Sunday, February 25, 2007

SYLAR page 5

Here's page 5. There was a huge debate here that Sylar has some sort of Super-Jump after reading this. I'm just glad that it didn't read that he can fly. The script actually says:

"The driver's door is open and Sylar is Telekinetically moving himself to a safe place against the mountain."

So he can't fly. NBC were very specific in my notes that Sylar cannot fly. I believe because it's one power per person. Nathan can fly, therefore Telekinesis means you can't (in the HEROES universe anyway). I drew him hanging onto the branch to further illustrate that the jump he made was impossible, but he certainly didn't fly. I also wanted the branch to be kinda thin to give you the idea that he's holding his own weight with his Telekinesis.

Again, check the coloured version for what Annette did. She basically blew life into the piece. The blurs, smearing headlights, helicopter, police lights... It all brings it to life.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

SYLAR page 4

I have a REALLY good excuse for not posting last night. You see, in Australia they just aired the 3rd episode, so I have to download my episodes (naughty me!). I couldn't jump on to post because I was waiting with bated breath for RUN! to come down. I enjoyed the heck out of it but kicked myself when Zane asks Sylar if he's Dr Suresh behind the security door. There wasn't any security door in my photo reference! I like everything to be perfect so the experience of the comics feels true to the show. I don't want my comic to feel like the poor, invalid cousin of a television program. I'd rather it be like nuts on ice-cream... you don't need it, but it sure enriches the experience (and you can always eat the nuts by themselves).

Anyway, onto page 4. This page is totally all Annette. If you hold them up side by side you can really see the amount of work that Annette put in. It's quite funny, Annette may not yet be the best colourist in the business, (this is not a slight, we're both at the start of our careers - and we both want to be the best - but we're not there yet) but she is one of the best storytellers in the business. Her commitment to the story is always paramount. I don't just mean things like motion blurs, and the incredible ice effect that she did on panel 3 (look at my black and white! I just wrote her some notes as to what I wanted and the rest of the magic is hers) . What I'm talking about is that after panel 2 I totally forget to draw the helicopter again. But Annette places its flood lights in almost every panel adding a foreboding sense of drama that I dropped the ball on. That's what good colouring is people.

But let's not dwell on that alone. The movement of the road on panel 2. The ice effect and the movement shine on the wheels in panel 3. The reflection of the siren lights on the ice (oh my god!). Again the helicopter light on panel 5. Wow!

The other thing that drove me nuts was the number of cop cars I had to draw! I think there's about a dozen or so. I was gonna headbutt my monitor by the end of it.

On the upside the script brought a revelation to the HEROES universe here. We'd never seen Sylar us his ice powers like this before. I wrote Annette some notes mentioning that I really didn't want it to look like Iceman from the X-men. A beam of ice never made any sense to me and wouldn't look right in the HEROES world. I figured that the air around his hands would simply just get really, really cold rather than a beam of ice shoot out of his hands. I figured he could then extend and direct the coldness around his hands towards the road (I couldn't get him leaning out and touching the road - how would he steer the semi?!). But where does the water come from that forms the ice? Is it the oxygen in the air slowing down? Should I have drawn the ground wet from rain? Given that there was no direction for the latter in the script, I opted for the former.

So my comic implies that he could freeze someone from a short distance (3 feet?). I wonder if they will use that or if he needs to actually make contact with someone? I wonder if he can do it from further away?

Questions, questions...

Monday, February 19, 2007

SYLAR page 3

This was probably one of my favourite pages. Getting to draw Hiro, Ando and Charlie was a huge buzz. Boy I'd love to draw more Hiro. He's just so expressive.

Soon as I got the script I knew the scene I wanted to draw. It was right there in my mind's eye.

I went back to episode 9 and began to trawl it for the scene. To my schock, I realised that the scene didn't exist. So what I did was I composited about 4 different scenes/images together to get panel 3. I grabbed Charlie from where she is chatting to the sheriff and the deputy and flipped her. I grabbed a zoom in shot of Hiro and Ando. I stole a Hiro from somewhere else and the Sylar is from his own shot. It's all meticulously drawn to make sure that you know that's the Burnt Toast Diner... right down to the photos in the background.

Because I was so happy with the likenesses here's a closeup of my favourite panel; panel 3:

Of note, I screwed up and no one caught me. In panel 2, Charlie's menu should read the BURNT TOAST DINER not the Burnt ToastER Diner. Ooops!

Also, I redrew Sylar's head in panel 6. It was good, but it wasn't good enough. Annette had already coloured it and was kind enough to afford me my eccentricities and coloured it again. Here it is again. It's more menacing, but I just didn't like it:

It's a huge page as it confirms Sylar has Charlie's memory. It's unsure in the show as Sylar just disappears. But you heard it here first hand. It also explains how he was immune to the Haitian's "Jedi Mind Tricks" as he remembers Claire after being captured.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

SYLAR page 2

Sorry about the tardiness. I've had some tech issues (which have now been overcome) over the last few days. But here I am, back on track.

Page 2 is pretty straight forward. One of the toughest things was trying to maintain continuity. I'm a real stickler for continuity. As a fan I read through the previous HEROES comics and was disapointed by small continuity errors like characters not wearing the right clothing, not being in the scene and sometimes characters not looking like the characters at all etc. It wasn't until I worked under the time crunch that I understood why.

So I got the job saturday afternoon (my time) and it's set after the episode that airs Tuesday (my time). While they sent me some screen caps of that episode ahead of time, none of them had the Haitian in it. When I finally watched the episode I was shocked to see the Haitian following HRG into the room. I could have easily let it slip, but things like that bug me. He should be there! So back to page 1...

It's actually not too bad a likeness of the two characters. I wanted to try and make all the characters really look like the characters. A decent resemblance was my lowest level of acceptance. To do this under the timeframe, I had to cheat. I went through and screen capped all the shots of the characters and traced over them in Photoshop, adjusting linework as I needed to (feel free to try and play spot the photo reference). If you think this is easy, then grab a photo, trace it yourself and tell me how well you did. What doing that saved me was just being able to get the proportions on people's faces right the first time. Readjusting the lighting is a really tough thing to do, as even if you have the proportions, the structure of everyone's face is totally different. The slightest change in lighting can totally transform a likeness.

The only extra thing I wanted to do was to have blood spurting out of the trucker's mouth. But Sylar (cool as a cucumber) simply tilts his hat down to catch the blood on the brim of his hat, and discards it after. That's why he wouldn't have the hat later on. But... too little too late.

As you can see, the artwork pretty much follows the layouts. I tried to use more space here as I wanted to feel I was addressing NBC's feedback (use more space!).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

SYLAR page 1

So here's what Annette gets before she starts colouring. You can start to see the sort of choices she makes when you see the black and white artwork. While I send her some notes, the buck stops with her.

I've already spoken about how I got the gig, so I thought I'd talk about the process. I got the job and the script about 11am on saturday morning. I didn't finish work until midday. Frank was at work late on a friday night (big time difference as I'm in Australia), and needed to approve layouts before I could get started. He had about 3.5 hours to approve these layouts. If I missed the boat then I'd have to wait til his monday (my tuesday) to get started, and that would make the friday deadline impossible.

So I ran home (not literally) and began work on the layouts. Layouts are small sketches of the page. Little more than stick figures to show the editor (Frank) and the network (NBC) how the pages are going to look. They basically looked like this:

It's important to stick to them, because when they've been approved any changes you make might have to be redone.

While it seems simple, doing layouts burns my brain out. Trying to conceive things from all possible angles is a real nightmare. I realised I wouldn't get through more than three pages over the weekend, so I just layed (laid?) out the first three pages. Frank approved them immediately and I got to work.

NBC's main concern with my layouts was that there was too much unused space (also called negative space). My theory was two-fold:

1. I wanted to keep panels wider than they were taller to maintain a "widescreen" feel to the comic. The closer visually it could look to the show, the more accepting readers would be.

2. When I read the online comics, I downloaded them as a PDF and zoomed in so the pages were as wide as my monitor and then scrolled down. The problem was that long thin panels forced me to zoom out, and thus disrupted my reading. Wide panels mean that the reveals are all vertical. This means that as you scroll down, you see what happens next. The layout is conducive to the PDF reading format.


1. Check out the newspaper article up close (you will need to download the colour one on the site - we were specifically asked to place those newspaper headlines.

2. The name of the beer is Northeast Brewing Company, as a smart poster on the 9th Wonder Message boards noted, the acronym is NBC.

3. The script didn't call for Sylar to go rummaging through a charity clothes bin. That was my decision. I just felt that if you're covered in blood from two gunshot wounds, then it's unlikely that someone's going to give you a ride. If I'd received the screen caps for episode 15 earlier, I would have given Sylar the green wide neck top.


Here's that big news I was talking about!

I got a gig doing an official HEROES webisode!!!

I'm a huge fan of the show and had just finished the first book of ZERO G (my new comic). I decided to wander by NBC's website for the show and see what they had going on there. I noticed the comic webisodes and really enjoyed them. I then remembered that I knew Aron Coleite (one of the producers, and writer of my favourite episode, "Six Months Ago") as I had art directed a comic of his. I thought I'd shoot Aron an email, congratulate him on the show and send him some art from Zero G. I also asked how one gets a gig doing the webisode comics.

Aron emailed me back and said he'd forwarded the email onto the editor at Aspen Entertainment who contract the artists for the webisodes. Frank from Aspen emailed me immediately and said he liked my stuff. He asked me if I'd be interested in doing a six page story. The only catch was the TIGHT deadline - I got the gig saturday afternoon and the story was due (fully coloured) the following friday.

I contacted Annette (my uber-colourist) and it was GAME ON!

I take about 10 hours to draw a page, I managed to get it down to 6 hours per page for this. That made 36 hours on top of my normal 50 hours a week... it was a BIG week. I basically got to work at 930am, left at 8pm and then had dinner and drew from 9pm til 3am every night. Annette and I managed to get it done, and there were high fives all round.

I'm incredibly happy with it. I would have liked tighter likenesses, but what can you do when the clock ticks that quickly? It was such a huge buzz drawing the likenesses - especially Hiro. Sylar is such a tough one. He's a real chameleon. Zachary Quinto has an incredible range of expression, and it's so hard to capture. The image I posted above is my favourite (and also shows you the black and white artwork that Annette coloured).

You can go here for the comic, it's EPISODE 20 and called ROAD RAGE:

Monday, February 12, 2007


Hey all,

Sorry to be so AWOL, but I should explain what's happened.

I basically hit the wall on all the stuff I can show you guys. It took 100 posts, but that's most of everything I've got to show you. That basically took me from last year until I started Zero G. Given I've been working on that for the last 3 or more months it's all I've really got to show. Unfortunately, I'm reluctant to show any more. You're going to have to check out the preview con edition, or pick up the book later this year.

In the meantime, I'm working on book 2. There's also some HUGE news which I will post in the next day or two. Probably the biggest news of my career since I started working for Roger and until Zero G comes out.

Stay frosty!

In the meantime, here's an engagement present I did for a lovely lady and her husband of them as comic book characters. Apparently he even replaced his Alex Ross print with it. There's not much higher praise than that! What's an engagement present? Well, she decided that she got the ring, so he should get a present in return. Take note ladies, this is how it should be done. =)