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Old 10-27-2006, 10:31 AM   #1
Kdawg59
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Moore Statue Thor vs. Silver Surfer Debut / Interview

It is no secret that Clayburn Moore is one of the most talented professionals to ever grace the sculpting world. His work has been lauded by his rabid fans for years. His talent knows no limits. His skill and artistry knows no bounds. He is a modern master who has a storied career and portfolio of pieces most folks would kill for. But beyond that, he’s a great storyteller and a scholar. When I was approached to talk to him about this particular piece we’ll be discussing here, I was more than happy to do so. We have been waiting and hoping for this piece to see the light of day. Clay has finished this piece and despite not knowing the future outcome, has still decided that he would share it with us, his fans.

A few years ago Clayburn was working on a piece for Dynamic Forces, who then held a Marvel License. The license ran in to a snag and eventually said piece went into limbo, possibly to never see production. It gives me great pleasure to present to you here and now, my interview with Clay, and photos of his Thor vs. Silver Surfer, cover to Silver Surfer #4, diorama.





SF: Clay this piece has been in limbo for a couple of years now. Tell us about its history and how it came to be. Tell us where it has hit snags, where it has been successful?

CSM: Well, Nick Barrucci over at Dynamic Forces had asked me to sculpt a few pieces for the Marvel license he had at that time. I had always been a fan of Marvel, especially the Silver Age. I sculpted the Wolverine in the Sewer and Mary Jane as part of that arrangement.

When we first met to discuss the projects that would be sculpted, the cover to Silver Surfer #4 was my suggestion. It was one of my favorite covers from the Silver Age of Marvel and I thought it would make a great sculpture. Nick enthusiastically agreed.

I didn't get to start the piece as soon as I'd hoped. Thor was fully approved and the Surfer was just about finished and had been approved by Marvel up to that point. Nick was coming to the end of the license and he hoped that he could negotiate an extension. Unfortunately, the contract was not extended, so there it is.

SF: This raises an interesting point Clay. When you started this piece it was for Dynamic Forces with Nick’s license. Was there much art direction coming from Dynamic Forces or were you left pretty much to your own devices? How did it change (if at all) once the license fell through and you were in complete control of the final result... in essence when you became your own client?

CSM: I was always in full control of the project. I wasn't working for Nick, I was working with Nick. The reason he wanted to work with me was because he knows that I know sculpture. Working with Nick is never a problem from a creative standpoint. My opinion creatively, always took precedence, although he has a great love of comics and comic artists.

Consequently, the project never changed one detail from beginning to end. As long as Marvel approved, there were no changes. If it were taken up by another company, DST or something, there might be changes for financial reasons, or if Marvel wanted the piece changed, but even DST wanted me to have free rein on the projects I worked on with them.




SF: It crushes fans when they see a piece that is this amazing and believe they might never be able to have one for their collection. As an artist and Marvel Silver Age fan, was it your love of these characters, this cover, drive to finish the piece, or hopes that it would still be produced that has led you to complete it?

CSM: I decided to finish the piece, as I still wanted it completed if only for my own collection. I finished the Surfer and then worked up the base in between other projects. It took some time, but I'm glad that I got it done. Michael Measles then molded it. Paul Moore painted Thor and Jim Rowell painted the Surfer, the base, and the background.

SF: You have done a beautiful job in capturing this scene. What types of difficulties did you see in doing a piece like this, versus a more subtle standing pose without such an elaborate base in forced perspective?

CSM: Thanks. Anytime you are rendering a particular scene or copying a 2-D piece of art, there are compromises that have to be made. You make your best effort and most collectors understand that. The biggest problem was the question of how to attach the Surfer to the base. It's not a matter of attaching it, but how best to attach it so that it works, and serves the look of the piece the best.

In this case, we attached him to the top of the background. It allowed us to compact the base a bit so the base wasn't as huge as it might have been. A piece like this requires a certain suspension of disbelief by the viewer to be successful. I hope we achieved that in this sculpture.
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Old 10-27-2006, 10:32 AM   #2
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SF: The way you have captured depth in this piece with the rainbow bridge and the golden city of Asgard is quite brilliant. Was that something that you had to figure out in the planning stages or something you worked through later in the design?

CSM: I don't think I even mocked this piece up. First, it was a matter of sculpting Thor, then the Surfer, and then arranging them full size to see how big the piece could be, versus how big it should be. After setting the figures in relation to one another, it was a matter of fitting the other elements around them.

On the cover by Buscema, Thor isn't quite arranged so that he is facing the Surfer. Buscema did the drawing more quickly than I sculpted the statue, and drew it so that it worked visually in 2D. I needed to adjust for that while still making a statue that closely approximated the cover.

SF: To go with that... This cover is obviously rendered (beautifully so) in 2D. Basically we only see it from the perspective in which Buscema intended. What type of liberties, corrections, or changes must you make in translating this piece to 3D while remaining so faithful in pose and dynamics of this sculpt?

Most obviously people were wondering in how you would handle the Surfer being in mid-flight. These pictures obviously answer that and it looks fantastic, but there had to have still been challenges no?

CSM: Right. Like I said before, Buscema wanted to show Thor from a certain angle so that his face was showing, and the Surfer from an angle that best showed him. The two bodies don't exactly line up if placed in exactly the same position from which John drew them.

Artists doing a 2-D piece of art don't need to figure out all angles for the piece nor should they. It needs to work from one angle. Although I was copying the drawing, there are certain subtle things one can do to make the piece work better in 3-D while still being true to the original art.

Even the size was a key decision. I would have liked to make Thor and SS much bigger, but from a marketing standpoint, the piece had to be large enough to be effective, but small enough to be able to be packaged and shipped properly.

Now Sideshow is doing huge pieces and they arrive in huge boxes. This piece is a good size, though. About one-eighth scale.



SF: Now that the piece is done, will you shop it around to see if you can have it produced at a company with the proper Marvel license or is it at this point a personal piece?

I personally have always hoped that us fans could get in on what is one of the most dynamic and incredible Marvel Comics cover recreations ever sculpted.


CSM: I don't plan on shopping it to any of the US license holders. I'd like to see it produced, of course. Whether it would be produced or not, I wanted to finish it. I wanted to see how it would come together as a finished and painted representation of that incredible cover.

SF: With no obvious deadline in place on this piece Clay, how did you juggle your other many projects and still find time to make sure this one was finished properly?

CSM: I just had to decide that I was going to finish it. It needed about 60 hours work and that's a tough decision when you have other projects and other priorities, all of which are important.

For months all I had to do was to sculpt Asgard in relief and it would be done. I finally did that.

SF: What has been your favorite part of sculpting this piece? Personally I think the characters looked fantastic as individual sculpts but wasn't able to truly appreciate the piece as much as I do now seeing it all assembled.

The Rainbow Bridge actually looks like it is trailing back to the golden city far off in the background. The Surfer actually looks like he is in natural flight. The power and tension of Thor’s pose and anatomy is incredible. The Silver Surfer displays grace despite obviously showing fury and power.

Clay this piece is in a class of it's own and you must be very happy with the result.

CSM: Thanks, again. I think I'm a better sculptor now than even three years ago when I sculpted Thor. I was in a car wreck just after finishing the two figures and broke my right wrist and arm. I had to have a steel plate and some screws put in my right arm. That definitely slowed everything down for months, but I think I'm doing my finest work these days. I like the piece, but I'd do some fine tuning that I didn't think of then. The Surfer works well and I'm still happy with him. I enjoyed making his hands as expressive as I could.


SF: I would agree that you are indeed doing your best work these days Clay. That is a considerable claim in lieu of your extensive and incredible resume.

How was it when you were first trying to sculpt again after the accident?

Obviously you haven't lost your touch, but was there anything that you can pull away from that time that was actually a plus for your sculpting?


CSM: Not exactly regarding sculpting, but I do feel like someone up there likes me. I've been lucky throughout my life. I've had some difficult times, but I've been very, very lucky. I could have had bad nerve damage, but there was only a little lost and it doesn't affect my sculpting. I was impatient and I don't like being inactive.

I used to walk a lot and I did light workouts with ankle weights strapped to my cast to keep the muscles from atrophying too much, especially the shoulder. I think that helped the nerves as a side affect. I also did physical therapy for 3 months and those exercises helped very much.

SF: We’re definitely thankful that you were not too seriously hurt Clay.

A certain amount of this piece owes a bit of success to the assembly and the prototype paint job. How much do you oversee the process on a piece like this (even though you have a 100% quality mold guy in Michael and talented painters like Jim, and Paul)? Specifically I am talking about the bridge on the backdrop retaining it's 3d feel.

CSM: Jim Rowell and I discussed it fully. He naturally wanted to put more into it than it needed. I told him to rein it in as they used very simple inks in the 60's. He then just relaxed and painted it up and it looks great.

The bigger discussion involved the Surfer. In the 60's they made him white with an ink line representing the reflection of his chrome skin. I wanted to show him white and approximate the ink reflection line just as they did then.

I didn't like the way he's been handled by other companies in a standard silver. I like what Jim did in the white, but it only worked well from one angle. We decided to paint the Surfer with two other silver surfaces. One is called Alclad or something like that and the other was Rustoleum.

The Rustoleum was Jim's idea and I was skeptical, but it works. Michael Measles advised on the project and his input was very valuable. He originally suggested the Alclad, although Jim was familiar with it. The more I look at the two silver effects, the more I like them. I thought the anatomy would be lost, but it wasn't. I look forward to reading which look the readers like best.



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Old 10-27-2006, 10:33 AM   #3
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SF: You have so many projects in the works Clay for more independent comic book companies and talent, what was it like to get in there and work on this piece based on characters that I know you love?

I like doing the old Marvel characters, but still don't intend to pursue the license. Doing a Marvel piece is nice occasionally, but it was as much of a tribute to John Buscema as anything. He and Kirby were simply the Best. I got to meet John before he passed, but I wish I'd known him better. He was an extraordinary talent

SF: You mention that Big John Buscema and the King Jack Kirby were among the very best. You have completed this amazing piece based on a famous Buscema cover.

Are there any other covers that you have equally fond memories of that you would to take on? I'm not talking for a license holder either. I am talking in a perfect world where you have the time and the inspiration...

CSM: The cover to Silver Surfer #1 is great, but I think someone did that.

FF #51 is a favorite comic, but DST did that recently. A pretty good job, too, but the Thing should have been done Kirby style.

The cover to Captain America by Steranko where Cap is holding the shield over his head (110 or 112?) I could do right by, but DST has started doing those, like the Nick Fury #1 cover.

I don't miss any of these sculptures, though. Buscema and Kirby were incredible as comics artists. Frank Frazetta, however, is a talent that really defines the expression "transcends the genre".

No, if I'm going to do more covers, they would be from Frazetta's work. We're about to make an announcement about that, by the way. But regarding any more comics cover sculptures, I'd never say "Never again". Still, I'd rather clear my schedule enough to do some original pieces. That's why I'm so excited about doing Kull of Atlantis, as it will be my take on the character-not based on anyone else's work. I'm using only the written material by Robert E. Howard from the stories.

SF: Exciting news about Kull indeed Clay. This will be a much awaited piece and thank you for the “carrot”.

Clay, I’d like to thank you again for doing this. It means a lot to your fans to have this piece see completion. It's too bad that John Buscema can't be here to see it as I am sure he would say that which we are all thinking. You have taken one of the most famous covers in Marvel history and you have not only brought the drawing to life and into the 3rd dimension, but you have also brought yourself to the piece, made sure that it has gone to the next level (and then some), and I dare say take the whole concept to a level that only Clay Moore’s talent can realize.

This is one of the many reasons why your fan base is as loyal as we are and great that you can share this great story with us.

CSM: I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss the piece. Thanks very much Keith.
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Old 10-27-2006, 07:20 PM   #4
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Open for business gang.. enjoy
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Old 10-27-2006, 07:26 PM   #5
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Damn. Wait til they get a load of this.
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Old 10-27-2006, 07:42 PM   #6
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Beautiful statue. Great article. As expected, Clay did a fabulous job.
In the right hands, I could see this piece easily reaching 5000 sales.




P.S. Any pictures taken from behind the statue? I'd love to see a pic of the Surfer taken from his right side.

P.P.S. Given that this is a VS type piece, doesn't that make this SS territory? Would BD (or even MooreAction), for example, even be able to release this even if they wanted to?
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Old 10-27-2006, 07:45 PM   #7
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OH LORDY....I want one bad
That IMO is the best Marvel Cover period.
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Old 10-27-2006, 07:48 PM   #8
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oh man this piece is awsome!!! it came out great, the base is out of this wolrd, is a must have for me! can't wait to have this!!!

Last edited by d rod; 10-27-2006 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 10-27-2006, 08:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by risingstar View Post
P.P.S. Given that this is a VS type piece, doesn't that make this SS territory? Would BD (or even MooreAction), for example, even be able to release this even if they wanted to?
It might be but this is a classic style and the Sideshow pieces generally aren't. Not that I wouldn't love it if Sideshow picked this up but I don't see it happening.
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Old 10-27-2006, 08:14 PM   #10
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Okay this is just stunning!!! I hope I can one day have one in my collection.
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