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Salvoverse Sketches

Black Saber vs the Escuridon




Vanchi - the Hero of the Age, Champion of Life. Leader of the United Forces.


Salvoverse Sketches

The one that got away...


Salvoverse Sketches

The Awesome Adventures of Exor Avant


Salvoverse Sketches

Black Saber


Salvoverse Sketches

Dgynn versus demonic Sepul
Happy Halloween!



The Dude

Perhaps best known for his co-creation, Nexus, Steve Rude is a modern legend of comic art.

Clearly influenced by Jack Kirby, if one knows more of the Dude's influences, others become clear. From Andrew Loomis, come the foundations of figure construction and illustrative thinking. From Alex Toth's animation period comes character, settings and vehicular designs. Why, there are even touches of Dr Seuss, in many of the aliens and landscapes (again, mixed with animated Toth).

That he blends them so well is why he's "The Dude" (among other reasons).

Typically, when illustrating, everything is depicted through the use of light and shadow. However, Rude's masterful use of the 'decorative method', adds variety and uniqueness to his art. Usually seen in Nexus, the use of patterns on clothing, silhouetted body parts, lightened or darkened hair - shapes - are used in the starkest of a design or "decorative", sense.

Rude's paintings resemble the illustrative styles of Loomis.

From his early painted covers of Nexus, to his more recent, the magnitude of the work involved is reflected in the volume of sketch and study he maintains. Numerous sketchbooks contain mini works of art, sketches resembling figure-drawings from Andrew Loomis' books, studies of Kirby's explosive, bold design or doodles of Toth-esque creatures and people. Through constant drawing, his art is perfected, but, ever the perfectionist - he's never quite satisfied. The mark of a master.


Salvoverse Sketches

The Dgynn


Mark Schultz

Xenozoic Tales - known to most as Cadilacs and Dinosaurs, a series that is sorely missed.

Schultz's art arrived fully formed, in the pages of Death Rattle, and then evolved and further improved over the course of 14 issues of this creator-owned series. A mix of the greats - a little Frank Frazetta, some Wally Wood, a healthy dose of Al Williamson, Xenozoic tales was like EC comics' Weird Tales returned, with a continuing cast.

How Schultz arrived at this mastery was not miraculous, but it is unusual. To draw so well, in all manner of definition, composition, storytelling and pacing (and writing!), so early, is unusual. True he worked long, the skill did not suddenly occur, but to look at the early issues, any issue, it was like he was channeling Wood, Frazetta, Krenkel and Williamson.

In a black and white medium, Schultz made the best use of pen and ink, with only the sparse use of tones where needed. Tone in placing greys was often unnecessary due to his fine handling of hatching and similar techniques more common to the late 19th century pen and ink masters, than to comics.

What some may have come to know as Cadilacs and Dinosaurs from the cartoon or Topps adaptations, is really not to be compared to Schultz. Besides Stout's work - an influence on him, the interpretations where not like Mark's work.

Schultz's art in Xenozoic Tales was intentionally black and white - not "open for color". His spotting of blacks and use of lighting and rendering techniques made the work unique in the monthly comic industry of the time. It was also a schedule he could not realistically continue. Such beautiful work, meticulously crafted, took time.

The last issue released was as strong as all those before it and hopefully, his plans to return will be realized.



Salvoverse Sketches

Aman and the Danger's Dozen!


Salvoverse Sketches

The Road to Hell...
Layouts from Tales of Danger supplementary stories to the Danger's Dozen.


Heck of an artist!

Avengers, Marvel, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. A legendary period of the Mighty Avengers, as pencilled by the dazzling Don Heck.

His thick holding lines and aggressive hatching made the work bold and lively. His distinctive facial renditions are easy to spot.  The upturned noses, the black eyelashes as graphic strokes, and his mouth and lower lip drawn with a few clear lines.

His women were hot, strong, even defiant, due to distinctive facial features, full lips and piercing eyes. For this reason, he also worked at DC on both Batgirl and later Wonder Woman. He saw Wonder Woman into Crisis on Infinite Earths, before she was reborn on the creative direction of George Perez. It was this cover where Heck came to my attention...

Eduardo Barreto cover art
Heck also worked on Spider Man and even inked John Romita...

...while Romita returned the favor on an issue of the Avengers - one of the slickest.

A hunt for Heck material led to Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion issue two; which showcases his mastery, as did issue #192 of House of Mystery. Don Heck illustrated, "The Mystery of Dead Man's Cove!" in Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion. Both can be found in the black and white reprint Showcase Present editions. Collections worth having for the clarity of reproduction and the incredible artists within.

Heck's style was a loose and dynamic one. He was great on design, on spotting blacks as powerful areas of composition and he varied his ink line. His machinery and costume design was somewhat unique and very distinctive. The Scarlet Centurion is a wonderful example. One wishes he'd been able to further polish his work on Iron Man, or free to design different armors.

Whatever the case, early Marvel was a prolific period for him and his work helped establish the Marvel Universe.


Danger's Dozen - Atomic Freeze

The Danger's Dozen are the post-war front-line vanguard against all manner of threats...

Salvoverse Sketches

Van and Ex - from Supernal



Gaspar Saladino is a letterer's letterer. While hand-lettering has largely been replaced by digital fonts, Gaspar has long been one of the best in the business - both on covers and interiors,

His interior work gained him the confidence of Carmen Infantino for DC Comics, and out of the inside pages onto the covers. Both his cover-copy and ad copy lettering brought excitement to the DC line. His letters were works of art, inked and crafted with great variety. From title lettering to sound effects, Gaspar made an impact.

With bold, clear lettering and freehand balloons, Gaspar made the dialogue clear, while remaining "invisible". Where he WAS visible, it mattered - the advertisements - classic DC half and quarter page ads showcasing the greatness of the house titles.

Along with cover art, Gaspar's lettering spoke to readers and sold comics.


Salvoverse Sketches

A series of images from the Salvoverse will be posted over the next several months.


Read the Danger's Dozen

The Danger's Dozen volume one is coming to A First Salvo in September.

With updates every Monday and Wednesday, volume two is in production, along with stories from various eras of the Salvoverse.

The Danger's Dozen is your window on the period that led to terrible ramifications in the modern era.

Come check us out, you'll enjoy the ride!

Art by Ron Frenz