Sunday, March 28, 2010

2010 Zook Convention Piece by Ethan Van Sciver

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I remember when Cyberfrog first came out, and fans thought it was going to be the next big thing. I was running a shop by that time, and tossing through the book, couldn't see it. I figured it for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles riff as drawn by a Todd McFarlane clone, and dismissed it. I took note of the name Ethan Van Sciver though, so when he turned up looking a lot more polished on DC's Impulse series, I was impressed by his development. I think I liked his stuff here and there, but it was really The Flash: Iron Heights prestige special that made me recognize this was indeed a superstar in the making. Van Sciver is now one of the biggest and best artists in comics, and certainly the top name at Comicpalooza 2010. He was the first artist I approached to do a head sketch, explaining that I regretted his not finishing his run on the Superman/Batman arc "Enemies Among Us." While he drew excellent classic and One Year Later Martian Manhunters (he's one of the best modern MM artists, after all,) what I regretted was his leaving the first appearance of J'onn's other-dimensional pet/sidekick in decades to replacement Matthew Clark. I was promised EVS, dang it, and I was here after his Zook!

Not only did Van Sciver remember Zook, but he expressed regret at not having gotten to draw him, and thought it was cool to get the chance now. I handed the man a couple of reference pages I'd scanned and something like $40 for a head shot. I was asked to return in about three hours, and doing so, found that I was still a few names down the list. Later still, my friends told me Van Sciver was working on Zook, so I walked over to check it out. Van Sciver had been discussing his history with the character for the benefit of onlookers, and upon my arrival one made sport of me by asking slightly sarcastic questions. I addressed his questions with sincerity, though in a somewhat defensive tone. What I didn't know was that a friend of mine had videotaped some of this on his digital camera, so hopefully I can get that from him and post it here down the line.

The lovingly detailed image takes up better than 3/4th of an 11" x 14" rigid, bright white sketch page provided by Van Sciver. It is a thing of beauty, and I'm very proud to share it with you, not to mention very pleased to finally get my promised Zook!

Ethan Van Sciver was a mighty nice guy who does obviously outstanding work, far more valuable than I was charged. In case you were wondering, a friend of mine leaned in and learned directly from the artist that it's pronounced "Sky-ver." Now you know (and I'll have to remember to stop saying "Psy-ver."


LissBirds said...

I was right!

The way EVS drew him, he kinda sorta looks like he came from a Dr. Seuss story. Maybe that's the "other dimension" where he really came from.

"and upon my arrival one made sport of me by asking slightly sarcastic questions." Hmm. Was this "poke fun at the Martian Manhunter fan" time? Or just polite joshing? I'd like to see the video evidence.

I'm glad you finally got your Zook sketch and that it didn't cost you an arm and a leg.

It's a lot better than me pronouncing it "Schriver" and then realizing only a month ago there's no "R" in there...

Tom said...

I didn't read the Superman/Batman comic with Zook, so this is my first look at a modern, more realistically drawn Zook. I definitely want to see more. This is great! At $40, it's a bargain.

Do you intend to eventually do a write-up of Zook's appearance in Superman/Batman (or have you done it already)? I'd like to see what Matthew Clark's Zook looks like.

Diabolu Frank said...

Tom, I wrote up the first several issues of that S/Bat story, but never posted them, and my word docs are still M.I.A. as renamed files after my drive crashed. I really do want to find them and my unpublished Fox/Sekowsky synopsizes as soon as I can. For the record, Clark's Zook was lean and wore a long coat.

Liss, a friend of mine took some video while I was away when EVS was explaining his logic. I haven't seen it yet, but according to my friend: His editors wanted a "realistic" Zook, which he thought was ridiculous, since Zook was obviously a cartoon character. As a compromise, EVS intended to make Zook an animal, hence the feline features, whereas others (myself included) see him as an orange infant alien. Who the heck knows? I just like the drawing. EVS is probably right though, based on the recurring "pet" designation in the comics.

"Was this "poke fun at the Martian Manhunter fan" time? Or just polite joshing?"

More like "You wasted EVS' time and your money on that stupid thing?" Meanwhile, I saw EVS drawing a full figure flying Green Lantern and a Sinestro headshot. That had to be exciting. Looked great, though.

Diabolu Frank said...

Oh-- and let the guessing begin on Tuesday's art post. I'm running Black Adam #6 tomorrow...

Tom said...

Why was Zook wearing a coat? The little guy(?) can generate heat, so he doesn't need clothes for warmth. Did he finally eat that apple from the Tree of Knowledge and realize he's naked?

LissBirds said...

Zook from Batman/Superman was a little too much on the bizarre side for my tastes, IMHO.

As long as you're happy that's all that counts! I think it's kinda cute that he has itty bitty whiskers.

"That had to be exciting."
Not gonna lie, though, if I was going to get a sketch from EVS I'd probably ask for a GL one. Wait, no, I stand corrected. I'd ask for Adam Strange, just to see what he could do with him, considering he's got all that experience drawing heroes in space.

"Oh-- and let the guessing begin on Tuesday's art post."

Mr. V?

Diabolu Frank said...

I've got a ceramic monkey that used to hold a fruit bowl and wears a similar coat. Maybe Zook discovered haute couture?

Diabolu Frank said...

Adam Strange FTW.

Cold, I'm afraid. No Mr. V this time. Everyone I thought could do him passed, either specifically or on sketching entirely.

LissBirds said...

Hmm. Either Hugo or Blanx, then. Or longshot...the Human Flame.

Diabolu Frank said...

2 of 3 in my possession.

Tom said...

Nobody wanted to draw a fat guy wearing a panty-hose mask? Sorry you didn't get your Mr. V sketch, but there's really not much that can be done with the guy visually.

But Despero is probably fun to draw.

Diabolu Frank said...

I never got around to asking anyone to specifically draw Mr. V. As noted, it takes a special artist to make Faceless work. One guy just didn't choose him out of a large selection, another I passed on when there was confusion about his quote, and a third would have been good, but wasn't doing sketches that day.

EVS drew Despero for another guy, but I never got a good look. I didn't bring any Despero reference, because I was specifically looking to have sketches done of characters you cannot find art for. Since there are 18 pieces of Despero art at Comic Art Fans, 5 at Comic Art Community, and more on the net, he was disqualified.