It’s a Robert Kline special this month! In this installment, you will see a dozen or so images you will not have seen anywhere else!
Robert Kline Special
Because of an overload of current work, I don’t have the time necessary to do a normal Ink Stains column, so I figured I would show you a sampling of the 150 odd images Robert Kline gave me to use in conjunction with a video interview I conducted with him a few months ago. I intend to transcribe some of the interview conducted at his house in Southern California, as well as provide the entire actual video interview. For those of you that might be new to the column, Robert Kline burst on the fandom scene around 1969 (at about the age you see him above), contributing regularly to fanzines such as The Collector, Fantastic Fanzine, Trumpet, Comic Crusader, Anomaly, and many more. Then…he disappeared! Everyone thought he would make it big in comics, but he decided to be able to provide for his new family, that animation was the way for him to go. Kline has been working in the animation industry for the last 40 years, and is very close to retiring. I have always loved his work, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been allowed into his home to see a plethora of original work and talk for a few hours about his incredible career. Now I can share at least a bit of that with you! Also, I am adding quotes from Bob as I get them about each piece.
“Clouds:” This one above grew one pterosaur at a time. I drew the original in pencil on bond paper, scanning it and painting it maybe a year later in photoshop. There is a very old illustration that continues to make me feel that flying reptiles should be depicted in shades of brown.
“Cretaceous:” Above, this was done with acrylics and prismacolor pencils for an advanced rendering class I attended at the Art Center College of Design in 1972. It is one panel of a triptych I did on the subject. They won me my only display time on the exhibit walls of the school.
“Rex:” This piece above started out as a prismacolor drawing in one of my sketchbooks. The classic “Time Travelers Hunting Dinosaurs” theme has been a favorite since early childhood. The coloring of this was one of my first photoshop efforts.
“Barbarian:” Above, this is my most recent attempt to create a Frazetta-like image. Apart from the overall drawing approach and style, I was interested in making the warrior have a savagely unleashed attitude and showing the horse to be worried/frightened. This seemed to me to be a regular F.F. approach. Originally a pencil drawing, it was painted much later in photoshop.
“Marco Polo:” While not politically correct, this piece above seemed like fun for a revisionist high adventure with possibly comic overtones (check out the old Gary Cooper movie.) The clean drawing was done over a light blue rough in pencil on 20 lb. bond then scanned and colored in photoshop. I hope to take the time to do a comics story in this style now that my animation career is a thing of the past.
“Forest Bird:” Above, this one started as a straight ahead drawing. Utilizing no rough, it was done with a rolling writer on bond paper. I regularly find myself drawing on inexpensive copy paper. Scanned into photoshop at a later date all the shading, texturing and rendering was done with digital tools.
“Hunter:” This piece above started as a light blue pencil sketch based on a publicity still from an old B movie. It was cleaned up in graphite and scanned into photoshop where the color was added. The background foliage was originally a photograph which was manipulated with various photoshop filters.
“Avalon”: This watercolor (above) is based on a photo my Mom took on the New Jersey shore at Avalon where she used to summer as a young girl. I invented the birds and the woman. I did a first version of this in acrylics. A girlhood friend of my mother bought the acrylics version at one of my shows. It was fun leaving the white spaces for the fine east coast sand in this one. The work of Ted Kautzky and John Pike is my main inspiration for this kind of piece.
“Pelicans:” Photo reference was used for the birds in this watercolor above. The setting was imagined.
“Surf:” This watercolor above is based on a photo taken on the coast between Carmel and Monterey. The challnge for me was to try and give an oft used subject a bit of it’s own spin.
“Monuments:” Above is an oil painting that was done straight ahead with no preliminary work. I didn’t use any reference. The content was dredged up from memory and imagination. One of my few successful oils.
“Beach Girls:” This (above) was painted in the 70’s and is based on a photo I took in Malibu. The women are a random group arriving for a day at the beach. I used acrylic on Masonite for this one.
“Scots:” This is based on a photo taken at the renaissance fair around 1975. This loose calligraphic watercolor style is a preference of mine, but it takes courage, experience and lots of luck.
“Mom & Car:” I found an old snapshot from around 1941 of my Mom when she was around 17. The snapshot measures only about 2 X 3. I blew it up in photoshop and worked over a light blue print. Then using blue transfer paper traced the drawing to a cold pressed Arches watercolor block. After clean-up in graphite, the image above was painted with Winsor & Newton transparent water colors.
“Weird World” (above) started as a growing doodle that was probably done on vacation. It wasn’t planned in advance, but grew outward from an original small element. It was drawn with a Pentel rolling writer on 20 lb. bond. Working straight ahead like this I’ll often adopt a somewhat Moebius rendering style. The color and color textures were added years later in photoshop. I scanned a watercolor painted texture for a starting point.
“City:” This piece above started as a pencil sketch on bond paper. The ground elements and distant buildings were created in photoshop as I added color to the image. Syd Mead’s design ideas were obviously a big influence on my thinking.
“Fighter Landscape:” The original drawing above of a single fighter clearly has a Star Wars influence. Again, this was pencil on bond paper. By the time I decided to add color in photoshop, I had been experimenting with its various tools and texturing capabilities. Adapting some of my previous experiments I concocted the landscape, domes and sky. The 2nd and 3rd fighters are duplicates of the first.
I hope to have the actual full interview ready for you at some point in the near future. For the time being, I hope you were as impressed with the breadth of Kline’s skills and technique as I am and was!
Tune in next month for a full installment of Ink Stains, probably featuring another multi-issue feature of The Collector, thanks to Aaron Caplan.
Ken Meyer Jr.