Friday, April 16, 2010


My work at DC has included a little of everything, from statues to action figures... both from my own stylings and from specific comic artists' styles. I think some of my most successful pieces, from both fan reaction and personal gratification, are the ones I've sculpted to capture a comic artist's two-dimensional style in three dimensions. I loved working in Mike Mignola's style, and, judging from the pricing on eBay, the Batman Black and White statue I did from Mignola's art is a fan-favorite. ...Of course, that could have to do with low production runs. I'll tell myself it's fan popularity, though. Makes me feel better.

This particular Batman piece was pretty challenging. Mignola's artwork is highly and wonderfully stylized. It looks great on the page… it also happens to be difficult to translate into three dimensions. I'll assume RubĂ©n had the same difficulty (and similar success... love the Lobster Johnson statue, Procopio!) in rendering shapes that don't necessarily belong in the three-dimensional world. I had to cheat angles, add planes where they wouldn't normally work, and generally throw all the knowledge I have of three-dimensional realistic anatomy out the window. The result in painted prototype form is a statue that reads as two-dimensional. Granted, I painted differing light and dark areas onto the statue to enhance the effect, but I remember reading forums where collectors honestly didn't believe the statue was anything more than a cardboard stand-in for what would be the final piece of sculpture. Pretty funny, actually.

I've also had the honor of working with Darwyn Cooke on the New Frontier action figures. I remember beginning the project and being introduced via email to Mr. Cooke; he forewarned me that he's a bear to work with. I've worked with some prima donnas in my time, so I assume if the guy's telling me he's hard to work with it, can't possibly be anything but a nightmare. I'm expecting revision after revision, mid-progress changes, the works. It turned out he was one of the easiest artists to please that I've ever worked with. A true professional. He gave my art directors beautiful and fully realized turnaround artwork for the figures, plus we had his whole New Frontier graphic novel to pull from for stylistic reference. Mr. Cooke was well pleased with the result, and I was honored again to be thanked for the effort in the "Absolute" edition of New Frontier.

Finally, I did action figures of the New Gods, based on master comic artist Jack Kirby. This was a similar challenge to the one I faced with Mignola -- a whole lot of artistic license is taken to get the effect Kirby wanted on the page. So, tear out the first chapter in realistic anatomy. No smooth transition from one muscle group to the other, and how the @#$% do you translate all that ultra-bold ink work into three dimensions? Unfortunately, Mr. Kirby wasn't around to help us nail down the style, but we did the best we could, and I was pleased with the result.


Jonathan Matthews

1 comment:

  1. Whew, I've been trying to track you down for ages! I have the entire New Gods toys, and I've got to say, its the best I've EVER seen Kirby captured in 3D, and for the love of god, why hasn't Marvel hired you yet to make a Kirby styled Dr. Doom statue??!
    Anywhos, love your work and all the best!