Rob Hoskins: Super Collector

Rob Hoskins, a middle school science teacher from a small town outside of Lexington called Salyersville recently sent in pictures of his Stallone collection. I was impressed. My guess is you will be as well.

Here’s what Rob has to say about it:

I started collecting Stallone memorabilia when I was 6, right after a trip to see the original Rocky with my mom. My eyes were opened to the power of chasing your dreams. My collection has grown for nearly 30 years now.

A couple of weeks ago I posted that Grey Matter Art, under license from MGM, was set to release a new officially licensed, limited edition screen print featuring “Rocky” by artist, JC Richard.  As you can see I can’t wait to get mine framed and up!

I always said that when I built a house someday I’d have the coolest basement on Earth.

My wife Molly is a fan as well (she’d have to  be to live here).

Back in my late teens and early 20’s, my  love for the Rocky movies led me into the boxing ring as an amateur. I captured a State Title here in Kentucky before retiring due to a detached retina in my left eye.

As a teacher, I always try to impart the lessons to my students that “Rocky” taught me…..that hard work and a willingness to grab onto your dreams can take you places you never thought possible.

Again, let me say Thank You for your kind words.

My dream now is to get to meet THE MAN. Who knows,
maybe he’ll see these and make it a reality!

– Thanks to Rob for sharing! What a great collection he has going Click on the pics to see them larger! – Craig

Jazzman Checks In… With New Sly Art

Ernest “Jazzman” Resendes checked in with two new pieces of art that he created. The first is a cool little toon that he did showing the tough side of Sly. The second piece was inspired by the news that Quentin Tarantino may proceed with his screenplay “Inglorious Bastards” for his next movie. Naturally Jazz would love to see a role for Sly and came up with this character piece.

As always, Jazz, thanks for sharing!

– Craig Zablo

Sly at the Arnold Classic

SZoner, Randy Rousseau, checked in with his EXCLUSIVE StalloneZone report of Sly at this year’s Arnold Classic! Here’s Randy

I have been a friend of Tony Nowak since 1991. I tracked him down after seeing Stallone on a talk show wearing his orange and tan leather Planet Hollywood jacket. I just had to have one, and found out after flying to the first Planet Hollywood in New York that Tony was in LA, near me. Tony and I got together and have been friends for years now.

Tony has gone to the Arnold Classic every year for the last sixteen years and has a booth selling the Arnold Classic jacket. Tony has been friends with Arnold for over thirty years. Tony makes all of Arnold‘s outfits for his films and that’s how he got involved with Planet Hollywood and became friends with Sylvester Stallone and the other owners. (By the way Tony has said that Sly was the best always to work with on his different coats for Planet, he always wanted fun colors and to have fun with them some times paying over three thousand a piece.)

For the past five years my father and I have helped Tony sell the Arnold Classic jackets at the show in Columbus, Ohio. I have met Arnold many times there, but this year had a special guest that I or Tony had no idea was coming.

The show started on Friday and before the doors opened I went around looking at all the other booths that were out there at the expo and picked up a print of the show and flipped threw the pages and could not believe my eyes. There was a story in there about Sylvester Stallone coming to the show this year! I took this over to Tony, and he said he had no idea Sly coming. What a surprise!

My father came over and said, “Come look at this.” Up on a fifty inch flat screen was a promo spot of Sly working out and talking about fitness (he looked great in the promo wearing black work out attire). There were all these large pictures from Rocky IV and Demolition Man. ( Great body shots being that we are at a body building show and every single person at the show has a killer body) Then there was a banner that said ( “In my life, I have learned that success is best achieved by taking control, rather than standing on the sidelines. Now I want to teach others what I ve learned from a lifetime of taking care of my body through performance nutrition and exercise. That is why I founded INSTONE. Sincerely, SYLVESTER STALLONE Chairman & Founder”)

So to my disbelief not only was Sly going to stop by, but he had his own booth. You could feel the excitement in the air. There were about six men and women working his booth. They told me that Sly would be by on Saturday for about an hour. I went back to our booth and told Tony what was going on. I than called my wife back in California and told her the great news. She asked me, “Do you want me to send the picture of Sly that my cousin drew for you of Sly to sign”? and I said, “Please overnight it and I’ll see if I can get close to Sly to sign it.”

Over the years I have become good buddies with the security guys who guard Arnold. They told us this year they were left out because now that Arnold was the governor he would be bringing his own security. They also told us that Sly would be in about 10:30 am and he would NOT making any stops as he would be here for only thirty minutes.

On stage they were having the arm wrestling, and in walks the team of security. They come over to our booth and tell us the will bring Stallone by after he goes on stage. I go to the dock to check for my picture that my wife had overnighted and there it was, great timing. I took it back to the booth and showed it to the guys. Tony loved it and said, “put it here for me to get Sly to sign.” Tony asked, “what jacket do you think I should give him?” I said, “the Joe Weider one.” Tony picked the all-leather $1700.00 ONE AND THREE OTHER JACKETS TO GIVE TO HIS FRIEND.

I asked Tony, “when was the last time you talked to Sly” and he said when Sly was filming “Get Carter.” A few years had passed and I was thinking to myself how good does Sly know Tony? I was about to find out.

Then from the back door in comes the security and Stallone in the middle. They go to the back of the stage, and the MC talks about a special guest movie star that is into arm wrestling and made a movie about the sport. And very loudly said Sylvester Stallone. Sly thanked every one for the great welcome. Sly talked about making the film and then shook hands going of the stage, and back down to the crowd.

Sly came by our booth and noticed Tony. Sly turned and yelled, “Big Tony” and gave Tony a huge bear hug. I was standing right next to Sly. He looked fantastic. Tony said, “I have some jackets for you.” Sly said, “no you don’t have to do that, but thank you very much!!”

Than Tony said, “This is my very good friend Randy Rousseau and he is the biggest admirer you have!” Sly said, “Thank you. HOW YOU DOING?” and shook my hand. Then Tony said, “would you do us a favor and sign this?” and turned the Rocky portrait over. Sly said, “Wow! This is beautiful. Can I have it?” Tony said, “We will send you a copy.” Sly signed it and then I asked him to sign the yellow leather jacket for my company Sly asked, “are you sure?” and then signed it!

Then he took some pictures with all of us at the booth and spent a good amount of time with us. Sly then went on looking and greeting fans all over the expo. He finally went over to his booth spent around one there signing autographs and taking pictures with hundreds of fans! Sly was in the expo for over THREE HOURS AND FIFTY minutes. They were blasting Gonna Fly Now, and Eye of the Tiger. Sly spent more time at the Arnold expo in side the building with fans than Arnold has in the last sixteen years if you were to combine all the years together in just one day.


Sometimes one word says it all. StalloneArnoldMadonnaShannon.

Shannon? Yep, Shannon is all that need be said to identify another major talent.

I first became aware of Shannon‘s art when I picked up the 20th Anniversary stamp set for the “Rocky” movies. I was impressed by the five stamp series. I would later learn that Sly was also impressed. He even owns a couple of Shannon‘s originals. Sly again worked with Shannon when she was chosen to do the International “Driven” poster.

Shannon has created other successful celebrity stamps including those for James Dean, Elvis, Muhammad Ali, Princess Diana to name just a few.   Shannon was crowned the “Greatest Beatle Artist in the World” and with that the job of creating over 120 murals for the “Hard Days Nights” Hotel. You can check out Shannon‘s art at her website, but you may want to check out StalloneZone‘s exclusive interview first!


Craig: Could you tell us a bit about yourself, how you got your start as an artist and your artistic influences?

Shannon: I have been drawing since the age of 2 (As mom told it). My start took place when I discovered what a pencil was and what it did. Seemed to come as natural as getting up in the morning for me. In the past 10 years, I have taken my craft and worked it to perfection. I acknowledge my talent as a gift and respect it for what it is. To this day, it still baffles my mind as to what I have accomplished.

Unlike my peers, who are influenced by other painters, my influences come from my childhood heroes, such as John Lennon and The BeatlesElvis PresleySylvester StalloneBilly HolidayMuhammad Ali, and Charlie Chaplin. I do greatly respect Norman Rockwell. These are people that beat most of the odds thrown into their path.

Craig: How did you get and prepare for the “Rocky” 20th Anniversary stamp set?

Shannon: I’d just finished the European version, and answer to the US Postage Stamp featuring James Dean, I had created 9 Dean stamps for the project. Although it was my first postage stamp series, it was very successful and earned me some serious clout and leeway on future projects.

So, fortunately I was asked the big question, “What would you like to do on your next project, Shannon? Any ideas?”  The first person to jump into my mind was Sylvester Stallone. He was impactful, handsome, sexual, popular, and I had a small Stallone connection. Having been more a fan of Rambo than Rocky, I clearly had no idea where this would go…if indeed it did go.

So, I called my connection and asked they get in touch with Mr. Stallone (who already knew the quality of my work) and see if he was interested. I was told to wait a couple weeks for the answer.

I put the phone down and went into “anticipation mode”. Within 5 minutes I started to think myself into a nervous frenzy, then the phone rang. I picked it up and the voice said, “OK, he’ll do it. Not of Sylvester, the man…but as Rocky, the character.”

I couldn’t believe it happened so quickly. I was told Sly needed this project to coincide with the 20th Anniversary of Rocky, the movie. Good news: I got the project!

Bad news: I had only six weeks to bang out 5 Rocky illustrations for 5 Stamps. One for each movie.  The anniversary was that near.

Craig: Did you work closely with Sly during the project’s conception and preparatory phases? Did you show Sylvester sketches as the project developed?

Shannon: I was sent a various array of slides and photos of the “Rocky” movies. Honestly, they were all useless. So I jumped in my shiny red Corvette and missioned my way to book stores, libraries, and memorabilia shops. I had no choice, the project had to make it’s deadline.

Lucky for me, the “Rocky” Anniversary 5 pack had just hit the stores. I found what I needed and went to work. First thing to do: Watch every “Rocky” movie, in order, back to back…as if it was one movie.

Sly saw all paintings as they were finished, via Fed Ex. I hadn’t met the man yet, but during a phone conversation with his PR personnel, I heard his voice in the background, explaining only one change he would like taken care of. It was pretty cool.

Craig: Of all the possibilities, what made you decide on one particular image for something as iconic as a Rocky Balboa stamp? Did the man himself have some say in that decision?

Shannon: I tried to look at it this way: I have to create one finished illustration to represent one major movie. Five times! The impact had to be there. And I had but one shot to do it. Again, timing was everything. As the deadline drew nearer, I watched the movies over and over. Then listened to them while I painted. Their influence was phenomenal.

Sly had no real decisions, except for the one, in the project. I believe it was because of the impact of the Anniversary and a full schedule that needed all of his attention. I would also like to believe he trusted my work. I found, in the future, that was the key element…he trusted me.

Craig: Were you nervous when the time came to reveal the finished work to “Rocky”?

Shannon: Not really. I knew they were all good. Plus, it was a major turning point in the evolution of my work. My passion for this job seemed to trigger a whole new me and I was 80% content with the work I was creating. And that is a lot of percentage for me. I am my toughest critic.

Nervousness came the day Sly and I unveiled the “Rocky” stamps at Planet Hollywood in New York City. Keep in mind, I still had not met him. But to someone’s craziness, it was decided it would be magical if we met on TV. I, myself, could think of a better word other then magical. I remember sitting in my seat waiting to be called up. I watched Sly unveil each of my creations one by one. It seemed as if it would take forever and I could swear my heart was jumping out of my chest and hitting the back of the person’s head sitting in front of me. When I was finally called and was walking up to finally meet “the man”, a warm sensation went from my head to my toes and suddenly…I was fine. No nervousness, no shakes and no heart coming out of my chest. I was even able to be a bit “camp” with Sly in front of the cameras. It was a great ending to a grueling 6 weeks.

Craig: What are your thoughts on creating another Balboa stamp, to compliment the possible theatrical release of Rocky‘s 6th and most likely final chapter ?

Shannon: I would love it! I heard, through the Hollywood grapevine, it will indeed be a Broadway play. But a 6th stamp gives it a nice round number. I am ready for the challenge if it does arrive.

Craig: You also painted the poster used for the “Driven” international release and for the Rocky animated “doll” box. How did those come about?

Shannon: I heard Sly was doing this fast paced, on the edge, racing picture. Being involved with racing myself (I raced Motocross for about 5 years in my youth and my Dad built racing cars in his prime), I found this very appetizing. I still have a beautiful 57 Chevy hard top that I built from the ground up. Nitrous, 400 small block with a destroked 350 crank, fuelly heads, high compression pistons, racing cam, etc. Ummm, you get the picture. It’s in the blood, you know?

So I wanted “on” this project in the worst way. Well, I pushed and pushed until I finally got word to Sly that I wanted a shot at the movie poster. As usual, he received word near the end of the project. Sly contacted me and we talked quite a bit. He asked me up to his place and we discussed the possibility of a European poster. It was too late for the U.S. illustration. Sly sent me over to Warner Brothers in Los Angeles, where I live today, to go through the Driven library of photos. Again, as before, most of the photos were already taken and I got the last of the batch. Some were good, but the car shots were bad.

I was “off” to the libraries and book stores once again. Sly was quite involved with this project and I found myself up at his beautiful home countless times. Sly gave me some great, needed photos he had at his home. His wife and family are wonderful people and treated me and my talents with great respect. I was asked for Thanksgiving dinner, at Sly‘s home, a few months later. Word had gotten back to the Stallones I was going to be alone for the holidays. This shows you what wonderful people they really are.

As for as the Rocky Doll art…It is actually the number 5 Stamp on the box. That simple.

Craig: Are there any other Sly Stallone projects that we haven’t mentioned?

Shannon: At present time, I am working on three coffee table books that represent different aspects of my work. They involve one on The Beatles, another on KISS, and the third is a book on my celebrity art which will involve Sylvester more than any other celeb. I will use Sly for the cover and when the time is right, ask him to write the forward.

Craig: What kind of “personal art” do you do for yourself?

Shannon: My personal work has a lot to do with the people I am influenced by.  Being donned “The World’s Greatest Beatles Artist” (in England) has given opportunity for a very nice catalog of Beatles art….which will be in my book. Also, portraits have been painted of Bette DavisSteven Spielberg and ETVan HalenTom CruiseElvis, and Charlie Chaplin, to name just a few. Most recently, I have been involved with painting female erotica….Vargas style. Truly painted much like the old masters, but with today’s twist.

Craig: Where can fans find your work?

Shannon: You can see the wide variety of my work at There’s also a listing of tour dates for the future, which are quite helpful.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has my 10 foot tall Fender Stratocaster Guitar, I created, on display for the next year.

I will also be creating 120 giant murals, which will be part of the structure of The Hard Days Night Hotel, in Liverpool, England. This hotel is the world’s first Beatles themed establishment. One mural for each room. Quite the project!

Craig: Wow! You have quite a few projects lined up. We’ll keep an eye out for them. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us!

Al Rio’s Stallone

Al Rio is an extremely talented artist from Brazil who has worked for MARVEL, DC, DARK HORSE, IMAGE and many other companies. You can see a ton of examples of Al‘s work by clicking over to his site.

The piece to the left was just PART of a specialty drawing that Al created.  It was humorous, but came with a “PG-13” rating so to see it, you needed to click over to Al’s site.  Sadly, the art is no longer up, but we still have Al Rio’s riff on Sly!

– Craig Zablo

“Shade” Theatrical Release News

SZoner, Cindy, e-mailed me the following:


Hi Craig

I thought I would follow up and let you know what’s happening with SHADE. Last time I had sent you a email from RKO Pictures stating that the movie would be coming out in the fall this year. However since then things have changed and I’m sure the fans would want to know… I emailed RKO Pictures as I did not hear any news on shade in the movie section for the fall line up. Down below is there response .

Regards Cindy
Thanks for your patience and interest in Shade. Due to many different factors, the theatrical launch of Shade has been moved to the Spring of 2004. We are currently working with a major distributor to release the picture in March. However, we will not have an actual date until later this year.

Thanks again for your interest and support.


RKO Pictures

Thanks for the news Cindy! – Craig Zablo