Thursday, March 29, 2007

HEROES: Part one done

As the subject line, at 12:00pm today I finished the first part. Annette needed the artwork by 5pm at the latest to start colouring on so she could make the final deadline. I unfortunately started work at 1:00pm. So it had to be done by then.

Now... Onto part 4. The final part.

The skinny:

1. It's six pages.

2. I get to draw Hana (yay!). Hey, does anyone know the actress' name?

3. (As I mentioned) you get confirmation on who Dallas and Austin are. I'm fascinated to see the discussion once it's revealed.

4. You get to see a location that's being featured in the next few episodes.

I've said too much! I must be silenced!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Well, I’m two and a half pages in and it’s Tuesday. Annette needs page 5 (the final page) by Thursday lunchtime.

It’s gonna be close. Bloody close.

I started so late! I had so much research to do (I will explain more when I post the art in black and white well after it’s been posted at NBC).

On the good side, my close friends who I’ve shown the art to have all been able to guess who everyone is by the likenesses. A 100% hit rate so far. And just so you know, they haven’t even seen the script! They just saw the art and having watched the show knew who everybody was... And one (totally out-there) clue is that we haven't even met one of the people and they STILL knew who it was!

The confirmation of their identities is at the end of part 4, though. So stay frosty. Until it is confirmed in the actual comic, my lips are sealed.

I just got the script for part 4. It's a great story!

ps In the meantime, I'm fighting against the universe on this one. My drawing hand has been in the wars. Two cuts under the nail on my pointer finger (same place - and not just the first cut reopening - a brand new cut) is making drawing pretty painful. Then I poured burning water on the same finger. It's just going... great. =)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

ZERO-G PREVIEW COVER - design 3 coloured!

Here is the cover with Annette's magic touch.

She's used a base purple pallette and highlighted the main chracters with the orange from the plasma guns. The choice of orange both helps separate them from the background and creates an extra level of depth on them as orange is the diametric opposite to purple on the colour spectrum (insert technical term there - I can't remember it). When the two are placed skillfully together (like this) it can create an extra level of solidity to the form.

You can see the guns taking more shape here, and Annette has done a job that would leave Lucasfilm drooling.

The shuttle and wyrm are just superb. I love the way she faded the wyrm into the space/background (rather than black) giving it a far more mysterious and epic scale than the initial drawing implied.

Alex still maintains that the asteroid isn't a large enough design feature and I agree with him. Unfortunately the clock ran out on this side of the process. Next came the Zero G logo.

LATEST NEWS: You know how I mentioned that I wouldn't be getting anymore HEROES work until the 4 part story arc was done? Well I contacted Frank (the Heroes editor at Aspen) and asked how things were going. Apparently my timing was perfect again. He told me that artist had just pulled out and he desperately needed an artist to step in for the last two parts of the Vietnam flashback story. Seriously, I don't know why he just doesn't ask me in the first place. =)

So, I get to find out who Dallas and Austin are. I guarantee you their identities won't be parting my lips... It's more than my job's worth.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


With bated breath I waited for the response to the sketch. In the meantime I had no time to lose. I pressed on with the cover. This time I felt more certain that what I was doing coincided with what needed to be done. The figures were dynamic and their outfits screamed sci fi. The shuttle was prominently displayed. The alien worm/wyrm was huge and foreboding. The asteroid itself (though small) was centre aligned. The composition was strong and I was confident that I had overlaid objects of a high variety of colour on top of each other to help separate the different layers in the picture.

The email came back and confirmed it. Everyone loved it. The only call was from Alex who wanted the asteroid to be bigger and more prevalent. As he put it, "The asteroid is our Haunted House in our Haunted House Movie. If we don't highlight it, then we lose our main plot point and reason for being there."

While I agreed whole heartedly with him, I was beyond the point of no return. It was wednesday and the artwork had to be handed in by friday. Annette still needed time to colour it. So I passed it onto Annette with notes to try and highlight the asteroid more.

Under the pump, Annette began to wave her magic wand...


A couple days go by and I think I'm in the clear. It's monday and the cover isn't due til friday. I'm a week ahead of deadline and feeling pretty proud of myself.

Then I get The Email from Alex Zamm. He implores me to reconsider the cover. He cites how important it is, how powerful our first impression must be. He remarks upon the passive stances of the characters, the tiny asteroid and the general lack of drama in the picture.

He knows how close we are to deadline; how impossible it would be. But he asks... almost begs me to have another look at it.

I take everything on he had to say and came to the realisation that he was right. He was totally right. It was a crap cover.

With no time to waste, I mock up a quick sketch and send it over. With the deadline crawling closer I start drawing Atom while I wait for the feedback (they're in LA, 17 hours behind me). I re-design the alien gun again going for something pointier with a more unusual firing mechanism. My idea is that there is an arc of plasma between the two prongs on the end. The barrel then shoots out a compressed hyper dense gravity ball that is then ignited by the prongs and explodes on impact with a burning concussive force. You can fire small balls like bullets, or huge things like grenades.

Again, with the days crawling by I wait, hoping that I hit the mark this time...

Monday, March 19, 2007

ZERO-G PREVIEW COVER - unused design 2

So Alex's feedback asked for space suits, alien weaponry and more of a focus on the asteroid and the monster. Unfortunately I hadn't really designed a lot of this!

I basically separated the figures from the previous design and suited them up. I had very little idea what to clothe Evelyn in, but I made do building on some sketches I had found from ages ago.

The weapons were also a nightmare. I drew them again and again and again. I think I eventually chucked on some Tool and just zoned out and let my hand move. I wanted something alien, something slightly techno-organic, but not Geiger looking. I love Geiger, but it's so done to death. I wanted weapons that defied logic but looked lethal. I was pretty happy with the final design.

My cute little touch was to give Evelyn the bigger weapon. Atom's kinda useless, and if there were two guns there, he'd definitely chuck her the bigger one. I'm so sick of the guy having the BIG FRAKKING GUN and the girl having the tiny little pistol. It would be very much reversed in this case.

I also removed some of Atom's torso armour to give him more form. I didn't want him to look like a big puffy armoured guy. I wanted a leaner, athletic feel to him.

Anyway, proud as pudding I sent this off expecting the sign off. How ignorant I was...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

ZERO-G PREVIEW COVER - unused design 1

Sorry I've been so AWOL. It was Ryan's recent comment that spurred me into blogging action. The reason why I haven't been posting is that I thought that I'd simply run out of stuff to post! But then I remembered this piece. This is just one of the many "sketches" I did for it.

To promote Zero-G for the upcoming convention period, it was decided to release a preview book. The book would contain the first ten pages of art, an interview with writer Alex Zamm and another with myself. It would then be rounded up with a bunch of design sketches of aliens and suits.

The preview book would feature an original cover and back cover. I thought I'd take you through the process of how we put together both covers in (again) next to no time at all.

First up, I consider the cover to be the visually most important part of the book. I wanted something that looked like a movie poster rather than a comic book cover and couldn't get this sort of letterbox out of my head (even though movie posters don't have that - go figure). Alex Zamm (the writer) threw ideas at me like the classic Star Wars posters. Huge montages of drama and action with looming figures in the background.

I wanted to explore the relationship between Atom and Evelyn and allude to that on the cover of the book. The deadline (as usual) was oppressive. I was so taken with the idea that I began drawing immediately. I mean, look at it (I thought)! How could you not like this?!

To help sell my idea I finished off the main figures (instead of leaving them as sketches). The main figures are original art and I just cut and pasted a bunch of heads and stuff into the background to give my editor, art director and Alex Zamm an idea of where I was going.

How could I be so wrong?

Alex's comments were the most accurate. He didn't want to give away the relationship between Atom and Evelyn too soon. He also requested space suits and alien weaponry to give it a visual kick.

I looked up at the clock and grimaced. But I knew he was right.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Hey all,

I have no idea if I've posted about this in the past.

Let me take you back in time. I had only just been discovered by Roger Mincheff, and was doing pinups, covers, art direction and the odd sequential piece for Spacedog/Top Cow. Then Ben from Phospherescent Comics contacted me asking me if I'd be interested in working on the latest Watch miniseries called FISHER: CATHEXES. He said I could do any issue. I read all three issues and asked if I could do issue 1. He replied that Paul Abstruse was doing issue 1... So much for being able to do any issue. He then asked me if I would do issue 2. My problem was that while it was a solid scirpt, I just couldn't bring anything to it that the Matrix hadn't already done (basically it was a huge gunfight in a building foyer and then an office building). Nicola Scott went on to do a stuning job of the issue, and I envy her vision.

So I was assigned issue 3. My main objective was to crank my art up a notch before inflicting it on the Americans. While this may make FISHER: CATHEXES seem like the experimental half sister, it really became a huge catalyst in my future style. It was also the first time Annette and I worked together and the last time I used flat blacks instead of my tonal greys. I really gave it my all, and I think it's the best job I could have done at the time.

It was a tough storytelling job.

Christian Read the writer, described the Fisher's headquarters as a janitor's closet. I posed it to Ben that it might need to be larger than that as it is eventually the site of two special forces teams, a gang of superheroes, two hostages and the Fisher himself. A grenade goes off and *doesn't* hurt the hostages either! That's some janitor's closet! I drew sketches of what Paul had drawn and showed Ben that there was a wall that had never been drawn. I suggested that wall could actually be the opening to a huge chamber (see page 2 & 3).

Christian also had some great ideas for action set pieces between pages 9 and 11, but I shuffled them around so they escalated more dramatically. I had a lot of fun here. The Fisher flipping upside down shooting the guys in the head, page 11 with its 19 panels!

The last few pages were tough as there is a LOT of dialogue. I thought I offered dialogue balloon placements for the splashes, but maybe I didn't or maybe they were lost? Who knows. It was a long time ago, and it looks great now. In the final fight with the supers, Christian had about three heroes burst in. I mentioned to Ben that there should be seven as that's was Crow Jane says earlier. So I also had to design 7 cool new superheroes (man, I wish you could see all the detail on page 15!). Another tough thing was how to kill all these people in the Fisher's lair. Christian came up with the idea of the grenade blowing them all up, but I thought you need a little more to kill all these supers. So I came up with the idea of the central support pillar.

I pitched all this to Ben with a deadline of when I needed to know by, and he pitched it to Christian. The deadline came and went and Ben instructed me to proceed with my ideas. I think it works really well. Enjoy!

(click on the READ IT ONLINE orange/red tabs).

All three issues are there. I'm not sure how Phospherescent are planning on making money on this, but hey! Don't look a gift horse and all that...

As for what I'm doing these days:

HEROES: I just got the word that I will see more HEROES work after the next 4 issue story arc.

ZERO G: I received the script for issue 2 yesterday. Alex Zamm has stepped it up big time. I have to hand in my notes by the end of the week and then it's all systems go by the following weekend.

EMPEROR: Now with ZERO G imminent, I have to finish the last 4 pages of this. I will post what I can.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

SYLAR page 6

Here's our final page. Easily the page I'm most happy with. I think I nailed the Sylar likeness here. I'm really happy with Zane too. I definitely feel I captured him too.

If you check the watch that Annette put it, it's off the HEROES: Wikipedia site. So there's a nice little circle there as we now have our own links there courtesy of the kind, talented and dedicated Ryan Gibson Stewart:

What I'm unhappy about is that on the actual episode Zane's line is delivered from behind a security door. I know it's such a tiny thing, but that really bothers me. The problem is that I know the fans are real sticklers for this sort of detail too. That's part and parcel about being a fan. You come to the party on this alternate universe, and the better it is, the more you come to the party on it. But when someone isn't true to that universe, it feels like blasphemy- like someone has soiled your world - your vision. The bubble of disbelief is so fragile, that even something as small as a security door can pop it.

I think the comics are an excellent initiative by the producers to create bonus material to entertain the fans. But as I mentioned, if you're going to do this, you really have to commit to it. If the fans feel that it's a fifth wheel it's going to get ignored by all but the most hardcore fans. If NBC could crank up their attentiveness to the material half a notch I think they'd get an even wider and better response to the comics. I feel that the comics are being considered "just comics", and that's a huge shame. They can be so much more than that. While I consider these comics great bonus material, it would only take the slightest crank up to make them essential reading in the HEROES mythos.

Sneak peek news: I've just received word that the next four comics are by the same artist and feature one character.

In the meantime, I finished drawing this page really late at night (4am? 5am?) and jumped into the shower. It was only there that I realised in the screen caps that NBC sent me that Sylar doesn't have his cap. Here's the original panel. I climbed out of the shower and erased the cap (trying not to think about the fact I had to be awake in 4 hours). I include it cos it's easily my favourite Sylar picture.

Thanks to everyone who has been following this little journey. I just got word that after the next four issues Frank will get in touch with me and we will see if we can work out another issue for me.