Tue
Jul 29 2008 8:21am

SDCC: Greg Manchess Demo

Greg Manchess was the man of the hour for the final Tor.com/Spectrum demo. He worked the full time on a Hellboy portrait--bringing his own painterly style to Mike Mignola’s design. I figured it would be a crowd-pleaser for the attendees. What I didn’t figure was the other exhibiting artists getting all drooly over it. It looks like Stephan Martiniere will go home with it...after a little touch-up after a box accidentally got placed on top of the wet painting.

I asked Greg for a few words on the demo:

“I’ve done enough demo paintings and drawings to know that each and every time can be a disaster. Luckily, I’ve never had to quit or start over. I know my craft, but most of all, I know to never give up. So I plow on through. And usually I bring out what I had meant to bring to the onlookers anyway: the process and eventual success of an oil painting.

“At this point, I’ve learned so much that I don’t usually get nervous. So you can imagine my confusion when I started my demo at the Con this year and watched my hand shaking.

“It wasn’t from nervousness, mind you, but from excitement. I’ve done portraits and head studies before, in front of hundreds of students. But this time it was the Comic Con, and I had decided to do a portrait of Hellboy.

“I didn’t want to just render a still from the movie, or copy a Mignola drawing. I thought to take one of Mike’s comic panels of a Hellboy headshot, and using shots taken from the film for lighting, blend the two with my own sensibilities and love of the character.

“But I wanted it to be right on. It had to be. Mike Mignola was two booths away. Hellboy fans in every corner, as well as professional portrait artists wandering the floor. So, with much eagerness, I started sketching the bold black outlines of Hellboy’s mug.

“Within 15 minutes I was well into slathering cadmium red onto the panel, and started to whistle. Everyone wanted a cool-ass portrait, and I couldn’t let them down.

“An hour and a half, lots of laughs, and a bunch of satisfying strokes of bright color indicating high key lighting later, I signed off on my first painting of Hellboy. I even got an applause that was most satisfying.

“Later, I showed the painting to Mike and got a thumbs up. It’s interesting to note that when an artist has created something so popular, as Mike has, the artist has to be able to get to a point where they can let go of the character enough to allow others their own interpretation of the property.

“Mignola’s bold design, Hollywood’s dramatic lighting, and my broad strokes came together for a successful rendering. I couldn’t miss. Except for the chance that at anytime during the process, 30 years of practice can suddenly leave your hand shaking....”

You can see Greg’s work in his Tor gallery and on his website.

11 comments
Moshe Feder
1. Moshe
This must have been fascinating to see in person. Wish I could have been there!

Everyone active on Tor.com needs to know that it was Greg who provided the charming retro spaceship in our logo.
Pablo Defendini
2. pablodefendini
Definitely a wish-fulfillment for many fans of both Mignola's and Manchess'. It was a wonderful demo, and the audience was really enjoying it. At one point, when Gregory started on the highlights there was even some sports spectator-like cheering going on (slightly tongue-in-cheek, I think, but appropriate nonetheless).
Irene Gallo
3. Irene
Moshe - you;re right, We should do a quick post on that, once I get back and get settled. I have some of the earlier drafts on it.

Pablo got so excited we had to cage him up:
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y141/igallo/Album%202/pablo.jpg
Moshe Feder
4. Moshe
Which reminds me, how did the Tor.com t-shirts go over?
Irene Gallo
5. Irene
Very well, thanks. I was surprised how many people were charmed just at the idea of silk screening our own shirts.
eric orchard
6. orchard
Have you considered a Tor.com shop for T-shirts and buttons?
Bridget McGovern
7. BMcGovern
That would be amazing. It's too bad the interns are all heading back to school next month or we could totally have set up a nice little for-college-credit sweatshop in the lobby. We could do t-shirts, tote bags, maybe get Pablo to whip up a few more "Little Brother" costumes in time for Halloween, and Jamie could sell his home brew. I'm only half-kidding here, for the record--I have no problem silk-screening my fingers to the bone if it means less paperwork to deal with :)
Christine Evelyn Squires
8. ces
It would probably be hard to deal with paperwork with wet ink all over your fingers! Do it - t-shirts & tote bags & buttons!
Pablo Defendini
9. pablodefendini
Um, I'd have no problem drinking Jamie's home-brew while we silkscreen....hmmm
eric orchard
10. orchard
I just keep reading about all this really cool Tor stuff from the Con and feel really left out...Button me please.
Tara Chang
11. tlchang
Thanks for all the demo write-ups. I appreciate being able to observe a bit, albeit vicariously.

(I can has another masterclass... next month? rather than a year froms now?)

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