The recent Eowyn Vs Nazgul challenge included entries of all levels of quality and ability; while some suffer in comparison to others, I couldn’t help thinking optimistically, “Everyone starts somewhere.” I was reminded again of that fact while going through some of Jeffrey Jones’ early work following his death last Thursday.
It used to be that fanzines were the fertile training ground for young fantasy artists: Jones, Wrightson, Kaluta, and countless others honed their craft drawing monsters and superheroes for amateur magazines like Gosh Wow, Spa Fon, and Seraphim. Then there were the fan club pages for comics magazines like Creepy and Vampirella which included drawings young readers would send in. Fanzines and fan club pages are, for the most part, now things of the past and have been replaced by blogs and websites where pretty much any art can be posted without competition, vetting, or criteria. I think the value of activities like Jon Schindehette’s challenges is that they not only excite young artists and make them want to get involved, but also encourages them, via exposure and feedback, to get better—to want to get better—at their craft.
So…everyone starts somewhere (and the “starts” don’t always seem auspicious). I thought I’d show some examples of very early works by artists that have gone on to profoundly influence our field.
A fan drawing of Vampirella by a 16-year-old Thomas Blackshear that appeared in the “Vampi’s Flames” fan club pages,