I've been waiting to show off my new Thing sketchbook for quite a while. I call it new even though I've had it for over three years already - but it's newer than the one I've been filling up since 2003, at any rate. Once I finished posting art from the first book, it finally gave me the opportunity to start sharing these new-ish sketches of Ben Grimm.
This new book is both smaller than the first and more art-worthy; its square pages measure 5.5x5.5 and the paper is both thicker and more archival than the first. Now I don't have to worry as much about one person's drawings bleeding onto the next page (though I still carry something to put under each newly-drawn page as it's being worked on). And while I'll always have a special place in my heart for the first sketchbook, I've found that a smaller working area allows artists an opportunity to spend a little more time making a great sketch and less worrying about filling up all that space of the first book. It creates pages that feel a little more full!
This book has 128 pages in it, which means that it'll take me, like, 15 more years to fill it up at the rate I usually get sketches. That's daunting. Maybe I'll be dead before it's finished! Wouldn't that be something! Anyway, let's take a look at the first five sketches from this new book.
Lonny Chant - New York Comic Con 2016
Lonny is a friend who I know from books like FUBAR; we've worked on a few stories together and I think he's a tremendous artist. NYCC was the first place I took the new book after buying it in 2016, and I'm happy to have this gritty Ben Grimm as the first image in the book.
In the last book, I eventually got another friend to draw something on the inside front cover, which came blank. This new book has a lot of writing on its inside front cover, so I doubt I'll be getting any art on it...though I guess you never know.
Erica Henderson - New York Comic Con 2016
Erica Henderson is probably best known for her work on different Archie titles and Squirrel Girl for Marvel. I walked through artist alley at NYCC with the hope of getting one more sketch for the book's initial run. I really like Erica's blocky, cartoony art - it's perfect for the Thing!
Tim Showers - 2017
After filling up a good portion of the first sketchbook, I would get nervous taking it with me and leaving it with artists while they worked on it (or added it to their to-do lists). The book represented years of effort and I worried a lot about losing it! Once I got the new book, I realized that I didn't have to have the same emotional attachment to it while it was still in its early stages. This was an opportunity for me to not just leave the book for longer periods, but to actually stick the dang thing in the mail and send to various folks to put their own stamp on it.
The first to take up this offer was Tim Showers, a friend I met when I lived in South Carolina; he and I were at a few XCon World shows and I really liked his hip, graffiti-esque artwork. I contacted Tim in early 2017 and he was up to the task. I love the "4" symbol in this one.
Caroline Moore - 2017
Caroline has been a friend of mine since high school, and is a really skilled photographer and graphic designer. She had drawn the Thing for me on a loose sheet of paper before, but I'm happy to get this meme-worthy official entry into the new book. I think I took a drive to her house just to pass off and pick up the book. Was it self-serving? Yes. But I got a Thing sketch out of it. It's a win.
Kurt Belcher - 2017
Kurt is my Naked Man at the Edge of Time collaborator and an all-around good guy. I mailed him the book and he sent back this, dare I say it, Two-in-One sketch with the Thing and Lockjaw. I don't know what it is about it, but I really like the trunks that you can see at the very bottom of the sketch. I guess it's because most artists don't draw ol' Benjy below the shoulders. This one was very fun. And yes, it was getting tough to let the art book out of my sight once I got the first five entries.
I've managed to get a bit of a head start on this new book, so I'll try to update these entries again soon. It's a new Thing sketchbook!