Tuesday, February 05, 2008

One From The Vault

Back in the latter half of the 90s, I found myself working on various mini series, annuals, and one-shots as opposed to an ongoing monthly title. This left me time in my schedule to do work for Marvel's Creative Services department. These were the people who commissioned art for liscencing, coloring books, toy packages, statues, and a million other projects.

You may remember that in the 90s there was a boom of theme restaurants, like Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock cafe and a zillion others. In 1998, Marvel decided to get in on the act and opened "Marvel Mania Hollywood" on CityWalk alongside the Universal Studios theme park in the greater Los Angeles area. Creative services asked me to draw some character shots for the restaurant's menu and provided me with a template of odd shaped panels to place them in. Here's the results, inked by Scott Koblish -

(click images to enlarge)

Marvel generally wanted the characters to be "on model" and provided me with current reference for some of the characters. I'm certain, for instance, that the Fin Fang Foom drawing was based on John Romita Jr.'s version. The Sinister Six illustration on the other hand, was obviously based on Ditko's versions of the characters, which I'm sure was my own decision since, as I've stated before, it was my favorite comic as a kid. Anyway, I did the drawings, sent them off, and never heard anymore about them.

Flash forward 10 years to Christmas 2007. I received The Marvel Vault as a gift. It's full of reproductions of various collectibles and little seen memorabilia from throughout Marvel's history. I didn't really get a chance to look through it too much until last week when I was sick, and guess what I found on page 169? If you said "the Marvel Mania menu", then you were obviously actually paying attention to this rambling post. Here it is, in all of it's full color glory -

The restaurant only lasted about 2 years, so I never expected to see this long forgotten art actually in print. It was a nice surprise.


francis tsai said...


haha get it?

Kyle Latino said...

Sinister Strawberry Shortcake... Nice.

thedanofsteel said...

Wow that would've been a cool surprise. I really get a buzz (no pun intended) outta seeing Electro. Growing up it was always the Spidey vs Electro fights I hung out for.

Rich said...

That's really cool, and I bet that was a good moment when you ran across that. I'll have to add that Marvel Vault to my next Amazon order.

Shadow Mood said...

Love the "classic" Dr. Doom pose !

Dusty. said...

Wow, what a freaking coincidence! I was just online a few days ago looking for Captain America stuff online, and I was baffled to find that there is nothing displaying the Epting version of the character in any merchandised venue. I would expect Marvel to be pushing this image. I also noticed that the modern version of Steve Rogers' Cap costume is basically nowhere to be found, with the classic "fish scale" version being representative of Captain America.

I can certainly understand why you were asked to do those by Marvel's licensing department, Steve. If you still know anybody there, can you please ask them to get some of your Cap stuff in circulation so fans like myself can buy it up?

Steve Epting said...

You guys are hilarious :)

Dan - I love Electro too. Ditko's costume designs were like nothing else out there. Electro, Kraven, and especially Mysterio are utterly insane looking, but I love them!

Rich - Amazon is selling the Marvel Vault for 16 bucks now (originally $50). Well worth it.

Dusty - It could just be that I haven't done a full figure splash that would work well. Ed is not big on splash pages. It's funny you should mention this though. No one knows it, but at about half of the current Spider-Man licensing art is mine. Right before I started on Cap I did 7 or 8 Spider-Man drawings that were digitally painted by Scott Johnson. They've been on everything from toy packages to calendars to Universal Studios billboards in Orlando. I'll do an entry about them in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for the comments!

Scott Koblish said...

Hey! I inked those! I hadn't seen these in years!
I also drew the "action" shirts and sweaters at the bottom of the menu - boy I had a lot of fun with all of these - Steve you did a bang up job!
And I love your work on Captain America! It's my favorite book!
all the best-
Scott Koblish