Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

Here, it is Christmas Eve, and I did the following drawing as an early Christmas present to all my readers, family, and friends.

Thinking of the traditional Christmas song "We Three Kings," I decided to draw the three greatest archetype figures of Japanese fantasy, especially in the tokusatsu (Japanese special effects) art form! Depicted are Godzilla (center), Ultraman (left), and Kamen (Masked) Rider, gathered together to bring peace and goodwill to everyone.

Drawn this past afternoon, I colored it this morning on Photoshop with my Bamboo Fun Tablet.

Merry Christmas from Ryusei Works!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Retro Cats & Dogs

I really enjoyed doing this one. Done on February 2, 2009, this collection of retro-style cartoon cats & dogs was inspired by Dakin's Dream Pets toy collection from 1957 to 1972. (Dream Pets were originally from Japan. They were these colorful velveteen stuffed animal figures. Dakin ordered a train set from Japan, and the Japanese company secured them with velveteen dolls, which ended up getting more attention than the train sets! There have been 2,000 Dream Pets made from 1957 to 1972. 24 of them were reissued in 2004.)

This was done while on vacation in the Outer Banks (needless to say, just days after my Grandma's passing). I did a pencil sketch first on New Year's Day, and then traced it over with Crayola colored pencils. I was really pleased with how it came out! I'd love to do more like this.

Below is my life drawing of Dream Pet Lucy Lamb, which I did a day later. I originally featured it in my older Fan Art on Parade post.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Mighty Bee and... the Mighty Pee!?!

Two fanarts of The Mighty B! I did for fun last year!
The above, finished on September 17, 2009 (and colored in Photoshop just tonight), is a drawing of Bessie Higgenbottom's imaginary alter-ego, the Mighty Bee. According to Honeybee Girl Scouts legend, whoever earns all 5,000 Honeybee badges will become a superhero called the Mighty Bee!

Below, two days later, I had fun creating an original character... sort of.

Yeah, the above image is kinda' dark, isn't it? :)

This is an original concept drawing for the Mighty Bee's arch-enemy, the Mighty Pee, drawn on September 19, 2009, and colored two nights ago. Yes, I indeed said the Mighty Pee! Here's my own concept for the character:

Portia Gibbons, as she appears in Nickelodeon's The Mighty B!

Imagine Bessie getting all 5,000 badges to become the Mighty Bee. Bessie's fellow scout/frenemy Portia Gibbons steals all of her badges somehow, and while she absorbs powers from them, the result is horribly wrong; It turns out that perhaps Bessie was destined all along to be the Mighty Bee, one reason being that Bessie's name begins with the letter "B", as in "bee." But Portia abused the power of the badges, and because her name begins with "P," she becomes whatever begins with "P" that rhymes with "bee!" So, Portia undergoes a horrible transformation (much like An American Werewolf in London), as she melts into a smelly puddle of pee (leaving her clothes in a wet pile), and the puddle congeals into a solid mass, in the form of a muscular, translucent-yellow creature known as the Mighty Pee! Besides the "drippy" theme of parts of her body (the hair, earlobes, six-pack, fingers, foot tip, etc.), she has swirls in her eyes which suggest a maniacal violent streak (not to mention a toilet flush)! As the Mighty Pee, power-crazed Portia wreaks havoc in San Francisco, until Bessie has to find all of her badges again to become the Mighty Bee, and then stop the Mighty Pee once and for all (but without harming Portia)! But there's only one problem... they're both of equal strength!

If the above scenario were done as an actual episode (which would obviously be titled "The Mighty P!"), it would be a great series finale, considering the badge angle, but as just a special episode, perhaps it would all be a dream sequence! I'd be fine with whatever works. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

THE MIGHTY B! - A year ago next Wednesday...

Last year, early in the Christmas season, I was still downright despondent over the cancellation of Nickelodeon's The Mighty B! on November 24 that time. (Needless to say, at this writing, Nicktoons is finally starting to give the rest of Season 2!!!) On Nicktoons, I watched the Christmas episode of Ren & Stimpy ("A Scooter for Yaksmas," which was the original series' final episode), and thought it was hilarious, especially the over-the-top, earth-shattering drama from Stimpy (which, as the series does, parodies classic Hollywood drama)! I thought it'd be funny to draw Bessie Higgenbottom, The Mighty B!'s heroine, reenacting the moment where Stimpy made a spectacle of himself over not getting the scooter he wanted for Yaksmas (R&S' version of Christmas)! But along the way of drawing this, I was still depressed over B!'s cancellation, so I decided to make a subtle reference to that in the punchline of this pencil drawing, finished on December 18, 2009. I could one day make a better version of this drawing, fully colored, but I like this anyway. :)

More Mighty B! fanart to come!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rekira Halloween poster 2007

Despite being a day or two early, I present this Halloween drawing, which I did on October 31, 2007. Here, my monster Rekira pays tribute to Snoopy's famed WWI Flying Ace character, as he battles the Red Baron! This can also be seen on my deviantART site. Done in less than 90 minutes, with Crayola colored pencils and slight penciling. Note that I went for the look of a retro-Japanese movie poster of the 70s!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Happy 60th Anniversary, Snoopy!

Just 2 days ago, it was already the 60th Anniversary of the late, great Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts comic strip (October 2, 1950). Today is the 60th Anniversary of the very first appearance of that famous beagle Snoopy, in the third Peanuts strip published (October 4, 1950).

Snoopy is my favorite character of all time next to Godzilla.

The following drawing is something I quickly did to celebrate this occasion. I used Photoshop and my Bamboo Fun tablet to do this.

Happy 60th Anniversary, Snoopy!

Friday, August 06, 2010

In Development: MERRY WEATHER!

Here is a first look at my second comic project under development, Merry Weather!

This is my own attempt at one of my favorite genres, funny cartoon girls' adventures, mixed with the wild and wacky style of Famous Studios (one of my favorite animation studios) and Spümco. Although I had started on the project in early February, I had first drawn the main character as early as July of last year, however, when I was trying my hand at drawing retro-style cartoon kids.

Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking (one of my favorite characters) and the Nickelodeon series The Mighty B! (one of my favorite cartoons) are major influences behind this project. (The cancellation of the latter was what really drove me to basically do my own version.) I'm working on this series as I get Rekira ready.

Here is Lily Merriweather, the heroine of the story. (The title, Merry Weather, is a play on her last name.) Drawn in pencil on July 21, and colored in Photoshop with my Bamboo Fun Wacom tablet.
Likewise with this drawing of Lily's home, the Shoreflower, done on June 22. Even as a concept sketch, I was very proud of how this came out. This was partly inspired by the houses by our beachside timeshare in the Outer Banks.

Here is the very first color drawing I did of Lily, done completely in Photoshop with my Bamboo Fun tablet, on July 22, 2009. Based on a sketch I did on a very small piece of scrap paper in early July that year (which I'll post some other time).

I'll be posting more stuff as the project develops!

REKIRA - Production Art 01

To start with, here are some of the kaijuu appearing in the upcoming comic project, Rekira the Super-Monster!

All of these basic designs were done with my Bamboo Fun Wacom tablet. Dates included.

Starfish Monster ASTERIAS (Hitode Kaijuu ASUTERIASU):
Steam Monster ATMOS (Suijouki Kaijuu ATOMOSU):
Rock Monster BRACHOS (Ganseki Kaijuu BURAKOSU):
Electric Eel Monster CHELIOS (Den-Unagi Kaijuu KERIOSU):
Ghost Monster FANTOMOS (Yuurei Kaijuu FANTOMOSU):
Volcano Monster FLOGOS (Kazan Kaijuu FUROGOSU):
Cockroach Monster KATSARIDAS (Gokiburi Kaijuu KATOSARIDASU):
Jellyfish Monster MEDUSA (Kurage Kaijuu MEDOUSA):
Gorilla Monster PITHIKOS (Gorira Kaijuu PISHIKOSU):
And of course, the Big Guy himself...
Super-Monster REKIRA (Chouriki Kaijuu REKIRA):

More designs on the way! Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

REKIRA, The Super-Monster - Introduction

Today is the 19th Anniversary of the creation of my own original Godzilla-inspired kaijuu (the Japanese term for "monster"), Rekira! He is the star of several projects, chiefly a webcomic project I'm working on. I had also done a Capstone student video short with the character at ITT Technical Institute as my "graduation" piece. (Above is the watercolor illustration used in the closing credits of the video.) In this post, I'll elaborate on the creation of this one character.

Some of the art here can be seen on my deviantART site, while some of the exclusive new art featured here will be crossposted to DA).

Rekira's origins went back to April 23, 1991, when he started life as a Godzilla fanfic, The Godzilla-Man. The work, inspired by both Ultraman and Gou Nagai's Devilman, resulted in a graphic novel, the first book finished on March 5, 1992 (a total of 10 1/2 to 11 months). Immediately after that, I worked on a second, shorter graphic novel, with a third unfinished. (The move from New York to Virginia may have affected this.)

After my move to Virginia, I did a complete reboot of The Godzilla-Man from June to November of 1994. Originally intended to be pitched to tokusatsu-specialized magazines featuring comic stories (including G-Fan and the short-lived Sentai), it was never picked up (but it did get praise, especially from JD Lees and Ben Dunn). A second issue was never completed, as I was looking for a new direction for the story.

Then, in 1997, my friend Marc Miyake convinced me to convert Godzilla-Man into a similar but original creation, not only because he thought I could have more creative-control, but I could own it personally. For a while, I was pretty devastated, and I thought, "He's right!" He put it to me without being as condescending as those who simply said, "Come on, man, do something original!" and expected me to do something more along the lines of the "dark, brooding" superhero of the day (ie. Batman, Wolverine, Spawn, etc.). Dammit, I'm trying to do a Japanese monster/superhero here! Think Godzilla, Ultraman, and Masked Rider rolled up into one! So, before Marc made his suggestion, I had considered a backup plan, and finally decided to get some mileage out of it; Godzilla-Man then became Tatsu-Man (inspired by the P-Production pilots Jaguarman and Hyouman). I spent a lot of time developing the idea, which I further played around with in about 2000, when he became The Draconian, and then Dracoman in 2001 or so. (I'm writing this from memory offhand.) In those versions, Rekira was called "Dracos." The design was the same as the following...

(ADDED: May 20, 2010)
On March 26, 2002, I wanted a fancy Godzilla-type name for my monster, so I renamed the character Dogira. (A name that was supposed to be a mix between Godzilla's Japanese name, "Gojira," and "dog.") I figured on the name while on my ride home from Lunacon that year. It was here that Rekira began to finally take his almost-fully dog-like appearance (although still strongly resembling an Eastern Dragon at its core, much like Falkor from The Neverending Story, a major inspiration for the character).

From August 31, 2002. This is the point where Rekira was truly inspired by an Eastern Dragon. I finally added fur to the torso, with added plates down the body. This was inspired by a dragon design by Leonardo DaVinci (which you can search for on the Internet).

Pencil sketch from February 5, 2003, basis for below design:

Drawn April 25, 2003. Colored in Flash.
Drawn June 28, 2003, colored in Flash.

While somewhat slimming down the physique, and shortening the neck and body, I kept the design and gave it a dazzling color scheme in this crude color outline I did in Flash on April 17, 2004.

All things considered, I thought that most kaijuu, especially Godzilla-inspired monsters, looked too much like Godzilla. In fact, I'd say that they were Godzilla in all but name. So I wanted to create a Godzilla-type monster that truly stood out. I also figured that since I love dogs, and always thought that Godzilla looked rather like a dog, I figured, why not create a dog monster? And best of all, give it superhero colors! The colors in the above design were inspired especially by the multicolored Godzilla toys, especially the ones by Marusan, Bullmark, and Marmit, that were colored red/blue, and even red/gold.

From February to New Year's Eve of 2004, I worked on the "Pilot" of Rekira, entitled Dogira. Of the actual completed comic projects I've ever completed, this is the one I am most proud of. In this project, I had the story in my head, but pretty much wrote it as I went along (even left in whatever ridiculous ideas I had.), and I can decide on what works and what doesn't work when I get to doing an actual comic. I may share the pilot comic with you on this blog sometime.

And it was on October 26, 2005, when the monster took his final name... Rekira!

As you can see below, Rekira went through many design changes, subtle and major.

Drawn December 23, 2005, with a mechanical pencil and a Staedtler Mars 780 drafting pencil. As I love doing pencil drawings, this is one of my most detailed Rekira drawings ever. Retained from the first drawing are the plated forelimbs (much like an eagle's or Red King's). (Note the slight error in the furigana; "tai" instead of "dai.")

Done on December 29, 2005, while I was on vacation in the Outer Banks. After being inspired by seeing river otters (which I basically thought were aquatic dogs) at the Outer Banks Aquarium, I gave Rekira an otter-like physique, while still maintaining the previous design. (EDIT: Note the alternate "Reki" kanji, which Marc told me is actually preferable over the one I've been using.)

Drawn January 19, 2006, this was the finalized version of the "Otter Rekira." Colored with Tombow brush markers (given to me by my friend Robert Wertz weeks before). The actual drawing, with crude text and all, can be seen on my deviantART site. Some of you may remember seeing this exclusive edition on the "Kaiju A Go-Go" Art Gallery on the US DVD release of the excellent short film, Negadon: The Monster from Mars!

From March 12, 2007. I drew this while sitting in a cafe at Barnes & Noble's. The body plates are gone, and here, I finally use a long body-stripe. Thus, the "tadpole formation" colors (all around the vertical center of Rekira) are born. Here, the stripe also converges into the stripes on his arms & legs (much like Ultraman). The plated forelimbs were somewhat simplified, and had yellow lightning stripes. And finally, this drawing was the genesis for the lightning-shaped horns (as opppsed to the moon-shaped Ghidorah-style horns I used previously) that Rekira would sport to this day.

Drawn on Easter Day (March 20) 2007, this is the final color rendering of the 2007 design. In this design, there were additional rib stripes emanating from the center stripe.

This redesign from January 11, 2008, is, admittedly, my favorite redesign. I was inspired by both Varan (Toho's movie monster) and Shoutarou Ishinomori's concept designs for Masked Rider Amazon, so I played around with a somewhat more humanoid version of Rekira. This really accentuated the "hero" image somewhat, and I love the dynamic poses.

The finalized color version, from February 15, 2008, scanned and colored in Photoshop. This is the design used for the video short the same year.

I played around with the 2008 design on New Year's Eve (December 31) 2008, while on vacation in the Outer Banks. Here, the design is the same, but I changed the blue forelimbs into furry paws, this time with blue webs (between the fingers/toes) and blue pawprints.

On June 17, 2009, I used my Bamboo Fun tablet to trace over the "Furry-Paw" Rekira. This time, the limb stripes are detached from the body stripe, and thus, the arms and legs have stripes of their own.

And finally, the latest Rekira drawing!

Here is the 2010 Rekira design. It's an amalgam of the 2008 and 2009 designs. Note I brought back the blue forelimbs (now simplified), as I actually liked those, and gave him a distinguished look. (I did, however, keep the webs and paw tips.) This was drawn completely in Photoshop with my Bamboo Fun tablet on April 22. (I was able to do construction in Photoshop before I began drawing proper.) This and the previous design have the same bilingual vector logo (done in Flash). This is my best Rekira tablet drawing yet!

In future posts, I'll get more into story details as I prepare my webcomic. You'll also see other drawings, character designs, and more!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

THE MIGHTY B! Fanart 1

Here are two fan arts I've done, so far, of one of my biggest favorite cartoon shows, The Mighty B! (Original promo pic from series pictured above.) Created for Nickelodeon by Cynthia True, Erik Wiese, and star Amy Poehler, I always thought of this series as the girl scouts version of The Ren & Stimpy Show (one of my favorite cartoons, and the series I believe to be the King of all Nicktoons), and it comes the closest to capturing the spirit of that show.

The series' heroine Bessie Higgenbottom (voiced by Poehler, based partly upon her character Cassie McMadison from her series Upright Citizens Brigade) has become one of my favorite female cartoon characters. Wacky, wild, goofy, unhinged, charming, really makes me laugh!

As seen below, I have so far published two fanarts, which you'll also find on my deviantART page.

Above, drawn June 25, 2009, is the very first drawing I've done of Bessie. For reference, I used model sheets from Jerry Beck's excellent 2007 book, Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons!, which had a "sneak-peek" section for The Mighty B! (back when it was still being produced) at the very end of the book (it was the final chapter, fittingly), and did this drawing as a warm-up.

On deviantART, this is currently my most popular Mighty B! piece, drawn July 31, 2009! Considering the above Ren & Stimpy reference, I could not resist drawing Bessie and her frenemy Portia Gibbons (voiced by Grey Delisle) dancing to "Happy Happy Joy Joy," with Portia wearing the Happy-Helmet (which Stimpy used to make the irritable Ren happy in the episode, "Stimpy's Invention," arguably considered the quintessential R&S episode)! Done over a pencil drawing in Photoshop with my Bamboo Fun tablet. Below is the original pencil draft:

No doubt, you'll be seeing more Mighty B! stuff from me in the future (I've got plenty of stuff yet to be scanned)!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fan Art on Parade!

Hello, again!

In today's post, I'm going to showcase some of the fan arts I've done over the years. All of these you can find on my deviantART page.

Above is my very first drawing of Craig McCracken's popular characters, the Powerpuff Girls! I drew this on August 4, 2000. Colored in Photoshop.

This is an illustration of Ultraman, the famous Japanese superhero, that I did in Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash. Intended to be pop-art type. Dated November 17, 2005.

This is my interpretation of the characters from my friend Mike Dent's awesome podcast, R5 Central. Done at Mike's encouragement, I did this as an experimental Stephen Silver-style piece. Mike Dent himself is on the right, with android girls Ai (blue, middle) and Ami (red, right). Colored with Photoshop, and dated January 27, 2007.

Here is one of two illustrations I've done for my favorite superhero, Ultra Seven, for his 40th Anniversary. This one was inked chiefly with ink & brush, and colored with gouache and colored pencils. Dated April 17, 2007.

Ultra Seven, produced by Tsuburaya Productions, premiered on Tokyo Broadcast System in Japan on October 1, 1967, and ended on September 8, 1968, with a total of 49 episode (only 48 are available, as Episode 12, "From Another Planet with Love," was banned since 1970). Actually created as an alternate version of Ultraman (Tsuburaya; 1966), both shows were officially linked when the respective characters appeared in Return of Ultraman (Tsuburaya; 1971), and was also supposed to be the final Ultra Series (but was the last produced by creator Eiji Tsuburaya). Seven has perhaps the best design of any of the Ultra-beings, IMHO, and has even more personality than his predecessor in many respects. Some may remember the character and his series from its 1975 English-dubbed broadcast in Hawaii (the first series to be dubbed there), and others from a second version dubbed in Canada in 1985 by Cinar; this would be broadcast in early February of 1994 on Turner Network Television (TNT), until around 1999.

The second illustration can be seen after a few others here...

Above is Fanny Robinson from Disney's Meet the Robinsons (Disney; 2007), which I haven't seen fully, but I am extremely impressed with the character designs! I used a Meet the Robinsons storybook for reference while I drew this at Borders, dated May 18, 2007. Colored in Photoshop.
Above is Tack the Cobbler, one of the two titular protagonists from Richard Williams' ill-fated masterpiece, The Thief and the Cobbler. Using Williams' model sheets for reference, I drew with Micron pens, and colored it in Photoshop. This was dated June 4, 2007.

Since the mid 60s, Williams spent 26 years working on this film, which was threatened by the impending release of Aladdin (Disney; 1992), which was closely inspired by this film. The resulting films, The Princess and the Cobbler, was somewhat closer to the Richard Williams cut, despite the devastatingly awful songs and mostly bad new animation added, while Miramax's Arabian Knight (known as The Thief and the Cobbler in its video release) is absolutely unwatchable. Understandably, Williams apparently disowns the film after its debacle. Regardless, I recommend watching either the original Williams workprint, or Garret Gilchrist's excellent fan-made "Recobbled Cut" DVD.

Tack was completely silent (he and the titular Thief were essentially silent movie characters in a movie full of sound), until the very end (when he says the film's final line), where he would've been voiced by Sean Connery!

Below is the "suntanned" variation of Tack, from later in the film (after traveling in the desert).

Here is the adorable Abby Archer, the heroine from the Canadian cartoon series, Grossology (Nelvana; 2006), loosely based on Sylvia Branzei's children's books of the same name. This series was done by the same animation/design team as Nelvana's earlier hit, 6teen, and done with the same animation software (ToonBoom Harmony/Digital Pro). Not surprisingly, this piece is currently also my most popular work on deviantART, probably because I used reference material (wallpapers) to remain as faithful to the show's look as possible. Painstakingly illustrated in Flash, and dated July 23, 2007.

My second Abby piece, a portrait drawn with colored pencils (traced over a pencil drawing), done on August 11, 2007.
This is the aforementioned second drawing of Ultra Seven, which was done in time for his 40th Anniversary on October 1, 2007. Done with colored pencils over a pencil drawing. Impressive, if a little uneven (the chest is flat, for example). I had used my old Bandai figure of Ultra Seven as a reference for this illustration.

This is my fan art of Jill Thompson's acclaimed character, Scary Godmother. Created in 1997 as a children's storybook/comic hybrid, she and her companions have had several storybook sequels, a comic-book series, and two awesome TV specials (animated in Canada by Mainframe, now Rainmaker). Thompson has said she wants to do more stories soon, and I look forward to it! I did this with colored pencils over a pencil sketch on Halloween of 2007.

This is a fanart I did of Grover from Sesame Street while I was on vacation in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, dated January 4, 2008. I'm a huge fan of classic Sesame Street, as you can already tell. I attempted to draw in the same style as Michael Smollin's illustrations for the excellent 1971 Sesame Street storybook, The Monster at the End of This Book.

This is an illustration I did of Lucy Lamb, from the Dream Pets collection, dated January 3, 2009, while I was on vacation in the Outer Banks. Having picked up this first Dream Pet for my collection the previous day, I did this life drawing first in a pencil sketch, and then tracing over it with colored pencils. This was a very beautiful result. I had become a big fan of Dakin's Dream Pets (which originated in Japan in the late 50s!) the previous year, for their appealing vintage designs, and would love to do more fan art of them.

This is my illustration of the titular heroine of Coraline (Focus/Laika; 2009), based upon Neil Gaiman's acclaimed book. This was conveniently finished on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2009, about a week after I saw the film in theaters. I had first done a pencil sketch of Coraline and the Cat (done the previous night), which I later traced over in Photoshop... with a mouse! I had wanted a painterly look for this drawing (experimenting with some of Photoshop's paint features), and it was only a few months before I got my current tablet, so you can tell this drawing took quite a bit of effort to do with a mouse, especially the background. Coraline's house, the Pink Palace Apartments, took several hours to draw, upon using a photo for reference (making this one of the more complex illustrations done with a mouse)!

Here is my first-ever fan art of another top favorite superhero of mine, Underdog! Yes, I've been an Underdog fan my whole life, and I had not drawn him until this try, dated November 19, 2009, drawn with a Micron brush pen (using a video cover for reference). This was done in celebration of Underdog's 45th Anniversary. (The Underdog Show premiered on October 3, 1964.) As some have noted, it looks a little bit off (Underdog looks slightly taller than he should), but I'm proud to have finally done an Underdog drawing, and would love to try doing more in the future! Colored in Photoshop.

Lastly, one of my latest published pieces, a fan art of Vanya Hargreeves, AKA: The White Violin, the tragic villainess/antiheroine of Gerard Way's comic-book, The Umbrella Academy (published by Dark Horse). She is my favorite character from the comic by far, especially for her simple yet beautiful design, and her heartbreaking backstory. The box/figurine set for the first volume, The Apocalypse Suite (which I eventually got) was exactly what got me interested in the series. I eagerly anticipate to see how Vanya develops in future volumes! This was inked with with Micron pens (brush, .05, and .005), and colored in Photoshop.

In my next post, the first in a series of fan arts from one of my biggest favorite cartoon shows, The Mighty B!