Thursday, September 29, 2011

Death Dealer commission , part 6

Due to a very urgent business I had to abandon the Death Dealer commission for a few days. But today around noon, when nobody was watching, I went to my studio and did another quick sketch…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Death Dealer commission , part 5

Well, I don’t like Monday. You never know what Monday is going to bring you. Last Monday brought me this sketch which, as a composition, is embarrassingly close to Frazetta’s Death Dealer 2 painting.
I could not resist the temptation and had to try my inferior hand on this iconic pose. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Death Dealer commission , part 4

Yet another attempt to get the right posture, with just the right amount of explosiveness. Not too much, not too little... And although I liked the subtlety of the pencil work of this drawing, I had to abandon it because it still did not feel right.

I think I GOT it right this time…This evening, while waiting for my diner to be ready, I did this little sketch. Although I gave myself a free day, I could not forget about the drawing and I kept seeing Death Dealer in my mind. One of these inner pictures showed me the way…However, I think I should wait until tomorrow morning, for the morning is wiser than the evening, in order to see whether I actually have captured the right movement, or not…If yes, the rest of the drawing shouldn’t be a problem… I think…


Friday, September 23, 2011

Death Dealer commission , part 3

Here is another version of the same pose. And I’m still searching for the right one…

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Death Dealer commission , part 2

Yesterday I did the further study of the character and tried to explore the possibilities of the chosen pose. I intentionally left out the remaining compositional elements in order to focus on Death Dealer only, and to squeeze out the maximum of the dynamic movement from this relatively static pose. This is the big trick and the most important objective of this composition, and I am not yet done with it.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Death Dealer commission , part 1

For you who are anxious to know what is going on on my drawing table, I decided to post a series of entries that will follow the development of a commission I am working on at this very moment. It is a Frazetta’s Death Dealer drawing commission, inspiring on one hand, intimidating on the other. I find myself on the Master Frazetta’s grounds. This is enough to give me a feeling of inadequacy, which is not a very good  mental state to start a commission with. However, in the next couple of days I will try not to embarrass myself and hopefully produce something that will do justice to this famous character and his creator.
At the same time I am offering you a seat in the front row and hope that you will enjoy the show, although at the moment I do not know what kind of show you are about to see; an embarrassing  comedy, a disappointing horror or an inspiring adventure story. Well, we shall see…
This is the firs rough thumbnail sketch drawn quickly on an envelope.

The next quick thumbnail made with pencils on a proper sheet of paper.

First two rough sketches based on the thumbnails. The idea about the future composition starts to develop itself and the forms and details start to appear.

Apart from a few reference images of Death Dealer, this is the only reference that I use at this stage. It is a drawing of an athlete that I did some years ago. It helps me focus on the anatomy and the movement.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Strip Festival Breda

A few days ago I came back from a comic convention, named Strip Festival Breda, that has been held in the charming city of Breda, in the Netherlands.  I was attending this convention as a member of the Flesk Publications group of artists, alongside such notables as Gary Gianni, Mark Schultz, William Stout and Craig Elliott. This was my third convention in the last two years and it was certainly one of the most pleasant, refreshing and inspiring events I have ever attended.

A section of the Flesk Publications booth. From right to left: Gary Gianni, Craig Elliott, John Fleskes, Mark Schultz and Guido de Bue.

Mark Schultz talking to a fan. Craig Elliott and John Fleskes are behind him. It the background the collection of the Flesk books and Craig Elliott’s prints.

The convention itself was very nice, the fans were numerous, some kind, some shy and some a little pushy. I was told that the main difference between the European and the US conventions is that, in Europe, the artist is expected to answer to (almost) all the fans’ requests and to do the sketches for free, whilst the US artists often charge for the convention sketches. Being always eager to improve  and to learn new things and ways, and inspired by my US peers, I decided to apply this principle to my European fans. I did a little sketch if somebody bought a book, and I refused to do a sketch in the sketchbook of a fan if he/she did not want to buy a book. There was only one fan who wanted to pay for a more elaborate sketch. So, it was fun and I enjoyed it very much, in spite of the fact that I was very busy doing sketches for two days (just like the other four artists) in order to accommodate the wishes of my fans, and not to leave anyone without at least a quick sketch. As a consequence I did not get the chance to see the convention. However it was really great to be there, to see the fans, to talk to them, and to taste again that remarkable atmosphere of an art convention.

Gary Gianni sketching.

Craig Elliott doing one of his girl sketches.

But, for me, the best part of this event was the time I spent with these four fellow artists, talking to them during the show, or at the dinner table of one of the cozy Breda restaurants, or in the hotel lobby, or even better, in a café  while drinking a glass of good Belgian beer (mostly Leffe Blond, or Leffe Bruin !) and recuperating from a rather stressful day of much sketching and talking. The camaraderie and the friendship that I was fortunate to experience while with them, the wise lessons and the useful advises that I got from them (for these guys are true masters, each in their own field, and as such they are a huge source of precious knowledge and experience); all these things contributed to the creation of an unforgettable atmosphere. I have learned many important things just by listening to their stories and through observing them create their art. It was priceless!
Beside these four man blessed with various talents, and kind and generous personality, there were a few other persons that made this event possible. Firstly our publisher John Fleskes, ever sensitive and omnipresent, in the best possible way, who brought us together and made sure we felt comfortable and happy. His insights and his attentiveness have always impressed and inspired me. Needless to say, without him the Flesk team would not be able to come together and the Breda experience would probably never happen in our lives!

William Stout doing one of his zombie sketches.

Me, doing a Tarzan drawing.

The Flesk Prime: Mark Schultz, Craig Elliott, Gary Gianni, Petar Meseldzija and William Stout.

And last, but not least, there are a few other individuals whose passion for art, dedication, perseverance, extreme generosity  and  hard work, made this extraordinary experience possible. In fact it was they who invited Flesk to attend the show, together with the artists, and organized our part of the event in a way that was impeccable and impressive. So, Mark Thelosen and Guido de Bue - Chapeau and Salut, guys!

Good friends: Mark Thelosen, Petar Meseldzija and John Fleskes.

William Stout

Craig Elloitt

Gary Gianni

Mark Schultz

Petar Meseldzija

Well, you know, most of us artists spend much of our lives alone  in our studio, and when this kind of opportunity is presented to us, I think we should embrace it. Who else is able to understand and support us better than our “brothers in arms”, especially when it seems that we “vibrate” on the similar, if not the same, wavelength together with them.
At the end, I guess you could conclude that one of the main points of this post is – in order to feel happy, content and inspired, you need a friend, a comrade, or a kind of professional soul mate. You need to share your passions with them. You need to enrich their lives, and to let them enrich yours.  I think this is a very important aspect of being an artist. We need each other in order to grow better and less crooked. We need each other’s shadows, for when in the shadow, we will work (grow) harder  in order to get out of it.  My father always told me that when you want to plant a birch tree in your yard, you should plant three of them together, saying that it helps them grow better. I never found out whether this was really true or not, but I always liked that idea.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Strip Festival Breda 2011

 If you are from the Netherlands, or from one of the neighbouring countries, and you are a comic/illustration fan, you might find the following information interesting!

Flesk Publications, Elliott, Gianni, Meseldzija, Schultz and Stout to Appear at Strip Festival Breda

Craig Elliott, Gary Gianni, Petar Meseldzija, Mark Schultz and William Stout will join Flesk Publications at the Strip Festival Breda show in The Netherlands this September 10-11, 2011. The event will be held at the Chasse Theater in the city's historic downtown.
Flesk will have their full line of books at the show, including Flesk Prime, a compendium featuring all five artists appearing at the show. The Flesk Publications stand will be rife with additional exclusive new titles, including Mysterious Islands by Gary Gianni and the Naughty and Nice Teaser by Bruce Timm. Free catalogs, promotional fliers and posters will also be on hand.
An exclusive giclee print "An Evening with Flesk Prime" featuring art from the five participating artists will be made available. Each print, using the finest archival inks on premium stock, is signed by each individual and is strictly limited to an edition of 50, with only 25 being available for sale to the public.
Each artist will be available for autographs and discussion. They will also have original artwork and unique items for sale.
The Artists:
Craig Elliott works in the animation industry as a visual-development artist, character designer and concept artist. He has worked primarily for Disney and DreamWorks, designing animated films such as Hercules, Mulan, Treasure Planet and The Princess and the Frog and Rio. He is the subject of an upcoming collection from Flesk Publications, The Art of Craig Elliott.
Gary Gianni has adapted and illustrated a wide variety of books, including John Henry, Kidnapped, Moby Dick, The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, The Complete Conan of Cimmeria, and more recently, Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road. His comics work includes Classics Illustrated, The Shadow, and The MonsterMen. Gianni currently serves as illustrator of the Prince Valiant Sunday comic strip.
Petar Meseldzija is an illustrator and fine artist. His previous works include thirty-three illustrations for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and ten covers for books of children's fantasy literature for Scholastic. Petar's own book The Legend of Steel Bashaw was published by Flesk in 2010. Most recently Petar contributed to a book project about the creatures of Serbian mythology, titled Banished Demons.
Mark Schultz is an American cartoonist, illustrator and writer. His most well-known work Xenozoic Tales has been adapted to television as the animated series Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. He is currently in the process of producing illustrations for his novella Storms at Sea. Mark is the current writer for the newspaper strip Prince Valiant.

William Stout is one of America's foremost fantasy and film artists, dinosaur muralists and illustrators. Stout has contributed to over thirty films including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Walt Disney's Dinosaur and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. His Flesk books include Hallucinations, Inspirations, Prehistoric Life Murals and Dinosaur Discoveries.
Making his second appearance at the Strip Festival is John Fleskes, president and publisher of Flesk Publications. His previous books include collections on James Bama, Franklin Booth, Steve Rude and a two-edition set on the works of Joseph Clement Coll. His upcoming books include Edwin Austin Abbey: Drawings and James Bama: Personal Works.
"The warmth and friendliness of the Dutch people during Mark Schultz and my visit in 2010, along with the beauty of the city, encouraged us to come back again this year--and bring a few of our friends along as well," shares John Fleskes. "We look forward to another incredible trip."
Generous support for the appearance of Flesk Publications and each artist has been provided by De Stripspecialist, the finest comic book store in Breda.
Full details and sample pages for all Flesk Publications titles and the most recent news can be found at All titles mentioned here and more can be purchased on our online store. Additional information can be read on publisher John Fleskes' blog at
John Fleskes

“…Publisher John Fleskes cordially invites you to join Craig Elliott, Gary Gianni, Petar Meseldzija, Mark Schultz and William Stout in a dinner prior to Strip Festival Breda 2011 which will afford the appreciator of fine illustration a chance for relaxed one-on-one repartee  in an atmosphere of convivial wining and dining. Strictly limited to 15 guests to ensure a quality experience…”
Hope to see you in Breda!