Friday, February 06, 2009

Valhalla or bust!

I know, I know... many of our Comic Art Friday regulars on the East Coast are having the time of their lives at New York Comic Con, which begins today and continues through Sunday.

Ah, well... just three weeks until WonderCon.

When last we convened for our weekly peek into my comic art vault, we checked out a delightful entry to my Bombshells! theme gallery by the redoubtable Michael Dooney, of Mirage Studios and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. Here's the companion to that piece.

Today's Bombshell! is Valkyrie (not to be confused with the Viking-themed Marvel Comics heroine of the same name), the German-born nemesis-turned-ally of the World War II aviator hero Airboy.

Although her buxom image was emblazoned into the fevered brains of modern-day fanboys everywhere via the '80s Airboy covers drawn by the late, great Dave Stevens (best known as the creator of The Rocketeer), Valkyrie began her career in Hillman Comics' Air Fighters in 1943. Originally a Nazi agent, in later adventures Valkyrie switches sides and fights alongside Airboy for the Allied cause.

It was artist Michael Dooney's inspiration to place in Valkyrie's hand the Spear of Destiny, according to legend the implement used by a Roman soldier to pierce the side of Christ during the Crucifixion. Anyone who's seen Raiders of the Lost Ark or its sequels is familiar with the Nazi obsession with mystical artifacts. Dooney's idea to depict Valkyrie with one such object that perfectly suits her character was pure genius.

Mike also scripted the ideal tagline for his creation — Valhalla or Bust! It's at once both a classic nose art caption and a sly nod to Valkyrie's trademark décolletage. When I commission a new Bombshell!, I provide the artist with one or two taglines to select from. I give him liberty, however, to use a caption of his own choosing if he gets a better idea. Mike's tagline blew my suggestions out of the water in genuine Bombshell! style.

On another commission project a few years back, Dooney drew comicdom's other Valkyrie for me. Here's a second look at that fine effort, with finishing flourishes by the King of Ink, Bob Almond:

I'm always intrigued to learn about the techniques of the comic artist's craft. When I asked Mike Dooney about the materials he used in drawing his two Bombshells! commissions, he replied:
I've been using slightly harder lead pencils lately to avoid the constant smudging. I lay things out with colorerase brand blue pencil... erase most of that when everything is working, then do the tight pencils.

In this case, I tried a 2.5 lead (regular pencil is #2, a bit softer). The 2.5 definitely holds the details nicely, it's just not as dark or smudgy.

[For paper, I] used Strathmore bristol, kid (smooth but not slick) finish, I think.
If you're attending New York Comic Con this weekend, you'll find Mike Dooney at the Mirage Studios table in Artists' Alley. He'll have some nifty sketches for sale, so be sure to stop by and check out his work in person. You can tell him I said "hey."

And that's your Comic Art Friday.


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