Sunday, May 27, 2012

CAVE BOY: Dino Rescue

Sometime around 2004 (or earlier), I was delighted to find myself watching reruns of some old Hanna-Barbera cartoons on Cartoon Network's "Boomerang" block, which was on Saturday nights after midnight.  These included the JONNY QUEST (from 1964, still my vote for best American animated TV show ever made), SPACE GHOST (1966, in my mind Alex Toth's "signature" creation, even if he hated it himself, and a show that was a huge influence on my own STORM MAN AND STORMBOY), THE HERCULOIDS (1967, another show that apparently inspired me, though much later) and FANTASTIC FOUR (1967, my introduction to characters from Marvel Comics, which in some ways was better than the source material).

I've always had more ideas than time to do anything with them, so usually it's not like I'm looking for inspiration.  Yet here it hit me again.  While watching the "filler" cartoons in the middle of SPACE GHOST-- "Dino Boy In The Lost Valley"-- I got the idea to do something similar.  What would make mine stand out would be, it would be a "lost valley" that existed in the same future world of STORMBOY!  Futuristic sci-fi and dinosaurs, side-by-side.  Wow!

In short order, I actually got the idea for 2 different stories.  One would be set during the original series, when Stormboy was around 11 years old.  The other would be a sequel, set during his "grown up" series.

But then I happened across Tim Fish's YOUNG BOTTOMS IN LOVE, an online series of short comics stories, each done by different creators in a wild variety of styles.  And so, before I could ever get to either of the first 2 story ideas, I hit on a 3rd one-- set neatly about halfway between the time of the other 2.

I was also watching my TARZAN collection at the time, and it's obvious this also gave me a chance to do some "jungle" type action.

The way I devised the story, it would work in 2 different forms.  An 8-page version would contain the action, and a bit of romance.  This wound up running online as part of the YBIL website series sometime in 2004.  Later, I was able to recycle it, and it was published (albeit in B&W) in the 1st issue of QUEERBAIT in December 2006.  (I never did get a copy of that from the publisher.  He never paid me for the cover I did for him, either.)

I wanted to experiment and see if I could come up with a different style that would fit the material.  What I wound up doing was fully-rendered pencils, much of it in a looser, more "cartoony" style than I'd been using, and then adding "limited" color in Photoshop.  This gave it a look similar to many European comics which are printed in "2-color" process.  I'd first seen this used when Herge's THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN was serialized in CHILDREN'S DIGEST magazine in the late-1960's.

I also did a 12-page, X-rated version.  Here it is, for the first time!  Enjoy.

Story & Art (C) HENRY KUJAWA
All prominent characters are Trademarks of HENRY KUJAWA

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

JAY: After The Show

I would hope anyone familiar with my work would, by now, be aware of my character STORMBOY. I first created him back in September 1966, as a reaction to many of the wonderful TV shows of the era (and before). Unlike BATMAN where Robin was just the sidekick, he was more like JONNY QUEST or Will Robinson-- the young boy who was in fact, the series' main character. I wrote a series of stories between 1966-70, all of which took place in the kind of utopian future seen in various Gerry Anderson shows and Japanese cartoons. In a seriously misguided move, I then spent 1972-78 (or so) writing an entirely different series about him, which took place in the then-present day. This "reboot" (which predated DC's in 1986) was an attempt to imitate early-70's Marvel Comics. It's no wonder I never really liked it, and why, decades later, I saw similar reboots by the big publishers as the totally-wrong-headed things they were.

Throughout the 90's, I kept trying to piece together in my head how I might approach the series if I "did it right". And of course, that meant once again setting it in a utopian future. To my own surprise, one day I drew a page which sort of answered the unasked question... "What if Stormboy was all grown up-- and had a BOYfriend?" I found the idea somehow hilarious. But it stuck with me. Next thing I knew, several months later, I came up with a story to go with it, and wound up doing an entire comic-book, which I then published in mid-2002! Sometimes you have to go where the inspiration takes you.

The supreme irony of this was no doubt that the STORMBOY comic, despite being very X-RATED and featuring gay and bisexual characters, was connected directly to those more "innocent" sci-fi adventures I wrote way back in the 60's, illustrated in a stylized "stick-figure" form.

It seems that among a lot of people who've read the book, that the boyfriend, rock singer (and self-professed sex maniac) Jay Love is the most popular character. I can understand that. A good friend of mine, who read the book in B&W before it was printed in color, told me Jay reminded him of "a nicer, sweeter version of Coley Cochran", John Blackburn's "voodoo love-god" character.  Blackburn's comics, possibly the most intelligent and unique X-rated comics I've ever encountered, were definitely a big inspiration to me.

In late 2001, While I was still putting finishing touches on the book, and trying to work out the technical stuff as far as printers, bar codes, and a hundred other things, I got inspired to write a JAY short story, intended for submission to Winston Leyland's MEATMEN anthology series.  Apparently he had more material than he could use (and in fact, a couple books later, he went out of business).  Eventually, an edited version of this appeared in QUEERBAIT #2 (May'08), in glorious color which matched the art so well even I was pleasantly surprised.

However, here, for the first time, I'm presenting the complete 12-page story, with the SEX intact. If X-rated material doesn't interest you, if it in fact offends you, if seeing or if even the very idea of young guys being very nice to each other in this fashion bothers you deeply, then... DON'T READ any further.  The rest of you... ONWARD!

This story, by the way, takes place before Jay met Pete. I've actually written several follow-ups to this, in one form or another, but this is the only one, so far, with art to go with it.  ENJOY!

For those who've read STORMBOY #1... yes, that is Kyrene in the front row!
Story & Art (C) HENRY KUJAWA
All prominent characters are Trademarks of HENRY KUJAWA

Bunny Roget

In late 2008, I found myself trying to come up with something else to send to PLAYBOY.  I decided I'd do it on my own this time. My art had begun to loosen up a bit when I did the MOONIE pages, and I wanted to see if I could push that. One of my favorite artists, since the 60's, had always been Herge, whose ADVENTURES OF TINTIN has long been perhaps my all-time favorite comics series. Yet, apart from some of the "rough layout" mini-comics I did in high school, it seemed I always kept falling back on the idea that "realistic" was somehow better than "cartoony"-- which is utter nonsense!

As it happens, I had just finished reading the 2-book reprint set of Harvey Kurtzman's LITTLE ANNIE FANNIE, which ran in PLAYBOY for around 20 years, and I think it's safe to say I was inspired. I got the idea for a character who would pay tribute to BUCK ROGERS while being a sort of reverse of ANNIE's naive innocent who always seemed to be fighting off sexual advances.  BUNNY would be someone who very much enjoyed sex, but absurdly, kept running into sexual frustration.

BUNNY ROGET (pronounced ("row-zhay") would be the owner & operator of a space delivery service, which would allow the stories to visit any number of alien planets.  For the supporting cast, I came up with Will Hardrock as her #1 employee, spaceship pilot, and the main object of her romantic advances (who, due to reasons that would be unknown at first, kept her at a distance). Filling out the crew would be Gigi Astra, a cute, short, slender blonde who would serve as both navigator & medic.  Strangely enough, because of the way the story ideas were coming to me, I was only able to feature Gigi in one episode (so far), but I'm sure that will change if and when I get to doing more of these.

Bunny was inspired, to some degree, by the character of "Midge" (played by Tanya Roberts) on THAT 70'S SHOW-- although I didn't actually realize this until after I'd done a couple of them. Will was based, somewhat, on Wally's Wood's John CANNON. Gigi was inspired by both my #1 favorite PLAYBOY playmate, Lesa Ann Pedriana (April 1984), and my best friend in art school back in the late 80's.

After it rattled around in my head for several months, I finally got inspired to do the first one the very day I put in for a job at Harleigh Cemetery, a job I wound up getting, which lasted 2 years.

The art style for the figures actually harkened back to how I used draw the mini-comics in  the late-70's, only more refined, cleaner. And somehow, a bit of Dan DeCarlo found its way in as well.

Here's the original character sketches:
The 2nd episode allowed me to reuse the extensive "Underworld" "set" I designed & built back in late 2002 for a proposed STORMBOY story (which I still hope to do, one of these days).
The 3rd episode finally gave me a chance to introduce Gigi, although to date it's her only appearance. It's also one of the sexiest things I've ever done, in a cute, sweet sort of way.
The 4th episode was my tribute to 2 of my favorite sci-fi movies of the mid-60's-- INVASION EARTH: 2150 A.D., and KING KONG ESCAPES.  What a combo!
The 5th episode follows on directly from the 4th.  After so much text, it was fun to go the other way and do one that was almost entirely visual.
The 6th presented me with quite a challenge.  At first, I couldn't see how I could do this one in anything less than 2 pages.  However, by laying out the panels, with the dialogue, first, then filling in the art afterwards, I somehow managed to cram in all in.  The most text-heavy episode so far, this one proved to be my favorite.  I really got a kick out of the villain's growing frustration in trying to convince the seemingly-naive BUNNY of his evil intentions.  Dr. Yen was inspired by actor Eisei Amamoto from the film KING KONG ESCAPES.  Naturally, I pictured Paul Frees' voice in my head when I wrote his dialogue, some of which pays tribute to ENTER THE DRAGON.
I couldn't just leave BUNNY in that predicament, so of course, I brought back Professor Peterson from episode 4. This was inevitable-- the hero of INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D. running into the villain of KING KONG ESCAPES.  (Do I have to explain this one to anybody?)
Story & Art (C) HENRY KUJAWA
All prominent characters are Trademarks of HENRY KUJAWA

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Babes In Space

Sometime in mid-2008, I decided to send a copy of the MOONIE comic to PLAYBOY, to see if I might drum up any interest in myself as an artist/illustrator. I happened to mention this to Nick Cuti, who just about flipped out.  He told me he'd been trying to get into PLAYBOY for around 20 years, and had never managed it. He quickly hatched on the idea of doing a series of one-page cartoons.  He'd come up with the concept, name, a story or "joke" ideas, and even draw them up in rough layout form, and I'd do the illustrations. Sort of like Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood on MAD.

Well, Nick quickly knocked out 3 cartoons, then passed the ball to me. I decided, to save some time, to re-use the "pirate ship" model I'd designed & bult for the MOONIE book (after giving it a different color scheme), as well as several other models I'd built over the previous years. I also spent some time designing the logo for "BABES IN SPACE". I decided to use my regular style, and hit on the idea of "casting" a number of my all-time favorite PLAYBOY Playmates as the ship's crew!  Considering this was a proposal for PLAYBOY, why not?

And yet, before I sent the package in, things already began to disintegrate with Nick. He seemed completely incapable of putting aside his "editorial mindset" and found it impossible to think of what we were doing as an equal collaboration. He kept complaining about some of my inking, as if a couple of lines here or there would make any difference in whether something might get accepted or not. I had to tell him, "You WRITE 'em, I'll DRAW 'em." And he didn't seem to like that at all!

Naturally, BABES IN SPACE was turned down, but I wasn't surprised, given what i've read over the years about Hugh Hefner's attitude and behaviro concerning cartoonists. I once read an interview with someone who'd had work published in the magazine, which described a situation I found maddenning.  It seems this person submitted cartoons to PLAYBOY and was turned down. He kept submitting and kept being turned down. Finally, after submitting 50 cartoons, Hefner got in touch and bought ALL lf them. When the cartoonist asked WHY, Hefner told him, he loved what the guy did from the beginning-- he just wanted to see if he had longevity. Frankly, as much as I admire Hefner for his work and achievements over the years, that's the kind of behavior that would inspire me to wanna go after someone with a baseball bat.

In a way, considering Nick's incessant attitude problems, I was kinda relieved to have this turned down. I'd have hated to find myself involved in something that would totally get on my nerves-- no matter how successful it might be.
Playmates:  Robert Vasquez, Julie McCullough, Liz Stewart, Hope Marie Carlton, Karen Velez, Lourdes Anne Kananimanu Estores, Lesa Ann Pedriana

Playmates:  Robert Vasquez, Sondra Greenberg, Christine Richters, Kata Karkkainen, Lesa Ann Pedriana, Laurie Wood, Teri Weigel, Lorraine Olivia

Playmates:  Lesa Ann Pedriana, Roberta Vasquez,Joan Bennett, Petra Verkaik

Here's Nick's original sketches for comparison!
Story & Sketch Art (C) NICOLA CUTI
Finished Art (C) HENRY KUJAWA

Special thanks " all the girls I've loved before..."

Monday, May 21, 2012

MOONIE, Part 3

(Continued from Part 2)

In addition to page layouts, pencils, inks, colors, word balloons & lettering, and all the 3D computer modeling work, I also put together all the remaining pages of the MOONIE: QUANTUM QUEENS comic, from special features to a gallery of earlier MOONIE comics to the back cover.  I wanted this thing to be ready to go to print!  Enjoy.

Story Copyright (C) NICOLA CUTI
Artwork Copyright (C) HENRY KUJAWA

MOONIE, Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

There've been several different "looks" to Moonie over the years. I was delighted when I realized that the one I came up with myself had become my favorite. Especially the bottom panel on page 13. (She's so cute!)

The character of "Poppa", of course, has always been based on Nick Cuti himself. Since I like "casting" real people in my art, I did so with "Neon" (the other "starbabe"), as well as the 2 women pirates.

"Our story continues..."

(For special features, see Part 3)

Story Copyright (C) NICOLA CUTI
Artwork Copyright (C) HENRY KUJAWA