Wednesday, May 30, 2007

HANA PART 1: Eleventh Heaven

Here's the page... which you've seen.

I've used all my creativity and energy coming up with a crap title that doesn't mean anything.

Lemme actually write a post tomorrow when I feel human.

Ok, went to bed at 430pm yesterday, slept til 7am. Not a bad innings. Thanks to everyone for all the tips and well-wishing. Let's try this again.

The main thing I had to contend with on this page was justifying how 5 no-name guards could creep up on "super-soldier/spy" Hana. I guess she has a history of getting caught while on missions. =)

Anyway, I decided to play the first panel from the guard's point of view and really emphasize Hana's contemplation of the rocket. The second panel is just a cut from the second page, the recurring image that Aron asked for in the script.

The final panel was a lot of fun. I think it's a decent likeness of Hana. It's quite a comprehensive panel given how simple it was to draw.

One of the things that I'm a huge pedant of is making sure that people of different races and backgrounds look like they should. While I'm half asian myself I've mainly drawn white people. So a small amount of research was required to find some asian gentlemen who could be my Chinese soldiers.

COMPETITION: Geoff has now foreited his coveted second prize, and it now falls to ACIDBURN133. Acid, would you like to submit two suggestions as to who you would like, please? Email me at Soon as I have Acidburn's entry I will get started on these.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

HANA PART 1: Page 10

No witty pun-inspired title. I'm too sick.

This page was a lot of fun. It was one of those where I had such a bold vision of what I wanted. The problem with drawing on a computer is that you get caught up in the details and you lose sight of the big picture. If you look really closely, that gantry is kinda insane. I just got drawing and just kept drawing. I think I tranced out and went into some kinda meditative drawing state.

I did end up running over time, and I had to cobble together a photo of the "jaws" for the launching pad. I like to think, that of all the photo merging jobs that I've done in my art, this one is one of the best. It's almost seamless where the drawing ends and the photo begins.

The figure reference is from a client of mine. I just couldn't get it to work. So after I finished a class with one of my clients, I explained to them the predicament I was in. She thankfully helped me out with this shot, and the one of Hana with her hands up on the next page.

The best special effect came from Nicola (Lee's wife) and in my Art Team. She suggested that having everything in focus actually visually detracted from the piece. She wasn't sure what to look at. In an act of (what I consider to be) incredible artistic bravery on my part, I blurred Hana (and the leaves) out to create a strong difference between the foreground and the background. Why's it so brave? Cos I did all this work and subtle rendering, only to have it blurred out. But it had to be done.

Monday, May 28, 2007

HANA PART 1: 9 lives

I've decided not to blog on weekends. Too much to do, and so much more to draw. A cousin's wedding and ridiculous over-training killed me. The incredible disapointment of David Fincher's (my favourite director) ZODIAC killed the end of my weekend. Onto the art:

This was an incredibly fun page to draw, just because every panel was just so different. My main aim here was to make the lighting as different as possible between each of the scenes.

The idea behind panel one was to capture a sense of working late into the night. The yellow desklamp. The non-sensical blueprints. I wanted blueprints as complicated as possible to give us an insight into the level of complexity that Hana's brain works at.

Panel 2 was about transitions. I normally don't like moving characters right to left (the natural flow of the eye is left to right), but I felt this was needed as the eye starts on the right side (from Hana's hand in panel 1) of the panel, and then works its way over the panel to the left. I wanted to make the aeroplane journey as subtle as possible. I wanted her also to look very different. Her hair down, and in a beautiful top designed by Curlymarie. You can just make out the clouds reflected in the window. I wanted the lighting to speak of later afternoons.

Panel 3 is actually set in Hong Kong. I like to think I captured the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong quite well for the little amount of time I spent here. I felt all the drama is in the lighting and the billboards. I wanted a harsh artificial light that speaks of the decay of over-crowded hyper-urbanised cities. On the layout it's the only one I deviated from. Instead of emphasizing harsh shadows (a tool to cut time) I actually wanted to draw the reader into the detail of the scene, if only for a second to contrast it against the softer beauty of panel 4.

Panel 4 is meant to break the visual flow. I wanted serenity like a watercolour painting. Misty mountains and endless rice patties. If you look carefully there are HUNDREDS of blades of grass there that fly by unnoticed. My hand got pretty sore. The far left aligned panel is to indicate the huge amount of time and distance she has yet to go. Her body language is that of the continual travel and is meant to indicate the distance she has come. Despite the beauty behind her, all she can think of is the journey ahead.

Lastly, this is one of my favourite pictures of Hana. It's strong, stylistic lighting works well witgh the likeness. The strong blacks (always a challenge) look soft here and define her face and add to her beauty rather than detract from her femininity.

COMPETITION: I'm waiting to hear back from geoff schweiegert. If I haven't heard from him by Thursday (my time) Acidburn133 becomes the default second prize winner. Meanwhile Pngau has suggested a beautiful piece. I'm waiting to see what geoff suggests before I commit to what kara and ryan have asked for.

WHAT'S UP NEXT: I'm fixing up the first issue of Zero G. I've laid out the first 10 pages of issue 2. Done some designs also. I'm also finishing off the EMPEROR story (you can find it elsewhere here). I'm really loathing going back to my old drawing style. The stuff I designed on Hana looks so much better and is SO much faster.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

HANA PART 1: I eight Hana

I think it was Curlymarie in the last comments that mentioned the transitions from one panel to the next. This is an aspect to comics that I really love. I get to create incredible visual effects without having to know all about lenses. My camera's focal depth is infinite and hell, it's a lot faster too.

It's not incredibly evident here on this page as this is more of a "vignette" page - a series of loosely related scenes. But I'm going to talk about it more on the pages where it's really relevant. The only logistical story to this page is that I lost the original 300dpi artwork. What you see is a recovered 150dpi version. Basically, while I've redrawn chunks it's lost about 20% of its quality. =(

The notorious page 8. Notorious for so many reasons.

First up, after scouring the 9th Wonders boards I became aware of a wave of dissention about the "classic" way that comic book artists portray sexy women. Huge boobs, tiny waists and inflated lips that would make Angelina Jolie jealous and clothes that resemble nothing more than two band-aids and a cork. I constantly try and ground the comics in the same world as HEROES and I wanted Hana to dress right. But I'm a guy, therefore I have no sense of fashion. So I ran a competition asking the 9th Wonders forum members to nominate dresses and outfits after I loosely described the scene.

Vanessa's original sleek design won the day and the competition: to dress Hana herself.

This page is rife with "easter eggs" and injokes so let's get into them.

PANEL 1: As I've mentioned before, Ryan Gibson Stewart has tirelessly supported my quest for the perfect details. His research on this project was thorough and unbelievably helpful. I asked him to find me a Nathan Petrelli ad. He listed every episode featuring Nathan's political campaign, a bunch of websites and eventually the grail: the Nathan Petrelli For Congress tv ad. The ad you see on the cab is a screen cap from that. I also wanted to add another injoke and Ryan directed me to the Corinthian website where I put together a billboard ad. As thanks I mentioned to him that I would put an "easter egg" into the comic for him. He jokingly asked if it could be green with blue stripes. So I named the nightclub after him, "RGS" and it has green and blue stripes. =)

PANEL 2: As mentioned in a previous post, thie panel features the winning dress as well as all the runners up. I didn't want to just highlight the winner. So many people had put so much effort in.

PANEL 3 & 4: So the script says Hana is drinking with some guys. In the next panel she kisses one of those guys. I was going to run a competition for the guys on the 9th Wonders getting them to compete to kiss Hana. Then I thought, "Bugger that! I'm winning that!" Hell, it's the most action I've seen all year. Later this year I'm heading to New York with two mates of mine. I figured if she's drinking with me, chances are that she's going to be drinking with the guys too. So the big guy on the left is Mitch and the guy pulling the "face" is Simbo (also model for Sonny from Zero G).

HEROES SIGIL: I almost forgot. It's funny how you guys all loved the HEROES symbol on Hana's earrings and ring. The note I received from NBC asked me to remove the earrings. The page I've uploaded here shows the page with the new earrings. For some reason I kept the ring. For some reason they used the old page. I hope no one got into trouble over this.

The last thing I've done is shown you my tonal layer. As you can see, it's not just tracing photos. Skilled Potatoshoppers out there will be able to overlay the art over the tonal layer and see what I colour over.

Lastly: People on the 9th Wonders forums have mentioned Greg Grunberg's tireless work for Pediatric Epilepsy. If anyone can put me in touch with him, I would be happy to donate the artwork for the final page of part 2 for his cause if he can clear the legal issues.


By the way, there's an actual post below this. Go check it out.

Ok, here we go!

THIRD PRIZE: devin was close being the first to mention Nathan grabbing Peter and flying him up. But Devin suggested that Nathan flies him to Nebraska - which I'm pretty sure is wrong. Sorry Devin. I was looking for more detail and found a good enough from DrDX. But he was then trumped by Karathephantom who supplied a chillingly accurate prediction of all the other details. WINNER: Karathephantom RUNNER UP: DrDX then Devin

SECOND PRIZE: So Acidburn133 hit the feudal Japan thing first. But then Ryan came in with the perfect details, but I gotta say buddy - only one guess per person and you'd already guessed! (but you still get automatic 4th place). But I think it was Geoff Schweiegert who mentioned the Japanese army - which is close enough. so... WINNER: geoff schweiegert RUNNER UP: Acidburn 133 then Ryan Gibson Stewart

I gotta ask: theBaldBob - how the hell did you know? Did you see a copy of the pinup?

FIRST PRIZE: While the ghost in the machine thing was first mentioned by rayne, the exact circumstances of her death was a little way off. pngau scored for their terrifyingly accurate prediction! Vox also was pretty damn good, but it was Pngau who had a terrifyingly accurate prediction. WINNER: pngau, RUNNER UP: Vox.

Here's what I'd like from the winners...

Email me with your handle at: within a week. If I don't get an email from you, the runner up wins your place instead.

Select a MAIN character (I'm not drawing Mr Muggles or Mohinder's buddies in India) and include a description of what you'd like to see them do. An example might be, "Sylar levitating all the broken glass before he stabs Peter telekinetically." or "Niki looking into the mirror and seeing Jessica pointing a gun at her." The more conservative you keep it, the closer the final picture will be. I reserve the right to say "no" to any picture. I will also not draw any nudity or pron. Let's keep this a family show, ok?

FIRST PRIZE: Pngau - pick one character.

SECOND PRIZE: geoff schweiegert - pick two characters (in case pngau picks one of them)

THIRD PRIZE: Karathephantom- pick three characters (in case pngau and geoff pick two of them)

FOURTH PRIZE: Ryan (for all his help!) pick four characters in case the others pick three of them.

INCLUDE: A mailing address in your email. I'd like to mail you an A3 print of the image signed by moi!

Thank you everyone for entering! I tell ya, I'm blown away by how good some of you are. I'm disturbed by some of you, and amused all round. =)

ps and no Lee... you can't enter. =)

HANA PART 1: Page 7 - Noah Way!

Thanks again to everyone for the kind words about part 2. Man. Wow. I'm so glad it all paid off! It was such a tough story to draw. At times it's just so implausible! I really struggled to ground it in the harsh reality of HEROES and not make it an over-the-top sci-fi epic.

Do you know how hard it is to draw Jack Coleman (aka Mr. Noah Bennet) without his trademark glasses? Probably not, so take my word that it's HARD. I ended up going to the episode COMPANY MAN for my reference.

I've had some speculation on the 9th Wonders boards as to how I do what I do. In a weirdly flattering sorta way, people have been asking if I run a filter over photos. In a nutshell, here's what I do. I create photo matts (a technique that Eisner award winning Tony Harris does). These are screen caps of the actor's faces over a body that I shoot myself. One of the worst things that can happen as a comic artist is that you start drawing, then you realise that you won't be able to fit the hand holding the gun in the frame! Photo matts avoid that error, for as long as you keep to the rough guide of the photo you can't go wrong.

I then trace over this BY HAND. If you think this is easy, I defy you to trace a photo and see what happens. You can see my Niki in part 2 for what happens when it goes wrong. you can also see by the lineart on this page just how much the painting contributes to the likeness. I then get paint a texture underneath using the original photo as reference. I tend to create my own lighting. It's here that things can go wrong again. People's faces are defined by the light that we use to illuminate them. If you don't honour these curves, you lose a person's likeness. Ever seen a photo of yourself and thought, "I don't look like that!" That's what I'm trying to combat with every image.

I promise when I get to the second part, I will demonstrate it step by step there. The art in the second part is so much cleaner and easier to dissect. Everything in part 1 is such a mess! It's literally DOZENS of layers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

HANA part 2: Game on!

Well, well, well. Here we are at the end. But I'm still chatting about page 6 of part 1. I fell like everyone's talking about the next election and I'm still lamenting JFK's death.

As a homage to part 2, here's my image of Peter and Nathan. My friend Lee played the part of Peter Petrelli, and I played Nathan. I sent this to him and his wife to thank them and show them their contribution for their hard work helping me out. This is what the black and white toned art looks like before I go in and do my colours. I'm going to be drawing like this in the future. I can't tell you how quick and fun it is. I can't wait to see what Annette does with this sort of art!

But if you have any questions about part 2, please let me know. I'd like to know what you want to know. The only thing I will say about part 2, is did the 9th Wonders readers find my "shout out"? It's a tiny, very hard to find "easter egg". It's so small because I had to make sure it didn't disrupt the story and that the editors wouldn't kibosh it.

Anyway, page 6 was one of the easiest page to work on. It looks full-on, but really it was very simple. The toughest thing was the layout and the direction. The original script direction looked like this:

Splash Page - Hana PUKES out email addresses. Wi-fi signals. Radio transmissions.

So my initial sketch looked like this:

But as I worked on the earlier pages, I thought, wouldn't it be cooler if she was upright and vomiting these things like a volcano? I mean, it's not like radio-transmissions conform to gravity in any direct sense. I sent along this layout:

NBC really liked it, and off I went. The key to this sort of image or effect is texture and layers.

First up, is the lineart. Here it is. As you can see, there really isn't much on this page. It's all effects. On the far background is the sky. I found a nice photograph of a swirling storm and blurred and played with it. On top of that I added the mountain range, again, slightly blurred to pull it out of focus. Over the mountain range I airbrused mist and clouds to give it more depth and make it look less like a photo. Then came my shaded grey texture layer and lineart (see Peter and Nathan above for an example). Over that came the colours for Hana and Bennet and the snow foreground texture. Right now it looks like two people enjoying a sunny day on a snowy mountain.

Then comes my airbrush layer for Hana and Bennet, adding dramatic and extreme lighting from Hana's digital purge. The first of my special effects, the halo around Hana's mouth is here. The base of the texture is a computer generated liquid metal design that I found somewhere. I selected it, coloured it a golden yellow, and then added a vertical motion blur. The next layer is a bunch of nonsense digital text for texture all overlayed with the SCREEN layer effect. The final effect is a great airbrushed blast of white energy shooting upwards. Lastly is the snow added over the top for drama and depth. This was one of the fastest pages that I did.

COMPETITION: I haven't judged the entries yet, as I haven't watched the final episode. Expect the winners to be announced tomorrow night. What I will require from each of the winners is who they want drawn, and any basic direction from them. I will then mail out an original signed print to them. Everyone else can pick one up at the San Diego Con. If you give me names and details beforehand, I might even mail them all off in the US while I'm there. But the idea is that these are supposed to be portraits for the fans at the San Diego Comic Convention.

Monday, May 21, 2007

HANA PART 1: It's damn cold on page 5

One of the reasons this script was so much fun, was because it keeps changing scenes. Every second page I got to draw something totally different. "War Buddies" was really tough as I was stuck drawing the SAME stuff for 9 pages. I know that doesn't sound a lot to you, but that's about 90 hours of me stuck drawing the same army greens, jungle, huts and M16s. It gets tedious after a while.

So as the old joke goes, the easiest thing to draw is two polar bears in a snow storm. So while I was doing layouts, my friend Mitch (see page 8 - big guy in the background) goes, "Why don't you just draw it all set in a snowstorm?"

I turn to him and grin, "It's funny you mention that, cos 2.5 pages are in a snowstorm."

Unfortunately truth didn't follow fiction. These pages took me as long as any other page to draw. Because it's so minimal, you tend to make sure that what you have drawn is perfect. The only thing that's contrary to this is the picture of Hana on the bottom. It's my second weakest likeness. Probably worse than the one on page 3. I just had to cut my losses there and move along. I figured the establishing shot of her at the top was pretty good, and you're not going to confuse her for Mr. Bennet.

As a subtle background element, you can see the techno noise building up heavier and heavier as you get to the bottom of the page. I wanted to simulate the pressure that Hana was feeling.

COMPETITIONS: They're all still going. Good luck to all entrants. Once I announce the winners I will get them to email me their requests. I will work with them, then post the results. After the con, anyone who wants one, I will work something out for shipping/photocopying. In the meantime, I'm uploading tiny preview versions. Good luck!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I will update tomorrow. Sorry, it's the weekend and I'm a bit AWOL.

Keep the guesses coming. Some are better than others, but none are perfect. See the next post for details. Boy, do you guys have some serious imaginations.

Also, did you all realise that I posted about page 4 too? I was a busy boy! Two posts yesterday. Page 4 AND the competition.

Friday, May 18, 2007


God, I know I'm going to get in trouble for this one, but here goes.

I'm heading to San Diego, and I know people are going to want me to draw sketches of the HEROES characters. The problem is, it's a logistical nightmare doing likenesses. Batman? Wolverine? Sure! No problemo. Ali Larter? Adrian Pasdar? Whoo boy. I'm so hit and miss under pressure. So instead of some people getting a decent picture, and some getting a crap one, I've decided I'm not going to draw any HEROES sketches at the con.

So here's what I'm going to do instead. I'm going to draw a bunch of original HEROES portraits and hand them out instead. I'm going to charge US$1-$2 - whatever the price of the photocopying is. This is a non-profit making endeavour as I don't want to be hassled for likeness rights from the actors or NBC. This is just supposed to be from a fan to the fans. It's one per person per time in the queue. Want another? Jump back in the queue.

And here's the thing: you guys can tell me who you want me to draw and what you want them doing.

So here's how it's going to work:

I'm going to ask three questions for first, second and third prize. First prize gets to pick which character they want drawn first, second prize second, and third prize... third. I will only draw each character once and requests must be within reason. Eg. I want Nathan standing in front of the entire crowd in "5 Years Later" is gonna get you a picture of Nathan. Here's an example of Peter Petrelli ( I really wanted to draw him). So he's out. Pick someone else. =)

Obviously, I won't accept any entries after 9pm when HEROES screens. First and second prize are revealed when the comic is uploaded. Third prize when the final episode goes to air. Each person can only enter once.

The most accurate entry wins each category. In case of two identical entries, the prize is awarded to the earlier post.

All winners are at my discretion. Beware my sense of humour and nerdiness for details.

So if you have no idea where Hiro ends up, but you've got a good theory on the exploding man, go for that!

Ryan - you get a instant fourth prize - in case you don't win 1st, 2nd or 3rd. I couldn't have done all my work without your help.

I'm giving all my regular readers a 24 hour headstart before I post this on the 9th Wonders Forum. Your time starts... NOW!



Guess how Hana "dies"/dies.

Bonus points for accuracy, who is involved, how it happens and your theory for if you think anything happens after.



Guess where/when I've drawn Hiro on the final pinup.

Bonus points for what he's doing or who else is involved.



Guess how the matter of the exploding man is resolved.

Bonus points for guessing who the exploding man is, who else is involved, and where it takes place.


HANA PART 1: page 4

In my wild artistic thrashings, this page managed to smash out two of my favourite likenesses. Mr Bennet on panel 4, and Hana on panel 5.

This is one of those times I'm really glad that I included the lineart. Check out Mr. Bennet. He doesn't even look like him on the lineart! That's how big a contribution the painting makes. I can't even explain it, but something happens somewhere along the way. I also think his profile on panel 3 is pretty good too.

The bottom panel with Hana is one of my favourite Hana's. It just captures her, and I managed to put black on her face and still maintain a likeness. As any artist knows, shadows can make or kill a face or likeness.

Another thing that people seemed to like is Ted's "finger gun." That was Aron's idea. I did have to do some research from the episode "Company Man" to figure out what the special effect looks like. It seems Ted's bones glow white hot and his flesh goes burning red with the glow being white and yellow.

I'd actually like to do a Parkman comic. I love Greg Grunberg's work. He's just so genuine.


Once I've done my layouts I move onto the reseach phase. It's really important to me that everything looks as it's supposed to. I'm not an expert in everything, so where I can, I try and defer to the experts. Now, if I'd known someone as well-versed in Chinese rockets as Erik M on the 9th Wonders boards, I would have asked him for advice. As it is, I had to wing it myself - and apparently that's a russian Soyuz rocket launching from the Gagarin pad at Baikonur (Kazachstan). Well... that's an interesting political joint venture! =)

So what's in my research folder? Pictures of people holding guns for the soldiers, Chinese military uniforms, rice pattie fields and farmers, nightclubs, people dancing, source code (for digital texture), New York streets, aeroplane windows, schematics, parks, swings, Chinese men, satellites, mountains, snow, Hong Kong, chinese river boats, ak-47s, parkas and storm clouds. The world is an amazing place, and I can't hold all the details in my head. But Google images does.

But there's another side to the research. And that's the HEROES specific research. As a storyteller and fan, I like to cram as much stuff in that only the real fans will get. Ryan Gibson Stewart moderator of HEROESWIKI (link on the right) and all-round good guy and champion-for-justice offered to help me out. I felt the New York scene would have great potential for some injokes and details. Ryan directed me to the Corinthian Casino site, and from that I designed a billboard. He then directed me to every episode, screen shot, photo and video that featured Nathan's political advertising. I eventually found the ad I used on the taxi as a frame from Nathan's propaganda video. Sometimes I use Ryan to check all sorts of little details (QN. what colour are Hana's eyes? ANSWER: Stana Katic seems to have green eyes, but as Hana they're brown!). Basically anything that would be too hard for me to find out myself, I tap the huge database and wealth of knowledge this man represents. All the details, every HEROES injoke you find in here, is made possible because Ryan could find the information in my timeframe.

The last bit of research I do is heaps and heaps of screen caps. I tend to try and use the most recent episodes possible. One I struggled on for part 2 is Jessica. Do you remember the last time Jessica was Niki? Somewhere around episode 6!

Holding all the rough likenesses and angles in my head, I start to trawl through my memory banks looking for specific likenesses. For example I remembered, I could find shots of Jack Coleman (Mr Bennet) without his glasses in "Company Man". I pretty much captured every frame I could of Stana Katic (there's not that many). She's in two scenes, and the one in the graveyard she's lit really dark. Ryan found an interview with her on YOUTUBE. And while it was too low res to use, it did give me a great idea of how her face works.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

HANA PART 1: Third page, three musketeers

I normally follow Lewis Carroll's advice and start at the start, continue through to the end, and then stop. I like working through a comic book in its correct order. You discover things on the journey as you go. You watch interactions unfold. Certain characters talk and certain characters are silent. You have to figure out why they step forward or back. For this project I decided to start on the third page first.

Why? Because I had no idea what I was doing. I know I needed something fast and effective. So I got to playing. I also had to show NBC something that they would like. I played and toyed on this page for ages. It was a nightmare as I was making it up as I went along. Eventually I got the look I was going for. I replicated it again on page 2, and then again on page 1. I sent it off to NBC, nervous as hell that they wouldn't like it. It was so different to anything they had published before!

Obviously I got the go ahead. But I don't even like to consider what would have happened if they hadn't liked it. I'm going to go more into my technical process later. I'm really very happy with it, and I want to do more of this in the future.

Panel 2 has probably one of two really weak likenesses of Hana. I beg forgiveness that I was still trying to figure out what I was doing.

What's interesting is there has been a script change on this page. The original dialogue from Hana on panel 3 read:


HANA: Have we all forgotten what you've done?

I have no idea why Aron changed it. I liked the original, and it reads better with the art. With the revision it doesn't make as much sense as to why she shows the incisions.

There's one other stage that I go through when I begin a comic. That's the research stage. I recruited Ryan Gibson Stewart the site moderator (is that correct?) of HEROES WIKI (see the link to the right). I threw him a bunch of unusual questions from so far left field Marx woulda struggled to see them coming. I will go into this more next post.

Dr. Chaos already mentioned this on the 9th Wonders boards, but my stomach fell out when I saw Ted clean shaven. They didn't tell me about that! I was really disapointed. Who the hell lets someone shave in a maximum security Guanatanamo bay-like cell? Wtf?!!

I've also got a great idea for a competition regarding the final episode with the prize being original HEROES commissions. Keep your eyes peeled here!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

HANA PART 1: 25 days later

It's funny how things work out. My car broke down on the exact day that I got the email from Frank Mastromauro praising me for my work on War Buddies and offering me the final 22 page chapter: The Death of Hana Gitelman.

Uncertain whether to respond I sat down to watch Dawn of the Dead (the Snyder remake which is BRILLIANT - as an aside, my favourite genre of film is the zombie apocalypse) and do some layouts. Normally I layout 3-4 pages a day. They just drain my brain. I smashed out all 11 pages before the film was over. It just fell out perfectly. Below is an example of the layouts for pages 1 and 2

I do incredibly scratchy layouts. I like to discover things as I go on. If you figure everything out at this stage, drawing becomes more of a photocopying/blowing up exercise than actual creativity.

But would I do it the project?

As Frank noted, it looked like an easy story to draw. My layouts confirmed that. The great script was the next factor. The title! How could I go past the significance of this story in the HEROES universe? If I was going to be remember for any contribution to the HEROES universe, it would be this.

But I was still really torn. 22 pages of inked art was daunting enough, then Annette told me she'd already signed on to do a Marvel/DC project. 22 pages fully drawn and coloured by myself in 25 days? That's no mean feat. Not many people can do that. To give you an idea of the scale of work, each page is about 8 hours work (some less, some more). At 22 pages at roughly 8 hours a page over 25 days, that makes for 7 hours a day or 49 hours a week. Not so bad, huh? But add that ON TOP of my 50 hour a week job.

I sent the fateful email off confirming I would do the project and sat down to do begin the project that would take over my life for a month.

I worked close to 100 hours a week on this project for 25 days. For 25 days I slept 5-6 hours a night. I didn't go out, or see anyone. On a standard weekday I would wake up at 6am and draw for 2-3 hours. I then headed to work at 9am, came home around 7pm, sometimes 8pm, draw til midnight, prepare for bed. Sleep. Get up again. Weekends I would work up to 16 hours solid to make up for the lost hours during the week.

It was one of the toughest things I've ever done. But I was so passionate about being involved in this epic, final chapter of HEROES.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

HANA PART 1: Finally!

It's finally up! I can talk about it! I'm fit to burst!

First I wanna thank the rest of the incredible creative team. Huge thanks to Aron Eli Coleite for a fantastic script. Aron got me the HEROES webcomics job and I think it's really fitting that we both get to usher out season one together. Secondly to the talented kids at Comicraft. Their caption and dialogue placement have added a grace and flow to the pages that leave me stunned. Thanks for making me look great! Lastly to Frank Mastromauro at Aspen who chose me to do this. Thanks for running all my stupid requests to NBC and working around the clock to make this happen.

Before I get onto page 1, let's deal with the DRESS HANA COMPETITION! The results were on page 8.

I gotta say again, the entries were incredible. Seeing the page, I hope it's obvious to everyone what I was looking for. It's hard to dress someone when you don't know what they're dressing for!

The winner is Vanessa's original design. Vanessa really had the look I was going for hands down.

As you can see, I wanted something short and dynamic. Something that would show off Hana's athleticism. I think Delusions of Granduer suggested that every woman has a little black dress. It was themightytruk who suggested that the Heroes helix should be included somehow.

From left to right in the panel you can see the runners up on each of the other women there:

Waterdancer (woman with left arm up): This was a stunning number, which I felt a little tough to do, but I loved it nonetheless. I felt the frills were a bit too effeminite for Hana, though.

Acidburn133 (black haired woman on Hana's right): Another original design, and one I liked a lot. It just didn't quite scream, "Hana" to me.

Vanessa: with Hana's winning design. I loved the subtle gold beads, the straps and the leopard print (that you can barely make out on panel 1) that hinted at her predator nature.

Leshia (black woman on Hana's left): This was my next favourite. I just loved its simplicity and elegance and the hanging neckline. This was my first number one choice.

Vanessa (again): Maybe it's because the model had a striking resemblance to Hana... But I loved this. I just knew I was going to struggle with the texture though. As you can see, I went for a pasted in texture that works for this one shot but would get tiring over several panels. You can see it without the captions here.

Jennifer (blonde woman with arms in the air): I liked the neck clasp, I thought it was really cool and unique. Jennifer also suggested that Hana would dress in Dolce Gabbana clothing. While I didn't get a chance to use this suggestions it did fit nicely and help round out Hana's character for me.

Curlymarie also got a leg in on the wardrobe with her original design on page 9 panel 2. Unfortunately you can only just make out the beautiful and unique neck strap design.

Ok, let's talk page 1. Here's the artwork without the painted layers and textures. As you can see it's incredibly minimalist. When I work with Annette I make sure I dot every I and cross every T. When I'm working by myself I know that there's some things I can do faster at the colouring stage. When I ask Annette to do this, I will include a detailed description of what I want.

To avoid copyright, the Earth is actually the Earth from the start of HEROES! I screen capped it, cleaned it up and pasted it in. I could have drawn it... but why?
The only note I got about page 1 was that my initial take on the asteroid looked "flat and cartoony". I took the former as a great piece of art direction, and the second as a compliment about my colouring. The last thing I want is these comics to look cartoony! I've got a fantastic looking tv show to compete with! Looking at the initial version, I'm horrified I sent that through. I was also disgusted with my laziness on panel 3. It was just a cut, paste and blow up of panel 2! I don't think they asked me to redraw it, but I did. My artistic conscience just couldn't live with signing off on this horror.

I'm also going back and redoing all the art previews in the previous posts so you know what I was talking about. Retrospect is a lovely thing.

As an aside...

Here's a bunch of miscellaneous stuff that I thought you might find interesting.

For the Heroes fans:

This was one of the shots I was given for part 4 of War Buddies. It's from episode 21 and shows a seamless bluescreen moment. I giggled when I saw it.

Secondly is a portrait of myself and my favourite angriest writer JAn:

I recommend you start at the top. Have a slow look and just get the feel of what David is doing. It makes the portraits so much funnier. JAn is DEAD ON. I will leave it to other people to assess what they think of my portrait, but I think it's hilariously accurate.

Finally an "interview" with me by my friend Nicola. She wrote this in response to page 8 of the first part. Nicola is Lee's wife and is on my team who check all my art before my editors. I will actually post an actual interview she did with me in the future (regarding my stunt career). You will have to read part 1 to make total sense of this...


"So your power, you claim, is that you can draw the future?"

JB: "Yeah! Except that, like, that's really Isaac Mendez's power. His special deal, y'know. Mine's not quite like that."

"And so you can tell us exactly what yours is like, then?"

JB: "Well, I don't so much draw the future as make it come true!"

"Uh hunh."

JB: "So that's the nutshell. I mean, I can't make the impossible happen, of course. Just influence things, ever so slightly. A nudge here, a bump there. It'd be irresponsible to do anything more."

"Irresponsible. Of course. Much like why you're here, isn't it, Mr Badower."

JB: "Hey now, I still say you're taking things out of context. I didn't know... couldn't know!"

"You didn't 'draw' this happening, did you, Mr Badower. You, sitting here, with us? Otherwise you'd just draw yourself right outta here, isn't that right?"

JB: "Well I can't, now."

"Can't what?"

JB: "Can't draw the future. I drew myself out, you see. So I don't have the powers any more."

"... You drew yourself out?"

JB: "Is there an echo in here? Yes. I drew myself in. For the kiss. Ahhh, and such a great kiss it was too. Totally worth it, if you know what I mean. And so when I drew myself into Heroes, I turned myself into a hero. I gave myself the powers, right? But I drew myself out. So now I don't have the powers. I don't know what will happen next."

"Uhhh. I... see. Well, regardless of your so-called 'powers', you still need to tell us something, Mr Badower. Tell us how you knew about the intimate details of Project S---?"

JB: "Project what?"

"Don't play coy with me, Badower! You even drew the details on the gantry! Down to the last nut and bolt!"

JB: "... I have no idea what you're talking about."

Formal recommendation: Subject remanded in custody of the Chinese government, pending either demonstrable proof of his 'powers' (at which point he is to be conscripted to Branch X) or he reveals his source.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

HANA part 2: Why you no love us?

Sorry about the lack of posting. I have a valid excuse.

Tuesday I handed in the final page of part 2. It really felt like a weight had been lifted off my back. In my exuberance I organised a "Jas-Has-Finished-Heroes and-Wants-To-Rejoin-The-Human-Race" party for Friday night. I was planning a massive night, and resurfacing sometime saturday to stumble around with a killer hangover. My goals for Saturday were to barely be able to play Lord of the Rings Online and do my laundry. Noble and lofty goals.

I was so proud of the final page, I also sent it to Aron Eli Coleite to see what he thought. I lamented that we hadn't been able to work together. He corrected me by saying that it was him who wrote "The Death of Hana Gitelman" (I never find out who wrote the scripts until I see them online). So that was awesome. He loved the page, and asked me why I coloured it with a monochromatic pallete (it was originally a burnt sienna. The idea was that it was to look like it was only lit by the light of Heroes eclipse.) My reasoning was two-fold:

a. I looked at the Phil Jimenez pinup and found that it looked a little messy because of all the conflicting scenes and characters. I'm not a colourist by vocation and thought I wouldn't even try to attempt what that colourist had done. I felt the monochromatic pallette would help blend everything together better.

b. I was really pushed for time. I had already spent around 11 hours on this page.If I had individually coloured everyone and everything I would never have made the Tuesday deadline.

I did offer that if he could get me more time, I would be happy to colour it. That was Wednesday. Thursday night the email comes back from Aron saying, "I've bought you more time."

This was followed by an email from Frank (my illustrious editor) saying, "Take the time that you need. I will make the deadline work somehow."

So Friday was colouring day. And it looked like Saturday was going to be colouring day too. The irony of my party was delicious. Amazingly enough, the colours just fell into place. I saved the file (yes I've learnt my lesson) and spent another hour trying to find a different creative direction. I developed what I felt was a great second option. I loaded the first one to compare the two and see which one was better. They were identical. So I uploaded it and ran off to work and then out partying - conscience free!

Thanks to everyone who made it such a fun night.

I would still loved to have seen what Annette would have done with it. There's even a bit of me that's considering paying Annette to colour it.

Then I've been in the country all weekend visiting my parents. It's Mother's Day... so happy Mother's Day, Mum! I love you!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

HANA part 2: Well, that ain't fair

I've been sitting on the biggest Heroes webcomics bomb since we found out who Dallas and Austin are, and the beans get spilt in a questions column. Ah well. Cest la vie! They're the writers, I guess they can do what they want. =)


Yeah. So now you know the title of the comic, "The Death of Hana Gitelman."

And if you think you know the ending - guess again. Is it metaphorical? Literal? Humorous? Is it just the end of her in the comics? This story is going to keep you on the edge of your seat.

As you can see, I saw the title and I was taken aback. After reading the script I just knew I had to be a part of this. It's not a decision I didn't make lightly.

22 pages.

Drawn and coloured by myself.

At the cost of my friends and my business for a month.

Alone and unarmed in enemy territory.

The death of Hana Gitelman.

So now you know. =)

On an even better side, the final page of part 2 (page 11) is a HUGE splash page featuring every cliff-hanger from the end of season 1. I have just finished it, and it is the BEST page I've ever... EVER drawn. It's a total knockout and I couldn't be happier. EVERY likness is spot on: Peter, Nathan, Mohinder, Parkman, Niki, DL, Hiro, HRG, Claire and Sylar. On a superficial glance you might think I've traced over the screen caps from the episode. But I shot totally original material to create the same poses from unique angles with stylistic lighting so all the images merge together.

It's truly my HEROES magnum opus and a fitting end to the story.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

HANA part 2: 9 days til the magic

9 days. This is killing me. Did I mention this is killing me?

Not the drawing. No. The damn waiting! I want to share!

I'm past the toughest of the pages and onto the most fun. I'm drawing Micah and Niki as we speak. A really nice big portrait close-up of mother and son.

I've done the layouts for the big poster page. As I mentioned ages ago, I promised my friend, Lee that he could model for Peter Petrelli if it came up. Well it came up. And not in the way he expected. Lee is a part of the small inner circle of friends who see all my artwork before I send it off to my editors. They check it for inconsistencies, storytelling and just generally try and say nice things about it to keep me sane. I do this to make my editor's job easier. They don't have to watch my back, because I have a team of people who do it for me.

Lee had been adamant about not wanting to see the last spoiler page before the final episode. But then I shot him the deal. In order to play Peter, he had to know what happens to Peter at the end. Eventually glory won out over the better part of curiosity. To his credit, he picked it to a tee. Tomorrow I'm heading over to his place to do all the shots. I need help with some of the other characters, so it's going to be interesting working with his wife and him and not being able to tell them who they are or exactly what they're doing.

Also the final screen shots came through. Wow. I'm pretty excited. It looks like a kicker of an episode! I can't wait... and I KNOW what happens!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

HANA part 2: The End Is Nigh!

I was going to post some of the behind the scenes images they sent me for War Buddies. But as I took a closer look at them, I realised they're from episode 21. Ah well. Guess they have to stay in the vault for now. I will post them later. Someone remind me, ok?

I've almost finished page 6, so that makes this pretty much half way. I'm going to sprint it home over the weekend. I'm planning on leaving 2-3 days for the final page. I really want to take some time with it. I want to create something that people will want. I want an image that will sum up the first season like nothing else. Ideally I want something that would make a kick-ass poster for people. I just have to talk to them to figure out if they want to distribute something like this. I've got some mad ideas.

What I am looking foward to are the screen shots from the final episode - no you can't see them. Don't even ask. =)

I really want to get the brain ticking as early as possible for this final page. It's going to be a kicker. Everything I've got left in the tank I'm going to vent on that page. I'm especially looking forward to drawing Peter, Nathan, Claire, Mohinder, DL and Hiro, and I get to take another shot at Sylar. I also get to draw Parkman, Niki and Mr Bennet (no I won't call him HRG) - but I've drawn them already.

I'm also planning some easter eggs. So keep your eyes peeled!

Also, as soon as I hear about the comics during the break, I will let you know.

ps You can salivate over Hana in my comic all you want. I did *not* model for her. I wouldn't dare - I just don't have the legs. I managed to get female photo reference for her. So all is good in a non-cross-dressing sorta way.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

HANA part 2: ah well

I gotta thank everyone for their support. It means so much. As Lee said, I really appreciate everyone's comments. I'm on page 4 of the second part. I'm about on schedule, but I can't stuff around from here on in. I apologise if posting is a bit sporadic. I will keep you appraised as often as possible.

The last few days have been really tough. Normally on a weekend I draw 1-3 pages a day. This weekend I drew 1.5 pages over the entire weekend. Not a great result. I was just really unmotivated. I love the work when I do it. I mean, I'm looking at my other monitor with the artwork from the almost finished page 4 on it, and I think I've stepped up another level. It's really exciting me. I kinda innovated a process at the start of part one, and it just stepped up a notch on this page. Ironic the panel that kinda inspired me... Hana getting undressed. Seriously! It's just a coincidence! But man... I've really outdone myself on that one. WoooOOO!!!

No, you won't be seeing a preview of that one. =)

But yeah, I'm back in the saddle, and a big thanks to all of you. As Lee mentioned, I really do read and take on board everything you say. You're like my lifelines in this all-consuming vacuum.

What you've said has made a lot of sense and the realisation has been incredibly flattering. I'm so excited and honoured that they picked me for the season finale. Perhaps that realisation was also the catalyst that helped evolve my art on this current page? But that they would single me out and that you guys are so approving means heaps.

Flit mentioned that it might probably be the most important comic of the lot. I can say I've read it and I think they might be right. I really want to show you guys... But I'm pretty confident when I say the first part is the best work I've done for Heroes. This is perhaps because Annette's absence has forced me to put significantly more time into this than I have on previous projects. It's the only way I could compete with her absence on the team. But I tell ya... part 2 is gonna knock the socks off part 1.

I promise!