Kurt Komoda     agony@optonline.net

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cathedral Head

Cathedral Head is a monster I drew back in 1975. I didn't call him Cathedral Head- that's just the lame name I came up with recently. I believe the 5-year old me was inspired to draw the cathedral window-like single eye after seeing my father create a six-pointed rosette with a compass. You know, that basic trick where you're creating arcs around the circumference of a circle.

   Here is Cathedral Head amongst a throng of monsters who are currently being attacked by Eagles, from Space: 1999.

   Here is a second drawing of Cathedral Head, this time he's battling Ultraman. Arashi, a character from the show, can be seen in the lower left, firing his Spider-Shot atomic gun at a monster, causing it to bleed. The Science Patrol's VTOL aircraft can be seen in the sky, just above Cathedral Head's shoulder. A flying saucer is depicted soaring away at the top of the drawing. Masses of  people are trying to escape the city as Ultraman protects them.

   Since I cared enough about Cathedral Head to draw him at least twice, when I was five, I figure that it's about time that I revisit it. I'm pretty sure that I drew more pictures, but I can't find them. Below is my first attempt to modernize it, but I don't like the way I've drawn the scales.  They're very sloppy. The claws don't seem very practical for much of anything. I'm trying to figure out a good anatomy for a giant humanoid creature- something to make it look BIG, without having to draw small buildings next to it.

   I think that the scales should be more patterned, more structural, like those on the head of a horned toad:

   Here were some attempts to implement that thinking. Don't think I succeeded, but I'll try again. I kept falling asleep while drawing the ink version in the upper right. There are some errant lines here and there, that I tried covering up. I have this horrible thing where I often get very drowsy when I draw. 

   I need to do a full color version. My thinking is that the "window/eye" is lit from within and will be lavender, but that may change. I may actually color it like a cathedral's window, but I'm not sure how literal I want to make it. A giant demon with a head resembling a cathedral is certainly worth exploring, though. Hmmm.

   Finally, here is a doodle I drew last night, right before scanning in these sketches. Not sure what it is. She has something to do with the completely non-existant Cathedral Head storyline. I like the way she came out, though. It's as if there's some afflicted cult or army that follows Cathedral Head around, destroying things in its path or wake.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Re-Drawing Childhood Drawings

I had a better imagination when I was a child. It wasn't limited by my adult need to argue and crunch everything into the confines of plausibility. A monster consisting of a giant mouth the size of its body becomes the internal discussion: "Where is it's stomach? How does the jaw work? How does something with teeth so massive even close its mouth?" And so on.

I find that I can't even sit down and draw a monster, because I find myself going, "What is this for? A story? A movie? How does it work? Where did it come from?," and to a certain extent, such questioning is good. It's nice to have some secret lore, some depth to the characters you're creating, even if they'll never be drawn again. My mind, however, has just been overly critical, and not in a constructive manner. I'm not producing stories or even neat characters that are the part of some untold story. I'm getting stuck before the pen or pencil can even begin to flesh out something new.

A few years back, I tried looking at my old childhood drawings, done back in 1973 or 74, when I was 3 or 4, to see if I could recapture some of that youthful creativity. Did I succeed? Ehhhh....nope.
Flame Brain! I'm not even sure I drew it correctly. Are those flames on its head....or horns? The "brain" part likely comes from seeing a photo of the Mutant character from This Island Earth. I should try painting a version that makes him look giant, maybe even in the ocean, attacking the ship, like in the original.
Black Beak! I'm not sure why I made him black in the new version. I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure that the chest design was inspired by the Ultraman monster Gyango, or Gango

Puffy Red Face! Not much to go off of in the original drawing. Pretty sure he has a train car in his mouth, a la Godzilla. The full color Photoshop drawing was done in a rush, but I think it's cute. It shows absolutely no sense of scale, though. May as well be 5' tall.

Recently, I went back in and tried a couple more re-draws:
Nightmare Monster: This headless- or faceless- creature appeared in a nightmare back in 1974. It appeared for only a second. I was standing in my doorway, looking out into the lit hall when it just flashed into existence. I woke up right away. So, I drew it the size of Godzilla, but it was actually about my size at the time, since I remember seeing it straight on. I  drew it all wrong in the original- it was much more squat, like an H.P. Lovecraft moon beast- but I've re-drawn it here to match it.
The drawing on the left, above, is more like it was in the dream. It didn't move at all. It's skin was green, and the "cut off" area was red- but not from blood. The puffy, ringed look comes from these monsters from a Japanese series called Red Baron. They were these plant-like monsters that had hands that looked like the cut-off head, here. The fat T-Rex version on the right....well, I don't know where I was going with that.. Above it, cropped off, is a dream I had recently about my brother, Paul, but that's another story.
My nephew, 5 and a half years old, inspired by my brother, Paul, has been drawing monsters. Here, though, is one he drew after seeing my drawings of the yokai Dodomeki:

And here is his version:
 So, that was a child's interpretation of my interpretation of a Japanese Yokai. Naturally, I had to do MY interpretation of the interpretation of my original interpretation:
It kind of has the body of a horned toad. The way I drew it, this is a top view, and it lies on it's belly, like a horned toad. Upon reconsideration, I doubt that that was what my nephew intended.

Finally, we have Gearis. An original creation by my nephew- and my version, based on his drawing: 
I got a little carried away with the coloring(done in Photoshop over an ink drawing). I was debating whether or not to stick to his colors, but then decided that he only used the colors he used because he was limited by the markers he had before him. I think I should have drawn the legs to be more like his. A friend saw this and, from the thumbnail, thought that Gearis was holding a saxophone in one hand.

I intend to re-draw more of my childhood drawings, but I really hope I can get out of this damned slump and start producing some work of my own for something good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Freelance Art and Macro Madness!

   May is over. That's sad. My birthday was last month. I'm 42, now. That's sad, too. All things considered, though, I'm feeling good.  I enjoy doing work for the RPG community- and they're good at recommending me to eachother. The subject matter has consistently been within my interests, and I get to experiment with a variety of styles. I've done work for Burning Wheel, How We Came to Live Here, Bulldogs, and now I've just finished a bunch of illustrations for Star Hero. Here are a few examples:
   The mechanic, above, didn't turn out as whimsical or gawky as I had originally envisioned, but the quick painting technique seemed to work out alright. I knew I wasn't going to do the entire job in this style, but I felt like playing around.
  A character depiction, based heavily on a Komodo Dragon. I decided to follow the more colorful specimens, to add some more distinctiveness.
   This came out pretty much exactly as I had first envisioned it when reading the brief, except that I think I overdid the colors. Maybe I just don't like the day-glo looking palette. I guess I could easily fix this in photoshop, since everything is on layers. I find that I really enjoy drawing plantlife.
   Some whimsical spaceship designs. I haven't drawn spaceships since I was a kid, so this was interesting. The client chose the middle ship on the left for an ion storm illustration. When sketching it, I wanted it to be reminiscent of a skull and bones.

   Okay, the other thing I've been doing- and this has been my main drive for the past month- is macro photography. I picked up a Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens for my Canon 40D, and have been having a ball with it, despite the lack of good specimens at this time of year in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
    I couldn't believe just how close I was able to get to my subjects right out of the box. Above is the head of a carpenter ant. Here, I was using my 580 EXII flash with a diffuser attachment. 
   At the request of my brother, I went on a special mission just to find good centipede specimens. This first one, 14 segments long(adults are 15), was very small, but did me the favor of hanging out in the open. Something it's larger, redder brothers and sisters wouldn't do. here, I am using a Ray Flash ring flash adaptor- not the expensive LED types, but an imitation that uses mirrors and gets very, very good results. I highly recommend it!
   This is an adult garden centipede-  very fast mover. I just had to grab it by its hind legs and drop it into a glass ashtray with smooth sides. The smooth sides worked on insects, but this guy just ran round and round until it built up enough speed to literally leap over the edge of the ashtray. Still, I got a few good shots of it.
   A small jumping spider called "Metacryba taeniola." I got a whole bunch of shots of this jumper, and I think they're better than all the other shots of this breed I came across when trying to identify it. 

   I can't wait for the summer or travel to bring bigger and better subjects to shoot. Please check out all of my macro shots on my Flickr page.