Saturday, March 2, 2024

Thing sketchbook, part 27

It's time for yet another round of "let's look at Jeff's Thing sketchbook, which has become so synonymous with Jeff himself that it's difficult to determine where one ends and the other begins." I mean, I like my Thing sketchbook, everyone. WHO WANTS TO SEE SOME SKETCHES?!

Phil Hester - 2020

2020 was a light year for Thing sketches - for the reasons we all understand - and I spent some time dropping the book in the mail and sending it to folks who agreed to draw in it at their homes. I was very nervous doing this. But it all worked out, and one of the sketches I got back was this absolute gem from Phil Hester. Phil's known for his Marvel and DC books like Green Arrow and The Irredeemable Ant-Man, which is a personal favorite of mine.

In this sketch, we not only get a despondant Ben Grimm, but also the Silver Surfer flying off with Alicia Masters. The Surfer and Alicia have a history that goes back to the classic Galactus storyline in Fantastic Four 48-50, and when the FF was stuck in the Heroes Reborn universe in the '90s, the two had a brief romantic relationship in the pages of the Silver Surfer's own book. So this scene of rejection has some pretext, even though I HATE IT. But Ben and Alicia ended up back together, so I guess it's all okay in the end.

Todd Nauck - 2020

Here's another sketch that I trusted to the postal service, from the always friendly Todd Nauck, known for his work on titles like Spider-Man and Young Justice. Todd is always thoughtful and kind, and oh man did he deliver a really incredible headshot of ol' Ben Grimm here for the sketchbook. This was done around the time that Todd was drawing a lot of headshot variant covers for Marvel, including one for the Thing's own series. The blue outline is a nice touch.

Jacob Quinn - 2020

I was really happy to have my nephew Jake draw a sketch in this book. It was 2020 and I didn't have a lot of movement with the sketchbook, so it seemed like the right time to open it up to a wider audience, I guess, but also having people I know and care about personally in the book makes sense to me at this stage as well. Jake was 10 when he drew this, and honestly, he did a really great job with it, and he added a unique version for the book. I'm really happy with it.

Anna Litofsky - 2021

The spring of 2021 rolled around and COVID restrictions were still pretty prevalent; there were certainly no conventions happening yet. I was teaching a class on scripting for comics at my current university at this point, where we met once every other week in person, and the rest of the time on Zoom. There was no requirement for artistic skill to be in this class, but Anna came in with her own polished style and a great perspective. Once the end of the semester rolled around, I asked Anna if she'd be willing to draw in my sketchbook, and she agreed, producing this as we had class.

The class would go on to produce their own full-length comic, Tales of the 399, which we funded on Kickstarter. This was a really fulfilling experience for me. Anna drew the cover for the book and we've kept in touch since. She's contributed to several issues of Planet Comics and I'm excited to see where her future takes her.

Chad Kelson - 2021

This is the last of my quarantine sketches, and it comes from Chad Kelson, who has the online persona of "Metal Al" for his death metal covers of "Weird Al" Yankovic songs, if you can believe it. I met Chad at Al's Hollywood Star induction ceremony in 2018; he's also a big comic book fan and an artist in his own right, so we became fast friends.

Chad went above and beyond the call of duty with this incredible recreation that combines the Thing and Al's 1985 "Dare to be Stupid" album cover, going so far as to adding in the background album elements, squeezing them all onto a 5x5 sketchbook page.

I managed to get six new Thing sketches in all in between conventions, which I think was pretty good, all things considered. I'm...really glad the book didn't get lost while it traveled the country.