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Untold Tales of Hollywood #106

Film #21: Red Sonja
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Production Designed by Danilo Donati

Red Sonja began life as a Conan film. The script was so bad, however, that Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to be in the film if his character was named “Conan”.

“It will destroy the Conan franchise.”

The producers buckled and changed his character’s name to Kalidor.

I believe I got a call from Raffaella DeLaurentiis to do the creature design for the film. As I recall, I think the gig took me no more than a week or two to do. I honestly can’t remember a single thing I did for this movie — but I know I did something… (Hey! See end of this post. I found it!)

The following picture isn’t it. I love Jack Kirby‘s work. My pal Mike Royer (Jack’s regular inker at the time) gave me an opportunity to ghost-ink most of The Demon #15. I learned a lot, inking Jack’s amazing pencils. After that, I was asked to ink a couple of Jack Kirby pin-ups. Jack had done an entire book of pencil drawings of every one of his characters for his beloved wife Roz. These drawings got published as a book. Someone came up with the idea of having a lot of contemporary artists ink these drawings and publishing them as a companion book. Most inked just one; some, two or three. I was asked to ink Devil Dinosaur for obvious reasons. These were all collected as a book. I had so much fun, I decided to ink Jack’s pin-up of The Demon, since I had worked on the comic. I think this was a request from either another book or a magazine article on Jack. I decided a few weeks ago to ink three more: Witch Boy (who was in the issue of The Demon that I had inked), The Sorceress (because the picture had monsters) and Ka-Zar (this character and his sabertooth were right up my prehistoric alley).

Here’s how I did it:
I made a photo copy of each drawing, enlarged from the size they were in the book to original art size. I took these big xeroxes and with a soft pencil, I scribbled on the back of the xeroxed drawings, making a sort of residue-free carbon paper. Then, I taped the xeroxes onto sheets of illustration board. Using a sharp, hard pencil, I drew over every single line and speck that Jack had made, transferring his drawings to my illustration boards. Upon completion, I took away the xeroxes and meticulously, once again, re-drew every single one of Jack’s lines, perfectly and faithfully reproducing every speck of his pencils, exactly as Jack had drawn them. Then, I inked each piece. So, I was inking Kirby but not actually inking an original pencil drawing by Kirby — Jack never touched the boards whose pencils I inked.

I didn’t want to make any changes to Jack’s work. Out of respect for Jack (and following Mike Royer’s fine lead), I wanted these drawings’ inks to be as purely Jack Kirby as I could make them. The only exception was my drawing of Ka-Zar and his sabertooth. Jack’s great at drawing superheroes, but sometimes his animals can be a little wonky. His woolly mammoth was fine, but I re-drew his sorta goofy-looking sabertooth, making its face more realistic and adding the proper number of claws to its feet. I thought you might like to see how it turned out:

Back to Red Sonja:

The following tale is not “untold,” as it appeared in a prominent Los Angeles magazine publication not long after it occurred. It was related to me by a close friend on the production staff who was there when it happened. I tell you this because I want you to know that I am not “telling tales out of class.

Red Sonja was played by Brigitte Nielsen. Brigitte had a remarkable physique with highly defined musculature. She was considered by a lot of the crew as the flip-side of Arnold, a female Arnold, so to speak. Both Arnold and Sylvester Stallone had the hots for Gitte, both falling head-over-heels for her, which caused a slight rift in their friendship.

At one point, Arnold confessed to one of his entourage that he was going to dump Maria Shriver for Ms. Nielsen. Being good friends and not being dummies, Arnold’s muscular crew knew this was a horrendous idea. They kidnapped Arnold and took him out to the middle of the desert. They refused to let him go until he changed his mind about leaving Maria. Arnold finally relented and his bros returned him to the set. Sylvester Stallone married Brigitte the following year.

Here’s the piece mentioned above that I was looking for:

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