Friday, May 06, 2011

Horror & Comics

The limited edition of Lance Henriksen's biography came about because of a conversation I had with horror writer Steve Niles. I knew Steve as the creator of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, CRIMINAL MACABRE and EDGE OF DOOM. What I didn't know at the time was that Steve had recently become a very vocal advocate for creator-owned comics and do-it-yourself publishing. When I mentioned Lance's biography to him, he not only offered to publish it, but he also began to rally some of his favorite artists to illustrate it.

In a blog post announcing the project, Steve said, "Our hope is that by combining Lance's book with some of comics top talent, then maybe we can each find new fans." A few weeks later, with his campaign in full swing, he added, "I'm now going to make an effort to reach out to possible fans OUTSIDE the [comics] bubble. I know a lot of Horror Fans and Science Fiction fans who don't read comics." (He further explained his agenda in a recent interview with Meltdown Comics.) In the past few years I've become one of those people, but this project has re-introduced me to the world of comics. As I began to explore the works of the artists who have contributed to Henriksen's bio, I began to realize just how close the worlds of comics and genre film really are. Here's a visual crash course:


Sienkiewicz's contribution to the book is already well-known. His depiction of Frank Black has been floating around the web for a couple of months now, and it appears on the cover of the final book. Sienkiewicz was so inspired by the project and by a short conversation with Henriksen (who he referred to on his facebook page as "a true artist really committed to his passion for acting") that he produced his drawing overnight! Anyone who doubts his enthusiasm for genre films need only look at some of his work from the past:

In much the way that Henriksen has been able to cross paths with so many iconic characters over the course of his career, Sienkiewicz is no stranger to modern-day myths. He has professionally illustrated Batman, Superman, Spiderman, The X-Men, The Hulk, Thor, Elektra (for the astoundingly beautiful Elektra: Assassin, written by Frank Miller) and even Yoda. And NOT BAD FOR A HUMAN is not his first biography cover - he also provided the art for Martin I. Green's VOODOO CHILD: THE ILLUSTRATED LEGEND OF JIMI HENDRIX and SANTA: MY LIFE AND TIMES. Upcoming projects include LionsGate's supernatural western film THE MAN WITH NO NAME, Dreamworks' film ALCATRAZ VS. THE EVIL LIBRARIANS, and an adaptation of his own graphic novel STRAY TOASTERS.


Recently on his website, Bradstreet posted, "I'm a long time ridiculously huge fan of Lance Henriksen, so I about lost my mind when I got a call from my pal Steve Niles informing me that Lance was publishing an autobiography, that it would be illustrated, and they wanted ME to join in the fun." Bradstreet's love of NEAR DARK (which features Henriksen as a ruthless redneck vampire) probably doesn't come as a surprise to his readers who are familiar with his work on VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE. Bradstreet is also well-known as a cover artist for DC's HELLBLAZER, Marvel's THE PUNISHER, BLADE and BLADE 2, Spectra's ALIENS: MUSIC OF THE SPEARS, Fox Atomic's 28 DAYS LATER: THE AFTERMATH, Wildstorm's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and FRIDAY THE 13TH, IDW'S MOTEL HELL, and the new CLIVE BARKER'S HELLRAISER from Boom! Studios. Bradstreet also co-created Image's BAD PLANET with Thomas Jane and Steve Niles.


Mike Mignola has become a household name, based on his creations B.P.R.D. and HELLBOY, a comic series published by Dark Horse Entertainment and adapted into a pair of excellent feature films directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Ron Perlman. This was not Mignola's first foray into the world of horror. He's done cover art for the Topps comic adaptation of BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, Image's SPAWN, Dark Horse's ALIENS: SALVATION and DC's ALIENS VS. PREDATOR. He also created B.P.R.D. and BALTIMORE: THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER AND THE VAMPIRE. In 2011 he's returning to his most famous creation, working with Richard Corben on HELLBOY: BEING HUMAN (due May 11 from Dark Horse) and the graphic novel HELLBOY: HOUSE OF THE LIVING DEAD. In June, Dark Horse will also release a hardcover collection of his series BALTIMORE: THE PLAGUE SHIPS.


Eric Powell is best known as the creator of Dark Horse Entertainment's THE GOON, which is currently being adapted into an animated feature directed by David Fincher and starring Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown. Powell may also be familiar to horror fans as the cover artist for Dark Horse's UNIVERSAL MONSTERS: CAVALCADE OF HORROR and DC's monster mash FREDDY VS. JASON VS. ASH. His current project is IDW's GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS. Also, keep an eye out for THE GOON / CRIMINAL MACABRE crossover, due on July 20.


In addition to his superheroes work for Marvel (CALL OF DUTY: THE PRECINCT) and DC (JLA DESTINY and THE SPECTRE), Tom Mandrake is well-known for his horror comics, including the creator-owned CREEPS. Often he combines superheroes and horror, as in DC's SUPERMAN AND BATMAN VS. VAMPIRES AND WEREWOLVES and THE X-FILES / 30 DAYS OF NIGHT crossover. He's also done artwork for books based on John Carpenter's film HALLOWEEN and the recent TV series FRINGE.

Hell, this guy's illustrated everything from HAMLET to ALICE IN WONDERLAND... which reminds me of another pro-comic movement that's worth mentioning here. 5280 Comic Book Classroom is a nonprofit organization that uses comic books to teach underprivileged kids how to read. If that isn't a sound argument for the value of comics today, I don't know what is.


Ashley Wood is an Australian multi-media artist known for his wide-ranging work on comics, video games, toys and art books. In the comics world he is perhaps best known for IDW's METAL GEAR SOLID as well as the original covers for 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and Image's HELLSPAWN and SPAWN: BOOK OF THE DEAD. You'll have to check out his website to get a sense of his full empire.


Kelley Jones, who has created an additional piece of art for the softcover edition of Lance Henriksen's biography, is a well-established creator of horror comics, including DC's BATMAN-as-vampire series (with writer Doug Moench), DC's DEADMAN, and Dark Horse's ALIENS: HIVE. He also worked with Neil Gaiman on SANDMAN and with Steve Niles on the current EDGE OF DOOM series and the first Bloody Pulp book CAL MCDONALD: DETECTIVE TALES.

It's worth pointing out that all of these artists chose their own image ideas for the NOT BAD FOR A HUMAN book - based on their own interests and their own perceptions of Lance Henriksen. The results are distinct artistic interpretations, and the subject of these visual musings could not be more pleased with the results! Check out the book and definitely check out the work of these amazing illustrators.

1 comment:

  1. Jane Considine5/06/2011

    I'm really looking forward to checking out the illustrations as well as reading the book. It is a great idea, and it's cool that so many artists were obviously eager to participate.