Sunday, March 12, 2017

Border Worlds Commission Drawings: A Spring Break Slew of Art!

It's a fun time at the ol' drawing board these days! With a newly-complete Megaton Man graphic novel in the coloring stage, a 25-anniversary reprint of Splitting Image (with normalman vs. Megaton Man) as an 80-page Giant" coming from Image Comics on April 26, 2017, and the Dover collection of Border Worlds (with a new concluding chapter) arriving in August 2017, fans and collectors are requesting a wider variety of convention sketches and commission drawings spanning my 30-year career as never before!

Here is a selection of drawings I inked over the past week, including a lovely sketch of Jenny in her obsessively-textured space suit! If you are interested in acquiring a custom drawing of your favorite Don Simpson character before the 2017 rush turns into an outright frenzy, please send me an email at donaldsimpson1713 circle "a" symbol gmail period com, and I'll be sure to get back to you.

Pencil drawings in light blue Col-Erase and graphite on Strathmore 400 Drawing, ready to ink.

Partially inked.

Batmegaton, inked.

MODOK inked.

Connie Carlyle and friend, from a sketch started at a comic book convention, inked (and poorly lit).

Aja, the alternate Ms. Megaton Man, and Connie Carlyle, Megaton Man's new sidekick.

Jenny Woodlore, partially inked.

Jenny inked.

Several days worth of work!

More commission art here.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dover Dustjacket for Border Worlds GN Collection!

Designed by John M. Alves, here's the forthcoming (August 2017) dustjacket design for the Border Worlds hardcover collection from Dover Graphic Novels! Color and black and white, 340 pp., $29.95!

Border Worlds ad for Image Comics' Splitting Image 80-Page Giant, a 25th anniversary reprint that includes normalman vs. Megaton Man Special #1, coming from Jim Valentino's Shadowline imprint on April 26, 2017.

Dustjacket design by for the collected Border Worlds by John M. Alves.

Author's bio from the flap of the Border Worlds dustjacket.

Front flap with excerpt from Steve Bissette's Afterword.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dover Announces Border Worlds Graphic Novel for August 2017!

Dover Graphic Novels, an imprint of Dover Publications Inc., has announced the Border Worlds graphic novel for August 2017! It is already listed on The hardcover will be 336 pages, with a new 30-page concluding chapter and portfolio of unpublished art, with an historical overview introduction by comics legend Stephen R. Bissette.

This is the mock-up cover, an approximation of issue #6. The actual cover design will use the original logo.

The official blurb: "With nothing left to lose, Jenny Woodlore joins her brother's ramshackle trucking business on Chrysalis, a huge floating platform on the edge of the galaxy — only to find herself in the middle of a cosmic conflict that could change the very fabric of the universe. This deluxe hardcover collects the complete run of Simpson's epic space drama as published by the Kitchen Sink Press in Megaton Man and its own self-titled series, finally adding an all-new concluding chapter. New Afterword by Stephen R. Bissette. Suggested for mature readers."

Another dust jacket design under consideration.

About the Author

Donald E. Simpson is an American comic book cartoonist and freelance illustrator, most noted as the creator of the series Megaton Man, Border Worlds, and Bizarre Heroes, as well as the official King Kong adaptation. He has also freelanced for nearly every major comic publisher. His most widely seen work are the illustrations he created for Al Franken's 2004 bestseller, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. In 2013, he earned a doctorate in history of art and architecture from the University of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Shades of the Futures Past: Border Worlds #8 Unused Cover Art!

Here is a detail of the original art for Border Worlds #8, which was announced and appeared in a house ad in Border Worlds #7 (August 1987). However, because of sales that continued to slip in the wake of the black-and-white comics boom-and-bust (paradoxically fueled by Rolling Stone's recent coverage of Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns that set off a speculative feeding frenzy for titles like the Miller-inspired Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -- I told you, paradox!), I made the painful decision to put my sci-fi saga on hiatus to focus on freelance work like Wasteland to pay my bills.

Jenny Woodlore and Drasin Revell in an intimate moment (detail).

When the issue finally appeared as Border Worlds: Marooned #1 (1990), the scene depicted was still a part of the story, but I decided to go with a more dramatic cover. The original cover was drawn on Duo-Shade, a classic medium memorably used in EC Comics and still available in the 1980s, but now another historical oddity. I'm glad I got the chance to use it on #7 and portions of Marooned!

The entire cover shows a more organic logo than the one I created when Border Worlds was a back-up feature in Megaton Man. Somehow the figure of Drake looked more dead than about to have a romantic moment with the series' heroine, Jenny.
The collected complete Border Worlds, forthcoming from Dover Publications in 2017, will include rarities like this and other unpublished art, plus reflections by me (the author) and an essay by comics legend Stephen R. Bissette! Stay tuned for more details soon...

The greyline, hand-painted with Cel-Vinyl paints, didn't do much to enliven the mood of the scene, and no doubt reflected my own mood as I watched my labor of love succumb to the tumultuous comics market.
My second stab at the cover was much more dramatic and pleasing (and the romantic scene between Drake and Jenny much more dynamic, earning the book and upgrade from "Mature Readers" to the more properly Underground "Adults Only").

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year-End Lettering and Inking

So I'm ending 2015 in a completely unexpected way: drawing new Borders Worlds material for the upcoming Dover Publications, Inc. collection coming in Fall 2016! There will be an all-new 30-page conclusion to the 340-page saga that grew from a back-up feature in Megaton Man in 1985 to seven bi-monthly issues (1986-87) and a one-shot (Marooned #1, 1990), plus unpublished art and other goodies. Lettering on the conclusion is now complete; inking in progress. (Whatever possessed me to put so much cross-hatching into this art?!!) Here's a look:

Size of original: 9" x 12", pen and ink on Clearprint Design Vellum.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Smash! Skash! A Daring Rescue!

Preliminary roughs for new material I am drawing for the collected Border Worlds, coming in Fall 2016: Rory Smash foils Pinsen's plan to return renegades Drake and Cody Revell to earth. More previews elsewhere on this blog!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Systems of Notation: Script, Thumbnails, Art!

Here are the thumbnails to the remaining new pages I am creating for the collected Border Worlds, coming in the Fall of 2016 from Dover Publications. They are based on a very tight script written in November 2015, so dialogue has already been worked out, although still subject to modification as I transfer to pencil art. When I was a beginner in the 1980s, I usually outline a plot in bullet points on a legal pad, then thumbnailed or sometimes sketched out the art full size on Bristol board. At the time, it seemed logical, if one was thinking of comics primarily as a visual storytelling medium, to think visually from start to finish, i.e., non-verbally. However, if I had to set aside the thumbnails aside for any length of time, I would have trouble remembering exactly what I was thinking based only on the sometime very low-res scribbles (this was a major crisis when I took six weeks off to attend comic book conventions in the middle of production of Yarn Man #1!).

Spoiler Alert: This won't give anything away unless you can read Scribble! (Pencil layouts for some pages can be seen in other posts on this blog.)

During Border Worlds in 1986 and 1987, I worked in an almost bi-polar fashion from issue to issue, working visually (thumbnail) one issue, then script the next (particularly if an issue was dominated by a lot of dialogue), then visually again. These days (the twenty-first century), I find that a full script is best even when a particular sequence is predominantly visual or non-verbal. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is far easier to type "close up" than to sketch a close up, even in a scribbly thumbnail. I also refine the dialogue, describe the panel compositions in great detail (who is in the foreground, background, left, right, directions characters are facing, camera angles, etc.) and often character psychology and what the reader knows or doesn't know. Alan Moore is the only writer I have worked with who works to such a degree, and his artistic success speaks for itself. (Most comic book writers compose scripts that are very schematic, like recipes, that keep the illustrator in the dark unnecessarily, as if they were a member of the audience who needs to be kept in suspense instead of a member of the creative team whose job it is to convey the ideas to the reader. It's like baking something without knowing exactly what, and I have to read the script three times to figure it out, before I have a handle on what needs to be drawn.)

My own scripts enable me to describe the events going on in my imagination, and pick up where I left off, even if I have to set aside a project for any length of time. Besides, every project of any length requires multiple working sessions over days, weeks, or months (and in the case of Border Worlds, years and decades), so a solid notation system enables me to resume work each session without guessing, "What the heck was this indecipherable little scribble supposed to mean?" (We'll see how well this system works when I return to Megaton Man, for which I have fully scripted issues #4 and #5 of a new series; I was laying out the fourth issue from a full script when Dover called wanting Border Worlds!) Stay tuned for more updates during 2016!