My obsession with comic strips, comic books, spaceships and science fiction started with watching the reruns of the Flash Gordon serials (starring Buster Crabbe) on television. I can still remember being captivated as I watched them early Saturday or Sunday mornings with my Father and brother. As a young artist, the serials made an incredible impression on me and my imagination took off.
I have a good friend who is a huge vintage sci-fi and rocketship collector. He has an amazing collection and awhile back we got on the topic of Flash Gordon collectibles. He remarked that, in his opinion, there wasn't an ultimate Flash Gordon painting out there that truly captured the verve of the beloved serial or Buster Crabbe. Everything was nostalgic and not contemporary. We talked about all the great moments of the serial, the visuals and how it would be a great personal project for me. He then talked me into doing this as a commission for him (as well as using it as a promotional piece).
We started to discuss what it should look like and all the elements that it needed in the homage. I've saved you from viewing some of the awful scribbles that I did while we originally chatted about the scope of the piece. Instead I've selected some of the early thumbnails that came out of the discussions and then you'll see how I progressed and narrowed down the elements and design.
I thought that I had it with this one, so I started to focus on the details. Notes were written and I began looking for good reference.
Then I roughed this one out, one day while looking at the development. Something about it felt "right". Even though you probably can't tell by looking at this rough. The design and composition fell into place. So I started to focus on this one:
And from here I narrowed down my references and started to work on individual studies:
The Buster Crabbe study really didn't capture his likeness very well. But, from here I realized what my mistakes were when I began working on the painting.
Everything developed directly on the board. I don't usually start a painting without doing tight pencil drawings and studies to get my homework done. This way I feel like I worked out my problems ahead of time and then I can concentrate on just painting. This one was an exception. Simply, because I was running behind on my self imposed deadline and I wanted to finish it for the upcoming Pulp Show and start showing friends what I'd been working on for the last three - four months (in between assignments).
I started to draw directly on the board, putting all the elements in place and any problems that arose I simply solved them as they occurred.
Once that I completed the drawing (which took about 5 days), I blocked in my darks with Acrylics and started the painting.
The painting took a good week of 10 to 12 hour days. Fortunately, I found a break in my schedule and was able to paint it within that weeks time with some fine tuning of minor details here and there the following week.
Please view the finished painting at my website: www.douglasklauba.com