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p14 p15 full scan 72dpi

Here is another 2 page spread for the Shaver book that I was working on a little over a week ago and just recently scanned… this is from chapter 2 or 3 and is intended to illustrate the horrors of the Dero as imagined by Shaver — I think after the editors at Amazing Stories got done with them, the sexual sadism was more implied rather than explicit. But I wanted to try to tell this story as Richard Shaver saw it, so the nasty stuff stays in.

I’ve been away for almost 10 days and it is good to be back. While visiting family and friends, I had the opportunity to try to describe this project and I found getting people to understand why I thought the Shaver story was interesting was easier now than it used to be — I think working on editing the comic and going over the source material I have been reading/looking at really helped solidify it in my mind and made explaining it easier.

Next I need to do some more Goodman work. Unfortunately, because of dayjob issues, I just figured out that I will not be attending Gencon this year. I was supposed to be a guest of Goodman, but maybe next year.

More Shaver work-in-progress


Another view of a 2 page spread for the Shaver book. This is from Chapter 4 and describes how shaver made his paintings… with technical info on his process (at least, as I understand it) and my reproductions/interpretations (in B&W) of some of his works.

I think this is the most text-heavy set of pages I have ever done.

Seven Deadly Sins (2)

chap 3 p6 p7

Here is my 2 page spread for chapter 3 of the Shaver comic. It changed a lot since I started it… I enjoyed working in the ‘seven deadly sins’ aspect as well as other little details.

seven deadly sins


Another 2 pager in process for the Shaver Mystery comic. Somehow the seven deadly sins worked their way into this one – go figure.

i’ve been experimenting with different methods of doing the text/drawing thing… Currently I start by having a general outline of what I want in my head, then putting in the text, then drawing in around it which is, I understand, probably the exact opposite of the way I should be doing it, but it is working well for me so far.


Shaver Mystery!

chap 1 page 4 to 5 72dpi

Here is a 2 page spread from my ‘The Evil Underground’ comic book about the Shaver Mystery which has been a work in process since forever. This picture has it all – slaves, dero, mysterious technology, spaceships, caves, etc. Unfortunately for me, I have raised the bar a bit on this recent addition as far as illustration goes, so I will probably need to go back and redo some of the previous pages. Find out more about Shaver – the artist, author, conspiracy theorist, etc., at Richard Toronto’s Shavertron.

This two page spread (and another single page) will round out chapter 1. Chapter 2 (the basic ideas of the mystery) is more or less done (although I will redo some of it and may add some pages). Chapter three, on Palmer and the Mantong alphabet, is being penciled right now.

To see the previous versions of chapters 1 and 2, visit this page on Shavertron: The Evil Underground (work in progress)

“The Evil Underground: Chapter 2” (slightly nsfw)

Longtime followers of the blog may remember when I presented chapter 1 of a biographical comic book I was working on about the life of Richard S. Shaver (artist, conspiracy theorist, author, paleo-archeologist, philologist and philosopher).  If you haven’t yet read it, go back and read chapter 1 before you read chapter 2.

You can click on each page, below, to see a bigger version.

I’m writing the chapters as I go (which may or may not be the best way of going about this; I don’t know).  The story is ‘true’ (at least from the narrator’s point of view; objective truth or whether or not Shaver was psycho are not my interest).  The next chapter will probably involve Raymond Arnold Palmer and the famous “Mantong” letter.

At the current rate of production, I should have the whole thing done sometime around 2020 or so (sigh). Actually, I hope to have it done sooner, but every project I currently have on the workbench is unfinished and I’m getting a bit psycho feeling over not getting any single one done.  Evil Underground/Richard Shaver Comic will come out sometime after I finish ‘Exquisite Corpses’ v2… which should be sometime early next year (I hope).

Ungi (2011)

Months ago I finished this ink drawing of an ‘ungi’ and never got around to looking at it or scanning it until now. This is a creature Richard Shaver described as having lived on Venus at some time in the distant past in the story, “Gods of Venus” in the March 1948 issue of Amazing Stories.

If I remember right, the ungi was described as a predator with rubbery skin, a bloated body, flexible legs and a mean disposition. The feet were said to be hairy and able to ‘grip things like a fly’ — which somehow made me imagine them being like hairy suction cups. My drawing was based on the drawings from the original story by an illustrator named Rod Ruth. I don’t know much about Ruth other than that he did a lot of illustrations for Amazing Stories and similar magazines that I like a great deal.


Fact or Fiction: Why does it matter?

James over at Grognardia was waxing nostalgic about Erich Von Danikken(sp?) and “Chariots of the Gods?” over on Grognardia. ‘Chariots of the Gods,’ TV programs like, “In Search Of” and similar ‘pop science’ that blurred the line between fantasy/fiction and reality (or at least tried to) was a big part of my growing up in the 1970s. Since the cover of von Daniken’s book is so boring looking, I thought I would dress up my blog with some ‘Eternals’ artwork by the great Jack Kirby.

I have an unabashed love of these ‘Fortean’ type studies… including the story of Richard Shaver and the Shaver mystery, so it probably does not come as a surprise that I’m enthusiastic about seeing Grognardia include von Daniken and similar ‘the pyramids were built by aliens’ and similar psuedo scientific theories in his sources of inspiration for fantasy, science fiction and pulpy stuff. However, reading the comments that followed his post, I was surprised to read several people take issue with the inclusion of von Daniken and his ilk because ‘Chariots of the Gods’ was not intended as a work of fiction.

I guess I find that idea really puzzling. That von Daniken claims that these things are true doesn’t make it ‘ineligible’ for inclusion in inspirational material (at least to me). One person wrote, “This isn’t pulp fantasy. If this is included as pulp fantasy then every book in the New Age or Metaphysical section at Border’s book store is pulp fiction. A dreadful misrepresentation, James.”

“A dreadful misrepresentation?” What did I miss? I don’t get it. Is this just a matter of taxonomy? And, if so, where do you draw the line? If you have strong feelings on the subject (especially if you feel that Grognardia was wrong to include von Daniken in a list of ‘potential inspiration sources), please reply and explain your views; I want to understand where you are coming from because this just makes no sense to me.

"The Evil Underground" in production

If you haven’t been keeping up, I’m doing a comic book (ahem, graphic novel) about the life and work of Richard S. Shaver, the artist, writer, conspiracy theorist, outsider, etc. (chapter 1 was previewed here).

I haven’t tried to draw a comic book in something like 30 years, so I’m learning as I go along. But it’s been a very interesting learning experience, although it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.

I started by trying to write out what I would have happen in the series, but that made it kind of difficult to imagine and I found myself writing things like, “1) Richard thinking, “I’ve got to figure out what is happening…” Foreman: “Get to work!” 2) Richard (working)”All right, all right.” I just didn’t think that kind of script would be very helpful.

I then started doing pencil sketches on notebook paper — just fast scribbles — as an outline. In this way, I could think about and work on pages as a complete unit. I’m not tied to a specific page count or layout, but I want to avoid having a particular interaction between two characters end on a page where the viewer/reader will have to turn the page to resolve that interaction.

Below is a sample page. This is page 1 of chapter 2.

I decided that the first 2/3rds of every page 1 of each chapter would be taken up by a ‘splash’ panel that sort of introduces each chapter. Between the time I drew the rough layout (above) and the chapter 2 page 1 (below), I decided to make the art of the ‘splash panel’ refer somehow back to the cover of one of the pulps. The splash panel from Chapter 1 was based on an Amazing Stories cover from one of the early issues that had the Shaver Mystery in it. The splash panel from chapter 2 is based on the artwork from another pulp from 1938 (can’t remember the title right now, but I’ve reproduced the art below (last picture in the thread).

After I have my rough layout, I begin drawing the panels on bristol board. I initally use hard pencil to rough out the panels and figures, then add the lettering and then try to improve/tighten up the drawing. When the pencil roughs look pretty good, I use a pen to ink all of the letters (lettering is my least favorite part), then I go in with brush, nib pen and a fine tip magic marker (usually in that order). Finally I use a little china white to cover any smudges or add white highlights. As you can see, I made a few changes between the ‘rough’ version and the inked art below. Instead of the woman being tortured (above), I borrowed the girl in chains being menaced by “Igor” (below) with some sort of furnace/idol in the background. In the panels below, I made a few changes, including giving Shaver’s wife more of a 1930s contemporary hairdo. There were also some small changes in dialogue.

Finally, below is a copy of the artwork I used for the inspiration of my chapter 2 splash panel. It’s a fairly typical pulp cover from the 1930s… you have a ‘mad scientist’ type lowering a woman into a glowing vat of some kind in the background while a girl chained to some girders is being menaced by a defective in the foreground. I liked the woman’s pose and thought the defective could model as a stand-in for one of Shaver’s dero. In case anyone is wondering, this picture was the model for the splash page of chapter one.

"The Evil Underground" Chapter One

I’ve been interested in Richard S. Shaver, an artist, author and fascinating part of American popular culture for a while now (link to my blog entries on Shaver). Some time ago, I decided to attempt to draw a comic book about Richard Shaver’s life, his work, his art and his unusual ideas. I’ve presented the first three pages of this effort below; I’ve decided to try to tell the story out of chronological order, trying to touch on what I see as some of the important moments.

Until his death in 1975, Richard Shaver insisted that everything he described (which many would dismiss as paranoid delusion) were the absolute truth. The first chapter in the comic deals with the story of how a mysterious woman named ‘Nydia’ befriended Richard while he was in prison and, through mysterious methods, engineered his release. Subsequent chapters will deal with other events from Shaver’s life.

As author and artist, I don’t consider it my duty to tease fact from fiction or to try to debunk Shaver’s stories. There is no search for an objective truth here. I’m going to try to tell the majority of stories of Shaver’s life as he told them with occasional references to dates and places as needed. I am exploring my own fascination with the interesting body of work that Shaver left behind and the very compelling story of his own life (and the life of the planet and her people) that he told.

There is, of course, going to be a lot more that the three pages below (click on the images to see an enlargement). When I get further I will be interested in attempting to place the book with a publisher (although finding a publisher interested in publishing black and white comic book bios of outsider artists might be tricky).