205 – Piledriver

Part 2 of The Wrecking Crew: Piledriver. This may be the worst drawing I’ve ever done for this blog, especially for a request, but Holy Christ, Piledriver has to be the biggest turd of a villain ever created. I was so bored two seconds into even doing research on this dull asshole, I wanted to break my hands so I’d never draw again. He wears a patriotic costume for some reason, but it’s the most boring costume ever. It’s the kind of costume that you put on a super character when you have zero inspiration to do so. The rest of The Wrecking Crew are at least somewhat interesting looking, or have some sort of cool accessory, but not this douchenozzle. He has big hands. That’s his power. What a fucktard.

204 – Wrecker

The first of a series of requests for Jason Young, The Wrecking Crew.

First up is Wrecker. I have to admit to not knowing a thing about these characters, other than they have some sort of Asgardian powers and tools. I think Wrecker’s costume is nice, and I loved the ridged mask.

203 – The Whizzer

Fulfilling a request for Wheeler Hall, the Headmaster of Ok, PANIC!, it’s The Whizzer (don’t laugh).

The Whizzer is a somewhat obscure Golden Age Marvel speedster, and the name is also used by the speedster from The Squadron Supreme, I think (it was hard to find info on this guy). The original Whizzer was retconned as a member of The Invaders, the WWII super team that featured Captain America, Bucky, Namor, The Human Torch, Toro, Union Jack, Spitfire, Miss America, The Blazing Skull, and Silver Scorpion.

I decided to update his costume for a more modern look, which is hard to do without completely thinking of The Flash. I think, other than the wings on his head, I did okay.

202 – Squirrel Girl

After yesterday’s heady confessional, let’s go with something a little lighter. Fulfilling a request for Sarah Potter (daughter of my Ok, PANIC! cohort Jeff Potter), it’s Squirrel Girl!

The only things I know about Squirrel Girl are:
a)she was created by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko
b)she was created in 1992. I honestly thought she was an older character than that
c)she’s a mutant with squirrel powers
d)she was a member of The Great Lakes Avengers for a short while
e)she’s currently the nanny for Luke Cage’s baby
f)she recently beat the crap out of Wolverine
g)she calls her utility belt her “nut sack”. Y’know, sacks of nuts for her squirrels.

That’s a lot more than I expected to know.

201 – Justice, Nevada

If I remember correctly, today is the birthday of Bruce O. Hughes. Bruce and I met in art school in 1998, around the time we were graduating. For no real reason, up until that point, I disliked the man. Just me and my long string of anti-social asshole behavior. When we finally bonded (over Bruce Campbell, Green Lantern, X-Men, Chris Bachalo and Shade the Changing Man), Bruce quickly became one of my closest friends. In fact, I always considered him more of a brother to me than my actual brothers.

Bruce is easily the funniest human being on the planet and a ball of creative energy that can’t be matched by anyone, with ideas constantly pouring out of him like water. He was my best friend, and we worked together, and were trying to take on the world of entertainment by any means necessary.

We made a ton of comics, we joked constantly, we (along with some other folks – Andy, Jay, Rick) made a movie, we planned on even doing some sort of musical thing. But comics were the absolute ultimate plan for us.

Bruce is also the finest artist I’ve ever met or worked with or been around, and I’ve been associated with some crazily talented folks, all of whom have my utmost respect and envy, but none have ever been better than Bruce.

Over at Ok, PANIC!, I constantly joke about how each topic isn’t a competition – but how it’s totally a competition. Even though we were partners and working together, it always felt like a competition. I’m not sure if Bruce ever felt that way, but I did, and it started to take it’s toll. I’ve also joked that for the past year, Adam Hughes (no relation) ruined my life. That comes from purchasing his art book and being so floored by the quality of his work, that I never wanted to draw again. Bruce, on occasion, would make me feel that way when I would look at his art. He also made me strive to want to get better and improve my work and constantly change what I was doing.

Bruce and I are a lot alike in a lot of ways, first and foremost in that we are stubborn assholes who can’t express emotions properly. The constant frustration, the all-in-my-head competition, the disillusionment I felt at our inability to get our work noticed – all these things began to take it’s toll on me. I don’t think I can express how frustrating it was to be confronted with the fact that my dream of being a comic artist or writer – a dream that I have had since I was 9 years old – was crumbling around me.

And it was all me, all in my mind. I know that, and I realize that. I’m not energetic, I don’t have a lot of creativity in me, I am not clever, and I don’t have life experiences. I am a recluse and a dick. Seeing Bruce thrive under pressure and never giving up on his dream – I don’t know. It bothered me.

I had to sabotage it, I had to give up. And when I did, Bruce hassled me and harassed me. He was well-meaning, and only wanted me to strive for my dreams again. He knew I loved comics, he just wanted me to love them more, and want to continue to make them. I just didn’t have it in me. I pretended. I faked it, but the passion, the energy, the creativity, was gone.

And like a married couple, the tics and quirks of the preceding 10 years, it got to me. And without a word, without explanation, I cut off communication, I severed our friendship.

I ruined my own life. I ruined possibly the best friendship I’d ever had.

Then I got bitter. And angry.

I’m an asshole.

Asshole isn’t big enough to describe what I am.

That was in 2008. I still continued to trick myself into thinking I wanted to do comics – and occasionally, I still do. I thought I wanted to do them on my own, I thought Bruce was keeping my creativity down, and I blamed him for my own fears of success and failure. I blamed him for clipping my creative wings, and this birdy gotta fly. I got tired of all our stupid disagreements and shut myself off to my brother, and I fucked him over – unintentionally – but I did, and in my own twisted, angry bullshit, I thought he was getting what he deserved.

No one deserves that.

I’m an asshole. A depressed, self-sabotaging asshole.

Over three years have passed since we last spoke with each other. Bruce has gone on to create and publish a comic called Clobber Vance which is pure, unadulterated Bruce, the kinda thing I would have gotten mad at if he presented it to me as a book to work on together, and then more mad if he did it himself.

I’m a jealous asshole.

He’s a father now, he hosts a podcast called The Break-Ins with cartoonist Justin Wasson, and he’s only gotten better as an artist over the years, and he’s forging his own path, which is awesome. Even during the lowest points of our disassociation, I may have (unjustly) convinced myself that Bruce was the cause of all that was wrong in my life (he’s not, it’s me), but I was always going to respect his work and his art. He’s the me I wish I was more like.

I miss him.

We have, in recent months, been in contact, of sorts. He posts comments on this blog, and we have emailed each other a couple of times. Unless this post dredges up some bullshit and reopens wounds, I’m hoping that in the near future we can start trying to be friends again. I’m certainly looking forward to eating Skyline with him at some point, and possibly begging his wife for forgiveness and maybe meeting his son.

I hope anyway.

In honor of Bruce’s birthday, and letting bygones be buried by hatchets under a bridge of water, I drew a couple of characters that I haven’t drawn in many years. Jack Astro and Grey Wolf were the stars of our comic Justice, Nevada it was our superhero parody comic, and one of my favorite things we created together. We never did much with them, but that’s because it was my book to draw. Read this entire post again, and also this entire blog to figure out why that happened.

Check out Bruce’s blog at bruceohughes.com, see all the awesome he’s been doing for the past three years, and you can also read pretty much every comic we ever worked on together too. I believe that is also where he hosts his podcast from, so check that out as well.

Happy Birthday, Bruce.

200 – Animal Man

Grant Morrison’s Animal Man is in my top 10 favorite comic runs of all time. It’s a trippy, fun, dark, and brilliant take on what was essentially a z-list character, proving that any character can become a success with the right support behind them. Animal Man is getting relaunched for the New DCU, written by Jeff Lemire of Sweet Tooth goodness, and that alone is enough to make it one of the books I’m looking forward to the most in the reboot.

This was another request by Joe Grunenwald, and I couldn’t think of a better way to hit my #200 milestone.

199 – Kitty

My ex-girlfriend had two cats when we started dating,* and they were preciously cute balls of fuzz named Sebastian and Shadow. Sebastian was a needy attention whore, so it was no trouble getting him to like me at all. The first time I was ever at her apartment, he jumped on my lap and started chewing on my beard. Shadow was not so easy and it took a long time for him to warm up to me, but when he did, I had a companion for the entirety of our relationship. However within those first few days of meeting Shadow, I gave him a nickname, and it has stuck ever since. I called him “Squee” based on the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac character. Mostly because he was a skittish, constantly frightened, timid, small cat, and when he made any noise, it sounded like a squee.

I wanted to draw something unbearably cute, and Squee was the first thing that came to mind. Obviously, not a likeness. More like the essence of Squee.

My ex and I are still incredibly good friends, but I miss not getting to see the kids.

*My ex eventually gained a third cat, an old, crotchety siamese named Mischief (also nicknamed Mogwai). Mogwai spent her first few months living with my ex hiding under the bed. Eventually she started coming out, and once we got over that barrier, she was like a little puppy (albiet an angry one) that followed me everywhere. Sadly, Mogwai passed on some months ago, and even though she was never technically my cat, the loss I felt was the same, and I miss her dearly.

198 – Black Canary

Black Canary is on my list of requests, but it’s a pretty specific request, so this doesn’t count.

Fishnets are annoying to draw.

197 – Zatanna

This was fun to draw, and I’ve always enjoyed the character of Zatanna. Probably for obvious reasons.

But, as we know, pobody’s nerfect, and I wasn’t thrilled with this drawing as it began. I redrew a small part of it and worked some photoshoppy magic to pull together a drawing I don’t really hate.

I hated her head and face in the original drawing, which you can see above on the far left. I traced it and redrew it so her facial details were more prominent and the hat was neater and smaller, which is the head next to the original. Once I placed it in photoshop on the body, it still didn’t look right, so I scaled her head up a bit, and it seemed to finally come together. What began bothering me after that was the size of her mouth, so I shrunk that down and replaced it, and voila! Hcteks devas!

I apologize for my moment of (extreme) self-indulgence.

196 – Ultimate Evil Ernie

Recently for Gutter Trash, we (I) reviewed the worst comic that I’ve ever read, Evil Ernie: War of the Dead.

There is a small part of me that thinks of Evil Ernie as a neat concept, so I drew him as if I suddenly got the rights to the character. Smiley no longer talks/is sentient, nor is he the source of Ernie’s powers. Ernie may talk to Smiley, simply because he’s an insane zombie demon.

I would pretty much strip away everything else about Evil Ernie, I would keep a version of Lady Death (but not the same one) in his backstory, but get rid of evil psychologists and parents and magical sketching abilities, and most importantly, I’d get rid of Evil Ernie/Brian Pulido’s crazy mid-80s Metal hair.

Ah, to dream.