Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bart Sears Trading Cards #2

Back in September of 2009, I did a little post on some of Bart's Trading Cards. And since I recently scanned in all of the cards that feature Bart's artwork, I thought it might be fun to share with you some more of them right here and now.
So let's do it!
I'll try and be less wordy this time around, and just let the cool artwork speak for itself.

So, I thought I'd start of with the three cards Bart created for the Creator's Universe set back in 1993.

As you can see, they all feature characters from Ominous Press, and all are inked by Bart too. I've put in the original art for these cards as well, just to show the complete images, minus the rather butcher-like cropping that goes on in the final cards.

Next are some cards from one of my favourite sets featuring Bart's art, Monumental Overpower!

And here's both the original art and final card for Starro, from the series 'DC Cosmic Cards '93.'

And finally, here is both the front and back of the 'Winter' card from Wildstorm Set 1.

And there you have it, I kept my mouth closed as promised. There are still plenty of cards to show you, and I promise I won't make you wait another 15 months for the next batch!

Friday, December 03, 2010


Hi all, got some exciting Bart Sears news for you! For those of you who read and loved the Conan: Kiss of the Undead story that Bart pencilled, Bart has teamed up with HeroWish to auction off the first page of that comic. HeroWish is a new comic-related charity, who has teamed up with the folks at the Make-A-Wish Foundation and all of the proceeds from not only the Bart Sears page, but a great list of other items from some big names in comics go straight to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

But instead of me rambling on and on (as I am want to do), here's the Press Release-

Contact: Victoria Homan, Marketing Director
Telephone: 910-603-8366

The Comic Conspiracy teams with
Make-A-Wish Foundation® for HeroWish

On Friday December 17th North Carolina’s oldest comic book shop will be auctioning off pieces of original comic art, statues and signed memorabilia to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Central & Western North Carolina. The auction will take place at Circa Gallery, located at 150 Sunset Ave. in Asheboro, N.C. beginning at 6:00 p.m. The artwork and memorabilia will be on display at the gallery from December 14th until the end of the auction. Items up for grabs include pieces donated by industry greats such as Stan Lee, Billy Tucci, Billy Tan, Bart Sears, Joe Staton, Neil Vokes, Jim Valentino, Jamal Igle, Al Bigley, Koi Turnbull and many more.
“I was very pleased at the response we got from the comic book industry.” said Jeff Lamb, owner of The Comic Conspiracy. “Once we had a couple of confirmed donations the whole thing just snowballed.”
Personnel at The Comic Conspiracy, with additional help from long time shop customers and friends, began contacting artists, writers and editors at DC Comics, Marvel Comics and many independent publishers and requested donations for the HeroWish charity auction.
“Once the artists realized that HeroWish was the real deal and that 100% of the proceeds from the auction were going to Make-A-Wish Foundation®, we were able to add quite a few prestigious names to our confirmed donation list.” said Ellis Aldridge, a business partner at the comic shop.
After securing a venue for the auction, the necessary papers were submitted to Make-A-Wish Foundation® and Don Timmons came on board as the representative for the Central and Western N.C. Chapter of the organization. The Make-A-Wish Foundation® is the nation’s largest wish-granting organization. Since 1980, Make-A-Wish has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work. The Foundation's mission reflects the life-changing impact that a Make-A-Wish experience has on children, families, donors, sponsors and entire communities. From their humble beginnings with one boy’s wish to be a police officer, they’ve evolved into an organization that grants a child’s wish in the U.S. every 40 minutes.
Circa Gallery owners Mandy Sloan and Amy Keith Barney have donated use of their gallery for displaying the artwork and holding the live auction. The shop also recruited the services of veteran auctioneer Ray Parks of Ray Parks Auctions who also willingly agreed to donate his time to HeroWish.
“We’re a small shop in a small town and we’re having to run this entire event on a zero budget.” said business partner Benny Littreal. “We’re completely dependent upon people willing to donate their time and energy to this project.”
Items to be auctioned for HeroWish will also be available for viewing on The Comic Conspiracy website beginning no later than December 1, 2010. In addition to being a live auction, absentee bidders will be able to phone in bids from all over the world. Any items which are unsold at the live auction will be listed in an online auction at a later date. Items remaining unsold will be returned to the artists and writers that donated them. Anyone wishing to bid either in person or by telephone must register either online, by telephone or in person at the store. Non-auction contributions will also be gratefully accepted.

The Comic Conspiracy opened its doors in 1978 in Asheboro, making it North Carolina’s oldest running comic shop. The store features a wide variety of current release comics as well as collectible Gold, Silver and Bronze-Age books, prints and posters, action figures, HeroClix gaming, collecting supplies and a discount subscription service.

# # # #

If you would like more information on the HeroWish auction, or if you would like to register to bid in the auction, please come by The Comic Conspiracy at 108 North St. in downtown Asheboro. You can also contact the shop at 336-318-1064 or contact Marketing Director Victoria Homan at 910-603-8366. The shop will also be taking bidder registrations on their website and through Victoria’s email:
Me again. I also managed to do a quick interview with The Comic Conspiracy owner, Jeff Lamb, here's how it went-

Jay: You've certainly been able to attract some big names to this auction, how did it feel personally as a comics person to be talking to all of these giants in the industry?

Jeff: Actually I started off contacting a few artists that I already knew or had spoken with at conventions like Baltimore Con and Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC, people like Billy Tucci, Neil Vokes and Jamal Igle. When the ball started rolling Victoria Homan, our marketing director here at The Comic Conspiracy and I, started contacting every artist, writer and editor we could find a link to. We've actually developed more solid relationships with a lot of these people through HeroWish than we ever had just being another face at a convention.

Jay: Any pieces of art or memorabilia up for auction that you would personally like to get your hands on?

Jeff: Actually at this point in time the donations have just now started to arrive at the shop. I'm really looking forward to seeing that Bart Sears Conan page and we still have some heavy hitters whose contributions haven't arrived yet. As far as what we have received so far I really like the Koi Turnbull Flash page. It has incredible detail and super action as Flash and Superman take on an android abominable snowman. There is also a book called 1000 Comics You Must Read in Your Lifetime which was written, signed and donated by Tony Isabella. Definitely have my eye on that one.

Jay: How can folks go about bidding on the items? (I know, it says it in the press release, but I thought it might be cool to have you answer it in your own voice)

Jeff: Anyone who bids has to register first whether they are bidding live at Circa Gallery or wish to phone in an absentee bid from anywhere in the world. The easiest way to register is on our website. I had our computer guru Ellis Aldridge put in some big buttons on the HeroWish page that are just begging to be pushed. You can also call the shop or Victoria Homan and register by phone.

Jay: If this undertaking proves to be a success, do you think this will be a regular thing for you guys?

Jeff: We intended HeroWish to be an annual event when we started it. I think more shops need to become involved in community and charity. We have other events planned such as the Christian Rock Christmas food drive which features pro-quality bands donating their time and talent to feed the hungry. I was a road musician for the better part of 30 years. I know all the bands performing at CRC and these guys can flat out play and sing. We also have plans for some of our cosplay super-hero friends to visit regional children's hospitals and give out some comics and related items. This summer we will be sponsoring a "Rasslin' & Readin'" event with some of the professional wrestling people in the area, that stuff started in the south you know, as well as a "Battle of the Bands" which is also a food drive for our regional Christian's United Outreach Center.

Jay: Who would you like to personally thank?

Jeff: I want to thank all of my staff, Benny and Stephanie and especially Victoria and Ellis simply because they work so darned hard and believe in the good the shop can do. I thank the entire comic industry for putting up with a barrage of emails and phone calls, this wouldn't happen at all without you guys. I want to thank the folks at Make-A-Wish, Don and Karen, for giving us an insight that we never had as far as what this kind of work is all about. And last but not least I thank Jesus Christ for giving everyone involved another day to get the work done, the fortitude to keep it going and for blessing us with the wisdom to make it happen.

So there you go folks, a worthy cause indeed and some great stuff to bid on. If you would like to see what is on offer for the auction, you can have a look here.
Why don't you think about making a bid on a piece!

Oh, and here's Bart's piece as it will be sold-
A beauty, ain't she?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Conan: Kiss of the Undead

Conan and Bart Sears. Many of us Searsians have been dreaming of that combination for many a year now. And seriously, it should have happened years ago; there are few artists who have the skill and artistic bent to really do Conan justice, and Bart is definitely one of those few artists.
So, back in August when Bart started working on the ‘Conan: Kiss of the Undead’ 8-page story, I was rather thrilled at the thought of finally seeing what Bart could do with everyone’s favourite Cimmerian after so many years since last he drew him.
One of the great things about being close to Bart is the fact that he’s happy to show what he’s working on, and I was privileged enough to see all of the 8 pages for the story pretty much straight after they were finished, through all stages from pencils to colours.

And whilst Bart was working away at these pages, an idea came to me that came to fruition only last week. I asked Bart, who is normally a pretty prodigious thumbnail and roughs producer, if he would mind putting all of those pages of sketches and such aside for me. Bart would often simply discard these pages, a truth that has haunted me for years and years, the thought of all of those beautiful pages ending up in a land-fill somewhere – a horrid thought indeed.
So Bart was only too happy to start stacking those pages up, and, boy, did they stack up. The box I received last Tuesday (16/11) contained nearly 200 pages of page layouts, thumbnails, roughs, sketches, revisions, the script and photocopies of the finished pencils. It took me the better part of a week to organise, scan and clean up all of the pages, and it would be remiss of me not to share with you some of the treasures to be found in those 200 pages.

And, yes, 200 pages does sound like a heck of a lot of roughs for a little 8-page story. But as Bart has often informed me, it always takes him a while to get up to speed and comfortable when starting a new project. This mostly has to do with Bart’s ongoing quest to bring a slightly adjusted style to every new thing he does, because the work he has been doing lately for another company would not suit the Conan story, and visa versa.
To further emphasise this point, the first page of the Conan story took some 70 pages of roughs to complete, whereas pages 2-7 took anywhere from 5 to 15 pages. So you can see, once Bart gets cracking, he really gets cracking.

And now, let’s get to the good stuff! I thought it would be fun to not only show you some of the cooler drawings, but to also give you a window into how Bart goes about creating his artwork, and the steps he takes to reach the final piece.

So here’s page 1 pencilled, inked and coloured, but minus the text.
And this is how it started.
As you can see, it is quite different, especially the top panel of Conan, which caused Bart some serious headache for a while. Let’s look at that first panel some more.
Originally, Bart was going to treat that panel as a typical letterbox shaped rectangle, and he began working on figures to fit this idea-
The premise of that panel, as written by Ron Marz, was that this should be a scene of Conan either in the middle of a battle, or just afterward, ideas that you can see Bart was playing with both of. He then seemed to hone in on a particular pose, best drawn here-
But Bart quickly moved on to other ideas than this, creating more rough thumbnails such as these-
He once again found something to explore in further detail, which is not too dissimilar to the previous more detailed rough-
But, once again, Bart discarded this idea and decided to concentrate on a more vertical and design-oriented view of Conan-
This was obviously to Bart’s liking, because he drew several roughs based on these ideas, getting closer and closer to the final rendition as he went.
And here are the final pencils for the entire page.
Pretty cool stuff, huh? What I like most about the way that Bart goes about drawing anything, is the way that he doesn’t care what the roughs and other preliminary work looks like when set on its own. I have found that far too often today, comic artists are treating every little scribble they do as a masterpiece worthy of being sold and put up on a wall. Now, don’t get me wrong, many of Bart’s preliminary drawings are beautiful and will probably end up on a wall, but this fact is simply a product of what Bart is drawing, not necessarily the way he has drawn it. To further explain myself, I would much prefer to have a rough like this on my wall-
-rather than some pretty little sketch by some other artist who fully intended it to be on a wall somewhere. Bart didn’t want this stuff to be pretty, it is a means to an end, you can see that he draws these roughs quickly and, well, roughly. As they should be!
Let’s have a look at some more cool preliminary drawings, shall we?

Here’s a nice one from page 3. Bart had a bit of trouble with the Countess’s face in this panel, to the point where the original pencilled version was redone again, and there are numerous preliminary pages of her facial structure and details.
Here are the rough page layouts for page 5. They’re a good example of how Bart sometimes nails the roughs on the first go, as very little of this page is changed by the time the finished pencils are done. The most notable change being the last panel, in which Bart originally went for a midriff shot of Conan, but opted for a head and shoulders shot in the end.
Next up is the rough page layouts for page 7, another great example of Bart’s ability to get a design he wants with sometimes very few changes needed. I’ve also included a nifty rough of the first panel, drawn in a little more detail. Bart would have blown this panel up to its correct size and drawn the final pencils straight from this piece, with the use of a lightbox.

And finally, because it is such a fantastic shot of our hero Conan, I thought I might bookend this post by showing you how Bart went about producing the final image of Conan on page 8. So here’s the final version, expertly inked by Randy Elliott, and coloured beautifully by relative newcomer, Mark Roberts.
Bart was obviously keen to end the story with a real strong Conan shot, as you can see from these early roughs.
And as he progressed through the designs, he found a pose he liked, and worked it through to finished pencils.
But wait a second! That isn’t the Conan that appears on the published comic! That’s very true, because after Bart did all of that work, even pencilling it up amazingly, he decided he wasn’t happy with the figure and decided to start it all over again. Bart mentioned to me that he didn’t feel he had quite grasped Conan’s persona in the first attempt, but was happy with this second attempt.

So there you have it, a brief enough walk through some fantastic new Bart Sears art and how he goes about creating it. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of actually seeing the Conan: Kiss of the Undead story yet, I suggest you mosey on over to the USA Today site, or just click on the direct link to the comic right here.

As usual, I have a few other posts in the works at the moment, so don’t forget to pop back soon for more Bart Sears goodies.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's Captain Amer... no, wait, it's US Agent!

Back again, as promised.
So you know that item I mentioned I would be receiving later this week? Well, it came in a few days early. I don't know what I've done to have the postage and delivery gods shine down on me at the moment, but I hope it sustains itself.
Anyway, here's the item that came in the mail today-
Bart Sears US Agent card
Where's the toy, you say? Well, the toy in question isn't actually one of the ones designed by Bart at Sears Studios. This is an unusual item in that it is the only figure from this particular series that Bart produced the packaging art for. This is unusual because the subsequent Toy Biz series' that Bart was involved with, he not only produced a large amount of packaging art for, but also designed many of the actual figures too. It is probably worthwhile stating that this is the first Marvel action figure, chronologically by release date, that Bart or Sears Studios had anything to do with. It has a copyright date of 1994 on the back of the above card, but I believe it actually came out in 1993.

The artwork for this particular piece is currently in the hands of a Mr. Ronald Hillman. The artwork actually comes in two pieces, the figure and the shield are on separate pieces of paper. But here is a slightly low-res image of said artwork-
Bart Sears US Agent art
So there you are, yet another cool item to tick off the list. I'm hoping to have something a little different for this blog soon, maybe in the next few weeks, so stick around, my dear Searsians!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Team Javerts #1 Variant and goodies

Firstlight Comixx. Remember them? Don't be ashamed if you don't. Firstlight Comixx was one of those companies from the first half of the 1990's that had a handful of comics released, then folded, due to the state of the market at the time. Firstlight Comixx was also one of those companies that used ridiculously nice paper for their comics, and supposedly produced a slew of merchandisable items that it's a safe bet few people bought.

Bart Sears provided two covers for Firstlight Comixx through his company Sears Studios, one pencilled by him and inked by Andy Smith, the other was pencilled by Andy, inked by Bart. Here they are-
Bart Sears Javerts coverBart Sears Thresherz cover
And as far as I knew, that was it. That was the extent of the business arrangement between the two companies. But, oh, how wrong I was! Whilst doing one of my customary random searches last weekend, I typed the word 'Javerts' into eBay, as I had once seen a Press Kit for Firstlight Comixx, but had never been able to get my hands on it, even to this day. But, wouldn't you know, although the Press Kit remained nowhere to be seen, this little number did pop up-
Bart Sears Team Javerts cover
So, naturally, I bought it. And in record time, it got here this morning. As you can see, the title is 'Team Javerts,' and the image is taken directly from the Javerts #1 cover, the image may look a little blurry, but that's what the actual cover looks like. I guess it's the result of zooming in on the original cover.
This is the Variant cover for the comic, and you can see that it calls it the 'Special Edition Cover' in the bottom right corner.
Interestingly, on the credits page on the inside cover, Bart is not mentioned at all. It is also interesting that the publication date is not listed at all, it only gives the year of 1994, no month is listed anywhere.
So anyway, that in itself is a pretty nice find. But the other reason I was so quick to snap this item up is because this particular comic came with a set of Firstlight Comixx Pogs!
Firstlight Comixx Pogs
A total of three of these Pogs have the hand of Bart Sears on them, the first one is again that same character from the cover, and Pogs 10 & 11 are from the Thresherz cover, with Bart's inks. Here they are, lined up together-
Bart Sears Pogs
But then, as I was opening the bag the comic and Pogs sheet came in, this piece of paper was also included-
Firstlight Comixx Merchandise
The first T-Shirt is of Bart's cover for Javerts #1, but I have absolutely no idea if the T-Shirt was actually made. I've never seen it for sale anywhere, but I'll be doing my darndest to see if I can find it, that's for sure!
Bart Sears Javerts T-Shirt
And there you have it, yet another cool Bart Sears item for the library. And I can add Pogs to the list of items that Bart has produced work for.
I have another item on the way as I write this, which I should hopefully receive late next week, of which I will naturally write about here.
So, see you soon!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Hello again, my dear fellow Searsians! As is becoming far too customary at the beginning of each of my posts on this blog, I must say that it has been far too long between drinks. I've been buried under a few rather important projects for the last few months, but have now managed to tunnel to the surface, so to speak, to bring you a new acquisition of mine from the hallowed halls that are the Bart Sears library.

About a month ago, Bart informed me of an item that was hitherto unbeknownst to me (geez, I'm wordy today!). Bart often drops these little nuggets of information on me and I then madly dash about to get my hands on the item in question, although I do not always manage to do so, I'm afraid. But this particular occasion, after Bart informed me of this item, I was fortunate enough to find the item at an exceptionally undervalued price, and, a mere two days ago, this arrived on my doorstep... (Apologies for the scan, it's a big box and this was the best my little scanner could achieve.)
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plates Box
Some of you who are more advanced in age might recall that in the 80's and early 90's, Trace Plates were a common enough toy on the shelves. I personally recall owning a few sets myself. But not these particular ones.

When Bart informed me of this item, he also, rather kindly, included the artwork files for the majority of them. So, for you, dear friends, I will now reveal the G.I. Joe Trace Plates and the Bart Sears drawings they are based on.

First up is the Cobra Commander-
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plate - Cobra Commander
Next is Destro-
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plate - Destro
Stromshadow, with the original orientation and flipped plate-
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plate - Stormshadow
Cesspool, one of my favourites from the set-
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plate - Cesspool
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plate - Overkill
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plate - Stalker
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plate - Hawk
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plate - Duke
and Flint-
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plate - Flint
There are also three plates that Bart no longer has copies of the artwork for-
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plates x3
And here's the Instruction Manual for the Trace Plates, which I was surprised lasted the near 20 years of its existence-
Bart Sears GI Joe Trace Plates Instruction Manual
Now for a bit of information. The G.I. Joe Trace Plates have a copyright dated 1991, released by Hasbro. The original set came with crayons, 5 coloured pencils, drawing paper, crayon holder, instructions and a nifty storage case/drawing board. My set is missing the pencils, crayons and crayon holder, but all of the 6 double-sided plates are present and in excellent condition.

I'm sure you'll agree that it is a fantastic item, especially for a Bart Sears fan like me, who thoroughly enjoys the more unusual items of his. I mentioned to Bart the other day that these are the sorts of things that I really like, because they stand out so much next to the usual comic and printed matter fare.

Unfortunately, Bart also informed me that there is a WWF (the wrestlers, not the wildlife fund) set as well. But I've not managed to locate them as of yet.

So there you have it anywho. As an aside to the G.I. Joe set, I also managed to pick up this item last week-
Bart Sears Bionisaurus Badge
It's the Valiant Bionisaurus pin, who's image is taken from a panel on page 15 of X-O Manowar #15. The badge measures a mere 30 x 15mm, and the card that it came attached too, both sides of which are shown below, side by side, is only slightly larger at 35 x 37mm.
Bart Sears Bionisaurus Badge Card
This is only the second Bart Sears badge/pin that I've owned. About 10 years ago, I owned the Judge Dredd badge featuring Bart's Dredd from Judge Dredd #13, published by SQP. But I lost it on a plane going from Melbourne to Edinburgh. I've never seen it for sale since, and it is perhaps the lowest point in my Bart Sears collecting history.

For those who want to know, there are only three Bart Sears badges in existence- The Judge Dredd one, the Bionisaurus one, and the accompanying Turok one.

Anyway, I'll be doing another post in a couple of days, hopefully, so pop back soon!