Sunday, July 9, 2017

Artistic Striptease

My daily work on A Princess of Mars is yielding great results. I am now up to about sixteen compositions that will probably work out for inside illustrations. So why have I been remiss on keeping up with the blog, and even more, why am I not showing you the work?
I am facing the dilemma of the classic striptease artist: What to show, what not to show? If I show too much, I risk lowering the value of the book for those who will purchase it when it’s released, and also for those who will support the upcoming Kickstarter for the project and get behind-the-scenes extras. Additionally, I am still developing the style of the illustrations, so I don’t have too much that I feel is surely representative of the final look.
Of course, if I show nothing, I risk losing people’s interest. Oy!
I promise I will reveal more as I am able, and if I am not revealing much, it is in the interests of the book itself and those who will be fans of this book. I can only ask for your faith and patience, and for this post at least, leave you with a little “glimpse of leg” that promises to make it into the final edit of the book.
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Robert Zoltan
July 9th, 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Golden Age of Science Fiction, Part 1

TONIGHT!! 6 pm (PST), on a brand new episode of Literary Wonder & Adventure Show! The Golden Age of Science Fiction, Part 1, with Award-Winning Author Allen Steele (Avengers of the Moon)!

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Robert and Edgar

Monday, June 19, 2017

Literary Wonder & Adventure Show Upcoming Schedule

Some exciting things happening in the coming months in the Dream Tower!

June: The Golden Age of Science Fiction, Part 1
Guest: Award-Winning Author Allen Steele (Avengers of the Moon)

July: The Golden Age of Science Fiction, Part 2
Guest: Editor Rich Horton (The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy)

August: Spaceships and Aliens and AI, Oh My!
Guest: Award-Winning Author Becky Chambers (The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet)

September: Lest Darkness Wreck the Stars
Poet Swordsman Dareon Vin and his Indari Warrior comrade Blue return in another Fantastic Full Audio Fantasy Adventure!
From the Rogues of Merth series by Robert Zoltan.

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Robert and Edgar

Shooting Myself (The Making of a Princess of Mars, Week 8)

That’s what I feel like doing sometimes during this project. But this morning I did it in a less destructive way—with a camera. I shot 125 photos of myself for illustration photo reference (behold the glamour of illustration modeling!). Tiring not only because action scenes are difficult, but also because I have to set timer, pose, shoot, then go and check the shot to see how it looks, adjust my pose to the drawing, shoot again, repeat. 125 times. Regarding my process, I don’t usually come up with ideas, shoot reference and then illustrate that. I do drawings and then shoot reference afterward to improve detail and work out difficult anatomical problems. I shot some good stuff, mostly for A Princess of Mars, but also for the cover of Lest Darkness Wreck the Stars, the new Rogues of Merth: The Adventures of Dareon and Blue story. Coming soon from Dream Tower Media!
The first session with the Dejah Thoris model was postponed due to my cold, but I will be rescheduling that very soon. And if you’re really good, I might even show you a photo or two from that…nahhhhh!
Robert Zoltan
June 19th, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Finally...Green Martians! (The Making of a Princess of Mars, Week 7)

The abstract drawing approach continues to yield results, and moves me ever closer to the specific feeling and style I desire for the book.
I was recently hit with a cold, and was unable to draw yesterday, but felt well enough this morning to pick up the pencil again. I worked in a smaller format frame, about nine by twelve inches, and this is what happened.
After five or six attempts at drawing the Green Martians in the last few weeks, I finally nailed the essence of what I was trying to capture. The Green Martians are difficult to draw because, being true to Burroughs’ description, they can easily appear cartoonish or puppet-like. This time I was able to portray them as if they are actual living beings with distinct character and personalities, caught in a moment during a rest on a march across the desert. I also brought a rather slinking, animated feeling to the creatures, and the scene helped enhance this sensual, lazy, dreamlike vibe.
I hope you enjoy previewing this preliminary sketch. And I hope you like my portrayal of the Green Martians.

Robert Zoltan

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Emperor’s No Clothes (The Making of a Princess of Mars, Week 6)

Of my many artistic decisions for this project, the subject of clothes and ornamentation remains a primary detail. In my ongoing study of Burroughs’ text for A Princess of Mars, I find that the idea of the Red Martians not wearing any clothes is not as straightforward as it may seem, though it seems to be one believed my many readers. My fellow Burroughs’ fans, I refer you to three excerpts from the manuscript:
“She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.” (Dejah Thoris, Chapter 8)
Perhaps Burroughs was referring to only Green Martians and Dejah Thoris at the time of her capture when he stated that they were without clothes. He evidently was not referring to all Red Martians, for later, we read:
“Again no Martian interfered with me, and tearing a piece of silk from my cape I endeavored to staunch the flow of blood from her nostrils.” (John tending to Dejah, Chapter 10)
“The chill of the Martian night was upon us, and removing my silks I threw them across the shoulders of Dejah Thoris.” (John caring for Dejah, Chapter 13)
So, in effect, some Red Martians did wear clothes at times. Perhaps they did at night when the temperature dropped, and surely in the regions nearer the Poles. Or, Burroughs did not consider the word apparel to cover capes or what seems to possibly be a silk wrapping of some type, perhaps similar to a toga. Or perhaps he simply loosened the idea of clothing as the novel went on. Who can say?
Fortunately, this ambiguity serves me as an artist, allowing me to stay true to the novel while granting me license to do what will best serve the visual images!
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Robert Zoltan
June 2nd, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Little Breakthroughs and Big Green Martians (Making of A Princess of Mars, WEEK 5)

Little Breakthroughs
Good news! Working on the project every day, and trying the abstract approach I described in the WEEK 4 entry (The Place of Unknowing) is starting to yield wonderful results. The image you see was started as a complete abstract drawing. Then I began to see forms and pulled them out. Dejah Thoris in front, Woola behind her on a step of the rock, John Carter looking to the right and hand on sword, and Sola at top right. Now the challenge is to keep the spontaneous feel as I continue to refine the drawing, ink it, and move on to a color peace if it goes well.

Big Green Martians
I have done three drawings of Green Martians thus far, and the last is probably the most accurate, though the first one is very weird, which is kind of cool. The second looks a bit like a mix between a Green Martian and a Klingon. What's probably giving me the most trouble is Burroughs description that their eyes sit at the extreme sides of their heads. That's all well and good if you're a grasshopper (which is what I'm starting to think they should look like), but when you put eyes on the very sides of the head, the viewer of a picture will really only see one eye at a time unless the Green Martian is facing forward. And how does one draw eye sockets and brow ridges on the side of the head? Also, not having eyes affects the whole facial structure—bones, muscles, skin, everything. And, having only slits for a nose means no frown lines, for the most part. I don't want to overthink this, but I do want to understand the structure since I am drawing a Green Martian more than once. And I don't want the Green Martian to look like a
puppet, which is how Frazetta's do sometime on the paintings (especially A Princess of Mars), but his inkings of Green Martians for some reason look better. But hey, maybe they should look like puppets. Huge, malevolent grasshopper puppets! I don't know. Still trying to work it out.

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More next week!

Robert Zoltan