Part of being an artist or creative type of any kind is looking at your own work and figuring out what you like about it and what you don’t. You have to be able to figure out what you did right and what you did wrong. Hopefully there won’t be too much wrong but you also have to examine what you are saying with your art and if you’re getting that point across. A lot of self examination goes on.

My art tends to be strange and weird. It comes from a dreamlike place of the subconscious and is not always relatable to a wide group of people. This is just the way it is with me and I go with it. When I think about trying to please people with my work, a general mass of people that is, if inhibits me. I lose my train of thought. Including the audience in my creative process makes me hesitant and timid. Whenever I try to do it I end up making mediocre art.

You might ask why I would think about the audience as I’m making something and that’s because I want my art to be popular. All of us creatives want success and popularity except it’s a very rare thing that we really have no control over. Sometimes putting the audience into my thought process gives me the illusion that I can control how popular something will be. That though is quickly proved wrong when I make a bad piece and no one cares.

I bring this up because one of the things I often think my work is missing that would make it more popular is sex appeal. I see plenty of artist who can draw sexy people well and they get popular because of it. My work tends to be on the intellectual side and is dripping with strange images. There isn’t a whole lot of sex appeal in that.

I’ve developed some themes over the years that have sex appeal. My “Painted Ladies” and “Swirl World” series both are about pretty women and the female figure but I still can’t play it straight and I have to add weird shapes and drawings to the bodies. That’s what makes it interesting to me. It doesn’t seem to be nearly as interesting to other people.

Last winter (2021-22) I got it in my head to do some sexy pin-up art cards. I did a few of cartoon women in bikinis and a friend said, “If you’re gonna do then don’t chicken out. Make them nude drawings.” So I made some nude pin-up art cards. They came out nice and I was going to try and sell them on Ebay (I think seeing others sell them was what got me interested in the first place) but I never did. I grew disinterested in them. Once again making something just for an imagined audience didn’t hold my attention. Without my own weird twist on them I lost interest.

I bring up this subject because I decided to work on another of my “Covers to Comic Books that Don’t Exist” series. I’ve been making a lot of “Dreams of Things” covers over the last few years but those ones don’t have much sex appeal to them. I’ve still got some of them in the pipeline but instead I decided to make some in my “Fascist Planet” series.

I haven’t done any “Fascist Planet” covers in years because they’re hard to do. They’re weird and twisted. I think they first started with me trying to add some sex appeal to my cover series but then it took a dark turn. I’m guessing I got bored with the sexy angle and started drawing strange stuff into the covers. They ended up going down a sexy horror angle but without a wink and a nod to tell the audience that everything was okay. Just a joke.

There is nothing shocking about these covers. They’re not exploitation covers but I think that makes them more out there. We all know what sexy exploitation art is and can easily recognize it when we see it. I don’t quite recognize what these “Fascist Planet” covers are. Neither do most people. But they hardly get to see them.

When I decided to do some more “Fascist Planet” covers I made some thumbnail sketches. I drew about six of them and none of them got me going. On my computer I have a folder of reference photos that I’ve collected over the years. Since I wanted some sexiness I scrolled through the folder labeled “Reference Women” and looked for something I could work with. I found a twenty year old photo of a women in the lotus position. Being so old it was low resolution but it still was good enough for me.

I’ve been using my iPad and Procreate to draw from photos these days. I can use my Apple Pen and draw right on top of the photo. I sketched out what I wanted and then printed the sketch onto a 9×12 inch piece of paper. I drew just the woman’s body on that piece of paper, scanned it in, and then printed that drawing on an 11×17 inch piece of paper.

It’s on that 11×17 inch piece of paper that I drew my drawing. The “Fascist Planet” cover. That’s when all the weird stuff came in. The woman got horns, a strange outfit, spikes, and sharp teeth. She became a sexy devil but a weird disturbing sexy devil. Those pointed teeth kept her from being a “wink-wink” sexy devil. Without them she looks like an attractive women cosplaying a devil. With them she becomes creepy. Then I added the tentacles she is sitting on.

Years ago I kind of reversed Japanese tentacle porn in some drawings and instead of having the tentacles going at the women I had the tentacles coming out of the women. It adds a good horror element to a sexy drawing. I went for something similar her if a little tamer than I used to do it as it looks like she’s just sitting on tentacles here.

With the main figure done the background became atmosphere. I leveraged a drawing I had already made to get the composition of the background but then I had to figure out the details. I went with sharp stuff. Building became teeth. Hopefully it’s no place you want to visit.

So that is what I was doing this week. Bringing sexy back. But in a weird and scary way.