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Unlike the several other art jams I've been engineering, I wanted the "family photo" to be completely done within the summer of 2015 to insure it could unfurl early and often into J'Onn J'Onzz's sixtieth anniversary year. I also wanted to stick with recognized professionals in the industry, I wanted to maintain the high standard set by Brett Booth, and I tried to approach people I'd never gotten work from before. That was a pretty tall order, and ultimately, those demands had to give in a few places.
As I juggled the various artists and subjects in a premeditated but necessarily flexible sequence across two short weekend shows, I ended up with a narrow gap between a pair of full-sized standing figures where two characters had to fit. Further, I had used green Post-Its to establish not only each character's general location, but also their relative height to maintain scale. Since the as-yet-not-drawn Sha'sheen J'onzz had to be slightly below the eyelines of the already fully rendered J'onn & M'yrnn, that meant the other character had to squeeze in below her dedicated space, no higher than waist up on anyone, and did I mention she also had to interact with the finished K'hym piece?
That was a list of severe demands, and I frankly needed to call on someone I had a history with who I could trust without reservation to pull off this challenge. I needed the maestro behind one of my first commissions who as a result became my ideal figure artist for Commander Blanx, none other than Marat Mychaels! He's worked on hundreds of comics since the early '90s, most notably Brigade, Deadpool Corps, Army of Darkness, & Grifter, plus he's closely associated with another superstar artist I was angling to include in the jam!
"Grandmother" J'onzz was to my knowledge never named, and her even appearing in a comic book is debatable, since not even her creator J.M. DeMatteis could confirm whether the being drawn in Justice League of America #256 was intended to be her or the Martian deity H'ronmeer. Since H'ronmeer looked completely different when he appeared in the 1988 Martian Manhunter mini-series and has been consistently depicted through Mark Badger's version of the design, I basically appropriated this image for the matriarch in J'Onn's thoughts while burning alive in that story. Since the figure was depicted in that tale surrounded by flames, and J'Onn's visions were connected to H'ronmeer and his grandmother, I thought perhaps coupling the two through a fascination with fire typically shunned by Martians would be a nice wrinkle (plus the K'hym artist had already drawn a flame of his own accord.)
Through my long-winded explanation and the various leaps to this point, it was a minor miracle Mychaels managed such a fine specimen! I love the Kirbyesque quality to the hands, feet, and the solid blacks. Note his ability to skew the androgynous subject more feminine through subtle use of feathered pseudo-eyelashes, as well as a general softening of the harsh Luke McDonnell reference art. It's a lovely little piece packed with fine detail, and he even gave it to me at a discount, despite the amount of effort needed to make the piece work within the confines of the jam. As ever, I'm a fan of Marat Mychaels, one of my commission all-stars, who is a class act and has never let me down!
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