"COPRA" All About Process Comics I Make Discussion & Analysis

NEGATIVELAND debuts on Patreon

NEGATIVE LAND! The new Copra Press series can be read exclusively on Patreon.

Additionally, I’ll be posting tons of behind-the-scene Copra art and How-To essays.

Oh, and commissions – check it out and spread the word!

All About Process Art & Illustration


Dr. Doom was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. This is yet another Kirby design that I never even attempted to draw. Not a single doodle, not a sample page, nothing. And now? I’m afraid I have to give everything up and dedicate my life to Victor Von Doom.

DOOM final

DOOM pencil

Doom sketch

You saw that right: final, pencil, prelim. Next: 500 Doom comics.


All About Process Art & Illustration


GALACTUS was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. This is my first time drawing this iconic Fantastic Four character. Drawing this quintessential Kirby design — drawing any of his creations, really — is a true privilege.


Above: the final piece. Below: as tight a pencil drawing as I can do and its preliminary sketch.

GALACTUS pencils



All About Process Art & Illustration

Lightning Round: Witch-king of Angmar, Elementals, Image

Witch King

As part of his private, ongoing Nazgul Art collection, illustrator Matt Kish had me draw the Witch-king of Angmar (from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings). Matt has an extensive blog showcasing all of his acquisitions, with a  variety of unique interpretations: Josh Simmons & Patrick Kyle among them.  All formidable & beautiful & I’m honored to be lined up next to such company.

Witch King

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Commission: Elementals. It was interesting drawing these characters – Fathom, Monolith, Vortex and Morningstar – because I had never read the comic. Always heard of it, 80s ground level superhero comics are in my wheelhouse, but I never dug in for no particular reason (same thing for similar staples such as Zot!, Grendel, Mage, New Wave and DNAgents). Who am I to pass on a chance to hunt for back issues, though? So I got the first few based on this article.

Elementals – created by Bill Willingham (who has always been the guy who drew those Justice League annuals to me).




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Commission: draw some core characters from the Image Comics universe in a Copra pose. This reminded me of being 12 in the early 90s and how cool it was to see these comics come out for the first time. Following these creators at Marvel was fun and all, but there was something about them doing their own thing that seemed raw and immediate and fresh. I was genuinely excited when these comics were coming out, so it was a treat to get to draw them here.

Character & Creator:

Spawn – Todd McFarlane

Void (WildC.A.T.s) – Jim Lee & Brandon Choi

Ripclaw (Cyberforce) – Marc Silvestri

Badrock & Shaft (Youngblood) – Rob Liefeld

Witchblade – Marc Silvestri, David WohlBrian Haberlin & Michael Turner

Shadowhawk – Jim Valentino

Savage Dragon – Erik Larsen

All About Process Art & Illustration

Madman Party Pin-Up

I recently got the chance to collaborate with one of my childhood comics heroes, Mike Allred, creator of Madman. I did a pencil drawing, Mike inked it and his wife Laura colored it! As if that wasn’t cool enough, the piece was slated to go into the Madman 20th Anniversary Monster (in stores mid-December).

The pin up was to depict a large cast of creator owned characters, all in celebration of the medium’s independent spirit. The idea originally sprung from Allred and Dean Haspiel (who vouched for me and my masochistic streak love of drawing crowd scenes). The piece would have an accompanying essay written by Adam McGovern, so all four of us began thinking up a master list of potential characters to feature. It started at 20 or so, then easily over 40. I held off on drawing anything until a definitive list was hammered out.

First, though, a rough sketch to give me an idea…

I had started with the basic information: a big ass party. It wasn’t to be a group action shot, but a bunch of folks hanging out instead. I made sure to draw the room in proportion to the space needed for the growing list of characters (70 at that point). I wanted to channel Yves Chaland in a way, but my main source of inspiration was Joost Swarte

…and Fred Hembeck.

The ultimate list of characters still had to be finalized. Between the four of us, a lot of characters were added, cut, suggested, added again, and dug up until that master list was actually completed. It ended up being a head count of over a hundred. All I had to do was make them coexist on a single page.

I wanted to convey every character’s personality at least in the smallest way. I had to reduce each one to a single, tiny movement. A bunch of little stories going on at once. I penciled as cleanly as possible and sent it off to Mike and Laura to complete it.

I still couldn’t believe Mike Allred was gonna ink this.

Working with Mike is a big deal to me.

I was really into Madman Comics back in the day, so I was naturally interested in the debut of its sister title, the Atomics. This was back in 2000. I liked the characters, the stories, and especially Mike’s positive attitude in making comics fun. He started his own company (AAA Pop Comics) and delivered a fun comic month in, month out. It was inspirational.

So much so that I was inspired to actually draw the Atomics. I had only drawn other people’s characters for company submissions, but this was different. I just wanted to draw something for the hell of it. So I did. I photocopied the drawing and mailed it to AAA Pop.

I didn’t give it much thought. I figured Mike might dig it and that was that. A few months later at the local comic book store, I was flipping through the latest issue of the Atomics and discovered that my fan art had been printed in the letters page!

Just like that, I was in print! For the first time! I received a very cool postcard from Mike himself months later. He was very supportive.

Skip to a year or so later. Remember when Mike teamed up with Peter Milligan to re-imagine Marvel’s X-Force franchise (later as X-Statix)? I was a total fanboy for this when it first hit, to the point where I even entered a contest – contest! – that involved drawing your own character. Readers were asked to create a mutant superhero for possible X-Force membership. What, you think I cared about creator ownership and licensing? Nah… I wasn’t submitting my life’s work, but just a goofy concept for the sake of involvement with a title I liked a whole bunch. All I wanted was Mike Allred to draw the mutant I created.

I called him Bastador, a teen Mexican wrestler who had a powerful living baby inside of him, constantly struggling to escape his masked mortal coil. Or something like that.

No, it didn’t win, thank you very much. I don’t even remember who did.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand.

Present day.

Imagine my surprise when this came in.

I was floored when I saw it. Leave it to Mike to take my cluttered mess and make it sing. He even added a few heads here and there. Given the sheer amount of creator owned characters, this single snapshot feels like we barely touched the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other great characters that weren’t squeezed in that I’m compelled to draw the other half of the room. Hmmm…

Thanks to Laura, Dean and Adam for being a part of this. Big thanks to Michael Dalton Allred for making it all happen and for being there with words of encouragement from the get go.

That’s my contribution to this awesome project. Be sure to get the Madman 20th Anniversary Monster this December 14th (some sources say the 21st). Don’t take my word for it; look at that roster. It’s got all of my favorite cartoonists and yours. Support your local comic shop while you’re at it, and have a happy holiday!


All About Process Art & Illustration

Comic Book Jazz Hands: BETA RAY BILL

George O’Connor and I have used BETA RAY BILL as an excuse to collaborate once again! This time I pencilled, he inked, then I hand colored this here horse faced warrior (take a quick peek at our previous attempt, which reversed our tasks). We slapped a logo on top of it in order to fit the “What If” Blog format (formerly known as the DC Fifty TOO blog which features a lot of my favorite cartoonists, I’m not joking.)

Big thanks to Jonathan Morris for putting this together and for the invite. I dare not forget the amazing Sarah Crowe, who helped George and I out on the technical (and spiritual) side of things.

Beta Ray Bill was created and designed by Walter Simonson (Thor #337, Nov. 1983) and is property of Marvel Comics Group Entertainment Disney.

Check out the step by step…

"ZEGAS" All About Process Los Press

Zegas #1: Process and Props

The response to Zegas #1 has been remarkably positive from all sorts of pockets of the comics world! A reminder: this self-published effort contains all-new material that cannot and will not be seen online in its entirety. I can hardly promise that it will be collected into trade form, either. This comic is specifically designed to be read page to page as a physical object, ideally on an issue-by-issue basis. Izzat cool witchu?

At the moment, it can be purchased from me through Etsy (many thanks to those of you who have done so) or support your local comic book shop by purchasing it through them, most notably Bergen Street Comics, Desert Island, Jim Hanley’s Universe, Big Planet Comics, Time Warp, Floating World, and Quimby’s. You can also find it in book stores such as BookCourt, P.S. Bookstore, and St. Mark’s Bookshop.


Zegas #1 was recently reviewed by Matthew J. Brady for his Warren Peace Sings the Blues blog. It’s always a pleasure to read his comics reviews and a thrill to carry a combative dialogue through message threads with him. Keep in mind that this is not the same Matt from Newsarama; this one likes cats.

Another review was by Matt Seneca for The Comics Journal. I’ve followed Matt’s comic, “Affected”, for a while and have enjoyed its formal boldness. Plus, it’s fun as fuck. Whether it be through Death to the Universe, Your Wednesday Sequence, or his Deathcast, Matt’s critical observations always cut straight to the bone and are worth your time.

Pop Dose just put up this review of Zegas #1 in Johnny Bacardi’s column, Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie. Mr. Bacardi and I go way back, in that this interview of mine with Trevor Von Eeden wouldn’t have been possible without his help. It was through his Thriller website that I met Johnny, and I’ve been following his blog since. Do the same.


Since I’m a fan of the comics-making process, I thought I’d share a few brief examples of how I worked on certain aspects of Zegas #1. The way I make a comic page changes all the time, but below are the most typical steps I take.

This issue contained a larger cast than I’m used to handling. I’ve gotten used to drawing the main characters, Emily & Boston, but I wasn’t sure how these other folks were gonna look. Thankfully, it didn’t take a slew of study sheets to nail them down.

One panel, three samples: pencil, ink, and color. All by hand.

Another character sketch.

I knew I had to carefully stage this following splash page. Lots going on here, but the main concern was clearly portraying a sense of movement through a specific space. I liked the rough layout and tried to remain faithful to its foundation.

Writing comics has got to be one of the most difficult things I do throughout this entire process. Takes me forever, too. I write and re-write and edit the results while trying not to kill any initial spark they may have had. I’d hate to snuff out the spontaneity of any given scene, so I try not to overwork it.

As far as a “script” goes, I find that scribbling on any ol’ sheet of paper yields better results than typing. I can barely get a sense of how a comic will read any time I read a comic script, by anyone. This is how I’m most comfortable.

Here are a couple of layouts.

“Plum” is the only story that has portions of digital coloring. See those dot patterns down there? No, not the black dots, those are actual sticker sheets of Zip-A-Tone (running low, should scan). I mean the red and orange parts. Those are digital. It was fun to do, but I’d hate to color an entire comic like that. You start getting really hateful towards the end and you wish all color would disappear from the world. Maybe that’s just me.

That’s the word on the first issue. The second issue is coming along and looking great. I’m not even that distracted by the sudden rush of accomplishment and adoration. Actually, I can’t work fast enough to get more Zegas issues out there, and I have all of you to thank.


All About Process Art & Illustration

I’m Running My Inkpen

I was talking about comic book inkers with George O’Connor a couple of weeks ago and during our conversation, I realized that I’ve never inked anyone before. I’ve never been inked either, which is fine because I wouldn’t wish my sloppy pencil work on my worst enemy*. I’m still fascinated by the old school assembly line process, so George and I agreed to swap drawings for each to work on.

All About Process

Bobble Heads

The Internets and I haven’t been close lately. That’s mostly in part to crunching through weeks on a project that needed to get done “yesterday”. Imagine a cute little bobble head, then amplify it to stand eight feet tall. We’re building 4 of those. It’s fun in a hellish sort of way. I sometimes forget the million steps it takes to bring these suckers to life. Well, the photos help.
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All of the following work is (c) Randy Carfagno Productions… y’dig?

More photos after the cut.

All About Process Art & Illustration

Fiffe’s Savior 28 pin-up

The third issue of JM Dematteis & Mike Cavallaro’s “The Life And Times of Savior 28” comes out this Wednesday! It was a pleasure to do a pin-up for them for this issue.

I was going for a mock-semi-retro Manga thing, but I think it got out of control, as you can see. I still had a blast doing it. Behind the cut you’ll find some alternate cover sketches and the dreaded pencil version…