Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012 The Devil Men of Pluto Comicpalooza Commission by Paul Maybury

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Best (Martian Manhunter) Art Ever (This Week) returns to Wednesdays! Paul Maybury's name didn't register for me when he was announced as a Comicpalooza guest, but as it turned out, I'd just reviewed his swell Clock story from Crack Comics #63. He's also worked on anthologies like Comic Book Tattoo and Strange Tales II. His art on the graphic novel Aqua Leung looked like Bryan Lee O'Malley wandering into a world of Paul Pope. Looking through his CAF gallery, you could tell that he was no pin-up type, drawing full scenarios for characters with a quirky, hip vibe.

I didn't want any scenes with J'Onn J'Onzz/John Jones, and Maybury's look was better suited for certain characters than others, so I opted for a group shot. There aren't that many to choose from in the Vile Menagerie, and in lieu of beasties or bunches with a more plastic sheen like the Hyperclan, one lot jumped out as being the most appropriate. Despite dying in their only appearance, the Devil Men of Pluto have proven popular among readers hereabouts whenever they've come up, and perform very well in polls. When you've got evil alien mercenaries modeled after Adolph Hitler and a pair of Mussolinis, the artist really has to just go for it. Back when I planned to have a punk western B'rett done by Andrew Robinson, I thought an indie-cool trio by Maybury would be an excellent compliment.

I caught up with Maybury early on Friday, when I was hitting all my highest priced commissions at a rapid clip. I was looking to get three black and white figures bunched together with no background, which based on this online quote would make the Devil Men about $180. However, there was no mention of page dimensions for that number, so when I offered Maybury an old 11" x 17" board, he seemed to hesitate a little. Still, Maybury agreed, working under the assumption that Friday was going to be slow, and noodling on it would give him something to do. He asked me if I wanted color gratis, but I didn't want to put him out, since I'd assumed my price was strictly for B&W. We left it up in the air for a while. I gave the artist two pages of reference (a group shot of the main trio, and head shots of spotlight members L'lex Xanadar and Nar,) as well as my copy of House of Mystery #159 (June, 1966). I figured the more he had to work with, the more comfortable he'd be playing around the margins.

True to his word, Maybury made the Devil Men his pet project of the day. I'd check in on him from time to time, seeing him adding more and more detail. I finally greenlit the color, because it looked like it would really put the piece over the top. By that point he was probably rolling his eyes and/or cursing under his breath for extending the offer, but he happened to have just the right skin tone, and I think the piece had already dug into the artist center of his brain. As it turned out, that perfect Plutonian flesh marker had dried out, which was just one more cross for the poor guy to bear. I expect this piece may have contributed to a tweet he sent out within a week of the con: "Thanks dude, I can live a lifetime before I color anything red again." By the time he was done at five o'clock, I basically got a $300 commission for little more than half that. I do get a grin that he was the only artist using one of my boards to take advantage of the blueline borders, though.

My favorite element is the close-up on the first Devil Man, which has some fantastic tones that of course got washed out in my scan, but are partially visible in this twitpic. Most of the harder lines remain, but the soft greens and some feathering is lost. I love the textured shadows on L'lex Xanadar's uniform, the impression of recoil motion in his pistol, and the violence in the air surrounding it. I also appreciate the slimmed down and suave looking Nar in the background. I kind of like to think of these guys as cousins of the first trio, stalking around Colorado looking for payback. The boulders and trees might have something to do with that. Maybury's a good guy who delivered an exceptional piece, so I highly recommend you check out his Comicpalooza tumblr picture blog and deviantART gallery


Anj said...

Great piece.

You are right that the extreme close-up adds depth to the piece and also shows the artist's level of interest. Just fantastic!

mathematicscore said...

Gotta say, this rules.

will_in_chicago said...

This is a great piece that shows the artist's true talent.

LissBirds said...

Really great composition. He's one to watch.