Saturday, June 29, 2024

Save The Queen

For this piece I got to draw Bond, James Bond.... well, sorta. George Lazenby (ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, 1969) stars in this 1976 Hong Kong production, A QUEEN'S RANSOM (aka THE INTERNATIONAL ASSASSIN) where his role is reveresed. Rather than serving the Queen of England, he's in charge of a group of villians planning on killing her during a visit to Hong Kong. Well, sorta. It gets complicated.

For the cover art style I went with a painted collage on a stark, mostly blank background, popular with political thrillers and exploitation films at the time this film was made. A favorite poster style of mine as well. Angela Mao, Jimmy Wang Yu and Bolo Yeung get to flex amongst the Union Jack. 

It's interesting. When I get asked to design a package for a certain film. I watch the movie first. And at some point during the viewing I get a foggy vision of the cover image. The basic shape is there, along with some color and maybe text placement, but the details are fuzzy. I liken the process to being drunk in a bar. (Admittedly an odd analogy since I rarely, if ever, drink. But it's apt.) I can see the exit across the room. It's fuzzy, but it's my destination and I think I can make it. But as I make my way, staggering across the room, I zigzag into a table, get a chair accidentally wrapped around my arm, step in a bucket I can't get off my foot. Maybe pick up a random menu or an ashtray for some unknown reason. But eventually I make it to the exit, winded and perhaps a little worse for wear, but standing at my destination none the less. I made it. 

That's kind of how designing these covers goes. I see my foggy destination, but during the process of creating the final piece it zigs and it zags and goes through changes. It picks up a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Goes in this direction and I steer it back or let it go further sometimes. It's a combination of limitations of my tools, my skills, my time and my imagination along with expectations and requirements of the client all factoring in.

But upon reflection, I think it's that creative process of letting the art go where it tells me and not forcing it back to that initial preconceived notion that makes the journey worthwhile for me as a creative person. The art itself may also benefit. I've come to discover, that fuzzy early concept is only there to get me started in a direction (any direction), but being open to new ideas and fresh inspirations along the way to completing the art, is not only an important part of the process. It is the process.       

And it's the fun. I never know what my brush will do next. Or why the heck there's a bucket on my foot. And that, I find interesting. 

Next time.... things get a little weird.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024



This month marks the 70th birthday of Hong Kong Cinema Superstar JACKIE CHAN! And to honor this special occasion, EASTERN HEROES Magazine is publishing a Special Edition all about 'you know who'. And I was honored to be tasked with creating a special cover for this issue.

RUSH HOUR director, Brett Ratner, is interviewed so his image on the cover was a prerequisite. Something from DRUNKEN MASTER 2 was another request. Otherwise I was left to do pretty much whatever. 

I figured a collage of the birthday boy throughout the years in front of, and behind the camera, was the most obvious direction. (I'm aware these types of commercial projects are not the place for risk-taking, experimental design). Jackie's wife, Joan Lin Feng-jiao, makes an appearance along with Chan's Chinese Drama School chums Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. The man that took Jackie under his wing, Golden Harvest studio head, Raymond Chow, raises his glass in celebration. Bruce Lee makes an appearance as his shadow loomed large over Jackie's early career, and of course Chan died for him in films while working as a lowly stuntman.

And so we remember where it all started, a little cowboy Jackie...stands poised to begin his accent. When he naively and fortuitosly signed up for a ten-year stint under the harsh tutelage of Master Yu Jim-yuen and began his upward spiral into the iconic stratosphere.

It's a rather busy image. For an even more full life. Happy Birthday Mr. Jackie Chan. Thanks for the thrills, the laughs and even a few tears. Seventy years. What a ride.

By the way Jackie, I know slowing down for you is only jumping off one exploading rooftop per day. But you'already left fans with a lifetime of breathtaking entertainment.

You've have earned a break.

If you ever choose to slowdown.

It's okay. We'll completely understand. 

But, like some perpetual motion machine, Jackie seems like he's riding an inertia comet. 
And we're just lucky enough to witness the splendor. 
God speed.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Mystery Solved

Another 'old skool' kung fu flick gets the grundgey, 'vintage-look' treatment. This piece for Joseph Kuo's fan-favorite THE MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING was commissioned for the inlay cover of a Blu-ray release of a transfer of the only known surviving print. Not a negative transfer, but a banged-up 35mm fourty-year-old release print. So naturally the art is lovingly worn to match it's contents. 

The composition depicts the martial art 'players' strategically posing, sparring, and battling across the quadrants of a Xiangqi (Chinese chess) board. The limted color pallate takes it's cues from the game itself. The title spans the "river", with chess pieces in violent motion, mimicing the fighters above, and adding a little visual depth. 

I added folded damage to the art, not knowing that this would also be used as art for an included folded poster. Life imitates art I guess.  

Jackie Chan turns, what?, SEVENTY??? Yep. Already? That's next time...

Friday, March 22, 2024

Send in the CLONES

Welcome back for another increasingly random blog post.

This is a commissioned piece done for the cover of a publication. Since it focused on actors imitating Bruce Lee's appearance and martial arts movements (commonly refered to as "Bruceploitation") in the wake of his untimely passing, I tried to mimic the style of those cheaply painted film posters of the era. Complete with folds and sun damage.  

The four actors, professionally known as, (clockwise) Dragon Lee, Bruce Li, Bruce Leung, Bruce Le, are seen flexing in the looming shadow of Master Bruce. Set against a swirling sunset. The monlythic text, another retro design element, reflects the GAME OF DEATH jumpsuit styling, along with another silhouette of Lee from his statue, posing along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront in Hong Kong. Woooooah Hi-Yaah!

The clones may have faded, but Bruce Lee's "shadow" still looms large in the pop culture zeitgeist long after his sunset.         

Beware the "Xiangqi of Death". That's the game we'll play. Next time.

Sunday, December 31, 2023

STRIKE While the Fist is Hot


Angela Mao returns to the silver screen with 1973's WHEN TAEKWONDO STRIKES. My art for this package takes it's cue from the visual theme I established for a previous double feature of her films. Whereas the main characters were rendered in gray tones for the cover and in-color for the interior booklet of that release, this time I reversed that approach and put more color on the cover. 

The layering of characters, splattering of paint, and the angled, dimensional title text gives it some depth, without implying the film is presented in 3D. 

For the booklet the focus is shifted to Jhoon Rhee. I grew up near his dojo in Washington D.C., so his television commercials with that famous music and "NOBODY BAHDAHS ME, EDAH" slogan was ingrained in my impressionable brain from childhood. It's unfortunate he didn't do more films. But at least this one is getting an HD re-release.  

And for fun, to close out the year, here's some Chrismas card art I did for martial artists Karen Campbell and Cynthia Rothrock. HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody. May your blessings continue.

Catch you on the flip side.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Welcome to the Cult

I did this art for the Blu-ray packaging of Wong Jong's 1993 wuxia flick, KUNG FU CULT MASTER, starring Jet Li perhaps at the peak of his popularity. The first or a proposed two-parter, it's filled with fast-paced, high-flying wire-fu action and the requisite amount of double crosses. Who's on who's side? Well, the cover gives you a hint if you get confused. Heroes on top, villians down below. 

There was some marketing at the time of this release that accidently, and hilariously, mis-titled the film KUNG FU COLT MASTER. I remember the Hong Kong VCD was notrious in this regard. Now THAT'S a movie I'd like to see. The story of a horse who practices martial arts. Somebody get Roger Corman on the phone.

The film is jam-packed with characters, and quite a few big stars, so I felt the cover should reflect that element. Jet needed to loam large in his typical, stoic, offensive/defensive (come at me bro) pose. His name large across the top. While the art style and font choice coveyed the period, fantasy-action aspect of the film, so popular with local audiences at the time. Add some saturated colors to make it pop off a neutral background and bake for 20 minutes to a light orange.

Mao strikes back. Next time.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Urban Action Showcase

I designed this piece for the cover of a publication which showcased black actors/martial artists who flourished in the kung fu/martial arts action film craze that Bruce Lee helped kick off in the early 1970s. In fact, three of them (Jim Kelly, Donnie Williams and Steve Muhammad) appeared in ENTER THE DRAGON which celebrated it's 50th anniversary this year. 

Sammo Hung's protégé, Robert Samuels (DON'T GIVE A DAMN), and Taimak (THE LAST DARGON) round out the composition, along with the 'Little Dragon' himself watching over them.

For fun, I gave it a slight 1970s feel, with "racetrack" borders in green and orange. And I further aged it with some distressing as it was to be used for a limited edition t-shirt as well.

Next time, we send in the clones. Or maybe not. We shall see.