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Editorial copyright 2009 Daniel Best

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IN MEMORIAM

DECEMBER 1954 - JUNE 2009
COMMISSIONS
This was done for Zack Esser's Hyborian Age website.  It illustrates this Robert E. Howard passage:

"Torches flared murkily on the revels in the Maul where the thieves of the east held carnival by night..."

"In one of these dens merriment thundered to the low smoke-stained roof, where rascals gathered in every stage of rags and tatters - furtive cut-purses, leering kidnappers, quick-fingered thieves, swaggering bravoes with their wenches, strident-voiced women clad in tawdry finery.  Native rogues were the dominant element - dark-skinned, dark-eyed Zamorians, with daggers at their girdles and guile in their hearts.  But there were wolves of half a dozen outland nations there as well.  There was a giant Hyperborean renegade, taciturn, dangerous, with a boradsword strapped to his great gaunt frame - for men wore steel openly in the Maul..."

--Dave Simons
Here we have pencil and ink drawing of the Mighty Thor.  If it looks Kirby- influenced, it is.  After all, why not go to the source?  Oh, hey, I just made a pun.  Source?  New Gods?  Get it?

--Dave Simons
Here is a pencil drawing of Nightwing.  I found it lent itself to a contrapposto treatment, since Nightwing is a relatively slender, acrobatic character.

--Dave Simons
Here we have Conan.  I think I at least came close to that sense of weight and gravity that John Buscema used to get.  Plus, he's got a sword and a battle-axe.

--Dave Simons
This one is of Bishi, monkey-girl Green Lantern of sector 312.  I'm told she appeared in some big event book from DC and only lasted about three pages before she was killed.  Ah, Bishi, we hardly knew ye.

The client provided me with the green paper.  It's a special stash he has.  On my first pass, I messed up the drawing but he'd only sent me one sheet of it.  I told him about it and asked if he could send another sheet of green paper, but he was out.  I searched paper stores in New York, where you can find just about any sort of paper, but could not find an exact match for this--it's acid-free, too.


He finally got some more paper and sent it to me, along with a back-up sheet in case I had another accident.  As you may already have supposed, he has a collection of the Green Lantern Corps, all on this green paper.

--Dave Simons
Simon Garth, the Zombie.  I only did one story featuring this character, for the short-lived Bizarre Adventures published by Marvel.  I remember trying to think of Keith Richards a lot while drawing him.

--Dave Simons
Here's my take on Scott Wegener's Atomic Robo.  Here Robo is suddenly attacked by Nazi Gorillas.  One of my earliest published comics stories was for DC's Weird War where I inked Ken Landgraf's pencils on a story featuring gorillas that were pressed into service by the Germans in WW II.  By the end of the story the gorillas turned on their Nazi masters, of course, and returned to the jungle.

Oddly enough, I caught a show on History channel where they talked about gorillas being used as soldiers, not by Hitler, but Stalin.  Just a wacky idea some Soviet scientist had.  Turns out gorillas make lousy soldiers.  They're not nearly aggressive enough.

--Dave Simons
Another "reject" commission. I misunderstood what was supposed to be happening and drew Daredevil looking like he'd just kicked the Fixer's ass. Fixer was actually supposed to be having a heart attack, which is what the final version ended up to be.

--Dave Simons
Rarely Dave got a commission wrong.  In this case, as he explains, he mis-read what the buyer wanted, but Dave was always fairly careful.  With such detailed commissions he'd send a scan of the pencil art to the buyer to check if it was going to suitable.  If it wasn't he could make the required changes and kep going.  Very infrequently he'd have to scap the idea and begin again, as he did with this commission, which is pencils only.

You can see the difference between the two commissions- essentially the same theme, but done from two different points of view.

Rather than throw the rejected commission out Dave offered it to me and I snapped it up.

--Daniel Best
Dave's last commission.

Dave was working on both this commission and the one above, at the time of his last illness.  Sadly Dave wasn't able to finish the King Lear inspired Magneto, something that would have bothered him, but the work he left behind is amazing.

Bob Almond, who came to know Dave through The Inkwell Awards, graciously stepped in to finish the commission off, free of charge.  In an equally as gracious gesture, the buyer, Timothy Finney, kindly donated a fee to the Inkwell Awards.

--Daniel Best