I am extremely excited to announce my newest piece Heroes Playing Poker which will be released on February 5th on Nifty Gateway! For this series of pieces, I wanted to explore how the varying styles and techniques of colorists can change the way we perceive our favorite superheroes and villains and how those techniques have changed over time. For that, I teamed up with three extremely talented comic artists and colorists to create five unique versions of the same piece for a series I have titled “Heroes Playing Poker.”
The piece itself is a play on the infamous 1903 painting by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge “A Friend In Need”, which is the most famous of a series of paintings titled “Dogs Playing Poker”. I am particularly fond of this painting and believed it was perfect to showcase the varying coloring styles using a sampling of superheroes and villains that I have illustrated over the past 60 years.
“A Friend in Need,” 1903 by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
To begin, I would like to explain generally the process through which comic art was created when I was working as an illustrator. If you look below at the bottom of the Wonder Woman page I pencilled many years ago, you will see that there is a whole team that went into creating each comic: a writer who creates the story, a pencilist that takes the writer’s concept, conceptualizes how it should look on the page and illustrates it, an inker who reinforces and brings out the pencilist’s lines, a letterist who does the lettering, and a colorist who uses color to really bring the whole piece to life. While writers and pencilists often get a lot of the credit, comic art would not be what it is without each of the other members of this team, particularly the colorists.
With the help of three amazing artists, I created the five pieces below to illustrate this concept.
Heroes Playing Poker – Inked Edition (Edition of 10 – Silent Auction)
In this first version, you see the piece (just a preview so as not to spoil the surprise) in the form it would have been sent off to be colored. Once I had the concept, I penciled and inked the piece. Then I sent it off to my amazing colorists with instructions to color the piece how they saw fit but with each of them using one of three styles: classic, modern, and painterly.
Heroes Playing Poker – Classic Edition (5 Minute Open Edition – $750) – 1 collector will also be chosen at random to receive a signed 1/1 canvas print.
The classic edition which is a digital take on the hand-colored style of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze age of comic art, was done by Blair Shedd. Blair Shedd is a professional comic book and crypto artist who is most well known for his work on the Dr. Who series.
I asked Blair to describe his coloring of the piece and he said: “The coloring I chose for my version of Heroes Playing Poker is based on the classic coloring of comics, when material called Amberlith had to be hand cut to place color. I chose to keep my color choices simple, and gradients are sparingly used, as they would’ve been difficult to replicate at the time.”
While Blair “normally works with more sophisticated approaches to coloring” he told me “it’s quite nice to dip back into the simpler comic coloring of my youth, the books I grew up reading and collecting.” More of Blair’s work can be found at his website: onegemini.com.
Heroes Playing Poker – Modern Edition (5 Minute Open Edition – $750) – 1 collector will also be chosen at random to receive a signed 1/1 canvas print.
For the modern edition of Heroes Playing Poker I teamed up with professional comic colorist Ross Campbell and asked him to color the piece using his modern style that he employs in the industry today. As you will see, as modern digital coloring technology evolved, the pieces became far more dynamic and a “sculpted” style took the place of the flat coloring of the past.
I asked Ross to tell everyone a little about himself and he said: “I’m Ross A. Campbell, an artist, avid reader and video game enthusiast from Scotland. I’ve been coloring comic books for 10 years now, during that time it’s been my good fortune to collaborate with countless incredible artists and creators, it’s very humbling to see such talent day-in and day-out and gives me something to aspire to.”
Regarding his coloring of the piece Ross said: “In this Heroes Playing Poker piece I went with my usual rendering style, generally quite sculpted and painterly, choosing to have our two cheaters at the front mostly in shadow but with some sharp rim lighting to tie them into the larger scene.”
If you’re interested in seeing more of Ross’s work, search for Ross A Campbell on Facebook, Deviantart and Twitter. Additionally, he is creating his own hand-painted platformer video game you can check out at thenestgame.com.
Heroes Playing Poker – Painterly Edition (5 Minute Open Edition – $750) – 1 collector will also be chosen at random to receive a signed 1/1 canvas print.
For the Painterly Edition, I teamed up with talented professional colorist Sarah Perryman. I asked her to digitally paint the piece in a style that took inspiration from the “A Friend In Need” painting itself and I think she did an amazing job while adding her own flair.
Sarah said the following about herself and the coloring of the piece: “Creating art has always been a part of who I am. I’m never finished exploring new styles, creating new techniques, mixing mediums, playing with colors and textures, and especially adding light and ambiance to my work. I’ve found that being a colorist is very fulfilling. I’m able to evoke emotion and tell stories through color. Working on this piece allowed me to explore combining digital watercolors with traditional comic coloring techniques in a fun and colorful way.”
More of Sarah’s work can be seen in her ArtStation Gallery at https://sarahthecolorist.com
Heroes Playing Poker (1/1 Auction) – The winner of the auction will receive a signed 1/1 canvas print.
The final piece to this drop brings the concept all together. With Blair’s help in animating the piece, the heroes and villains are depicted together playing poker while alternating between the various coloring styles showing the contrast between the styles side by side.
Other Notable Coloring Collaborations
Since beginning as a crypto artist I have had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of other talented artists who have helped give my pieces new life through their coloring and animation styles. These include: