My wife Wendy and I are thinking about creating a line of t-shirts. The idea is she comes up with the concepts and I do my best to illustrate them, then put them on fabric for those who feel like walking around with such things on their clothing. Our first time doing that was successful, ended up being used for a suit lining, and a vest back design. Her idea was brilliant. And it was a fun challenge to try and capture it as an image (see below). Anyway, T-shirts! Yes? Yes!
I should be happy this week because The Sandman: Overture tpb came out this week– with a pleasant round Hugo Award tag, but…
Still spinning a bit from this week’s chaos, the upheaval many are feeling from such a large idealistic change the country is going through. It’s been highly emotional, stressful even.
My shock is less potent now, but some deeper anger and cynicism is poking at my ribs inside.
I see that on the winning side of this election that many are upset over the protests taking place. Granted there are some stupid things happening during this, but to be upset that they are occurring at all mystifies me. People have the right to protest anything they wish. And I find the position of railing against the protestors a bit hypocritical when many of Trump’s supporters alluded to doing the same thing if he lost. I mean Joe Walsh even said he’d get his “musket”. The protestors are just like many of the people who voted for Trump, they want to be listened to. Like all of us do. And they have valid concerns.
I’ve heard from some people and have read some things about how this event wasn’t about the dark attitudes it appears to be. And this wasn’t about a rejection of diversity in the country, that it was really only a rejection of Hillary Clinton. I’ve had some time to reflect on that. And in some ways some of that perspective can hold true. And certainly Hillary was far from a perfect choice, but at least she wasn’t rampantly making bigoted hateful statements. Regardless of what Trump’s policies are to run the country, the fact remains a man who made hateful horrible statements was elected. And that is the thing I can’t really reconcile. The Presidency Of The United States isn’t just about making policies, it is an office of symbolism. It’s a representation that goes beyond governing a nation. It’s about saying what we are as a people.
I’m really wanting to be optimistic, I truly am. But seeing verified hate crime and hateful behavior on the national news toward people of different ethnicities or cultural backgrounds happen even in schools, connecting the apparent reasons this election went in Trump’s favor, makes optimism hard to buy into. I mean kids are now doing this stuff, this is what we are showing them, teaching them. My optimism that this can’t really be a rearing up of bigotry or corporate power falters when I see just who is on Trump’s cabinet appointee lists. Hard not to falter when I see actual interview footage of one of those possible appointees saying “everyone will have to BOW DOWN to Trump.” That really happened. It looks and feels and behaves like fascism. Yes that’s a loaded term, I understand fully what it means. And I actually feel strange saying it. But I’m familiar enough with world history to recognize the patterns. Some of these incidents I’m seeing are bold. And some not as blatant. These sort of adverse societal impacts often are not overnight. But it does take flight when boosted by some popular public figure or authority speaking in ways that incite those negative ideals. And Trump has yet to say to America that this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable. That his statements were just “talk”, trying to gain publicity any way possible (even that would be gross). But when asked if he went too far with his “rhetoric” (hate speech), he says “No, I won.” This so far tells me that a lot of the statements and attitudes he promoted are really him. I mean, what else is there to infer from it at this point.
This is the stuff that many Americans are afraid of. We don’t want hate to escalate further, and it needs to stop entirely. If Trump really doesn’t want people to be angry or bitter then he needs to speak out against the hateful stuff being slung around at this moment. It would go a long way.
But right now I don’t think we’re going to get that. It’d be admission that he lit this fire from the fuel. Would his ego allow that?
I hope I’m wrong, and he’ll tell people to knock it off. Soon. Now.
It feels like a strange haze has set in. Like a psychic hangover that weakens the blood.
It’s been forever since posting a blog, but my mind just hasn’t been into it. Maybe that will change, I hope. Not that many probably care much what I write about on here. But it’s like talking to yourself in someways, like journaling stuff that others can read. And maybe there is some sort of energy feedback that somehow bolsters soul growth.
Anyway, election. Over.
In all honesty, I’m not being an alarmist, but being as real as I can be when I say we now have corporate fascist racist sexist bullies about to start running the country very shortly. Regardless of the reasons they were voted in, the fact remains they ran on a platform of bigotry in pretty much all of its forms. And was supported for that by votes going to them. This is such a massive step backwards. This was a metaphysical event. That is the best way I can describe it. We clearly are not the society a lot of us thought we were. How could we be at this point?
Example A: (revised, KKK did not march in NC) But swastikas with Trump’s name next to it, along with racial slurs have been seen tagging buildings. We can expect more of this?
A disease has been growing and we’re at stage 3 about to go into stage 4.
A lot of people feel like this will only be four years of time, but this in reality will affect the nation, and most likely the world, for possibly decades. I’m having a hard time being able to convey the gravity of this, words fail me at the moment.
But I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, we are facing a very rough long ride. And at this point it doesn’t matter what Trump does. It has more to do with what his election signifies, about the heart and soul of American and world society.
This isn’t whining over the loss. This isn’t sour grapes. This is getting ready.
We’re going to have to use all of our creativity to pull our dreams of better things into reality. This is our best tool to transform the dark into the light.
The final round of select original art of Sandman Overture being made available can now happen. It had to get very postponed due to being very ill for over a month. So life got sacked for a bit. But with things are looking up, we thought it best to get this scheduled.
Mark your calendars: 12pm PST on Saturday, June 18th
This last round will be for the last 2 issues, and whatever else that is still available.
The spread below is a fun one, that does this weird thing to the mind when looking at its mimic of a book being spread open, Destiny’s book! As we see inside of the book, it immerses us dimensionally in the story. And it features a decent shot of Dream Cat’s gothically stylish Dream-cosmic sailing vessel. It was a challenge to draw this spread, to get the effect Neil and I were after. For the story to exist inside and out of Destiny’s book, while being inside the comic being held by the reader.
I woke up late today (still recovering from illness), to the news of Darwyn Cooke’s passing away. It came in the form of a text from our dear friend James Sime. I know James is devastated, he has a lot of good times with Darwyn.
I’m listening to the warm desert wind that easily gusts outside, compelled to say something, share something of the times we had with Darwyn. But I’m finding it difficult on what to say in any meaningful way, feeling sad and awkward. I’m just gonna be straight up about it.
Wendy and I didn’t know him as well as others, but were always happy to see him when we did. He was always so gracious to us. Very kind, and we would always exchange quick positive comments about each other’s artistic efforts. I was thrilled with how much he enjoyed my one issue of Jonah Hex— that meant a lot hearing that from him. I’ve enjoyed Darwyn’s work greatly from the very first encounter I had with it— it’s always so smart, unique and traditional at the same time. You can’t help but find it joyful— even if the subject portrayed might be grim sometimes.
There is so much love for Darwyn Cooke, and deservedly— really a very inspirational creator. We have fond memories sharing booth space with him a bit, a few walks together outside the San Diego Convention Center, or chatting late at night at one of the con bars. Sadly I haven’t spoken to him in quite a long time since avoiding conventions for the past few years. But I always admired his candor, humor, and charm. He was such a charmer! We briefly discussed working on a project together a year or so before I took on Sandman: Overture. The strangest thing about it was he said it surprised him I’d want to do something with him (there’s that graciousness). And I said in reply “Hell yeah, why wouldn’t I?! It’d be brilliant.” I always thought it’d be a blast drawing a story he wrote just for me. I asked what he’d like to do— and he said horror, let’s do a horror tale. That hit the right note for me. It’d be fantastic to sink my teeth into a full on horror story. And I was highly intrigued by Darwyn wanting to write horror. I mean, just what would a Darwyn Cooke horror tale feel like? One written for me to draw.
We made plans to talk it out on the phone, but then life and work happens, and that talk just never managed to occur. I have a lot of regret over that, because it would’ve been magic I’m sure. Time and life never brought us back to that moment. And with his passing, it’ll just never be now. Maybe somewhere in another alternate universe, in a nicer more easy going world, our horror tale exists. Ready to be delved into by an eager readership of his, and mine.
It’s heartbreaking to hear about what he faced, what his family and friends must be going through.
Cheers to you Darwyn, wherever your spirit roams now. You’ll be greatly missed.
Love to all who knew him, to his family and friends.
Hi guys. It’s Wendy, J.H.’s wife here. I’m posting to let you know that the next Sandman art sale will be delayed, not sure until when, due to some health problems my husband is having. What was suppose to be a minor surgery ended up with some fairly serious complications that we are still dealing with. He’s on the road to recovery but it’s going to take some time. I, or hopefully he, will let you know the sale date as soon as we can. We will be offering both issues 5 & 6 at the same time.
We appreciate your patience and your understanding.
It’s been a short while since the last round of pages went up. Our lives dissolved into chaos as we prepared to move house (move a life) to entirely another state. An exhaustive task is an understatement. But now we’re settling in, getting back to the drawing table, and ready to set the date for Sandman Overture pages round 3 being made available.
The date to put on your calendars, phone notifications, and alarms will be Saturday, February 27th, at noon PST.
And for your enticement… I remember spending forever on the cosmic bits. But what I find entertaining on this spread is the use of so many different styles to sell the idea of the different worlds. I love getting that kind of thing going…
I’m having some very high nostalgia right now, at least for the next few months. Mainly, because I’m getting to do something that I thought would never happen, ever. And it all comes down to the very nice folks at IDW Publishing, graciously wanting my scrawls to cross some of their covers for a project that has been forsaken by very muddy legalities for many many years. A short time ago I learned that they had obtained the publishing rights to a comics concept that I can truly say is the very root of why I chose to be a comics artist, the one and only Micronauts. I’m ecstatic that IDW has landed this, found its way through the murky waters to find the treasure. I’ve cited in many interviews and general conversations just how this series impacted my childhood, I grew up a bit with those comics, and read them for as long as they were published. But ultimately what hooked my loyalty was the very beginning of their adventures, created by masters Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden. They were so very smart. If I had never come across their work on Micronauts I seriously doubt I’d be working in comics at all. Their brilliance on the title forever changed my direction, much to the dismay of many of the adults in my young life. However, along the way, I proved I was right. That deep down, from that very long ago discovery of the work on the series, I knew then that I was meant to do what I do now. And so when IDW announced they had garnered publishing rights for a new Micronauts series, and Rom as well (another very influential series), I had to reach out to them to see how I could be involved, even if only a little. To make an inner child’s dream come true.
I’ll be doing a run of covers for the new series. And I hope they spark your imagination in joyous ways.
My life with David Bowie. I say this knowing full well that I do not personally know Bowie, but in very odd ways I feel like I do. Especially in my art life, in how I think and view things creatively.
Since David Bowie passed away, I’ve had a lot to think about this week. About what he really meant to me, what his death means to me. When first hearing the news of his death, I was shocked and very upset, quickly brought to tears. This strangely surprised me, feeling this way, since I didn’t know the man. Immediately I thought of friends who I’ve conversed with about Bowie, like Vertigo editor Shelly Bond. I still have the Bowie postcards she sent me, one featuring him in that gloriously amazing turquoise suit. I remembered the good times of seeing him in concert, fortunately twice. One time on his Sound and Vision tour, the other when he toured with Nine Inch Nails. Both shows were outstanding, no surprise there. But it wasn’t really those memories that were affecting me. It was something more. I’ve needed the past week to try to understand where these deep emotions were coming from when my wife and I heard the news.
I’ve always loved his music. I have fond memories walking to school alone singing the songs off Let’s Dance to myself. That was the album I first discovered David Bowie, then the Tonight album with the fantastic Loving The Alien on it. I went backwards into his catalogue from there, exploring all of his treasures. And was deeply captured by just how much he had transformed from his early days to the Bowie I first met. His ever changing personas always seemed to meld perfectly with the music he was creating at the time, as if the music and lyrics themselves were the cause of these personas as he moved through his artistic life.
This is where I think I’m connecting with him. The idea of change. He always was presenting different aspects of himself, he allowed his personality to grow and morph, and did so in creative ways that became metaphor for all of the changes in our own lives over time. He just showed this more boldly, profoundly making life transformations into art.
The thing I learned from this is that it’s okay to change, that it’s okay to not remain the same thing all of the time, to be fluid when you can be. I think subconsciously I related to this, and as I grew into my own creative discovery through my chosen medium of comics, I was able to embrace this concept easily. I was able to see and understand the reasons why someone like Frank Miller would alter his style from project to project, sometimes in very dramatic ways; creating a visual trajectory that is his but also quite varied. Or in the way Alan Moore would be able to defy genre expectations, never being satisfied by staying in one genre or adhering to whatever genre’s rules, and exploring each attempt in the fullest way possible. Or in the way Neil Gaiman wrote transformative narratives all throughout Sandman, each having their own distinct aspect, but somehow still remaining firmly within the project’s parameters, giving us a grand operatic epic.
It’s this idea of transformation being something to be embraced, to not sit still, is where I think the real learning comes from. Not just creatively, but in life. Growing up listening to Bowie, seeing Bowie’s ideas, while being engaged with comics, seeing leaps of transformation from certain comics creators of the time, while being entrenched in Kirby, and Moebius, and Golden, to name a few, taught me to reach for new vistas. This has had much bigger impact on my work over my career than I first was realizing.
But awhile ago I came to understand for my own creative life to grow it had also needed to change, or better termed: allowed to be ever changing. The result is some of the things I’ve done. This explains a little bit of why I style manipulate so much. Doing so pulls out different aspects of story, emotion, and bits of myself, and amplifies different qualities within each. Applying transformation as an idea as I move from scene to scene creatively allows the work to be more alive, it breathes, and moves, and quite often in surprising ways even to myself. Things will happen in the work as I do it that can be a revelation to me.
So I can relate to David Bowie’s ever changing creative self, embracing this in himself must’ve allowed him to realize so many things, discovering so many aspects of his inner life. I imagine it must’ve been a constant revelatory experience. Showing us this all the way to the end, even in the way he appeared to find acceptance in his death and used facing this last change to again transform creatively, giving us one last burst of beauty in the album Blackstar. I think there are more lessons to learn there for our own lives, and to learn creatively by how he chose to handle this most artful departure from the world.
This all has given me pause mentally, as I am currently in the middle of making very large changes in my life, personally and creatively and literally moving into new territory. So, thinking about embracing such big change rather than feeling trepidation about it, I have to say, is still something I grasp at. But the poignancy in how David Bowie handled his biggest personal change shines a light on all of it, and firmly places things into a good perspective. The logistical and creative decisions before me are daunting, but I have to accept this is the path and just run. So, Bowie’s death teaches me, just as he did in life.
I’m very certain if I hadn’t been a lifelong fan of David Bowie and his music that I would not be the same artist or person I am today, and probably a much weaker one.
“Time may change me
But you can’t trace time”
I hope everyone is having a great holiday break. And I also want to thank those interested in Sandman Art again for such a fast and enthusiastic response to the second issue original art sale. Only one spread each from issues one and two remain. The third issue sale will be coming early next year, but we do not have a date selected yet because of too much going on at the moment to pin it down. I’ve started my next project (so scanning the first round of pages now), but won’t be announcing the project’s title or release dates for awhile due to making certain we have a ton of it done before then. I want to avoid the schedule problems that befell Sandman. Also doing some cover work here and there in the future as well (will talk more about that when I have the okay from the publisher). And during all of this we are moving house to another state very shortly (packing up way too many books). So, in this chaos it would be a bit insane to set up the next sale in the middle of that. So right now we’re estimating end of January or early February, which gives those of you who are interested a little more time to plan for it. When we have a solid date we’ll post it. Have a Happy New Year celebration everyone! In the meantime here is something from the next issue sale to entice…
Reminder that Sandman Overture issue 2 original art pages go up for sale Saturday December 12th, at noon PST.
Some pieces may not be made available. This means they stayed in the family. So if you don’t see something, that would be why.
This time around are some pages that feature painted sections, quite a variety of styles and images that kept things moving in interesting ways. One scene being boldly painted in red inks is a favorite of mine. But below is pages 10 and 11, I remember this one taking what felt like forever to figure out and complete, featuring a menagerie of Dreams…
Thanks for so much enthusiasm for the issue 1 original art, most has found its way to friendly hands.
We’ve selected the next date for available Sandman Overture 2 art to be Saturday December 12th. The time of the release will be 12pm noon PST.
For your enticement (this one is for all the Lovecraft fans, and one of my favorites). It was mostly done using ink (brush and pen), ink wash, copic grey-tone marker, gouache, white ink, and bits of color pencil …
I want to thank everyone for such a tremendous response to the original art of Overture 1 last Sunday. So happy that much of it has found good homes.
I lost a dear friend yesterday. His name was Bhangra, and he was a cat. A special cat. I know that those of us who have cats know how special they all are. But he was particularly special to me. I certainly have loved all of our cats that have been a part of our lives. But he was different. He was the one that always had to know where I was, he to had have breakfast with me everyday, If he’d been out on a backyard adventure I had to be the first thing he needed to see upon returning to indoors. He was a master hunter. Catching mice was his sport. We all distinctly remember the time he proudly walked through his cat door with two mice in his mouth at the same time, one already dead, the other not. How does a cat even do that? Master hunter indeed. He very much liked people, but wasn’t cuddly. He loved food, food was love. His favorite thing was to eat while getting a good rub down. He beckoned for food that you’d think a cat wouldn’t want anything to do with, like hummus; that is what he is doing in the above photo, demanding hummus. Always difficult because you can’t give a cat garlic. He was very much an office cat. Wanting to be in my lap while drawing, or writing. Sometimes content to just quietly sit next to my chair as I worked, often settling around my feet, or sleeping on my scanner. But it isn’t all those things that made him so special. It’s simply something that my loving wife said to me yesterday while laying in a crumpled blubbering mess, she said that he chose ME. That he had wanted me to be his best friend. This morning I stared at the bedroom doorway, as I kept hoping he’d be there patiently waiting for me to get up so we could have breakfast. But now he’s gone, he had cancer, he sadly withered. I’m left now to look at my office without him. And after a few days I’ll have to try to get on with work, even though something fundamentally is wrong now.
In 2012 I had written an experimental bog project, one that required me to post something everyday, and I had written something that was about him. That attempted to show how big of a personality he was. So I’m posting it again below in his tribute.
Jet sheen, light shines off revealing elegant ripples of sinewy strength. Leaping and jumping, no barrier can hold against. Sleek and intimidating, moving silently like a true hunter, a warrior not to be trifled with. Ruling from above, lethal, baring a mouth full of daggers. Stalking proud, always watching with gleaming eyes of yellowed flecked jade. Tall pointed ears perk, no sound escapes attention. The deepest shadows engulf, vanishing like a ghost, becoming invisible in the dark of night. I am lord of this domain and master of many, of lands vast, filled with concrete, trees and tall dried grasses. I claim this all. Be it burning hot, sleet, or rain, I will prowl, I will guard. I am King, The Mouse-Killer, Friend to giants. I am Bhangra, The Cat.
WE’VE REVISED THE TIME OF THE SALE TO NOW BE 12PM NOON PST!!
Mark your calendars, set your notices, set your clocks.
Each issue of the original art will be made available every 3 to 4 weeks. Those dates will post shortly after each sale starts.
Our store uses Paypal, so if you’re not set up for a verified account, it’s recommended to do that. They offer various ways to obtain purchases, including offering a payment plan.
And FYI, some pieces may not be made available. This means they stayed in the family. So if you don’t see something, that would be why.
The Sandman Overture deluxe hardcover book is out now.
It features some fun extras that date back by a decade, also some minor coloring tweaks, but most importantly it features a scene from the final chapter put back to how it was originally meant to be presented. There isn’t necessarily anything added to the art of this scene, but more on how it was meant to be paced and presented, which actually does impact how the scene feels and functions, giving it broader visual scope.
For those who have read the story in singles form already, I’m sure you’ll see what I’m talking about when you read it all again in this very fine edition. But for those who are coming to this story for the first time, you won’t even realize that anything was amiss, it flows as intended without second guessing it.
November 15th at 5pm PST