American Girl

American Girl
or: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Among my primal influences as an artist are the "How To" books by Andrew Loomis. First among his admonitions is: if you can't draw a pretty girl, commercial art is not for you. This was brought home to me on my second visit to the Marvel offices (the first seeing me rebuffed. REBUFFED I say) I was chatting with Al Milgrom when Roger Stern walked in. Seeing an unfamiliar face he introduced himself. Once introductions were made he asked if he could look in my sketchbook.

When looking over an artist's work for the first time, a trained eye will look first towards certain clues: general perspective, the hiding of feet and hands, machinery... The first comment Roger had was, "Aha, you can draw a pretty girl."

I'll never claim to be Gibson or Frazetta but I spent a great deal of time practicing the craft. Anything that would lead to an unattractive woman... get that out of the toolbox. Do NOT do that again. So, when Chris first told me that the Morlock's, Callisto, should be ugly, more than a little panic set in, having spent years trying to banish such "skills."

Sitting at the table into the wee hours of the night, try as I might, any attempt at an ugly woman results simply in an ugly drawing. It's at this moment that the music stops.

In the old days (long before back in the day was invented) the standard playback method was the Long Playing record, or LP. The limitations of the medium requiring the listener to get up (oh, the humanity) and flip, or change, the LP every 15-20 minutes (the horror) I pull the LP off the spindle, reach down for the slip case where Tom Petty stares at me from the cover of "Damn the Torpedoes." "Tom," I think to myself, "You are NOT a pretty girl."

Note there was no attempt at caricature, and certainly not portraiture, just a feeling, a thought... Wolverine was a combination of a childhood friend and old boss. My Batman, or, more specifically, my Bruce Wayne, was a 27 yr old Belgian rucksacker I saw at a Burger King. The Golden Age's Starman was based on Christopher Lloyd's Taxi character Jim Ignitowski at the precise half second between eating his first magic brownie and going full space cadet. Poor Tom just showed up at the wrong place at the wrong time... and I've been apologizing to Chrissie Hynde ever since

Happy Trails, Tom.

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