Archive for Fantasy, Sci Fi & Comics

Jason Lenox Conan Artwork- Dark Horse Comics

So a project that I initiated 12 months ago finally paid off when a conversation with Dark Horse writer Tim Truman turned into my “Tower of the Elephant” pinup this winter and Dark Horse Editor Philip Simon put my artwork of Conan The Barbarian into KING CONAN Issue #5 of #6 “Conan the Conqueror” that came out in June 2014, I just got my copy last weekend, so I’m playing catch up here on it.

Thanks to Dani Kaulakis for the awesome job coloring it.

So here is the art as it appeared in a 1/4 page shot of glory in the book, the full sized artwork with colors from Dani Kaulakis, and the cover to the issue that it appears in.

You can read my write ups on the original art pencils here and inks here.

Now I am a “Dark Horse Art Contributor” .. so get out there and get a copy so I can sign it for you!

Jason Lenox in Dark Horse Conan

Conan - THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT by Jason Lenox Color by Dani Kaulakis

Jason Issue of Conan Cover

THEY LIVE Pinup – Final Inks

This piece seemed like it took FOREVER, and yeah back to work, family, home shows for my regular job, comic shows etc. etc. all got in the way.  However the end result turned out to be, well outstanding.  Yes I called my own work outstanding, because I really like this piece.

Took the CONFORM sign out, it started to make a tangent, really worked the crazy textures on the ghoul’s skin and veins, and just really took my time to deliver the artwork that I wanted to see from this classic movie.

Not much else to say except…

“I’ve got one that can see…. 
He’s a tall, Caucasian male….
Unarmed, wearing sunglasses….”

 

THEY LIVE Jason Lenox Low Res

THEY LIVE Pinup – Pencils

THEY LIVE - Edited Pencils low res Jason Lenox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THEY LIVE” is my last “mainstream” pinup in the extended series I’ve been working on from late summer of 2013 before I go back into my next comic book project. If you consider a 1988 horror sci film from John Carpenter “mainstream”, congratulations, we are on the same wavelength!  To summarize- a loner (played by Roddy Piper) finds a set of black sunglasses that shows him the “rich” are ghoulish aliens that have the population sleeping through life while everything in print is a subliminal message- so a billboard says “OBEY” as an example.  There are also hidden pieces of technology (saucers, broadcast dishes) that monitor the populace while also reinforcing the messages in the print ads saying things like “SLEEP”.  The aliens also dress like rich people in the late 80′s and have wrist watches that they can report to their Headquarters on, and also teleport away in case of emergency. You can see alot of that cool stuff in this clip from the film here. It is a like a super powered episode of the OUTER LIMITS, and has some amazing imagery and concepts, and can be categorized as a true underground hit that has a fandom that 26 years later still holds the film in high regard- I just saw a photo goof on the Grammy Awards and Ellen DeGeneris that gave me the final nudge to do this piece and not another pinup- here is the “straw that broke Jason’s back” in my decision making process- and reminded me that “THEY LIVE” is a social statement of rebellion against authority held by the elite.  I find that is a theme I will always identify with.

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So here are my ref pieces as well as my layout pieces- the composition evolved a bit, but stayed fairly consistent to show as many of the iconic elements in one piece of artwork. The faces on the Aliens were what changed the most- you can see this in my sketches and tracing paper overlays below.  I realized that fandom and film reference were inconsistent on the actual facial anatomy, so I really tried to stay close to the film for their appearance. I early on decided the POV from inside the sunglasses was the best and most exciting way to show the Aliens in a group, using their watches, and coming up on the viewer.   Then I put 4 of the iconic messages into the background – with OBEY being the main visual piece in the background, with the street signs and newspapers as the “support” messages.  So SLEEP CONFORM and REPRODUCE and enjoy this artwork- inks coming soon!

 

THEY LIVE Lenox thumbnail

THEY LIVE Lenox thumbnail (3)

THEY LIVE Lenox thumbnail (2)

They Live Background - Jason Lenox

THEY LIVE Jason Lenox Pencil Roughs

Lenox THEY LIVE thumbnail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCE SOURCES

 

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Aliens: Overrun Colonial Marine Checkpoint Pinup – Final Inks

So the Aliens/Colonial Marine project comes to a close- and I think I threw out my ALIENS rants and raves in my pencil post here, so I’ll focus on what challenges the inks brought me as I brought this piece to completion this week.

#1- I had to correct the 2 pt perspective on the UA571-C gun and 1 pt on the hallway in relationship to the hexagonal wall system, it was incorrect in the pencil stage.

#2- The Aliens “Blackness” I had them too black and used some white paint to rebuild some contrasts in the overlapping black on black areas. Then inked over them to bring them back to a more stippled gradation to match the rest of the inked rendering.  The Aliens are dark creatures in dark spaces, so it was a tight balance to bring to a proper level with the Aliens unique look and style in a low lighting environment.

#3- The spinning emergency lights (in every Aliens film) they were a bugger to get “right” in the inking process.

#4- the pipes and wires in the background- ugh, so cool to see, but so annoying to do!

Overall, I think this artwork ended up being the Aliens artwork that I wanted to see, and I have not encountered as an Aliens fan.  I geeked out on the final product, which is just a fun place to be as a creator and fan simultaneously to generate the content you want to see.  I look forward to seeing the response from others as this piece gets out to the public.

Aliens Colonial Marine Check Point Overrun  - Jason Lenox

Aliens: Overrun Colonial Marine Checkpoint Pinup – Pencils

“James Cameron’s 1986 film Aliens is my personal Citizen Kane” – Jason Lenox

“They (UA571-C Auto Gun Platform) Really Kick Ass”- Cpl D. Hicks, U.S. Colonial Marine Forces

Final Pencils on Aliens Overrun Colonial Marine Checkpoint Pinup

Aliens Colonial Marines - Overrun at the Checkpoint - Jason Lenox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I love Aliens (1986), and what a twisted web that film weaves in our pop culture- it was the last good “Alien” film despite about 5 sequels that never came close, Prometheus being the latest failure in 2012.  Aliens was probably James Cameron’s second to last good film, T2 being the last one in 1991, Avatar was a lame version of the Colonial Marines set to the script from Dances with Wolves, in my opinion. Aliens also inspired tons of cool comics from Dark Horse with some great writing- unfortunately most of them had really substandard artwork except Dark Horse’s “ALIENS:MORE THAN HUMAN from Arcudi/Howard/Irwin- again in my opinion. 2013 saw Aliens & the Colonial Marines spawn a horrible video game sequel to the 1986 film that FOX films and the game maker said was “film cannon” – I’ll hit on that later as it’s most recent failure in the pop culture arena.  Rarely is something so cool sh*t on so often, so here’s hoping I can shed some coolness on this property- read on!

What they all were trying to get and failed at to was the mystique that Cameron made with the Colonial Marines, their gear, uniforms, vehicles and general feel when they got wiped out by the Aliens in 1986 in that iconic film, which was widely imitated and never matched.

But then I found one thing did hit the mark- a book.  In fact a technical manual.

Early in 2013 I got a copy of the long time out of print Book “ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES TECHNICAL MANUAL” which was reprinted thanks to the hype machine around PROMETHEUS. you can get a copy here and geek out a bit.  Here is my copy that I kept with me as I worked on this project.

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This 1996 book was expertly made by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood , and really captured everything the failed attempts to re-create this “feel” in the years since it was published, heck since 1986. The most recent failure as I mentioned above was for the new ALIENS video game in 2013 click here to read the reviews great for some laughs.

Then I started noticing people even cosplaying the Colonial Marines at conventions.

Here are two guys (one in full Colonial Marine gear!) I saw at Pittsburgh Comic Con in Late September 2013 that were super fans, I was inspired again.  One even had me do a quick ALIEN sketch- check out his jacket with badges from the  first two ALIEN films!

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Then after Pittsburgh I got this amazing Aliens inspired UA571-C shirt from 8-Ball Tees last Fall…click here to get one yourself!  O.K.- so what is the UA571-C?  well I got an answer, see below, but look at my shirt here first!

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This shirt featuring the gun was the geekiest ALIENS reference ever…. and I had to have it as a fan of the 1986 film!  Hell, now I was all fired up by the technical manual and wanted to see more, just like all of the fans of the film have over the years….

Anyway- the UA571-C Gun… I got sidetracked, sorry!

The UA571-C gun is in a deleted scene of the film here- I couldn’t believe people were picking up on this obscure element just like the tech manual had done years ago.

So fast forward to now 2014 my pinup project is wrapping up before my next comic book creation starts in March of 2014- and one of my fans (Eric Suarez) asked me to do an ALIENS commission- it fit all of my goals  as far as pinups were concerned.

1-Making a fan happy

2-Creating something that will sell as a print at shows

3-Generating something that I can show to publisher and as a portfolio piece

4-Finally it has to be something I’m passionate about that I want to show the world.

And on top of all that, I wanted to make that piece of “ALIENS” art that I never saw within the pages of Dark Horse quality wise, alot of “meh” artwork in those pages. I also wanted something that the folks that made the ALIENS Colonial Marines Tech Manual would love (super fans) and to show something that we never “quite” saw in the films.  Hopefully all of this makes something awesome for my client that is paying me for the original artwork too!  So the bar is now set- at “unique, unseen in the films (but hinted at) and my normal high level of pen and ink execution” on a property that has been dumped on for years.

So I made a checklist of sorts before I started

1- Show Aliens moving people infected with facehuggers away to their nesting area- the off-screen process we never saw in ALIENS (per my note above about something we have not seen before) was hinted at but never seen- I thought that would be cool to illustrate what that might look like.

2- The UA571-C gun is the centerpiece of the composition, gotta rock my shirt, right?

3- Colonial Marines on the bad end of a conflict- guns out of ammo, checkpoint overrun, Aliens placement in the artwork should be all over the place- showing their fast unpredictable movement.

4 -Use the designs from the ALIENS universe- hexagon wall layouts, flashing lights etc.

5- Using the Cameron ALIENS design from 1986, not the more HR GIGER design from the 1970′s to keep it consistent with the latter film- yes the original film Alien is quite different- sources below.

6- Facehuggers

7- The M56 Smart Gun- Vazquez gun from the film ( THIS DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT UNFORTUNATELY)

8- A perspective to show ACTION!!! not straight on, with a composition of the figures to make your eye move- like the action scenes in ALIENS.

9- A close up Alien so I can do some pen and ink magic to make the details and anatomy pop up close.

 

And I hit 8/9 in my goal to make the best possible ALIENS & COLONIAL MARINES artwork that would catch my eye and make me want to stop and look for a bit- so here are my source pieces for ref. to my pencil sketches to transfers on sketch paper the final pencils headlined the entry above.  ENJOY MARINES!!!

Composition Studies

 

Jason Lenox ALIENS Artwork Progress transfer

Jason Lenox ALIENS Artwork Progress (5)

 

Jason Lenox ALIENS Artwork Progress (2)

 

 

Sketches

Jason Lenox ALIENS Artwork Progress

 

Jason Lenox ALIENS Artwork Progress (3)

 

 

Jason Lenox ALIENS Artwork Progress (4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

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THE THING 1982 : Dog-Thing Pinup – Final Inks

I was very pleased with what the inks did to this piece- from the striking use of black to silhouette out Kurt Russell’s character “MacReady” in the foreground to the background textures of the wood walls and hay on the floor that all outline “THE THING”.  I made it a point to work to keep all of the objects in totally different inking styles so whether this piece was black and white, or in color it still strikes you with all the different materials and lighting.  Speaking of light- I was also happy with how I used a compass to make bigger circles emanating from the central light source to use different levels of line work and stippling to show the flashlight as a light source.  The heavy line work on the large hands from the THING and the dogs that are being absorbed also gave all of the primary objects a real 3-D feel that you can almost reach in and feel the textures unfolding at the scene.  Finally, I felt that the THING’s dog-face was an awesome focal point with the chiaroscuro really bringing out the melted and malformed features on the dogs unbalanced and angry face.

The awesome employee at JARU Inc. that does my large scale scanning, Miss Megan, who scanned this today, told me the image was upsetting and made her uncomfortable- all I can say is- Mission Accomplished!

Another Killer pinup under my belt and onto the next one-hope you enjoy this one as much as I did making it!

 

 

Jason Lenox - THE THING - DOG

THE THING 1982 : Dog-Thing Pinup – Pencils

CLARK “I don’t know what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.”

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite horror and sci fi films of all time- the Iconic John Carpenter Film from 1982 “THE THING”.  As I have been making pinups for the last few months, I have been having a great time “visiting” different movies, TV shows and comics that I am a fan of, and getting to give OUTPOST #31 a visit was a long awaited place I’ve been wanting to go, and a place I wanted to take my fans to with some artwork that is beyond what you have seen for the standard fan-art for this property.  I made two small commission from this film in 2013, which just fueled me to do a full out THE THING project- those two pieces are also below with my full art process, even though they were small doodles, I really loved them!

Ive been a fan of this Film for about 20 years now, and I love the hardcore fan base which is online at their Outpost 31 website here, I hope that I can meet some of these good folks at a show in person soon!

This film has great acting, a great script, amazing music, creepy sound effects and could be one of the pinnacle films of practical F/X with makeup, models and even some stop motion.  With so many awesome scenes to pick from I chose the dog kennel which I have always thought was just amazing.  I was lucky to get a diorama of it as a gift from my Mom years ago, so I decided that was the direction to go in- make that scene from a new exciting angle in my style, but stay as faithful to the film as possible, without just copying a film cel.  Going with an over the shoulder POV with Mac (Kurt Russell) in the foreground I wanted his shotgun to lead the eye to a direct view of the dog thing with the transforming dogs on the outskirts.  I felt this added a real sense of excitement and urgency to the image by the composition to the highly detailed scene on the kennel floor.  I was really happy with the results- here is the clip from the film I based it on.

Welcome to Outpost #31…..

Below Pictures

Final Pencils…. traced transfers, Thing Study, thumbnail

Film Ref. and Photo Reference- thanks to my Dad (Ron Lenox) and Dog (Loki Lenox) for modeling for me on this project!

And my two 2013 THE THING commissions from Baltimore and Cleveland

Jason Lenox THE THING Dog-Thing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenox THING COLOR OVERLAY plan

Lenox Gun Overlay

Lenox Thing Study

Dog Mutation Rough Sketch003

Dog Mutation Rough Sketch004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lenox diorama THE THING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenox Gun Pose

Loki LENOX Model Dog

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Barron the Demon and Hydra Pinup- Pencils

Joseph Freistuhler has been involved in both of my comics, and now as part of our UGLI STUDIOS banner he is making his own comic project called EN TENEBRES which he is currently running as a KICKSTARTER HERE. I was tapped by Joe to do a pinup, and I wanted to focus on his Demon character known as “BARRON” which Joe had some really cool character designs on.

I wanted to draw another Dragon for a while as well, so this was a great chance to shoe-horn a Hydra into the mix.  The “story” I am showing in this pinup is BARRON as a high officer in the “ARMY OF HELL” and the Hydra is BARRON’s living weapon of mass destruction.  To give the piece a setting I have BARRON and his Hydra destroying a church in the middle ages,  because what else do Demons that have Hydras with them have to do in their free time?

Visually I really wanted to make BARRON seem like a feral animal moving quickly while also showing he is really strong, and I think he really ended up looking like a fast moving creature stalking/running/crouching on that roofline.  Part of this in the thumbnails to final pencils was bulking him up and getting his head down to more of a crouch pose.  He also has really long creepy forearms as well which added to his unnatural aesthetic.  I really had fun with his chest, which after it was done reminded me of the Alien’s chest from the 1979 film of a creepy exo-skeleton which was a second sub-conscious thing.  One element you can see in my sketches was he was going to have a gorgon with a trident behind him, and this just didnt work from a layout standpoint for me, so she got dropped- I’m sure the monster union will file a complaint and protest with me.

I also really wanted to duplicate the great time I had creating my Dragon I did as a pinup for Kantara in 2012.  That piece was really fun for me, and the fans have really connected with it and I get asked frequently “WHEN IS YOUR NEXT DRAGON?” so I present the newest “Jason Lenox Dragon”.  At the same time I needed to  do it differently, so creature design wise there are three big changes with this Hydra to the 2012 Dragon

#1 Three odd heads with different outcropping and features as well as breathing fire.  I wanted to make these heads less natural and more freakish to show they had “Hellish” origins.  I also felt like I channeled some old school Godzilla monster into the heads  the center head sort of looked like a Godzilla foe (KAIJU!!!) that had a big knife for a head I liked as a kid- I realized this after the fact, so it was a second sub-conscious thing.

#2 The Hydra has blank “dead” eyes which I pattered after deep see fish that don’t see much light- thus just white plates with no pupils.  The blank eyes always were an element that creeped me out, whereas the 2012 Dragon looks smart and cunning like a crocodile, the Hydra just looks like a mindless killer- again, it’s Hellish origins as a slave creature made by Demons like Barron to just wage war and cause indiscriminate destruction on Earth go along with this visual cue.

#3- The snake like body on the Hydra as opposed to the turtle like legs and the stout body from the prior Dragon.  The lack of legs all adds to the malformed/un-earthly/hellish look I was working to achieve with Barron and the Hydra.

Visually the final element that just worked was the cross on the building, it was sort of a tribute to when Todd McFarlane made comics- he loved throwing that as a visual element into SPIDERMAN as well as SPAWN- I always loved his work and am still inspired by his ability to make things look fabulous, so with Demons running on a church roofline, I felt it was a fun wink and a nod to fans of Todd’s work from me to them.

Here are the final pencils, my thumbnails and Joe’s original Character Designs for BARRON.

Demon Barron and Hydra - Jason Lenox

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Conan and the Tower of the Elephant Pinup- Final Inks

These are the final inks for my Conan pinup based off the Robert E. Howard short story- THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT.

I think the inks really brought out the magic tower element with the crystal walls and embedded gems.  Overall the inks really made this piece pop, the Spider and Conan elements ended up being the lighter elements on top of the intricate background.

I think I succeeded in making a high quality Conan piece, accurate to the book, and also was a unique take on the subject.

 

Conan Tower of the Elephant - small file Jason Lenox

Conan and the Tower of the Elephant Pinup- Pencils

Conan the Barbarian- an epic character from Robert E. Howard and an iconic figure in American Artwork on book & comic covers and thousands upon thousand of pages of printed comic books.  Unlike my last series of pinups (Dr. Who Villains) where there is little art to compare to- Conan is an epic order to fill- Frazetta, Buscema, Smith, Alcala, Chan, Boris are just some of the classic legends to tackle and succeed with this Barbarian from another age and time.

The biggest challenge when facing this kind of historical comic character is what I’ll call the “Nord Barrier”- and by that I mean Cary Nord- super artist in general that re-launched this title with Dark Horse several years back.  What impressed me with Cary’s work was that he made his work original and “re-made” Conan all over again  with a fresh style that was unique, as well as beautifully rendered.  I think that Cary pulled this off was made all the harder with so many great artists doing the same thing for decades.  He managed to make the Nord Conan a unique look and feel despite so many hurdles to being original.  So I felt if I were doing a Conan piece I had to make it mine and not a knock off of say- Buscema’s or Frazetta’s etc. and thus cross the “Nord Barrier”.

So I took my favorite Conan Story and made my image of two paragraphs from Tower of the Elephant- it was a challenge from the changing poses of the Main character- Conan, and the Spider- below are my 4 steps to get to final pencils.  Here is the passage I took my cue from…

It was as large as a pig, and its eight thick hairy legs drove its ogreish body over the floor at headlong pace; its four evilly gleaming eyes shone with a horrible intelligence, and its fangs dripped venom that Conan knew, from the burning of his shoulder where only a few drops had splashed as the thing struck and missed, was laden with swift death. This was the killer that had dropped from its perch in the middle of the ceiling on a strand of its web, on the neck of the Nemedian. Fools that they were not to have suspected that the upper chambers would be guarded as well as the lower!  

These thoughts flashed briefly through Conan’s mind as the monster rushed. He leaped high, and it passed beneath him, wheeled and charged back. This time he evaded its rush with a sidewise leap, and struck back like a cat. His sword severed one of the hairy legs, and again he barely saved himself as the monstrosity swerved at him, fangs clicking fiendishly. But the creature did not press the pursuit; turning, it scuttled across the crystal floor and ran up the wall to the ceiling, where it crouched for an instant, glaring down at him with its fiendish red eyes. Then without warning it launched itself through space, trailing a strand of slimy grayish stuff.

And now that you have read the text I based this on- I present the pencils, and layout and thumbnails that led to the final pencils.  Lots to do here before I get it complete, but a project to be excited about!  Did I cross the “Nord Barrier”? Well dear reader, that is for you, and not your humble narrator to decide!

*Note- the top scan are some edits I made after the “final pencils” I got some amazing crits on this piece from some killer artists (who asked to remain nameless) and I was able to give Conan a boost, to look, well more “Conan”.  So the first scan are the Conan Specific Corrections, and then the main scan is under that – it was done about 48 hours prior.  I like to share as much behind the scenes stuff as possible so I wanted to show this part of the process pre inks.

CONAN  RE-EDITS

Jason Lenox- Tower of the Elephant Pre Ink Last Pencil Edits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conan Tower of the Elephant - Jason Lenox

 

Conan Tower of the Elephant Progress Jason Lenox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conan- Musculature

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