Friday, January 29, 2016

How to Draw Ghost Rider

Cover Artist: Bob McLeod
Published: Jan. 1996
Original Price: $14.95
Writer: Steve Behling
Artist: Bob McLeod
Colorist: Bongotone
This was an over-sized book published by Walter Foster Publishing as part of the Marvel "How to Draw" series.
From the back cover: "Ready to create your own imaginary world with your favorite Marvel Comics superheroes and villains? HOW TO DRAW GHOST RIDER shows you how, with easy-to-follow steps and tips from real Marvel artists. Before you know it, you'll be drawing Ghost Rider, his allies and archenemies, and their equipment and vehicles in many exciting, action-filled Marvel scenes. So grab a pencil and get going - ol' Skullhead is waiting for you!"
The characters included are: Ghost Rider, John Blaze, Vengeance, Zarathos, Centurious, Doctor Strange, and Morbius. It also has lessons on drawing the motorcycles for Ghost Rider, Blaze, and Vengeance, and how to draw street scenes with two-point perspective.
The characters and storylines referenced in this book are from the "Siege of Darkness" era, which ran from Ghost Rider (1990) # 41 to Ghost Rider (1990) # 46.
Back in the mid-1990s, Marvel was riding high on a string of successful adaptations of their characters to animated cartoon shows for Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. The next character that Marvel slotted for an animated series was Ghost Rider; and while the cartoon never happened (due to producers finding the demonic aspects of the character too much for children) there was nevertheless an onslaught of merchandise produced to tie-in with the show. I've spoken before about the toy line, but another interesting product was the "How to Draw Ghost Rider" book.
I have to admit, this is a nice looking book. I wouldn't have thought that artist Bob McLeod, most well-known for being the co-creator of the New Mutants, would have been an appropriate fit for Ghost Rider. His work, after all, was more suited to brightly colored superheroes than it was the supernatural. I found it to be a genuine surprise that the character work McLeod produced for this book was great! Beyond how good the art looks, the way he breaks down how to draw each character was really cool and informative. Most impressive to me is how he breaks down the illustrations of the various motorcycles, which I always imagined to be the hardest part of the series for artists to draw. The only complaint I really have is how some artists during this period, including McLeod, drew Ghost Rider with his muscles showing like he was wearing spandex. He wears a leather jacket and jeans, people! Muscles should not be shown, especially on the arms, and the only artists that ever really got this correct was Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira.
Interestingly enough is the period in which this book was produced. Despite the line having ended by 1996, the "How to Draw" book (and the toy line for that matter) drew heavily from the "Midnight Sons" and "Siege of Darkness" period of the Ghost Rider series. While that era of the character's history wasn't the most popular with the readers, you can't deny that the character designs for guys like Centurious and Morbius were great (and hey, at least they didn't go for Blaze's awful cyborg look). The writer isn't much, but that's okay since the artwork is the main selling point of the book (though I thought it hilarious that they referred to hellfire as "spirit-fire" because of the kiddies).
So, all in all this is an interesting example of Ghost Rider's merchandising blitz back in the 1990s. It's certainly not essential for any collection, but I don't think you'd be disappointed if you picked it up - I might even have fun drawing some of the Ghost Rider poses!
Grade: B