Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Adventures of...

Odd as it may seem, the concept that eventually became The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob didn't start out with Robert E. Howard in mind. The idea of creating a purely anecdotal biography (in comic strip form) occurred to us without a specific subject in mind.

For a while, we considered doing a series about the life of Edgar Allen Poe, or maybe George Washington, but neither seemed quite right. It wasn't until our friend James Van Hise introduced us to the work of Robert E. Howard that we knew we'd found our man.

Every once in a while someone will suggest how interesting it would be to see us give a similar treatment to a different historical or literary figure -- Beethoven was suggested once. Recently, when Spectrum Fantastic Art publishers Arnie and Cathy Fenner posted a Two-Gun original to their ComicArtFans page, they added the following note, "I'd love to see them do the same thing with Lovecraft or the Futurians or maybe even Harlan!"

Once they mentioned it, we were ashamed to admit that we'd never imagined Harlan as a subject -- God, what a wonderful hoot that would be! Maybe someday, with his permission, of course.

On the other hand, H. P. Lovecraft has appeared as a character in occasional episodes of The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob, but there's only so many hours in a day, and considering the other comics and illustration work we have on our plate, it seemed unlikely that anything more specific would ever happen.

As fate would have it, Dark Horse editors Brendan Wright and Sierra Hahn happened to be doing an all Lovecraft issue of their B&W horror anthology, CREEPY, and asked if we would be interested in contributing a one page biographical Lovecraft strip, somewhat in the style of Two-Gun Bob.

They asked us to submit two sample ideas for them to choose from, and decided to choose BOTH -- even offering us the full-color back cover for one of them!

So, for Arnie & Cathy, and everyone else who asked for it, CREEPY #10 hit the stands last Wednesday, featuring our two Lovecraft strips, titled "The Runes of Ec'h-Pi-El" -- "Ec'h-Pi-El" being a mysterious-sounding, phonetic spelling-out of "HPL" that Lovecraft occasionally used in signing correspondence with friends.

It should also be noted that the name "Two-Gun Bob" likewise comes from Lovecraft, being the alias HPL first gave to Howard in the farcical 1934 story he wrote with R. H. Barlow, "The Battle that Ended the Century."

We can't say if there'll ever be more episodes in of "The Runes of Ec'h-Pi-El," but you never know.

I'm sure Dark Horse would prefer if we didn't post the entire strips here, so these jpgs will have to give you a taste until you are able to check out CREEPY #10:

We based this little opening panel on a silhouette HPL posed for during his life.
A few panels from our interior strip.

A panel from the color strip on the back cover, based on a dream HPL described in a letter to author Robert Bloch.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Yes, it’s completely pathetic that our site still had a Christmas post topping the page on Cinco de Mayo.

The problem is that although we’ve been busy every day working on an intensely complicated illustrated book, none of the work we’re doing is anything that our agreements allow us to post just yet. The book should be finished and published by next year, but that’s left us without much to post in the meantime.

It also turned out that our schedule didn’t allow for us to paint the cover to the newest book from the Robert E. Howard Foundation. We’ve been happy with the pulp-look we established for the library, and would have been sorry to see a cover that didn’t fit into that mold. But, spectacular good luck saved the day when our friend Mark Schultz turned out to have an opening in his schedule and created this incredible wraparound cover for the just released ADVENTURES IN SCIENCE FANTASY (click on any of the images to see them larger):

Check out what it looks like when it’s folded open (we've left the crop-marks in place so that you can see where it folds and cuts):

Mark wanted to capture the romance of a 1920s-era pulp cover, and in keeping with that theme asked us to design the title treatment in a way that suggested those of J. Allen St. John -- tricky to do, since St. John was one of the greatest, most recognizable, and unique title designers EVER -- but we solved the problem by appropriating the letter "S" from a St. John dustjacket for "The Saddle Wolf," and designing the rest of the treatment around it. Did the trick!

The book is limited to only 200 copies, and can be ordered from the REH Foundation at this LINK.

And for process fans, here’s Mark's preliminary sketch.

Just before we disappeared under our latest project, our buddy Gary Gianni had us design his Dark Horse collection MONSTERMEN AND OTHER SCARY STORIES. The book collects all of Gianni’s Monstermen stories (to date) along with a number classic prose stories (by Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, William Hope Hodgson, and others) all beautifully illustrated by Gianni. We’re very happy with the way it turned out, and highly recommend it.

In other book news, we were thrilled to see that our Weird Menace painting was given full-page treatment in SPECTRUM 18. These annual collections are priceless to any fan of contemporary illustration. Great stuff from cover to cover.

And, speaking of Spectrum, if you can get to Kansas City on May 18-20, please stop by our booth at SPECTRUM FANTASTIC ART LIVE! Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz will also be there with our friends at Flesk Publications (Flesk has also created the official book for the show). Mike Mignola is one of the special guests, and a number of our other art buddies will also be in attendance: Greg Manchess, Scott Gustafson, Thomas Gianni (whose work you’ll also see on the cover of an upcoming REH Foundation title), and lots and lots of others.

So, we may not have too many new paintings that we’re able to post for a few months, but we’ll try very hard not to let so much time pass without posting again.