Friday, January 13, 2006

Ghost Riders in the sky

Today's Comic Art Friday the 13th is dedicated to American Idol's William Hung, who celebrates his 23rd birthday today. To quote an exchange from that classic film comedy, Blazing Saddles:
Charlie: "You shifty [racial slur deleted]! They said you was Hung!"
Sheriff Bart: "And they was right."
You go, William.

Since we've already mentioned two scary things — Friday the 13th and William Hung — I thought this drawing would make an appropriate feature for today.

The familiar fellow at upper left is, of course, Space Ghost, the only superhero ever to make a successful transition from battling evildoers in outer space to hosting his own cable television talk show. At bottom right, we have the original Ghost Rider — not the motorcycle-riding character played by Nicolas Cage in the upcoming film, but the Western hero who made his comics debut back in 1949.

This entry in my Common Elements collection is unique, in that it's the only entry in the series to date that wasn't my own original concept. (For those newbies among us, Common Elements is an ongoing series of commissioned comic style artwork featuring unrelated superheroes who share some element in common — a "ghost" theme, for example.) The idea for this piece sprang from the mind of Suzanne Hiza-Rosema, a talented stained glass artist and the wife of comic book creator Scott Rosema, who transformed Suzy's concept into glorious reality with his masterful pencil work, seen here.

As Scott was creating a previous Common Elements piece for me (the Iron Man/Iron Fist duel seen here), he and Suzy apparently spent an evening kicking around ideas for other interesting pairings, some of which Scott passed along to me. I liked this particular concept for two reasons: (1) Scott is probably best known in the comics industry for his work on the Space Ghost series published by Archie Comics a few years back, and I've always liked his authentic take on the character; and (2) the Ghost Rider is one of my favorite Western heroes. As you can see, Scott did a beautiful job with the artwork.

My daughter KM likes it because it has a horse in it.

Space Ghost, incidentally, is a favorite character of many comic book artists (even though the character originated in a Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon), thanks to the wonderful design by comic art legend Alex Toth. Steve Rude, cocreator of Nexus, has long acknowledged his fondness for Space Ghost. The booming-voiced hero (courtesy of the dulcet pipes of Laugh-In announcer Gary Owens) was a staple of my Saturday mornings for years also.

Thanks to Scott and Suzy Rosema for this special contribution to my collection, and to Comic Art Friday.

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