they all admitted that they had no evidence for this opinion. This may very well be the case, but we wonder if the stones might not be from closer to the Kid's own era. His nefarious exploits had made Lincoln a big tourist draw long before the New Deal. It wouldn't be surprising to discover that local interests, such as the Wortley Hotel (once owned by Pat Garrett!) across the street, had them put in as lure for sight-seers.

We intend to keep pulling on that thread, and maybe finding the answer before we create a comprehensive collection of these strips, if, for no other reason, than to be able to share the info with the kind and generous men who did their best to help us, and, in some small way, add to the scholarly (though, in this case, admittedly peripheral) knowledge on the famous outlaw, Billy the Kid.

• • •

UPDATE: In the comments, Keith West rightly points out the problem with the Torreon -- the large circular structure you see in the second illustration at the top of this post. Like the courthouse, we knew that the Torreon had been restored, but unlike the courthouse, we couldn't find any reference showing its condition in 1935. We absolutely had to show it (it being one of the coolest looking things in Lincoln, and a structure REH specifically talked about seeing), but we didn't know exactly what to draw.

In this case, since we knew it was there in 1935, we felt comfortable including it in the strip, but were forced to use more modern reference for the visuals. Shortly after the strip went to press (don't it figure), we finally found the reference we were looking for, so we went back and revised the drawing to more accurately represent the Torreon as REH saw it (unfortunately, it wasn't quite as formidable and cool looking as it is today -- it looked a little sad, actually). Here's the revised panel:

New research material becomes available every day, so this happens occasionally (not often, but definitely more often than we'd like), and we always go back and revise the strips in our archives to match any new scholarship that comes into our possession.  When we do finally gather all of these strips into a comprehensive collection, it'll be these revised versions of the strips we use.