Jul 17, 2018

THE NES FILES: MY DECISION TO ADD TO NINTENDO HISTORY :LOW or HIGH CALIBER?! NOW YOU CAN CHOOSE!!

LOOKS LIKE I'LL BE BACK AT PORTLAND, and I will be carrying a new MegaMan image that  will  allow anyone who ever enjoyed playing The Nintendo Entertainment's games to view a piece if REVISIONIST HISTORY.





The Nintendo Entertainment System's 30th anniversary is with us. It is one of the greatest and most popular platforms ever created. Certainly I did a large number of NES games, including some of the great names in NES History: MegaMan 2, Strider, Bad Dudes, Bonk 3, Mechanized Attack, Heavy Barrel...DID I EVER HAVE A NINTENDO LOOK?


Me at my booth in Portland, circa 2014. A total blast.  See you there!







                       

    

Hudson Software's BONK 3
Data East's Bad Dudes


           SO...WHAT WAS THAT...EXACTLY?




                              Needless to say

   

Cap com's Strider

 because  there were so many pieces I did for the Nintendo system through so many different game companies:  The styles varied from Bonk 3, to Bad Dudes, to Harley’s Humongous Adventure, Mechanized Attack, to Heavy Barrel, to STG Strike Gunner, to Strider, to Guerrilla War, to  Lock ’N Chase. 

The clients included SNK, Data East, EA, Capcom, Acclaim, Nintendo Game Boy,

On one occasion,  for The Incredible Crash Test Dummies series  the clients simply reused the art I created for the entire line of ICTD toy packaging art I had earlier done for Tyco Toys. 

I was all over the map.  Given that there was no steady style I employed in my work,  except for me to enjoy doing it, and for the the kids to enjoy seeing it seeing it. 

 You may well have assumed I was 10 different illustrators, since we could only rarely sign the art. 

SNK's P.O.W.
SNK's Mechanized Attack
SNK's Guerrilla War
EA's B.O.B.
EA's Harley's humongous Adventure

I realized that there was a piece I had done for Capcom that had turned into one of the best selling games in history, that was both a favorite of mine, as well as a huge favorite of early gamers and retrogamers across the globe. It was a flawed piece, however, due to confusion at Capcom itself. I am speaking of course, about the art I created for the box cover of MegaMan 2.  I have addressed this error a number of times  in print and in person :  I was directed by Capcom America to give MegaMan the pistol, and they approved my version of MegaMan. These inaccuracies are understandable to me as an illustrator, because I was not a twelve year old game player, I was a forty one year old illustrator. 

My job was to create a visually exciting imaginary construct for a twelve year old to frame in his or her mind's eye, while playing an 8 bit videogame matrix. 

The fact that there was already an existing MegaMan character known in Japan, who was actually more of a muscular pixie-boy, than a man, did not arise in our conferences... So MegaMan the Second, became, in the U.S., at least, a man. Coincidentally, in Europe, no one knew he was anything other than his name,  ie.: a Man. As you may know, In Europe, the got his weapon correct, but everything else was weird.

Euro MM2 was all chrome,

He was all chrome, and had ...something...on his arm, that resembled a bowling pin, that was in fact his cannon. But he too, was a man. At least they used the U.S. version of the MegaMan2 logo, the art for which I also created, like the illustration, in airbrush.    




Were they following the original MegaMan game art when the error of the pistol occurred?

The original MegaMan held a pistol

The Capcom design team may have made their decisions based on the prior MegaMan box, The infamous MegaMan (which which was drawn and painted overnight due to a rush schedule, by an art student friend Keiji Inafune, The producer), showing a horrible rendition of a strangely dancing MegaMan character, in a billowing yellow and blue Hammer-Time style jump suit, WAVING A PISTOL, and in the mayhem that was the gaming industry at that time,  was it simply not caught?

                                




CAPCOM'S LEGACY 

Capcom, one of the greatest video game companies in history, creator of many hundreds of amazing games, and author of tales that have transformed the imagined world for generations, has lived with this oversight for 30 years. MegaMan2 was a BLOCKBUSTER, DESPITE these errors, and I am honored that when they reissued this game, they chose to remain with the original art as it was created, not only because is so recognized, but also because it is so loved by so many.


  Even as loved as he is, perhaps it wouldn't hurt to see Man2 be brought up to date with regard to his weaponry and the cast of characters. But he will remain the man he has always been to me, never aging as I went from from age 41 to the age of  71 that I am today.


As you study this piece, and I know you have, you will see that there are two  errors:

(1). Of course, the pistol, which needs to be a blue cannon.

(2).In the background we have Clashman being directed by Dr. Wright, when the evil doctor should be Dr. Wiley.


While I'm at this, I should redraw MM's right leg. Many viewers have commented (to use a polite term) upon the excruciating angle of his foot. While it is physically possible,  I admit, looks awkward in the extreme, and no self respecting super hero would assume that position. I don't know what I was thinking!





SO, please allow me to offer this new subchapter in the evolution of one of the most famous good guys of our generation:







MegaMan2.1:THE CANNON!




             I HOPE YOU APPROVE!

     Thanks for stopping in, And I'll hope to see you in Portland!!



Oct 17, 2016

PRGE or Bust!!

I'm making my way to Portland beginning        Tuesday, RAIN OR SHINE!

CHECK OUT THE AUCTION AND BID ON MY ORIGINAL 2012 BOOTH BANNERS!!!


PRGE 2013- a blast!

                                2013 BOOTH INVASION! 








Dianne and I had to skip last year, and we really felt bad, missing the chaos that is the PRGE. I'm bringing my 17" by 22" prints of Capcom's Megaman2, Tengen's Tetris, Data East's Bad Dudes, Atari 7800's Galaga, and a FEW (5 each) of SNK's P.O.W., and Guerrilla War, Sega Genesis' Herzog Zwei, and Sega's G-LOC.

These images I created for the early gaming era are available in 13"x19", 17"x22" sizes, with a few remaining 18"x24"s from prior shows. The prints feature only the remastered art, free of titles and clutter. The images are drawn from my archive of the large transparencies I shot of the original art back in the 80's and 90's.

Why Purchase a high end Print?


 These prints are all created on Museum quality, acid free heavy Epson Bright white 100% rag Bond art paper, using Epson's pigment based (not dye based) inks, with a color fast guarantee for 75 years. I will be signing them at the show, and will happily personalize the prints. This is currently the only way to purchase a personally signed edition. This is the greatest deal you'll ever be offered for this quality: only $40.00 for the large 17"x22" edition, hand signed.
I will also have some of my original airbrush paintings on exhibit at the booth for fans to inspect.


Check to my Panel Discussion on the Wild and Wooly 80's and nineties!


The original color rough I did for Atari's
Lynx System Xybots

There will also be a Panel discussion that I'll lead, examining the adventures of creating box art for video games in Silicon Valley from 1982 (Broderbund) to 2002 (Maxis.) We will discuss the methodologies, techniques, and quirks in the overheated race to produce game art, during a turbulent two solid decades of craziness. You'll see original airbrush pieces, as well as sketches and model shots, and some original color roughs I used to show the clients what I had in mind.


THANKS FOR CHECKING IN, and WE'LL SEE YOU IN PORTLAND!

Apr 23, 2016

'OTERO WAR'!!! CAVEMAN'S ALBUM COVER IS ROCKIN' the RETRO!!!






CAVEMAN ROCKS

On January 6th I received a interesting proposal From a Cinematic, a record label seeking my skills on an Album cover for a New York rock group called Caveman. After doing a bit of research into the band, and hearing the song list that they linked me to, I was definitely impressed. The sound was full, vibrant, nuanced, and thoughtful. It was solidly rock, and the band members fantastic. ...But why me?…As it developed, all of these young men were once kids who played games, and loved them! They remembered that art that I had produced and tracked me down, in no small measure, because the name they had chosen for this album was 'Otero War'. There's a smile to the naming, but it's not my tale, so I'll leave that to Matt and the boys to one day explain to their fans, which are legion, and growing.







Clearly, the idea was intriguing, and I was anxious to chat with the band about their ideas. That task fell to Frontman Matt Iwanusa who was a delight to work with, and an inspiring artist in his own right, certainly to a guy like me, who can't carry a tune in a bucket. The rest of the band members are, Jimmy 'Cobra" Carbonetti on Guitar, Stefan Marolachakis on vocals and drums, Sam Hopkins on vocals and synthesizer , and Jeff Berrall on bass and vocals.The first task was to get an overall impression of the band's vision, which was one of  a world existing in the aftermath of war, mystery, and desolation. Much like the soul of one who struggles against the grip of love, and loss, or gain, with overtones of the adventures of one's youth spent partly in the confines of the world of gaming. Matt wanted a visual that felt game-like, and worked with the idea of war, entrapment, and release, all mirroring the concept of the entrapment of and the escape from, or to, relationships.



THE MOOD….




This nomadic rider walking past the ruin of an ancient
icon of a sports warrior in a trackless desert seemed
to Matt to capture the desolation the band desired.




Tis desert environment that I had recreated in an illustration
 for the Baltimore Sun Times in 2003 about Joseph Heller's
novel 'Catch 22' seemed a perfect setting.

There were elements of my illustration for
Lynx's Xybots that the band liked as well.

Of the first selection of images that I sent Matt, he chose as a guide a cover I had done for PC Games magazine in 1990. He enjoyed the isolation of the desert he saw, and that became our paradigm. He also mentioned the scale of the buried athlete This was the first appearance of what became the Battlebots in the final version.

The Days of Thunder logo was the original direction
the team wanted me to lean for the header title.






In this initial layout I was working with a distant planet, a war aftermath environment , and an
Arcade game cabinet for a game called Otero War, in which the deco on the cabinet reflects the
surrounding area.

FIRST PASS

Matt'a concept for having the deco imitate the environment was a
great thought. Over time however the team moved to minimize the
cabinet within the image, as you will see.
So, I put together my first pass, very quickly done in photoshop, using elements of earlier illustrations and creating the landscape, featuring the Arcade game 'OTERO WAR' showing the scene itself as the deco on the game. As much as I liked this version, the clients desired that I minimize the Arcade game itself. This version eventually gave way to some more dynamic versions, utilizing Large battlebots as seen sketched here.


THE MOVE TO BATTLE BOTS



One of my favorite paintings from the retro era
was this piece that I did for PC Games Magazine
in February 1990. It hangs framed in my
studio to this day.
The Battlebots were derived from Matt's enthusiasm regarding the PC Games magazine cover I had done back in 1990. He was intrigued by the imagery of the giant abandoned Cyborg football player I had done for their sports games review edition.

The Battlebots were laid out as aftermath forms. The band wanted to create a feeling of desolation, along with impending destruction, hence the Tidal Wave I created in the background.


This is my fist version for an appearance of the Bots. The
Arcade cabinet was still prominent, and I liked the
upright posture of the dead Bot, like a tank that
ran out of gas
Here you see Bot version 2, which came to be the final
position, and you can see the Arcade beginning to be less
important.



The Final Front album art reveals the downed Bot cradling a weapon on his left arm, as in the sketch, and color roughs, and as seen here, however Matt asked for the weapon to be removed, aiming for a less aggressive image.

I had always had in mind arming the Battle bot, and proceeded to build out his arm mounted laser weapon, which
I had originally had in the sketch, although smaller. The client team however, probably correctly, were concerned about the image seeming to be overtly war-like, and asked me to remove it: easily done in photoshop.

THE NAME GAME...


The Days of Thunder style of lettering ended up succumbing to the
use of the Pre existing angular logo mark that Caveman has used
for a couple of years. It's a handsome, clean, and techy look that
really sets off the illustration.



THE FATE OF THE ARCADE:


The Arcade was finally consigned to being a very buried element, but still holds a
prominent position, and is difficult to overlook. It now acts as what we call a 'second read'.
This term refers to an element that is discovered only in close examination of the art, often to the delight
of the viewer.
THE FINAL ART COVER FOR 'OTERO WAR'

The mood is complete, as the fallen 'Bot lies destroyed but still his EM powered eyes glow even in death, while in the background an approaching maelstrom pushes a titanic tsunami toward the war torn metropolis. The half buried, battered Arcade cabinet awaits its impending destruction. Will the band escape its fate, trapped in the clutches of
Otero?

THE FINAL BACK COVER

SHOWS THE BAND ESCAPING THE GAME AND THE DESTRUCTION

And finally the Band escapes the Otero War aftermath, running for their lives, true game style, from the onrushing apocalyptic tsunami!!  GAME ON!!

IT WAS A TOTAL BLAST… what a way to make a living!!



CATCH THE VIBE from CAVEMAN: OTERO WAR, at these spots:

Soundcloud….

Spotify….his one was a blast, and working with the band to get them exactly what they wanted was really special.


THANKS FOR DROPPING BY,
AND CHECK OUT
CAVEMAN'S
OTERO WAR 

                       Dropping June 17th!! 








Mar 31, 2016

HELL ON WATER!! ACTIVISION'S OCEAN RANGER!!

Got a penchant for some seaborne battle porn? 



I always considered this package to have been one
of the poorest box designs I was ever involved in.
The terrible use of the colored lettering for the
masthead has always bothered me. I felt the
Activision Designers to have been asleep
at the wheel. Here I took the liberty of enhancing
the masthead for the benefit of my pride.

No Sweat: Sink or Swim. There's no middle ground, (...except 40 Fathoms down…)

The skies around you erupt with the Banshee wailings of supersonic attack aircraft as you floor your state of the art hydrofoil equipped U.S. Navy Attack Frigate , the U.S.S. Ocean Ranger, through a maelstrom of incoming steel and heat seeking Soviet air to sea, and sea to sea, missiles. Your mission is to sweep the Bering Straits free of Russian sea and air warcraft, secure the Carribean against drug smugglers, and sort out the mess in the Persian Gulf. You've got fistfuls of armaments, from your High velocity, rapid fire 76 mm cannon, to your Sea Sparrow, and your Harpoon Missiles, depth charges and Infrared chaff out the wazoo!!

The USS Ocean Ranger makes steam in this harpoon missile attack on enemy shipping, while deploying her (rather fanciful) depth charges, and fires her 76mm Cannon on enemy Mig 25 fighters overhead, forcing the pilot to eject.

HIT THE SILK IVAN!!

We wish this courageous pilot well, as an
ejection at sea is a harrowing and risky
act of attempted survival.

I tried to place a lot of Mayhem into a very small space, basing my Soviet era attack Aircraft loosely on an advanced Russian fighter bomber of 1988: The sturdy Mig 25 FoxBat, a superb piece of baltic engineering from the Mikoyan Guerevich Design team for the Soviet Air Force, showing the Russki Pilot ejecting after pressing his attack against the Ocean Ranger. His A/C is clearly disabled to the point of near disintegration, his right turbo fan flaming merrily





THE BACK PANEL


The navigation table on a 1988 era naval ship probably still
relied to a degree on the instruments that Activision directed
me to depict., but within only a few years the con of a U.S.
ship of war would be completely computerized, I'm sure.

 



This British sub has the Odessa in it's sights
in this 1989 illustration I created for
Warner Publishing.

The back Panel was a much more inspired design, and required a second illustration from me, of a down view of the plotting table for the Navigator of the Ocean Ranger. Interestingly, the Activision chose to include  a data sheet of the Soviet navy's cruiser, the Odessa. Within a year I would be working on  a book jacket illustration for a novel for Warner Books Publishing named 'The Saturn Experiment' which would also feature the Odessa.




                                      THE FRIGATE DESIGN

A Hydro Foil Patrol boat laid out similarly to Ocean Ranger

Another example of a Hydro Foil patrol
craft-Note the port side launch tubes
As you can see, I didn't have much to work with, although I could see the essentials required
for my illustration: the guns, missiles, bridge, radar array, and, at the rear the missile launch tubes.



My frigate version is larger than the patrol boat sized test craft seen above. Click on this piece to enlarge it, and you can see the figures of the crew on deck and the degree of detail. I did a little magic wash on the depth charges to make them look more interesting than they are, for the entertainment value.




                             The full Monte
Here's the original art, as it was photographed, along with the color scale and gray scale required by the
printer for reproduction purposes. it was a lot of fun to produce, and was one of my most complex battle
scenes. I only wish Activision had stepped up with a nice box design to show it off.

Thanks again for dropping by, and I hope you're having a great 2016!