Sketchbook: The art of vulcanized rubber as canvas

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I spent this past weekend, as I always do the third weekend in June, at the Heroes Comic Convention in beautiful North Carolina. It’s a show I’ve been doing for over a decade, and it’s a great chance to catch up with friends and other creators ... and thanks to my Old-Timey Hockey Tales comic’s ever-present place on my exhibitor table, everyone can easily see I’m a hockey fan, which leads to a lot of good hockey talk.

You’d be surprised how often the fanbases of comic books and ice hockey intersect. I always meet and chat with followers of many different teams over the show’s three days, but the best conversations are the ones I have with Penguins fans, sharing our excitement, emotions and in many cases, utter disbelief over the amazing results of the last two seasons.

In addition to selling comics, I usually make a little extra income at the show by doing sketches for folks … just a little custom piece of art, generally created over the three-day weekend, sometimes in a sketchbook, sometimes on a sheet of Bristol board, and occasionally, even on a hockey puck! Naturally, the topic often turns to sports, and more often than not, Pittsburgh sports specifically. I thought it’d be a cool little feature to share just a few of my efforts over the years.

A few years back, my pal Jeff, who’s also a Hurricanes season-ticket holder, suggested that it might be a cool idea to do sketches on hockey pucks, and brought one along for me to experiment with. I’m known in comics circles for my ability to draw an attractive pinup, so I created this image in Sharpie. Jeff later took it to a Canes meet-and-greet, and had it autographed by Jordan Staal.

Some other pucks, including one of Evgeni Malkin, which I particularly love. The other, featuring Jaromir Jagr, got away from me a little bit -- nobody ever said drawing on vulcanized rubber was easy -- but I salvaged it with Jags’ epic flow, and the recipient was very happy.

Last year, a fellow asked for this piece to commemorate the Penguins newly-minted championship. Another pinup, this one dressed in a Phil Kessel jersey and holding a Stanley Cup full of hot dogs. Perfection.

I was very pleased with this suggestion: None other than Dracula in Cleats himself, Jack Lambert. I believe this was given as a Father’s Day present, which is just about the highest honor as an artist I can imagine.

Others from the recent past: An “old-timey” Penguin, a “Bumblebee Era” Pirates pinup, a triptych of Sidney Crosby and the ol’ Two-Niner, Phil Bourque.

And of course, in the interest of equal time…


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