Friday, August 24, 2018

Ed Wood extra: A smattering of Ed Wood fan art

Four of my portraits of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

A typical early cartoon (1989)
I used to draw an awful lot as a kid. That's not surprising, since I've been obsessed with comics and cartoons since well before I can remember. My only real "instruction," though, was in grade school. At my alma mater, Springview Elementary in Flushing, MI, we'd spend a couple of hours each week in the art room with a glum, mustachioed guy named Mr. Barnes. My strongest memories were of him yelling at me for leaning back in my chair too far. I never studied artwork formally after that.

But on my own, I'd create little homemade comics and cartoons, strictly for my own amusement. I started with established characters like Popeye, Garfield, and Hagar the Horrible. (For some reason, I was always writing gags that involved quick-drying cement.) But by the time I was 11, I was creating my own characters, eventually including Iffy the Troll, Margin Man, and Vernal Q. Equinox, plus a monstrous rock band called The Apple Scruffs, who allegedly killed a fan at every show.

Sometimes, I'd pass my work around in class. Among my earliest "hits" was a series called Moscow Vice, a Russia-set parody of Miami Vice with two burly Bolshevik cops named Crockski and Tubbnik. I also got a strong response with The Melties, a comic strip about a family made of drippy candle wax. Every Melties plot was the same: the family would try to do something (play baseball, have a picnic), but they'd melt in the sun and end up as puddles of goo on the ground.

I kept drawing into my teens and beyond, never keeping a sketchbook but scrawling on whatever random bits of paper came into my hands. Most of my work was in pencil or ballpoint pen on notebook paper, but I'd write on napkins, gum wrappers, the backs of form letters, etc. It was more of a nervous tic than anything else. I drew pictures instead of biting my nails.

By then, most of my drawings were caricatures of famous people—actors, musicians, historical figures—and modeled after photos. I subscribed to Rolling Stone in the '90s and always did drawings of the celebs in there, generally rock stars. But I'd draw my own weird little monsters and grotesque human figures as well. To this day, I have two thick binders of this material.

As you might expect, I did some Ed Wood-related drawings over the years, and I'd like to share them with you today. First up are caricatures of Johnny Depp and Martin Landau as their characters from Ed Wood. Also included here is a little picture of the real Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931). The Lugosi pic was done on a different piece of paper and then cut out.

Johnny Depp and Martin Landau: (inset) Bela Lugosi

Next up are two portraits of Edward D. Wood, Jr. himself, done completely separately but based on the same photograph from Glen or Glenda, as published in Nightmare of Ecstasy. The one on the left is in color, though I used a very messy charcoal pencil for the black background and immediately regretted it.

Two views of Ed Wood from Glen or Glenda.

My most ambitious example of Ed Wood fan art is this wonky triptych based on that much-circulated headshot of Eddie in his theater days. These portraits were done completely separately on different pieces of notebook paper, then taped together. I believe these were done in the 2000s when I was commuting to Chicago from the 'burbs by train. Those Metra trips leave plenty of time for nonsense like this.

An Ed Wood triptych

That about does it for the hand-drawn stuff. These days, I do most of my artwork digitally. It's still just as crude and wobbly as ever, but I don't get ink or graphite on my hands anymore. Plus I can tweak it and try to make it better. Some of this stuff I've already posted on the blog, but I thought I'd put it all in one place. Here's a mischievous Eddie as Mr. Murphy in The Love Feast (1969).

Eddie in The Love Feast.

In a similar vein, here is Eddie in Mrs. Stone's Thing (1970), squinting at the camera through his makeup.

Ed Wood in Mrs. Stone's Thing.

And here is bulldog-faced Duke Moore in Night of the Ghouls (1959). As you can see, this one is a bit more cartoony and distorted. I once thought of creating brand new artwork for every article in the Ed Wood Wednesdays series, but that proved impractical.

Duke Moore in Night of the Ghouls

Here's another actor portrait: craggy, ill-tempered James Craig in Venus Flytrap (aka The Revenge of Dr. X) (1970).

James Craig in Venus Flytrap.

My most recent portraits of Ed Wood include this regal purple one, again based on the same photo from Glen or Glenda. I must be really drawn to that picture, huh?

Ed Wood in Glen or Glenda.

And, last but not least, here's Ed as Alecia in Take it Out in Trade (1970). I hope you've enjoyed this little gallery of Ed Wood fan art. Crude as these are, these sketches and portraits are a testament to my longstanding fascination with Eddie and his movies.

A portrait of Ed Wood from my "blue" period.