Valentine’s Day…Valentine’s Doom!

Hey...let's team up and fight a bunch of dinosaurs.

Hey…let’s team up and fight a bunch of dinosaurs.

Yeah…this post is going to have little to nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. There could be commentary on what yesterday the Friday at a Middle School in South Central BEFORE Valentine’s day is like, but I’m pretty sure that commentary is going to happen on Tuesday. Instead…knowing full well that this post would hit on a weekend, in fact a LONG weekend, I chose to go a different route.

I was talking to the manager of a place called the “Wellesbourne” the other day, and she had a pretty astute observation. She commented that today would be an impossibility in terms of eating in any restaurant or bar, because as she says it “New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day….it’s like Rookie Night.” Every single person with any kind of burgeoning relationship, or hopes to have one, goes out and throws themselves whole cloth into the Gene Pool with reckless abandon.

My plan is to stay home, and have Hot Noodles. So…the art has nothing to do with Valentines Day.

It does have to do with fighting Dinosaurs. I downloaded “Call of Mini: Dino Hunter” to my Kindle Fire, and the game is incredible. You have this tiny Lego like man, who fights adorable lego dinosaurs. He doesn’t like them at ALL. It’s simple, you never have to play it for more than like two minutes, and it autosaves. The levels change, so it stays interesting. Pretty much hits the key things I want from a videogame, without being one of the legion of zombie related shooting games.

Which got me in turn thinking of Marvel Comics’ Savage Land setting. It’s a temperate zone in Antarctica, created by aliens at the behest of other aliens known as the Beyonders (not to be confused with the Beyonder of the Secret Wars). The Beyonders sought to observe the process of evolution under relatively controlled conditions. So…the chose Earth during the Triassic period in a valley in Antarctica surrounded by active volcanoes, where they installed a number of advanced technological devices in order to maintain a tropical climate. The aliens then stocked the area with all manner of Earth life over the following several millennia. They also brought over the Man-Apes, earlier hominid ancestors of “Homo sapiens.”

The Beyonders eventually grew bored with the experiment and stopped maintaining the Savage Land during the Late Pleistocene (the Ice Age era). However, the self-maintaining technology that allowed the pocket of tropical climate was left running, and many species which became extinct in other areas of the Earth continued to thrive within the Savage Land.

Got it? That’s why superheroes can fight dinosaurs without a time machine.

The thing is…a whole lot of the time, you have to wonder why. The whole Savage Land concept is pretty far removed from the rest of the goings on in the Marvel Universe. A whole lot of the time, supervillains set up bases and headquarters there, because it it pretty remote, and has huge amounts of geothermal energy. So under those plot conditions, you’re just chasing a bad guy with serious Lair building resources, and you just have a prehistoric venue for a regular rumble.

When that DOESN’T happen…that means that for some reason, superheroes from generally New York or Los Angeles are concerned with the internal politics and rights, the conflicts if you will, or a prehistoric tribal caveman culture in Antarctica. That is a real reach, Marvel. Just for the hassle it is to fly to Antarctica to begin with, it’s a hassle. Add to that the fact that most of the world doesn’t know it exists, and it is really hard for any of those conflicts to have far reaching consequence…

…just let Ka-Zar and Shanna deal with it, right?

At one point, Spider-Man teamed up with Ka-Zar to save Gwen Stacy from Kraven the Hunter and Gog at the time when her class and J. Jonah Jameson were visiting the Savage Land. Pretty random, and forced, you know? Kraven can afford to set up there? He is pretty B-List. Peter’s college class took a field trip to Antarctica? How much did that add to tuition? All for a dinosaur based setting.

Still, for the X-Men, the Savage Land seems to be like Spring Break. Hence, on a long weekend, I’m doing a Marvel Team Up about the Savage Land.

The art without cover elements.

The art without cover elements.

Marvel Team Up always had Spider-Man in it. When I integrated the concept of the Reverse Rodeo, I did a Marvel Team Up with Spider Gwen…and felt that this should be the rule for Adequacy Marvel Team Up issues. I always felt Gwen Stacy was a better character than Mary Jane, and now, Marvel is heavily pushing a book based on “what if Gwen were bitten by that @#$% spider and not Peter?” The internet, the whole @#$%ing internet, is waiting for that comic with bated breath.

I really like early Todd McFarlane art. This is not a non-sequitor, True Believers, it’s instead a seque into the “B” panels for the day. McFarlane had a very, very distinctive style, especially with Spider-Man. Super dynamic poses, he would spin miles of extra webbing for no reason except that it looked cool in panel…that work was key in solidifying McFarlane as one of the most popular comic artists of his time.

The week before Comics Ink closed, the owner gave me a pin, of McFarlane’s art for Spider-Man No. 300. It’s an incredibly famous image, and I used it as the reference for the Spider-Gwen solo piece here:

This came out unexpectedly great.

This came out unexpectedly great.

I added the city, which is not on the pin…that has a simple yellow cloisonne circle for Spidery to be on. The feeling of motion is what I like most, the lack of stiffness. As a big fan of Kirby and Allred, a lot of time my figures lack a sort of looseness.

I’ve had long conversations with Kevin Altieri about how Bruce Timm uses markers, both to draw, and for color. This…this straight up amazes me. I find markers terrifying, and really don’t understand the coloring techniques used with them. Still..the art above came out well enough that I decided to make a copy, and give that a shot.

You see, I use colored pencil, and pretty much NO ONE in actual comics does that. Markers, yes. Digital, yes. Actual PAINT, yes.

Colored Pencils: No.

I was very, very happy with how the colored art came out in marker, which is right here:

The colored art, in marker.  Stressful to do, and soon to be run through my button making machine.

The colored art, in marker. Stressful to do, and soon to be run through my button making machine.

My next experiment with marker did not come out nearly as well. It’s amazing how different a medium for delivering color it really is. I also have exactly NO idea how Bruce Timm gets certain lighting effects.

Still…you live and learn. And with art, there’s always something more to learn.

So, True Believers, if you go out on Rookie Night tonight, enjoy yourselves. I’ll be fighting virtual dinosaurs and eating hot noodles, to my heart’s content!

Next: Prez!

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