Tuesday, December 19, 2006

POST 100!!!

Post number 100!!!

A century for me, and what a panel to show off. This is Annette and I combing our super-powers to create something really fun.

It's such a pleasure working with Annette. One of the main reasons is that we're both constantly trying to push the frontier of what we're creating. We want something unique and different, something that you can't see in any other comic. Panel by panel we're getting a little better.

ZERO-G: page 8 panel 4

I like this panel, it's what I call a "performance panel". It's all about what they're saying and what the reaction is. I pulled out the background because I wanted to highlight this. I didn't want you looking at the cool things I've drawn in the background. Annette and I began some technical experimentation to try and figure out how best to execute these. Once I explained to her what I was trying to do, and why I was doing it, she took to it like a fish to water.

Coming next... the coloured version of the panel.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ELE colour

Here she is all coloured up by yours truly.

I like the red fill light from the side. It separates her and gives her depth.

I'm working with Annette at the moment talking about fill lights. I'm a huge fan of them. Mainly from David Fincher's work on Fight Club, where the main lighting is from the fill rather than the key light.

One of the reasons I like to play with the grey tones is to be able to sometimes achieve that effect. It's cute trying to push the boundaries of what we normally see in comics.

Not that we're seeing that here. =)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

ELE black and white

This was a sketch done for an idea that I had for a series. So desperate was I for a comic to work on, that I even pitched my own idea.

Thank god, Alex Zamm arrived with Zero G.

I'd still like to pursue it one day, so I'm going to be vague on the details. Its premise is that of a sci-fi version of Buffy.

I like the sketch though. It was a lot of fun playing with the textures of the coat and the pants. I especially like the belt too. It gives it character. She does need to get out of the leather/pvc though. It's so passe in this post-Matrix world.

Monday, December 11, 2006

ZERO-G Evelyn & Bill Barron

Competing with the good ol' U.S. of A is multibillionaire Bill Barron and his corporate conglomerate. Their secret weapon is the beautiful and incredibly talented and smart astro-geologist Evelyn (Atom's college ex girl-friend).

I'm including this as one of the first panels to show you guys, cos I know it's one that's probably going to get overlooked in the book. Don't get me wrong, it's a huge reveal, and while I'm especially proud of the likeness for Evelyn (thank you again, Jess) that's not what I'm most chuffed about.

The script basically says that it's a press conference where Bill Barron reveals that he too will be launching his own expedition to the asteroid. The bigger reveal for the story is Evelyn (which is what should and will draw the reader's attention). This was supposed to be what I call a "phone-in page". A press conference you say? Easy! I'll just chuck them in front of a billboard with some of Bill's corporate logos on it.

Then I got thinking. If I were Bill Barron, and I wanted to make the biggest splash possible, what would I do? I'd shoot the press conference in front of my damn ship which *I* built. He's a one man space program. Who wouldn't want to show that off?!

Next thing I know, I'm giving Geoff Darrow a run for his money drawing crazy amounts of detail on the gantry around the space shuttle.

So what should have taken the time of the figures and shot me ahead of my schedule, became a nightmare page that I'm immensely proud of cos of this panel.

ZERO-G Deiter

Visually Deiter is one of my favourite characters to draw. Our older, craggy Navy SEAL sniper. I like his exaggerated features and made them even more extreme on the page. Big hooked nose, massive thick eyebrows, high cheekbones and square jaw. He's a little smaller than Buck (the other Navy SEAL - who carries around a minigun). Deiter instead carries a massive sniper rifle rigged to his gauntlet.

PHASE background art

So as you can see from the comic, when the fight scene begins, we move towards an illustrated background. This is one of the better ones I drew. I especially like the shadows from the fence on the bricks. They took some time, but they were worth it.

I loved the idea of the illustrated backgrounds for the fights. It implied one of several options.

Firstly it asks the question if these events are real. Is Phil/Phase imagining this? Is he embelishing it? Is it a fantasy life that he uses to enrich his otherwise mundance existence. It enters us into Phil's comic book fantasy life. But we find that things are a lot more complicated here also.

PHASE panel 3

Last panel!

Man, I owe you guys some artwork. I'm waaaa-ay behind on uploading stuff.

Again, no backgrounds, but I do like the lighting. The likeness isn't great, though. You can blame Ione for that.

Ok. Next piece...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

PHASE panel 2

Here's panel 2/3 of the story. Again drawn with absolutely NO time. =)

I'm currently working with Sky (the writer and director) on a direction for the series. There's been a renewed interest in the project with HEROES doing so well. I've been enjoying HEROES. It's a decent watch with incredible cliffhanger endings. But it does some stuff that just frustrates the hell out of me. There are some serious issues with the concept and the fact that it seems everybody and their dog has powers is just getting too much.

I've got an idea for something a little darker, more believable and more character arc driven.

Friday, December 01, 2006


So I've been in a serious pit of despair about drawing recently.

It's totally all deadline driven and all about me biting off more than I can chew. And while I heard an amusing anecdote talking about always biting off more than you can chew, and chewing like buggery... well I did that for 8 weeks before I crashed and burned (burnt?).

Basically, 50+ hour weeks at the gym and 30 hours of drawing took its toll after 8 weeks. The problem was that based on my schedule of 3 pages per week, I realised that dropping the ball on a page, or even half a page was unrecoverable. There was no way I could step up to 3.5 or 4 pages per week to make up that lost page. Doing so would totally kill me.

So after I dropped a page, I got totally depressed. I knew I'd blown the deadline. That lead to another and another being dropped until the whole thing became so futile, I was basically immobolised by despair.

One of my best buddies, Mitch suggested that I just chill out and try to enjoy my drawing. To be honest, it had been a while since I had enjoyed anything I'd drawn. While I had gotten great satisfaction out of drawing Zero-G, it had also been really stressful. Mitch's advice came when my production manager, Lauren initiated a conversation with Spacedog publisher, head-honcho and all-round cool guy, Roger Mincheff to basically put the book out when I can get it out. We've pulled the rate back to 2 pages per week, but I'm helping Annette tone the art the way that I did it on the Emperor pages.

The results should be spectacular. Our rationale was that while we don't have the promotion of San Diego behind us, we will have one of the best looking books on the market.

As a token of thanks (and a means to lube up the drawing side of my brain again), I busted out this Supergirl in one night for Mitch's bday. It was so nice to finish a piece again. It's heavily inspired by the Adam Hughes Supergirl he did recently. It's not a patch on his, and there's so much more I'd like to do, but one night was the most time I could spend on it before I had to get stuck back into Zero-G.

NEXT: Phase panel 2.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

PHASE panel 1

Here's some supporting art that I did for the movie.

As I mentioned, Ione, (Phase's wife) draws a comic book script based on his adventures. The irony is that the one thing that allows her to contribute to the family financially is encouraging the one thing that's tearing it apart: his superhero adventures.

This is one of the panels that I hammered out for it. We see Ione lining the kitty litter bin with it. It's a minimalist and bold style reflecting her personality. But let me be contentious here for a minute.

Is there a particular style that you can attribute to female artists? Is there a style embodied by male artists? I believe that at the extreme ends of the spectrum there is. Most good, solid, non-genre artists are beyond gender. I would also argue that some are defined by their gender, and some are brilliant because they are androgynous (James Jean comes to mind).

While I don't consider my artwork to have a gender, I was consciously trying to shift my artwork towards the more stereotypically "female" end of the spectrum. I was trying to embody Ione and her lines from what I knew of the character. What that means, I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

ZERO-G Tyrell

A break from Phase.

We will come back to it. There's still some artwork that I specifically did for the movie.

So this is Tyrell. The huge, big black Michael Clark-Duncan sorta dude. He's a specialist miner along with Sonny McCann. One of the funny things that I did was that each member of the team has a patch with their symbol on it. The general has a star, Atom has an atom symbol mixed with an A, Sonny has a smiling sun. For Tyrell, I did some research and found the Tyrell symbol from Bladerunner. No one will get it except for me... and now you.

Sorry I've been so AWOL. Been working on INNOCENTS doing art direction. The deadline is super-tight and Bing (the penciller) is doing a stunning job. Been plugging away on ZERO G, but stuck on page 13. So tired...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

PHASE page 8

So Jay looks the huge green screen up and down and looks over at his nervous fiance. Gripping the crowbar tight he turns back to me and says, "So where do you want me to hit you?"

"Right on my back. Repeatedly. But up here." I gestured to where the makeup of the injury had been applied back on the shoot (continuity points for Jas!).

Jay and I knew each other so well we could throw full powered punches at each other, swing objects at each other and throw each other into walls repeatedly with only small, minor (but irritating) wear and tear injuries. My knees hurt (despite the kneepads) from falling to them after being hit. Jay had a huge bruise from where he kept collecting the wall. My palm was raw red and aching from hitting the ground. A large red welt had appeared under Jay's armpit from where his coat had dug into him from where I was grabbing him.

But it was hella fun.

Jay and Alica (his fiance - generously playing the victim) were awesome. They had to improvise a make-shift dialogue, and learn a fight scene, and where to fall and land within minutes and shoot it again and again for hours. Jay had done very little acting and Sky was totally impressed. What should have taken two days took about 4 hours.

As I said, there was a twist to the fight. I'm telling you this cos this is the last page of the comic. So Phase hears the commotion and sees a man standing over a fallen woman. The man leans forward aggressively. Phase intervenes. After Phase has disposed of the man, by catching his arm and then punching him out, he turns towards the woman who rushes to the man's aid crying, "Oh my god! John! What have you done to my husband?!"

This was my cute idea that nothing in the world is as simple as it is in comics. What appears to be a mugging is nothing more than a couple walking home and arguing. She falls over and he chides here, then Phase mistakenly intervenes.

NEXT: PHASE: More story! More artwork.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

PHASE page 7

So as you can see there's a fight scene.

I was going to talk about this earlier, but I forgot. Hey, it's not like I pay attention to what I'm saying.

Anyway, we needed a guy and a girl.

The script said that Phase hears a commotion (look at the lighting from John our DOP on panel 4 of page 6!) and teleports outside and intervenes. I will tell you the twist next post.

I've done a little bit of stunt work in the past. Those of you intrepid enough might know or be able to find out which dodgy film. I had also done a fair bit of martial arts choreography in live shows and productions for competition and charity. Sky told me we only had 3 or 4 hours to shoot this fight scene. Also, he couldn't guarantee any rehearsal time. So I knew when I needed someone to work fast, I needed someone who knew martial arts, could act and knew how to handle themselves and knew me well.

I found that person in my business partner Jay George. Here's one of the funny thing about stunt, so much of it is about trust. It has very little to do with how well you trust them with your girlfriend, your money or your reputation. It's all to do with how much you trust them with your body. It's funny, I know incredible stuntmen that I wouldn't trust with any of the first three, but know they would kill themselves to make sure I was safe. Anyway, I trust Jay (and Tim, my other business partner) more than anyone I'm not directly related to.

But as Tyler says, "How can you truly know yourself if you've never been in a fight?"

PHASE page 6

So I finally hit the set. It was a totally professional production with a crew of about 20 people. The director of photography was a guy who had done a commercial for my gym a while back. He was good. Really good. People ran about, to and fro. It was totally full on.

Sky had been really smart about organising me. It was a four day shoot. On the first day I had one scene and an off-screen voice conversation. The scene on page 1 where I find the letter, read it, then have an angry moment then head off to work. The last thing I had to do was play the other side of a phone conversation with Phillipa (Nicole Nabout). I spent the rest of the day running around the set helping people, holding lights and grabbing stuff. It's the stuff I do when I don't have to do anything. I won't just stand around like window dressing. If I'm there I'm going to do what I have to in order to get this baby over the line.

It was the best thing I could have done.

The crew couldn't believe I was one of the actors. They'd never met any actor that would help out like I did - which doesn't say a lot for actors in general. For the rest of the shoot they totally bent over backwards for me to help me out. Whenever I needed anything (coffee, food, chairs, space) they went out of their way to get it as quickly as possible. Suddenly I was surrounded by twenty friends instead of twenty strangers. It put me totally at ease. They were also instrumental in communicating to me what was going on. The jargon, the pacing, the set ups. It meant that I was totally on the ball. I almnost looked like a professional.

And when I had nothing to do, I held lights and studied what Asher was doing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

PHASE page 5

I was also very involved in the pre-production stage. The wife Ione, played by Asher Keddie, was a comic book artist. It's Phil's (Phase's) exploits that she illustrates. I drew all the art for her. Some specifically for the film, others was stuff of mine that we thought she would draw. You might be able to see some of it on the walls.

I also did storyboards for the action sequences, which I will talk about next post.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

PHASE page 4

So after working with Nicole, I threw myself back into the rehearsals with renewed vigour. I also read and asked around a lot on acting theory. Do you do each take differently (like Sir Ian Holme) and let the director pick the take he likes, or do you pick one take yourself and then try and perfect that?

Anyway, by the time I hit the set, what really helped was Asher. It's incredible when you work off someone with that level of talent and passion for acting. The intensity you get off someone like that brings a realism to the table that actually left me speechless everytime I was supposed to be rendered speechless. It was such a breath of fresh air, because the rehearsals were starting to get stale. I really needed something more to bounce off than Sky was giving me (no offence to Sky, but he wasn't as invested in the role as Asher was).

And when you work opposite someone like that, the imagined suddenly becomes extraordinarily real.

Again, it's one of those things I learnt so much from and would love to pursue again sometime.

Monday, November 06, 2006

PHASE page 3

Now most of my life I've been second best at what I do. At school I was the second best artist. As a martial artist I was never the best in the class. I struggled against faster, stronger, more talented training partners and opponents.

What I've found though, is that anything that comes too easily gets taken for granted.

The premiere artist at school, effortlessly drew anything and everything with a style and ease that eventually led to boredom with his talent and the art of comics. As a martial artist people found the victories too easy and the loses to infrequent.

Unfortunately I put in way too much work on both these disciplines just to be mediocre to stop. I really just reached the point of no return and had to keep going forward. The funny thing for me is that when I put that much work into something I don't want to be seen as a rip-off of something else. I want to be recognised as unique. Eventually these things also paid off: a gig with Top Cow and an International title.

So when I found I was crap at acting, I just hunkered in and did what I always did: I studied and practiced my ass off. For me all these skills are about creating a mental framework that all this plugs into. You see the situation enough times you start developing trained responses. I guess that's what I did with acting. I watched performances with similar characters, I mimicked them. Then I did my own take. I created the situations in my head. I rehearsed the material over and over again to create an ease and insight into it.

I did end up working with Nicole (pictured here) and it was incredible watching an adept actor work their craft. She did a spontaneous take of my role and the conclusions, responses and artistic decisions she made covered everything I had done in the weeks leading up to our meeting and went several steps beyond. I was floored, and it showed me where I was going.

PHASE page 2

So this was the first time anyone had asked me to act in anything. Sky had budgeted for me to have some lessons with Nicole Nabout one of the co-stars (you will see her on an upcoming page). But first Sky wanted to give Nicole something to work with and decided to teach me himself to begin with.

We began by doing some read-throughs. At the end, Sky was politely skeptical. I don't like people sugar coating stuff. If I suck, tell me. Nothing makes me want to succeed more. But he was having trouble communicating exactly what was wrong - other than he seemed to imply that it wasn't very good. I told him that I'm an excellent visual mimic. From my art, I'm very visually orientated. I study body language, posture and form. I had also won several martial arts tournaments by memorising forms that I'd seen other people do, sometimes off video tape (one being the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sword form that Chow Yun Fat does which was taught to him by Ang Lee). So next week Sky brought along a video camera and we taped the rehearsals.

I sat down and watched the tape. Sky looked at me, "So what do you think?" he asked.

I looked back at him, "Oh my god. I'm shithouse."


Thursday, November 02, 2006

PHASE page 1

As I mentioned previously I did a Diploma of Multimedia at Holmesglen TAFE. I then lectured there for a year before I started Body United. During that time I became good friends with all the teachers. The film lecturer there is Sky Crompton who basically offered me my dream job: he asked me to co-star as a superhero in his short film, PHASE.

It was an incredibly professional production with a significant budget which starred Asher Keddie (from Love My Way). Sky is a graduate of the New York Film Academy, and he wrote this script as his first serious foray into film. Flatteringly enough he actually wrote it with me in mind. After running it by me asked me to be involved - despite all my time pressures, I really couldn't say no. It really is one of the highlights of my life. Sure it has some problems, but overall I think it's a decent watch and a good story. Asher totally shines in it.

As part of the promotion for it, Sky asked me to do an 8 page comic. Unable to draw it I used screen caps and played with levels, contrasts and colours to create a more graphic feel. All the dialogue is written by Sky, and I wrote all the captions to tie the story together. It was a lot of fun adapting a film into a comic.

NEXT: page 2!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

ZERO-G General White

So here's the leader of the US team in Zero-G: General Eugene White. The brief was for an older black man. He obviously still had to be young enough and athletic enough that he could still lead the mission on the ground. In the face of Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington, I wanted a more unique for my character.

In fact one of the key elements of designing a comic book characters is to make them distinctive. You want to make sure that because you're drawing them panel after panel after panel that they look unique. Judging for the possibility that you may not knock it out of the park with every panel (ie. not do your best, ie. f@ck up) you want to make sure that they're distinctive enough from every other character even on your worst day.

I like his white hair and black beard. I don't think anyone will confuse him for any other character.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

PABLO DISCOBAR - back cover

Ok, so here's the back cover commemorating our little "how small is the damn world" jaunt.

They had the idea of the kung-fu dude walking off into the sunset like the end of a movie. Other ideas included drawing the back of the guy's head from the cover, and another was to have a black chick on the back cover. Ultimately I think this was the most original, innovative and evocative of the ideas.

ps And to all my models who dropped me a line as to their lack of mention of their awesomeness... well chances are I didn't forget you. You probably just suck. Joking! You will get your time in the spotlight! Be patience grasshoppers...

Monday, October 30, 2006


One of my old trainers is in a funk band called PABLO DISCOBAR. He saw my artwork and asked me if I would do the cover for his upcoming album, "The Kung-fu Kitchen."

I was interested and asked him to email me a brief before I met all 7 members of the band. I got the brief and they wanted a 70s style movie poster of all seven of them looking like they were in a Bruce Lee film.

I looked at their budget and suggested that might not be possible. I explained how much time that would take (despite how fast I am) and how much I would be earning per hour should I take on the job (an amount that would make a Nike factory worker look like Bill Gates). And while I don't tend to do things for huge amounts of profit (instead looking at factors like fun, how much I'm helping a friend and how quick the turn-around is) I don't like to spend weeks on something I'm not getting paid anything resembling reasonable for.

So we went back and forth on ideas and eventually settled on an image of a 70s black dude in kung fu gear. Enter the cover image. I drew it in Photoshop and then printed it out and dry brushed it to get a more organic feel that they were looking for. I also did a back image which I will post next.

What's killing me is that they gave me a copy of the album (and the designer did a STUNNING job on it) and I can't find it anywhere. If anyone can find an image of it on the web, please email it to me as I'd like to post it. I will then publicly acknowledge that your Google-fu is stronger than mine. It's on a beautiful red and tan paper stock. It looks incredible.

Friday, October 27, 2006

ZERO-G Sonny McCan

No pr0n-looking image. As I said, I doubt anyone will see it. Not my finest moment in the sun... But it sure got me noticed. =)

So on a totally different note... here's my mate Simbo being specialist miner Sonny McCan.

The brief was a Seth Green sorta dude. I basically used Simbo, but the final coloured version will have him with red hair.

In the meantime, Simbo gets a decent portrait of himself.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

RKS - Trix the Drummer

So as the title says, this is the drummer. So why's she holding a guitar? Cos I needed to produce character designs, a pinup and a guitar ad all in the one week. So being a crafty (read that as lazy) bastard, I decided to roll them all into one.

No time to get a model for this one so this is what I call a patchwork piece. Hands, arms, head and body from all over the place in terms of reference.

Not a particularly controversial piece, but a follow-up to the last one. There's a third, but I may or may not post that as it makes the Witchblade piece look like conservative, prudish trite.

Put it this way... When I emailed the other piece to a mate he got accused of looking at porn at work - and there was no nudity.


ps Thanks to everyone who keeps coming back. Feel free to email me at grael23@yahoo.com of leave a comment if you'd like me to post anything you've seen me do before or address anything in particular.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

RKS guitars pinup 1

This is from a project that has since been canned called Strange Harmonies.

When I was working on it, it was about a girl band who unwittingly find themselves caught up in a battle for balance, karma and trying to get a record deal. It was a joint venture project with RKS guitars (hence the VERY prominent guitar in the pinup).

I worked with a model who was working as a bartender (also part-time model). I basically met her and worded her up on what I do (ie. draw comic books. Realistic style. No nudity. Copies of all artwork etc). I meet people every now and then, and just keep them on file for when a gig comes up. Suddenly RKS needed a pinup within a week for a guitar convention. She was the only person who was available and so I gave her a call.

The problem was that I couldn't get her totally comfortable or into the roles of the characters. She looked the part, she could move the part, but she couldn't get into the part. I'm pretty used to working with models over the years and consider myself a reasonable director and have a pretty good process. I usually sit the model down (guy or girl - yes I do work with men also!) show them my art and the photos that I used as reference. I then talk about the brief, show them my sketches and talk about what I want. Usually I try and email them the sketches and outlines beforehand (unless I've worked with the model before) so they can think about the role and what it requires. But the sheer lack of time to prepare her really affected the artwork.

For example, if you look at this piece she just doesn't look like she's "rocking out". She's smiling but she has this half-hearted "what the hell am I doing" look in her eyes.

Ahh well.

The lighting is still nice.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

ZERO-G Evelyn

I thought this would follow on nicely. This is Evelyn from Zero-G. While she barely makes an appearance in book 1, she's our heroine and love interest for the series. That's Jess helping me out.

I've been blessed with some great models. I classify a great model as one who is comfortable with me enough to just go for the feeling or stupid pose. They talk about there being "brave" actors who just go for the emotion and the scene and really put themselves out there. I've found I also need "brave" models who can act. I've found that the better I know people, the more they trust me. I'm a lot of things, but I'm not gonna screw people around.

I worked with my mate, Simbo recently and was totally blown away by how quickly he hit marks and emotionaly beats. I guess knowing him so well meant that I knew what direction to give, and what he would respond to. He was also totally comfortable and able to just really go big with his emotion without over-acting. When you see the images you will know what I'm talking about.

Jess (above) is also great for this. I've known her for six months and we get on like a house on fire. Her involvement in film both behind and in front of the camera makes her an ideal model for me. She knows production as well as acting. It's a good combo to have in a model.

One of the real tricks I need from a model is to be able to smile. Generally if you can convince me that your character is happy, you can convince me of anything. The funny thing is that it's in the eyes. I've had many people comment on previous pieces when I have worked with models that either I didn't know very well or didn't direct well or couldn't act. You can really see it. I really try to be true to the model, and any level of discomfort or anything missing really comes through. I might post a piece that illustrates this next as an example.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

SUPERJESS - page 2

Those of you paying attention can start to see some of the other work I've butchered to make this happen. Panel 3 is a sewer scene from THE FISHER that still hasn't seen print. I'd love to show you guys parts of that, but I'm not sure where I stand legally there. Basically, it's an entire 22 page (24 maybe) comic that I drew for Phospherescent Comics. It's where I met Annette. It was my last Aussie hurrah before throwing myself into Top Cow and Space Dog work. Last I heard they're thinking about doing it in black and white (WHY?!! WHY?!!!)

Panel 4 is the double page spread from FALLEN SKY that I posted a couple of days ago. I just redrew the central figures.

The likeness on the last panel (panel 5) is easily the best, but my favourite gag is panel 1. Such a geek in-joke.

It's funny, I'd known Jess for a while but never considered asking her to model for me. It's only when Ash asked me to do this and I'm working from the photos that Ash gave me (yeah I felt like such a stalker) that I'm like, "Wow! She'd make the best superhero! And she's really easy to draw!"

The funny thing is that some people are easier to draw than others. I have no idea why. Some faces are impossible to nail down, others just flow straight out of the pen. Even with a photo (certain types of lighting can make your job easier) you can still be in trouble. People think it's really easy, that you can just trace stuff and it will look like them. Uh uh. If you've never done it before, try it some time. Get some tracing paper and trace over a photo. I guarantee it will look NOTHING like them. Likenesses are an art.

So Jess has bailed me out of a couple of last-minute deadline predicaments, and I've helped her with her films (storyboarding etc). You will see more of her cropping up in my future work. Another poor soul conscripted into the relentless (and model-dependent) Jason Badower art machine.

You could be next...

SUPERJESS - page 1

First up, I should really emphasize that this is a total piss-take. Jess is one of the funniest, smartest, creative and motivated girls I know. She's incredibly switched on and the whole thing was taken with a huge amount of grace on her part.

I basically took all the little things that I knew about her (yes, I do pay attention when you clients get chatting) and rolled them all into one-panel gags. It's totally over the top with a nice little grain of truth at the centre.

I could only two tone everything (three for the lycra) and relied heavily on photos for backgrounds because of the time constraint. One week to write, draw two pages and a cover - all fully coloured and lettered. As I said before, if it wasn't a bucket of fun, I wouldn't have done it.

The colouring was Luna Brothers inspired (see Girls and Ultra).

I liked fading out the letter balloons so that they integrated with the artwork also. I think it meshes better.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Last year I was asked by Ashleigh (the client who played Lucy) whether I do commissions. I replied that it depended upon the size of the project, what it is, and how much I'm getting paid. She mentioned that Jess (Ash's training partner and also one of my clients) was having her 21st. Apparently, the girls go to greater and greater lengths to commemorate each other's 21st. Videos were commonplace and speeches were almost passe (no hypheny thing above the "e").

Seeing the comic-likeness I did of her for Lucy, Ash asked me if I would do a comic for Jess. I asked her if she had any ideas. She mentioned that Jess basically looks like a superhero and would I do a comic about her as a superhero. I said I would get back to her. That night, the comic basically wrote itself. It's only 2 pages, but it was pretty dense with gags from knowing Jess for about 6 months at that stage.

I called up Ash, emailed her the script, talked cash and the deal was a go.

This was done at the height of my Luna Brothers influence. It also inspired me to colour and ink the Frank Quitely Superman. If you take another look at it, you can see the pallette is almost identical.

While it's not a perfect likeness of her, it does certainly does capture her.

So Jess... I've asked you repeatedly over email if I can post this and you haven't replied. I don't usually take silence as consent, so you better get in touch with me if you don't want any more of this to go up. =)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

ZERO-G Atom Weaver 2

It's funny how characters evolve over time. In film it's usually a straight-forward direction. A single step. In tv and comics, it's a subtle rotation, one degree at a time, until you realise you're facing a totally different direction. Characters change for all sorts of reasons. Conflict, relationships and being affected by events around them.

One of the things that they don't often mention to you about, is time. In preparing and working on Zero-G I've been incredibly influenced by Frank Quitely (All-Star Superman), Tony Harris (Ex Machina) and Steve McNiven (Civil War). Their clean, open approach is refreshing, has magnificent clarity and above all... is damn fast to do.

The crux of their style is having a good colourist. When I finally unclenched my ass and realised that Annette is better than I ever will be (and better than most of the guys who colour each of these three's work - and she's only at the start of her career), I realised I could sit down and concentrate on the stuff I do best. Performance, mood and storytelling. I've put so much of the stuff that made my style so visually distinctive in her hands now.

So what you see above you is my style for Zero-G and the change in Atom Weaver also. Don't judge too harshly until you've seen Annette's colours. What you're looking at is only half the picture.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

ZERO-G Atom Weaver

So here's the first sketch of our protagonist "Atom Weaver". Yes, that's his real name. Trust me, Alex Zamm (the writer) totally makes it work. There's a reason, and point to his name. It's clever and works.

I did forget to give him his glasses. You can see them on the pinup below.

Alex did a very clever thing and "cast" all the characters from actors. After Googling them I got a really good idea of was meant to be who, and what he was looking from each of them.

Oh yeah, several people have asked me about the plot for Zero-G.

An asteroid is passing by Earth, and NASA geologist Atom Weaver discovers that it is full of enough valuable minerals to upset the global economy. Countries and corporations start rushing for the asteroid before it leaves Earth's orbit. Reluctantly Atom is drafted aboard the mission for America. The US team find themselves trapped on the asteroid with a terrible menance after them. Also the asteroid is not what it seems. It has a very clever, very dark purpose.

For the sketches I used the crazy tonal effect which I've ditched for the finished pages. I just realised I don't need to be such a control freak when Annette is so damn good.

Monday, October 16, 2006

FIRE Kimono

Part of my job art directing for Space Dog involves me doing character designs. Normally this work is done by the penciller on a book, but Roger Mincheff and David Wohl seem to really like my design aesthetic. So much so that they pay me an extra fee to design characters for their books.

David has the Harajuku girls (see earlier pinup near the start of this artblog) appear in another form. He wanted them visually tied in but largely unrecognisable. I also wanted to communicate a sense of their sexiness and ethereal wisdom. He also wanted a stylised homage to the Ying Yang (on her sash). This was fun. It is both revealing and modest. This is what she looks like without all the piercings, tattoos and hair extensions.

I designed all four girls, but they were really only colour and hair variations on this design. Cos I'm such a nice guy, I only charged him for one character. =)


So I had about a day to draw this, and Annette had about two days to colour it. She totally carried my ass over the line on this one.

First up, they didn't like the disembodied figures hanging in space, so they asked her to blend them in. Then I couldn't find a NASA logo so she found one and chucked it on his shirt. Then I asked her to do them all sweaty... and I will be damned, she pulled it off! I still don't know how she did that effect. It's one of my favourites cos it's so subtle! She also toned down his arm a bit... but he is still way too ripped.

I love the little blood spatter on his top, and the fill lights are beautiful.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I figured I'd been rambling on about Zero-G for long enough that I should post some of the work that Annette and I have done for it. I also realised that there's so much of it, that if I posted it all at once you'd just be stuck with it for months.

This image was done for a one-sheet for the comic. A one-sheet is a single sheet with a blurb and image to promote the book/idea. This was done for San Diego earlier this year. I think I drew it in a night (if I recall correctly.

What's funny is the comments I've had in the past about my (and the general) depiction of the female body. That it's "unrealistic", "exaggerated" and "destructive". All fair and reasonable comments. But I'd like to think that I aim my target at both the sexes. The brief for the guy is that he is a NASA geologist. He has to be athletic but not huge. Matthew McConaughey was the guideline here. So being rushed for time I used myself as a model - as I kinda fit that build. I basically just lightboxed myself and changed the head. When I removed the photo I was shocked.

The guy looked weedier than Dr. Banner. He was a bean-pole that might blow over in the wind. He was nowhere near athletic.

Now let's get something straight. I'm not a weed by any means. I'm 6'1, 90kg and can hammer out five reps of a 100kg benchpress. But I looked TINY in comic-book land. And unlike a lot of the women who complain about my depiction of the female form, I put a LOT more time into my fitness that 99% of them. I tell you this because of the crushing horror that overtook me when I had to beef this guy up just to make him look "athletic" in comic world.

Back to the benchpress...

Friday, October 13, 2006

EMPEROR B&W page 5

Finally the fabled page 5.

Fight scene!

I still wanted to communicate a sense of the ethereal, even in a fight scene like this. I also realised that this is the height of my Ultimates/Bryan Hitch influence. Widescreen panels (look at the Ultimates, every panel is wider than it is taller). I'm only just starting to get over this fixation as I'm realising that they have pans and dolly's and we have tall panels etc.

To restrict yourself to only widescreen panels it to basically restrict yourself to a non-moving frame.

Also, a total lack of sound effects means that you have to work harder as an artist to communicate the power of things. I love comic art, you can go totally over the top with things at the cost of $0 to your budget. I love how extreme panel 5 is and in panel 6 where he looks out you're supposed to see a trench disappearing away with a smoking body in the distance.

ZERO-G: Got that page done! Now to hammer some more out...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

EMPEROR B&W page 4

Yay! Page 4. Still one of my favourite pages. I would have loved the bottom panel to stretch across two pages. I'd love mountains disappearing away on both sides into the mist and the horizon.

Still, what you're really missing here is JAn's script. If this ever gets published, we will definitely let you know when and where. It's such an elegant story.

I feel hungover. It's my third day that's more than 12 hours long this week (13.5 today, 14.5 yesterday). I'm so tired I can barely pick up my pen, and blogging is hurting my eyeballs. I just want to sleep and I have to get up at 6am again. But I promised I'd finish the page tonight...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

EMPEROR B&W page 3

It's funny, I was chatting to JAn the other day and the comment he keeps getting from people is, "You and Jason are just so lucky!"

He then mentioned a quote from (we think) a tennis player who said, "Yeah it's funny... The more I practice the luckier I get."

If practice was luck, then every piece that I have posted here is about 10 hours worth of luck. That's a lot of luck.

So yeah, I guess I am pretty lucky.

Here's page 3 in black and white. Give it a couple days and you will see page 5... Hang in there.

Zero G is going slow but well. It's easily some of my best stuff. Some innovative design work and I'm getting great feedback on the performance of the characters too. It's not up to these pages in terms of technical work, but these pages took twice as long.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

EMPEROR B&W page 2

No, I'm not retreading old ground, I should have shown you guys this first. Unfortunately, this is like hitting someone with a jab after you've knocked them out with a big cross.

This is the black and white artwork which I have to Annette. There are two separate greyscale layers to communicate a different tonal range. There's a 50% layer and a 25% layer, and where the two overlay it's 75%. I did this because I really wanted to control my shadows. I personally love fill lights, and Annette wasn't big on them at the start. I started shading like this to show her what I meant.

Again, this is another reason why I draw on Photoshop, because it's almost impossible to do this by hand.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Years ago I did an Advanced Diploma of Multimedia at Holmesglen TAFE (that I later went on to lecture in). Peter Allen (no not the singer!) is the head of the department and taught the design section. His specialty was his assignments. I found them incredibly fun and innovative. I was working on a cartoon with the design/multimedia team from Swinburne and showed them the assignments that we were getting. They were blown away by the creativity and thoroughness of his assignments.

One of them was to create all the marketing material for a fictional movie. I decided to turn the comic book called the Authority into a movie. I had huge fun discussing who should play who with my geek buddies. I think my likenesses are pretty good here (except that's Vin Diesel as the Midnighter).

I was faced by two problems at the time. First was that you were NOT allowed to use anything that wasn't your intellectual property. If you didn't take the photo, then you weren't allowed to use it. Even royalty-free photos were banned.

Secondly, my RSI (repetitive strain injury) was so bad I couldn't hold a pen to draw with, use a mouse or a keyboard (it's 100% better thank you for asking).

So I taught myself to watercolour. These are some of my first paintings and are touched up in Photoshop to make them look more like photos. I have not used photo overlays in ANY way. The Midnighter is a photo of me in a Batman mask (don't ask) with the ears removed.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


This is another EQ2 wallpaper signature that I did. It was a fairly spontaneous one. I was on the train home from Bendigo (visiting my parents - thanks for asking). I had run out of graphic novels to read. My brain was broken from doing layouts and I just wanted to sketch something. The lighting for a portrait came to mind. What you see before you is a rare pen sketch done with a bic biro. It's been blown up a bit and coloured on Photoshop.

Dashrin (the character name of Lee - see the dragon post a couple weeks ago) is my guild leader. Without sounding too geeky (god, why do I bother trying to be cool?) a guild is a large group of people who all play together. It is the guild leader's job to moderate and co-ordinate (in this case) about 100 people to play nicely, fairly and co-operatively. Truth be told it's a thankless job. Countless hours spent each week organising people instead of playing. No pay, and very little thanks.

Except this picture. Thanks Dash.

NEXT: Wow! that's my entire backlog that I'd put aside on my break! In a moment of procrastination between Zero-Genesis pages (going well, thanks for asking. Will you see any? Not whole pages. But just panels and highlights here and there) I have planned my next 6 weeks of daily posts... And I haven't even considered scanning in artwork that I actually drew by hand.


I'm a big believer in rewarding altruism. I play an online game called Everquest 2. You run around and meet up with other people in a Lord of the Rings-like world and kill stuff. There are ways that other people can help you. Very powerful characters can help weaker characters.

Nowhere else in my life have I found so many people who are so selfless with their time, advice and help. One in particular was a guy whose chat handle/character is the assassin called Thunderstab.

He basically took me and my friends under his wing and helped us level through the game, making the impossible merely challenging.

As thanks I drew this up for him.


In the early 90s I got into a band called the God Machine. They had two albums, and on the eve of the release of their second album, their bassist Jimmy Fernandez died from a brain anneurism. They are easily my favourite band. I go through phases of listening to them. Sometimes nothing for up to six months, then I won't take it out of my cd player for a month.

They're angsty, heavy guitar rock similar to Tool or Cog. I especially love the lyrics (rare for me as I don't really listen to lyrics).

I decided to go searching for their stuff the other day on the web and found that they had a couple of EPs, singles and recordings on top of these albums. I was stunned! It was like new music from a band that broke up almost 10 years ago! But I didn't trust any of the vendors and none of the extra stuff was on Ebay.

So I contacted one guy who had put up the guitar tabs for all their songs including some of those singles and EPs. I figured he would have copies, right? Obviously people don't trade for money. But I showed him this blog and offered my services. He asked for a new title page for his website. He suggested a band portrait. It was only a couple hours work but he emailed me the songs. Now I have more songs from my favourite band, something I never dreamed possible. It's like I just got let into Lucien's library in Sandman and found the lost songs in Dream's library of music that only ever got dreamed.

The design comes from the two albums. The framing texture is a scan of the cover of the first album. The second album is plain white with very plain, tiny black text on it. Hence the way I drew the portrait. I tried to lend a sense of foreboding and cool that the normal band portraits didn't quite capture.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Spacedog has a huge amount of intellectual property ideas that they're working on. Because of the huge success they've had producing The Covenant (in cinemas now!), they've just started a specific entertainment division office in New York to join their LA one.

The genius to their ideas is that they start everything with comics. Comics make the greatest pitch sheets. The producers can all sit down over a latte and read the comic putting them all on the same page. It's a quick read and they can all see the characters and take the story to the screen together.

Before they make their comics though, they make one-sheets. A document with a single image and a quick blurb about the story. This is a One-sheet for a new title called Monstrosity. The art is by Andy Finlayson (keep an eye on him, he's going to be the next Aussie superstar) and it's coloured by me. I don't normally colour stuff but there was no time to ask Annette and they needed it for a meeting with Miramax, Lion's Gate or some such people immediately.

TECHNICAL: I painted a watercolour texture which I scanned in and placed in a layer behind her. I then tinted the watercolour layer green and using the burn and dodge tool placed my highlights and shadows on her. I then selected the areas of skin and clothing and using the colour balance tool shifted them to where I needed them to be, but still maintained a greenish hue. I finished off with a bit of air-brushing to help define the light source. Overall: 1 hour.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I thought I wouldn't push my luck too far. You have all been really patient with my colouring attempts (and some of you not so). So I thought I would get back to some Kwokian goodness.

There's no getting around that I got a little carried away with this piece. Back when I drew this, there was the possibility that Renae Geerlings was looking at my work. So I thought I'd send this piece around. Little did I know that Renae (had very smartly) got the Witchblade out of this getup and into a tshirt and jeans with the Witchblade like a gauntlet on her right arm. I of course didn't know this and thought that it was T&A all the way. Given that I couldn't show her "A" I think I went a little overboard on the "T".

A funny comment is that a friend of mine got abused for looking at pornography at work when I emailed him this piece.

My favourite bit is still the little asian kid standing to her right. =)

I guess I should explain the piece. I felt that the Witchblade was such an over-saturated image in the comics community that she could be sitting at a bus-stop and no one would pay her any attention.

Again, Annette has done a stunning job.

Monday, October 02, 2006


While I was over in San Diego, I got shown Marc Silvestri's cover for the Innocents graphic novel. I really liked it, and was excited about the possibility of what I could do with it. I asked if they could send me a high quality version of it so I could paint it.

Included above is the artwork as done by the Top Cow team. Totally slick.

This is the artwork that I did using Marc's pencils:

The main art note that we got from AOL Red (the teenage division of AOL who we did this in partnership with) was that it was too sexy. Her ass was too prominent and her boobs too full on. So taking that on board I tried a lighting scheme that would tone both of the elements down. The other main challenge was that I had never painted over anyone's artwork before. It was important to me that it still look like a Marc Silvestri piece. It's watercoloured with the pencils overlayed over the top.

It was definitely something fun to pass the time. Reminds me of the Quitely Superman that I did. It is such a buzz seeing my sig next to Marc's.

NEXT: More posters and pinup work...

FALLEN SKY: Page 2 and 3

So JAn's script basically had us pulling out further and further on page one as they're flirting gets more and more full on. We see that there's some sort of destruction behind them. A fire... rubble. Then you turn the page and see this.

The only dialogue is from Girl:Fusion and she say, "So. You wanna f*ck".

In panel 2 (the inset) he obviously agrees and off they go.

This took me about 3 weeks. It's A2. While it's a nice piece... (it's a lot more impressive at real size) I find it underwhelming. Not enough bang for the amount I invested in it. But, it did set a new standard of work ethic for me. I started putting a lot more detail on my backgrounds ever since. I kinda went bananas drawing all those windows. There's probably almost a thousand windows on this page.

I'd colour it totally differently if I had to do it again... But this will do for now. Boy, I'd love to see what Annette would do with something like this. One day...

Ok, that ends the FALLEN SKY show. I told you it was unfinished. Just as I finished this splash page we started on the surfer Proximity Effect story. Although, I will show that later. In the meantime, some more wallpapers and poster art.

FALLEN SKY - Girl:Fusion cover

Don't worry, I don't count this as a "real" post. This is basically in response to Mike Nason's comment on my choice of colour. This is the artwork with the typeset for the cover. I like the layout and I think the choice of pallette draws the eye - especially on the noisy comic book racks. On a nice shiny paper stock it would look really nice.

I especially like the placement of the logo.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

FALLEN SKY - page 1

Here's page one. It's an interesting colouring technique that I played with. It's drawn on Photoshop, printed, toned with watercolours (ie. black, whites and greys), scanned back in and coloured in Photoshop. I like it cos it's quick but also doesn't look too sterile, which is my problem with most computer colouring. It's one of the things I'm most jealous about Annette's work. It's totally digital, but it has a slick organic quality to it also.

In the script, they're basically hitting on each other. Well, she's hitting on him anyway.