Friday, February 15, 2013


My experience in getting the album signed by both of it's composers is something I wanted to write about for a long time.

Out of all the soundtracks I was fortunate to get autographed, the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance OST was probably the hardest to get done.  The music for the game was created by Nobuo Uematsu and Hitoshi Sakimoto, and the two men haven't appeared together at any of the concerts I've attended.   I think Uematsu has appeared in the U.S. far more than any other Japanese composer currently residing in Japan.  I was able to meet with Mr. Uematsu several times over the many concerts I've enjoyed, but only met Mr. Sakimoto once. 

One more thing, I'm an extremely shy person.  Being so shy it takes a lot for me to meet composers, I always feel like I've made a fool of myself.  Fortunately all of the composers I had the chance to meet with are very gracious, humble people.  That still doesn't make it any easier for me.  Sheesh, I totally can't handle it.

In 2006 I was following the Play! A Video Game Symphony tour around the U.S. and in Detroit Mr. Sakimoto and Ms. Yoko Shimomura were the guests.  Among the soundtracks I bought for Mr. Sakimoto to sign was the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance OST.  At the time, I never imagined I would meet Mr. Uematsu again, so I was happy just getting Mr. Sakimoto to sign it.  I also had my Breath of Fire V,  Kingdom Hearts I & II and  Final Fantasy XII soundtracks with me.

I have a habit of trying to get the CD's and the liner notes signed whenever the opportunity presented itself, and I felt very lucky, even though the line was long, Mr. Sakimoto did it for me for the FF Tactics Advance OST.  He was great, and even thanked me for getting the limited edition of the FF XII Soundtrack.  I think at the time his English was not as sharp as it is today, so I didn't get to have much of a conversation with him.

I had actually run into Mr. Uematsu again at the Toronto Play! Concert in the Fall of 2006.  This was a very rushed autograph session, not much time for anything.  I got the FF VII OST signed for my brother, and a couple more that I can't recall.     

Fast forward to the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds Inaugural Concert in Chicago, December 2009.
This time I came prepared for the autograph session.  Well, as best as I could.   I was very impressed by Mr. Uematsu's English as he spoke to the crowd following the concert.  (WHICH WAS AMAZING)  However, I was still nervous thinking about meeting the legend again.  Like I said, I can't handle it!  Now, after the show, I was finally about to try and get this album signed by it's other composer.

Mr. Uematsu asked "why are you shaking?."  I nearly died laughing!  That was actually good for breaking the ice, and I felt much more comfortable then.  When I presented him with the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance OST, Mr. Uematsu immediately noticed Mr. Sakimoto's signature.  Then he said something which I'll never forget:  "Oh, Sakimoto-San, he's my friend, we were very drunk."

That was one of the best times of my life!

Thursday, February 07, 2013


Captain America #193 was the issue Jack Kirby returned not only to Marvel, but to writing and drawing the hero he created along with Joe Simon.  The cover, inked by John Romita, was an experiment in creating a 3D effect.  The gimmick didn't work out as planned, according to what I've read, but we were still presented with one of the most dynamic comic book covers ever created.  It's definitely my favorite cover of all time.

I managed to get a copy of the book several years ago at Anime Weekend Atlanta, and always had it hanging on the wall.  The cover is just so inspiring to me.  In early 2012 I decided to try remaking the cover with Megaman.  If you know me at all, you know I love drawing Megaman!  Shortly after I penciled it, my computer crashed and was unable to be repaired.  At the time, the funds to get a new one just weren't available to me until December.

By the time I got new system, I had amassed quite a collection of unfinished pencil artwork I'd done during those lonely 8 months without a computer.  I figured if I wanted to do this recreation the way I imagined, I would need one.

With everything back in order, I went straight for the pencils I made and began inking away.  By the time I was done, I really liked the way it came out.  The colors were done with a mouse, but I didn't use my normal color mapping technique, so the inks were preserved.  I don't currently use a tablet, which is why I usually map my colors out with a pen.  The results of my color mapping often render the original art useless, unless I do them from a photocopy.  This cover has been in my Deviant Art gallery for a little while now, but I really wanted to tell the story about it here.  I hope you enjoy seeing the stages and the finished product!  Here are the pencil, ink and color stages with a few notes:

The original pencils were done on 8 1/2 X 11 typing paper.  Here is a photo of the pencils alongside the actual comic book.

Here are the inks!  I traded Falcon for Protoman, and replaced all of the angry mob with Robot Masters.  Can you name all of them?  The little Megaman in the upper left was eventually redrawn and digitally resized to fit with the other text and images.

Here is the finished product!  I used Photoshop Elements 9 and Photo Impression 4 quite a bit in this stage.  I digitally transferred the "Madbomb" text and all of the rest from a scan of the original cover, also digitally adding the Megaman logo at the top.  I changed the text in the blurb where it normally said "King Kirby is back!", to "Inafking is back!", referring to Keiji Inafune, the "father" of Megaman, who recently left Capcom.  I digitally signed it as "GMF" in the upper left where the month of release was previously, and added a dedication at the bottom where Kirby and Romita's signatures were.  Now that this one is complete, I've set my sites on recreating Liefeld and McFarlane's classic New Mutants #87 cover with Megaman! Later!!