Friday, December 19, 2008
Let's talk about the depiction of women in comics.
To be honest, it's actually one of my favourite topics. I have a real issue with the depiction of women in comics. Ironically, it's not really about proportions. I draw my men just as ridiculously as I draw my women. And those artists who draw girls with massive, gravity defying orbs on their chest and pencil thin waists just slide over into the realm of hilarity and cartooning for me. Some people love that, and that's their prerogative. For me, it's not even sexy, titillating or even offensive. It's so far removed from reality that I access it on a purely visual level - ie. is it a good picture of what it's trying to do?
My real issue with the depiction of women is about context.
Is their sexuality or nudity being used to provoke only a sexually arousing action in the reader. If it is, then I have problems with it. If the figure manifests power, concern, worry, elegance, awe or something else, then I'm happy. But too many realistic artists have cleavage in your face and porn star mouths (you know, that vacant half hanging open look). And that bothers me.
I've also been given more stories featuring female nudity in the HEROES comics than any other artist. No, I haven't actually counted, I'm just making bold, generalising statements cos they suit my agenda. But let's look at the last six stories I've had to draw, and let me explain how I dealt with them:
INTO THE WILD part 1: "Catfight" between Sabine and Connie
I think Timm and Jim would be the first to say they were just having a laugh when they wrote the "cat fight". Their direction was cheesy and campy and VERY funny. But as I mentioned in previous posts, it was important to me that this fight create a sense of gravitas in our protagonist and antagonist. While it would have been funny to have drawn it as campy as they wrote it, I just think the context did our characters a disservice. This is my directional call, and perhaps another artist would have made it work, but I knew I couldn't. And as I mentioned, I'm pretty particular about the depiction of women in comics. I tried to make the fight look vicious and tough and brutal. Given the lack of offended comments, I think I did ok.
I even tried to do something smart with it. Sabine was wearing a red top (the opposite end of the colour spectrum to Connies's red top). So when we see the blue top, on a subconscious level the fight is actually bringing the two characters closer together visually as well as emotionally.
INTO THE WILD part 2: Connie and Julien in bed
Ok, so they're consenting adults and for the story to progress and have meaning they need to be intimate. This is tough, as we want to feel their intimacy without being exploitative. It is a bit racy though, with Connie having her bra still on and having it visable, but I figured we'd seen worse, a lot worse. It also wasn't a huge close up of her breasts, so I figured I was ok there. I like to think I exercised a fair level of discretion and tase when drawing this scene.
Annette's incredibly romantic lighting really helps sell the idea that they're making love not having sex or f@cking.
INTO THE WILD part 3: Donna in the bathroom
This scene had been previously established by the amazing Alitha Martinez. Seriously, has any other HEROES artist stepped up as much as she has? I don't think so. Compare her earlier work with her latter work and you will know what I'm talking about. She's doing some brilliant stuff!
Oh god, it would have been so easy to do some serious cleavage and leg shots here, but that would have been not only inappropriate but also distracted from the action beats. I'll be honest, my real problem with this whole story arc is the outfit that Donna wears. I just think it's inappropriate for a mission, but then again... it's designed by a girl (Alitha) so I will just take a big can of shut the hell up.
SUM QUOD SUM part 1: Elle in the bathroom
I include the coloured version and not the black and white version as I feel that the electricity is the focus rather than her nudity. Without Annette's amazing effects, it just look like a hungover naked Elle.
When designing this page, front and center is her expression. It's right in the middle and everything else frames it. I spent so long creating the feeling of pain in her eyes and on her face, but also manifesting a sense of "toughing it".
This carries over to STUCK IN THE MIDDLE'S shower scene, but I had the same mindset. During the course of our lives ie. bathing we are naked. The trick I find is to not have the woman in a sensationalistic, sexy pose, but to also acknowledge that she is indeed naked. She needs to be in a naturalistic position, but the appropriate areas need to be covered up. As soon as it looks like she's actively covering herself up we head into dodgy (er shady or sketchy) territory. I'd do the same for a guy, by the way.
And if you think this is a sensationalistic, sexy pose... well... let's just agree that you and I have very different lines in the sand.
SUM QUOD SUM part 2: "Bikini fight" between Elle and Abby
The beauty about this entire story arc was that I actually got to make suggestions and have Ollie listen to my thoughts. One of the things that I was wracking my brain on was how to have an electrocution incident without the chicks running around in bikinis. He had already done the rain, so that was out. There was a sensationalistic subtext that bothered me. But when reading through the story it just seemed really logical.
Elle needs to be someplace she can relax, and it has to have water. The jacuzzi seems logical. And what else are the girls going to wear?
So my challenge was to not sensatioalise it. I had to make the depiction of the characters realistic and not distort their poses, bodies or actions. I like to hope that I managed to erase any sort of sexual subtext to this scene without taking away from the beauty of both of the characters. It's a tougher juggling act than it sounds! But I think just being aware of this negates the sexualising effect.
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: Mill's shower scene
This was really tough. The whole point of Mill's cameo here is to sexualise her in Ryan's eyes and thus let the incident reflect badly on him. It hopefully illustrates what a douche he is by giving him an unhealthily pervy streak. So I had to walk a fine line here.
On the one hand he has to find her sexually arousing, on the other hand I don't want to offend anyone with her nudity.
So I approached it in two ways. First up, I decided to make her pose as naturally as possible. I wanted her to look like a woman washing herself. I also needed to cover up as much of her as possible with her arms. I wouldn't normally raise my right arm like that to wash my right shoulder, but I didn't think it was out of the bounds of a natural movement.
The other thing I did was make her avoid any eye contact with the camera. This bit is really important. If she was looking at us it would be very sexually confronting. Instead I tried to have her off in her own world and very unaware that she is being looked at. I kinda hoped that it would make the reader feel a bit like a perv too. You're watching someone in a vulnerable state who doesn't know they're being watched. Perhaps that uncomfortable feeling that some readers felt is from that rather than the sexualising of her figure? Maybe you KNEW you shouldn't be watching her here and that made you uncomfortable? That reaction from you is what should make you also detest Ryan.
So, I tried to keep her pose as natural as possible, but Ryan's character needed to be served as a pervert, so instead I showed as much of her as I was comfortable. I remember the original framing was somewhere around where cut off jeans would hang on her hips. But it was just too much. I pulled back so we could see less of her. I felt this served him enough.
I ran it by a very close female friend whose opinion I value and she wasn't offended at all. I asked Annette's opinion before she coloured it. I mentioned to Annette that if she wanted to cover her up with steam to just go for it.
But Annette seemed comfortable enough with it to largely leave it as it was. NBC seemed comfortable enough with it to let it go through, so as far as I was concerned, it was mission accomplished.
Speaking of Annette, I thought her lighting and colour palettes were exceptional here. From the brown to the blue, to directing your eye to the hole in the wall on panel 4. It was all so brilliant.
NEXT: I doubt I will be posting next Monday as I will be landing in Melbourne that day (I leave Sunday night and arrive on Melbourne on Tuesday - er your Monday! 17 hour time difference plus a 15 hour journey - I end up losing 32 hours!). So basically unless Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown fires up the DeLorean I don't know how it's going to happen. I will try, but I don't like my chances. I will still make sure there's three posts that week though.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I'm going to talk more about the depiction of women in comics in my next post. But suffice to say, I tried to walk a line between providing motivation for the sexist protagonist and not trying to add to the copious amounts of cheesecake already pouring out every month from comic book companies. Some people mentioned the cheesy pose she was in, and I was like, "Really? You don't think that looks like a woman normally washing herself?"
I ran it by a bunch of women with a really low tolerance for the sort or bullsh!t I was trying to avoid and they all passed it. But I understand there are people with lower tolerances. And I'm not going to apologise for offending you because I needed to provide motivation and justification for the sexist and offensive Ryan Hanover. Chances are, that the bit you're offended by is the bit that he likes. So consider yourself a good person. =)
Anyway, lemme talk about it more next post.
Page 1 is Annette and I really pulling out ALL the stops. We both had a great deal of fun on this page. Most of the time when you're asked to draw things on this scale it becomes a juggling job. You're trying to juggle the energy and time you have against the number of pages and the deadline. In this case, because of Jim Martin's damn tight writing, it was just one page. This meant Annette and I were able to pull out the big guns and not worry about blowing our wads too early or runing out of steam. How's that? Three euphemisms in one sentence! That's gotta be a record.
As you can see from my layouts, they are arguably technically comparable to anything the average 2nd grader could pull out. I'm planning on moving towards crayons and finger painting with my next layouts.
Hopefully this would give the average 2nd grader a harder time.
I am a digital artist, and it's times like this that I really try and use my medium to its fullest advantage. One of the things I can do really easily is draw on multiple layers. Here I've used it to create as much depth in the image as possible. Panel one has 5 layers:
David's foreground that he occupies
Midground between David and Rachel
Rachel's background that she sits in
By masking each of these out for Annette it allows her to create a real sense of depth. I actually did a fair amount of research about Fallujah and it's sometimes the worst part of my job. Some of the stuff I saw was incredibly disturbing. I mean, I'd rather not see bullet-ridden corpses lying in the middle of the street. I don't want to avoid the issues going on in our day and age, but I'd rather not see the images if I don't have to.
I can't stress enough Annette's contribution to the final artwork. The final page is a combination of teamwork between the both of us and she deserves an equal amount of credit. I find it very frustrating when she is left out of reviews and comments. Sure, my name comes first but that's the etiquette of comics listing credits in order of production rather than of importance.
I've asked this before, but if you ever enjoy the finished artwork to comment it, please don't forget to credit Annette also.
I don't know if there's a better example of Annette really showing us what she can do. This is one of the best examples of Annette being not only my cinematographer and special effects unit but also a great designer.
In each panel she creates a depth of field by either blurring out foreground elements that I masked for her (ie. the rubble on panel 2 around Mills) or adding smoke and fire in between each of the background elements. Her whole grounding of the page creates this incredibly intense apocalyptic scene. If you look up at my illustration of the last panel you will see it's basically just white. She creates the heat and the pain for our money shot.
Note also as she directs the eye around the page with the fire element. It starts medium in panel 1, troughs for a bit then peaks powerfully in the last panel. It's masterful work.
FRIDAY: Naked women & sexism in comics.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Anyway, I'm working on a Killeroo story for Darren Close. I love Killeroo, and I love both writing and drawing him. As a preview for that story I thought I would put together a pinup and possible cover for the issue. Darren is even talking about collecting it in a special "Jason Badower edition" of Killeroo.
I'm very proud of the story. It follows my theme of, "the price of doing the right thing."
We're tentatively calling it KILLEROO: THE HARD ROAD.
I will let you all know when it's out. Right now it's been written and laid (layed?) out.
I had very little time to draw this, and Darren would have been really appreciative if I could have coloured it too, and I don't wanna disappoint anyone, let alone the Big Man himself, so I had to fit colouring into my schedule too.
I normally spend a great deal of time conceptualizing things. Not usually on paper, but in my brain. Just masticating ideas (get your mind out of the gutter) until they form into my darling little children on paper. For this I had NO time. I had to punch it out asap. This is kind of like being asked to build a house in a week. Sure, it can be done, but you have no room for error.
All I knew at this stage was that I wanted to draw him in profile. WAYNE NICHOLS, a fellow Australian comic book artist was goofing around and he drew what I consider to be the most seminal Killeroo picture ever (see left).
Also affected by Waynes' picture, Darren suggested a piece that was very similar to what Wayne did. But he wanted a front on full body standing shot that he could use as a cardboard cut out one day. But it was just too soon for me. I just didn't want to play in Wayne's playground for two reasons. One, Wayne had kicked it out of the park and did that angle and pose about as good as it could possibly be done right now. I needed some time to digest from the artistic blow that Wayne had dealt. And I just didn't think I could add anything to that image at this stage. Two, I wanted to give the fans a fresh take. What's the point of having two pictures that look alike? Give em some options!
All I knew was that I didn't want to draw him facing us. For some reason I was obsessed with drawing this sneering profile. I then got drawing and realised it was SO hard! I actually had to do some sketches figuring out how his skull worked, and then had to figure out his lips so that we could see his teeth. It became kind of involved. What you see here is the finished product.
As you can also see, I'm leaning towards more linework these days. When I drew Zero G, I was very influenced by Steve McNiven. He has this very, very clean open style with minimal rendering and powerful flowing lines. I found that on my graphics tablet I couldn't create the lines that he did on a reasonable time scale. They just took too long! So I've been wandering back towards more of a Brian Bolland style, who, coincidentally (not ironically in neither the true nor Alanis Morissette sense) also works on a graphics tablet.
I really dig the visually heavy middle of the picture with his dark torso and her dark top and hat. Then it becomes really light around the bottom and the top. I especially like how the lines on the jeans turned out on both of them. I think they have a lot of energy. While I like Killeroo (and especially his hands) my favourite thing about the piece is Lee, the girl. She just has great energy and dynamism.
Having finished the piece I was about to start colouring. Then my conscience started creeping up on me. I just knew that I had to put a background in. Now remember I was talking about having no room for error? Well, you better shove over cos I made one in my haste. Now unfortunately, it's a bit low. If she's bending her knees like that, how can a bar stool (which generally sits slightly around hip level) be so far below her? It's like they're standing on boxes (or a pile of bodies?).
It's a nice (though poorly placed) background though. When I go back to it I will fix it up.
I would say colouring, but really, it was just browning and exploring different shades of brown. I remember my friend, Mitch reviewing Carnivale (the tv show) as "brown".
I think there's some blue. Last I checked, that's not brown, but let's not let a little bit of a blue come between a good joke (in Aussie slang, a blue is also an argument or fight - so I just made some sort of lousy pun - no extra charge for that one!).
What I love about colouring is lighting. I love tones and the way light falls and reflects off surfaces onto other surfaces. So I love key lights. I will just zone out while I'm listening to someone talk and just be studying the lighting on their face. So if I get this weird look in my eyes, I'm probably doing that not planning to chop you up and put you in my industrial fridge.
As a last minute easter egg, I added the Claire from the last post as no one had seen it undistorted at that stage.
NEXT: So, I'm told Jim's, Annette's and my story will be up tomorrow, or tonight, or whenever. You know, sometime soon. So I will be posting about that next. You might even get to see the dodgy (that's "shady" to you Americans) and sordid drinking photos of Jim and I. Ok, maybe you won't. But there will be art. And naked chicks.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
While I have heaps of artwork to show you, I'm only showing you this piece cos it's nice and quick. You see, I have my monthly deadline Monday and I have a bunch of work to do. I'm trying to not leave things to the last minute, but I'm not very good at it. That is, I'm not very good at not leaving things to the last minute. Hopefully I'm good at my job! My editor and I are going to try weekly deadlines from now on. Fingers crossed it should make everything much easier.
I have a fairly full weekend planned. It's my last 9 days in LA before I head home back to Australia for Xmas and there's so many people to see and do. I mean, people to see and places to do. Heh. Freudian slip. Just ignore that. But if you need "doing" before I leave LA just form an orderly queue to the left here.
So while I love you all, I'm leaving you with a brief one.
Ollie and I were concerned on the last page of Sum Quod Sum that people might not know where they were (go to the nav links and find the last page of SQS if you're not sure what I'm talking about. But if you're not sure what I'm talking about you're probably like most of the people I talk to - so everything's normal). I was worried my Lyle wouldn't look like Lyle and that we needed an anchor to ground people. I suggested we add a little photo of Claire and Noah in the corner so people would know where they are - the Bennet house.
When I draw photo inserts I generally draw them in a separate file (ie. piece of paper - but digital like) and then place them in as an indicator for Annette. She then colours the flat piece and then mimics my placeholder. This way we get the perspective perfect. It's very hard to draw flat images on perspective. The only artist I know who can do it is Frank Quitely - but he's a genius.
I'm not, so I do it this way.
I think it's one of the best Claires and Noahs I've drawn which is why it gets its own post.
Competition winners, please gimme til Monday. I think I've got you all now!
On Monday I wanna show you guys my Killeroo piece. And no, that's not a euphemism so just settle the hell down.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
But how good was the Zach Craley/Peter Steigerwald story? That guy is an incredible artist and Zach crafted such a great story.
Earlier this year I was doing commissions. This may have been one of the last I did before I got swamped with deadlines. It was for Matt Siu from New Zealand who runs under the handle of Ironyman.
It was a really fun project and I was drawn to the conflicting yet complimentary subject matter. I hadn't drawn Death in a looo-ong time and I wanted to draw something definitive for myself.
BRIEF AND LAYOUT
Here was his brief for me:
"The head / head and shoulders is Hiro in profile. Again, I think Season 1 slightly geeky Hiro with glasses. He's not necessarily angry, but looks that way as he's running at an enemy, yelling (kiai). Of course he's holding his sword, which is positioned slightly behind his head, and is vertical (or pretty close). You can probably see a little bit of the hilt and handle. However, the sword is very close to the viewer, so you can fit a reflected figure of Vertigo Death on the blade. She could be blowing a kiss, she could be just standing there."
Based on his brief I came up with layouts A, B and C (above). My thoughts were that Hiro should be flowing naturally with the way that we read, from left to right.
Matt then picked A because it had the best shot of Death and I developed it again into sketch D which you can see on the left here.
So here is Hiro without his toning. This is the basic line art that I draw before I go in and draw the grey layer. My line work is simple and open and I tend to do most of my work at the grey stage. In fact, it's knowing what I can do best in greys and what I can do best as linework that is my real challenge. If there's any skill I've improved on, it's knowing which... medium the line art or the grey will best create the look that I'm going for.
The width of the sword is especially exaggerated so that we can see Death clearly. Otherwise she would just be some sliver on the page.
HIRO TONE AND DEATH LINE ART
I actually drew Death in a separate file and then pasted her in. I wanted her as a separate piece of artwork as I had plans for her. No, not those sort of plans! Get your mind out of the gutter! Seriously people, just a small bit of decorum. If you're wondering what plans I have for her, you will have to scroll down to the bottom. Wait! Don't do that! Stay with me now. It's not going anywhere and there's no rush. That's it, ease that finger off the mouse wheel, take a deep breath and relax. I promise it will still be there when you get to the bottom.
I'm very happy with this Death. She looks cute and she looks like a person, like someone you could meet. Chris Bachalo still draws the best Death. Francis Manapul did an off the chart Death in JAn's sketchbook too. I should get him to scan it and upload it somewhere.
TONE AND AIRBRUSHING
I then did Death's tonal work and added a motion blurred grey background to help sell the sense of movement. I think it gives it a nice, subtle manga feel.
I made sure that the two were lit from the same place (our right) to help create some sort of visual consistency in the image.
Matt had this cute title for the piece and once we played around with fonts and layouts we decided on this.
I also added the blood to help draw our eye to Death, but also inadvertently ended up obscurring her. But again, it helps sell the movement of the image.
Now, remember I said that I had a present for you?
Did you wait? If you were a good little kid and waited well, I've got something for you. Hell, I like it when you're bad, so you can have it anyway.
If you want to see Death in all her glory as a wallpaper for your computer I've uploaded her in my Facebook fan club (you have no idea how weird it is to type the words, "my fan club" - but it actually is kind of awesome). In Facebook do a search for my name and it should come up. Feel free to friend me while you're at it, just write me a short message saying that you know me from my blog or art or whatever. I don't friend complete strangers.
FRIDAY: Hmmm... Something new. I have a bunch of stuff to post between now and Wednesday. Then I will post about my new HEROES story, which should be up then. After that I wanna start chatting about Zero G.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
There once was a dude called Badower,
Who once used to blog by the hour,
But he stopped a while back
And now we've lost track,
Which has caused more than one fan to glower...
Thank you to everyone who wrote in with emails wondering if I was ok. Let's just say I've been kidnapped into "girl land" and blogging kinda fell by the wayside.
Alright! Tomorrow my story written by Jim Martin and coloured by Annette Kwok goes up. It's a prequel piece to the next online series they're doing and it was a bunch of fun. I got to draw ANOTHER shower scene (for god's sake... I'm going to get a reputation) and some cast members.
But let's wrap up SQS. I don't have space to post all of Annette's beautiful colour work, but if you'd like to see it in all its glory go HERE. I'm just going to post the pages where I have something to say.
PANEL 1: Again I was smashing out the backgrounds as hard as I could. I'm so happy with not only the composition of the top panel but also the way Trafalgar square looks here. Annette did a great job of helping the tiny figures pop on the final page.
PANEL 2: The reference photo for panel 2 was funny. I think I played Claude and Abby and Ollie played themselves. On today's episode of Heroes, Claude Rains will be played by Jason Badower (cries of Boo! And hiss!)
PANEL 3: One of my favourite pics of Claude that I did. It's totally solid. Annette did such a great job of making him look wet from the rain.
PANEL 4: I'm very happy with this panel. I think is has nice performance and lighting. And it makes Ollie look like a superhero for carrying Elle.
PANEL 2: You can finally see the undistorted line art. Annette has real issues obscuring my art, but I insisted. She's one of the most respectful artists I've ever worked with.
PANEL 3: I do like the performance here. I think that Lee's hand around Abby's back foreshadows the dramatic choice they make later.
PANEL 4: It kinda looks like her, but it kinda doesn't. I'm not sure what happened here. As a side note, I generally used reference from Veronica Mars rather than Heroes as I prefer VM's lighting as it's closer to my style.
PANEL 5: I like both these likenesses, and I think Ollie captured Claude perfectly in this entire comic.
PANEL 1: Was it necessary to draw all these people outside the Globe Theater? Hell no. Did I enjoy it? Not really. But I just felt it needed to be done to add some "budget" to the scene. I felt I drew Claude the best on this page. I was so inspired by Ollie's dialogue. It just perfectly captured Claude. I could "hear" Christopher Eccleston saying every line. His lines really informed my performance and portrayal of the character.
PANEL 2: Annette noted that I drew over 200 people here. While I did a bit of copy, paste and subtle changing, she still coloured them all!
PANEL 3: If you've never been to St Paul's Cathedral in London, you simply HAVE to go. I was awestruck for about 3 hours as I wandered around what is one of the most magificent building I've ever been in. The Whispering Gallery is amazing. I do regret drawing a skirt on Elle here. I don't think she's ever work a skirt. No idea what came over me.
PANEL 4: Rob Beck mentioned to me that he thought the pickle was a distinctive London landmark, so I tried to squeeze it in here. Man, that background took some time. It's a great Claude again, but a mediocre Kristen. She's so hard to draw!
PANEL 1: I remember Ollie commenting to me that I must have enjoyed myself a fair bit drawing a bikini fight. I said I might have enjoyed it more if one of the girls wasn't his fiance. It made it a bit weird.
PANEL 2: But seriously, I actually try and shy away from the cheesecake. I think there's enough guys out there doing that. Someone should bat for the other side. I like to try and hope that the beautiful women I draw make the scene attractive enough without them poking their asses out or lavishing cleavage everywhere. I'm a little upset with Elle's pose here. It looks a bit awkward. But I drew and redrew it and I just couldn't get it to work. Eventually I just had to move on. As you can see, the Annette Kwok special effects house was in over-drive. She basically did EVERYTHING.
PANEL 3: I love her pose here. When I was working with my model, I asked her to imagine that her hands were covered in oil and that she was checking on a friend who had fallen over.
PANEL 4: Oh man, could you actually imagine falling like this? You'd break both your wrists.
PANEL 5: Ollie and I worked on Root and Branch together (see the navigation links on the side). And in one bit there's a bunch of bullets flying at this woman just missing her. I made a bad call and instead of drawing the wall being hit by bullets I drew it all in shadow. To some people it looked like the woman was being protected by a forcefield. I mentioned to people that when I draw a forcefield you will know about it. In his infinite creativity, Ollie managed to give me the opportunity to draw a forcefield. But as you can see from comparing the black and white art to the coloured artwork, it's all the Annette Kwok Magic Show. I did nothing!
PANEL 1: I'm including the coloured version of this page so you can see the Annette magic at full work. I basically just showed her what space the forcefield should occupy and she did the rest.
PANEL 2: This is one of my favourite pics of Elle. And if you scroll down you can see the awesome forcefield that Annette designed up close. Look at my art, then look at how much more it would hurt with Annette's colours! If you look carefully you can see the wedding ring on Abby. This further deepens Abby and Lee's relationship and helps explain his dramatic choice in panel 4; he has to side with his wife/fiance.
PANEL 3: I remember actually watching and studying Forgetting Sarah Marshall just so I could draw Kristen Bell's body as accurately as I could. Yeah, it's a tough, tough job.
PANEl 4: I love this shot of Abby and Ollie. What I found hilarious was the 5 o'clock shadow that Annette gave Ollie. In reality, he's like me... a bit of a baby face.
PANEL 5: I love everything about this shot. It had to sum up the emotional weight of her loss as well as their intimacy and Abby's hurt. I also love the way Ollie scripted the sequence with Abby protecting Lee. I think it's a great scene.
PANEL 1: If the panel has Claude in it, chances are I really enjoyed drawing it. He's just so easy and distinctive to draw. I really felt I couldn't do wrong with him after a while.
PANEL 2: I like this pic of Elle here.
PANEL 3: The money shot. I was going to have her looking at us, but somehow I liked the distanced look more. Ollie and I went over and over this sequence. Initially Lyle opens the door in this panel and Elle shocks him in the second panel. Then when we saw the footage, Lyle is lying around the corner from the door. Unless he bounced off a wall or something there's no way he could be lying there if he came from the door. So instead we came up with this sequence. No need to explain how or why, she's just there and he's already unconscious.
PANEL 4: I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to draw a great Lyle. As it is, he turned out pretty well. So we added the family photograph on the left side so there should be no doubt in your mind as to where we are. This is easily one of the best pics I've drawn of Claire and Noah. I will post it separately sometime.
I was a bit disapointed that they released this after the airing of Eris Quod Sum, as I felt these events were a prequel to what happened. If you did read this before seeing the show, then I think you probably got more out of it. When Claire and Sandra come home, you already know what's going on, which (I think) creates more tension. It's like knowing that the serial killer is in the house in a horror film.
Alright, from now on, I'm posting Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays unless I mention otherwise. That's the schedule and I'm sticking to it!
Again, thank you to everyone who wrote in to either kick my ass or just check that I wasn't chopped up in someone's refridgerator somewhere.
INTERVIEW: Part 2 of my interview with House Petrelli can be found HERE.
COMPETITION: I will sorting out who did and didn't get their prizes this week. If you were a winner, keep your eyes on your inbox. If you're not sure if you sent me an email or not (ie. I didn't reply) please send it again!
NEXT: Jim Martin, Annette Kwok and Jason Badower. Don't forget to watch HEROES tonight!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
So the competition has ended. For those of you unsure as to what competition I'm talking about, SHAME ON YOU! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!
It was presented by Grand Central Publishing and you could win one of three copies of the BOOK OF LIES by BRAD MELTZER.
You had to answer this question under three categories:
WHAT SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE AND WHY?
The three categories are:
1. Best HEROES-related answer.
2. Best SUPERMAN-related answer.
3. Funniest answer.
Well, the entries are in, the judges were escorted into a guarded, isolated room in NATO sanctioned country as per article 49051a of the 1957 UN charter for competitions of this scale. They conferred for 32 hours non stop. The bitter arguing would have made 12 Angry Men proud. It threatened to tear apart several long term friendships, change economic policies and initiate several armed conflicts. But they have arrived at three final decisions.
Alright, alright, it was just me in my room reading blog comments.
To forgo as much bias as possible I had been copying and pasting the entries without the author's names into a separate document. So when I read them today I was able to do so without knowing who said what. I flagged the ones I liked then found out who they were. The 100 word limit was not enforced but merely served as an encouragement so I wouldn't be reading essays. If two entries were similar and I couldn't decide between them, then I went for the one that was posted first.
I really enjoyed reading all the entries. I was so impressed by al the creativity!
BEST HEROES ANSWER
Primarily I was looking for answers that involved powers featured on the show, or were tied inextricably into the show.
WINNER: Mitch said...
For me it would be Candice Wilmers power of of casting illusions. It would be fun screwing with people but also could be quite lucrative if those illusions could be caught on film, How in demand would I be in Hollywood creating cheap and quick special effects. If that doesn't work I could always make a fortune putting on the ultimate stage show in Vegas.RUNNER UP: baldbobbo said...
Wow, this is a fun one since Heroes is by far my most favorite show on television. As much as I would want telekinesis, I think telepathy would be the most interesting ability to have. For the villainous reasons, it'd allow you to eavesdrop on people's deepest thoughts, you could control people, even in their sleep (Maury Parkman), and at worst you could make Molly eat her cereal.
The reason why I'd want it personally is for a reason that hasn't been shown by Matt yet, which is a shame. I think hearing people's thoughts would make you empathic towards people's feelings, and you could understand them so much better. Less fights with girlfriends/boyfriends, helping out people who are quiet with their feelings. Imagine how great a person you could be if you could crack open people's minds without the mess Sylar makes.
BEST SUPERMAN RELATED ANSWER
Ideally I was looking for an answer that wasn't just about his powers but embodied either what Superman stood for or something inextricably bound to Superman. Alexandre wins on both counts with one of the best answers I've ever heard to this question. Peter M comes runner up with a clever answer on the latter.
WINNER: Alexandre Togeiro said...
I think Superman’s powers complement each other, they are a package. But the individual power I would like to have is definitely the invulnerability - to be a ‘man of steel’! I think someone that simply can’t be harmed by anything made by mankind could have an important role as a neutral mediator in conflicts and disputes. I could be a journalist or a judge that can’t be coerced or threatened by anyone. Therefore I would be able to pursue justice and truth without fear, something that unfortunately we don’t see much these days.
RUNNER UP: Peter M said...
I Think right now Superman would most appreciate me if I had the power to bring back Pa Kent.
3. FUNNIEST ANSWER
Based solely on my sense of humour, it's whether I found the answer funny. The winner won by a long shot. His power was funny, but the punchline was a killer. The runner up Ryan gave me a good giggle. When I found out who it was, I found it even funnier.
WINNER: thepoohguy said...
The power to understand and interpret a baby's cry and become the GREATEST BABYSITTER ON THE PLANET!
OK, that sounds a bit creepy for a 36 year old man with no children.
RUNNER UP: ryangibsonstewart said...
...The power to actually control myself whenever I see Kristen Bell.
All winners have until Tuesday the 4th to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with their mailing details. If they don't contact me by that time then their prize will go to the runner up.
Thanks to everyone for entering! I will be running more competitions in the future.
Oh, and if you don't already know, you can find my latest HEROES webcomic HERE. I recommend you read it before watching episode 7.
Posts about SUM QUOD SUM part 2 will go up tomorrow!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This whole SUM QUOD SUM project has been a real highlight for me sequentially. I've realised that the difference between good comic book art and great comic book art lies in your creative energy, conviction and endurance. Running a marathon is an impressive achievement, and something that most people can do if they put their minds to it. But sprinting it to finish with a time that most people can only dream about is something else. In this case, if I had a personal best time, my effort on Sum Quod Sum just smashed it. I didn't take my foot off the accelerator once, and I'm incredibly proud of that.
I would have liked some of my Kristen Bell references to be better, but I'm really limited by my tools. Given I have a very realistic style, I can't do a chariacture of her. It has to really look like her for it to work. So that means getting reference. Here's the thing, I then have to go through everything she's done looking for the right expression on the right angle under the right lighting conditions.
I can't take one shot where she's looking the wrong way and flip it. The reason why is that your expressions are lop sided and people subconsciously are aware that you only curly your lip to the left when you're unimpressed, or that you only raise your right eyebrow when you're surprised.
Finding the right expression is essential or the performance doesn't work. I like to think that even if it's not the best likeness of her, you can still read her face.
Lastly, the right lighting conditions really help. You'd be amazed at the number of shots I had to discard because even thought it's a screen cap of her, it just doesn't look like her! Sometimes lighting is the cause of this.
It's a tough and tedious job to get those likenesses right.
What's fun about this page is that this is where I was hanging out with Nat and Noo on Southbank where the London Eye (panels 1 and 2) and Westminster bridge (panel 3) are. Noo and I even had lunch on Whitehall street (panel 4). I have also spent a fair amount of time waiting for the night bus to get home from Trafalgar Square (panels 4 and 5).
As far as geography goes, I was blown away that Ollie had actually plotted the route that Elle and Claude run. I was so impressed. Most writers don't care about that sort of stuff and would have her run by Big Ben then past Picadilly Circus, through Canary Wharf and then through Camden. That would be some sort of nightmare for marathon runners. As it is, it's a fair run, but a reasonable one. I figure it's why she's able to catch up to him at Trafalgar square. Despite her shorter legs she's fitter than he is. I tried to make sure that we knew where they were running and made sure that the London eye was in as many shots as possible so we knew where they'd been.
PANEL 2: The large guy with the black hair and glasses is Teddy from Zero G. He plays Atom's assistant, and he's such a great background character. I put him in lots of backgrounds because he's so innocuous.
PANEL 3: Some more shout outs to my LA friends. The woman yelling "Hey!" is my friend Kath who modelled for Connie in INTO THE WILD and all of Elle in this story. The guy on the right with the shaved head is my neighbour and one of my best LA friends, Tony. That spire with the pennants is where the London Movieum where my friend Huwj works as their inhouse comic book artist. If you're in London, go say "Hi" and tell him I sent you. He's a great guy and will entertain you for ages.
PANEL 4: Now if you look carefully at Elle on this panel and the next you will see that Annette's done tiny little sparks as the rain hits her, acknowledging her problem with water. I remember Annette and I going back and forward on the colour of Elle's top and eventually agreeing on white. Ollie was happy as long as we didn't run into any problems in the rain. I assured him that my realistic attention to detail would sidestep that issue.When I was doing research for this project I actually put together a file of images of clothing that I thought Elle could wear for each scene. As I had to draw each scene I browsed through her digital wardrobe to find out what she should be wearing.
PANEL 5: I originally drew Elle as a silhouette here (all black) but then realised we had to increase the sparks on her body. So I drew her in after I had drawn everything else. The main contrivance in the script and the art is that there's no one at Trafalgar Square - which I've never seen. I've sat there from 4am to 6am waiting (for a bus that had already been cancelled) and the place never died down.
A final shout out goes to my friend Shannon and Chloe. Chloe's brother recently did a film called SURFING 50 STATES. They asked me if I could mention it on the blog, and I said I'd do one better.
Just in case you're wondering how much detail I'm prepared to draw, you can actually see inside the bus and the odd passenger inside.
I can't tell you how happy I am with this page. This is the money shot! I spent ages drawing the reflections of water on the ground. I also drew a fair bit of time drawing the background behind Claude so Annette could make him semi transparent. Annette went above and beyond here. Absolutely above and beyond. The shimmer effect on the background behind him is inspired and mirrors the effect you see on the show as he appears. As you can see from my layouts she did all the lightning effects. I swear to god, it's like working with Lucasfilm. Now I know how a director feels when they get their footage back from the effects house.
Annette has made this one of the most cinematic images I've ever drawn. Great movement, great energy and a complicated design that works seamlessly.
The last panel was added by me. Ollie needed them both unconscious at the end, and I couldn't figure out how to draw that in one image. So having the extra panel with them both smoking on the ground had to be added. Again Annette does a great job with the subtle electricity on them. What I didn't expect was for the rain to help indicate the panel borders. It was a nice touch.
I hope you enjoyed part 1. Stay tuned for part 2. It's a lot of fun. Ollie has written some of the best dialogue I've read in ages.
Don't forget the COMPETITION! Scroll down. You've got 7 hours left to write up to three entries (one for each category).
If you hit me up on Facebook, please send me a message to say you know me through this blog. I don't like to add people I have no idea how I know.
Monday, October 27, 2008
David had been to LA before so there was very little on his agenda list. In fact his agenda consisted of one thing: chicken and waffles at Roscoes. We headed out to Hollywood and braved both of these phenomena, which were unfortunately not on the same plate. I should preface this by saying that I eat really healthily. So when the deep friend chicken covered in gravy and mountain of waffles arrived I kinda freaked out and went into some sort of anaphylactic shock. All I saw was the amount of calories and saturated fats I'd have to work off. I know, I'm worse than most of the women you know. But hey, I have to watch my girly figure!
We rounded out the rest of his two day stay with a trip to the Getty, which blew me away. It is such a beautiful building. We caught the last day of the Bernini exhibition and his sculpting skill absolutely floored me. After wandering around the Dali exhibition with Noo, I decided that I only really like seeing art museums with other artists. Sorry, I'm a snob. But I just get so much more out of it like that. And David was no exception.
Not the most beautiful photo I took of the Getty lighting or art-wise, but the one that probably communicates the architecture and scale of it the best.
We found this nice balcony with great lighting as the sun set. I told David it would make a great photo and took one of him. Then vanity came ringing and I asked him to take a photo of me. It would be a better photo if I put some product in my hair and shaved once in a while. I'm such a bum!
Before I took him to the airport we went to Hooters, as he'd never been before. I'd only been once. We indulged in more fried chicken which finally broke David. I'm sure his 14 hour plane trip back to Melbourne wasn't pleasant.
Between entertaining David and finishing Sum Quod Sum I'd been too busy to blog.
Speaking of which, let's get back to it. The shout out page. One of the things I find when I'm drawing is that I can get bored drawing all the people in the backgrounds. To remedy that, I thought I'd draw in as many people that I knew as I could. That way I'm drawing tributes and portraits of friends rather than just randoms (as my English friends would say).
Ollie had written his fiance Abby into the story and had her accompanied by his best friend. I mentioned I'd like to shoot both her and his friend. He remarked that his friend lived in San Diego. Then I suggested that it should be him. I wanted to draw him in as an engagement present to the two of them from me. I went around to their place and we had a fun shoot. Abby and Ollie were great and really got into it. Their lovely dog, Star (like her namesake) insisted on her 15 minutes of fame.
Then came the bus. I was just going to draw some random people when it occured to me that I should draw some friends. Then it occured to me that I should make it more authentic by drawing some English friends. On further thinking about who I should draw I noticed that it was two very special SARMY members birthdays! On the far left with the dredlocks is Noo, and sitting next to her is Nat. Previous readers of my comic might know them as the owners of the Nat and Noo pub in Australia in Root and Branch part 1. I worked from our holiday snap shots and I'm very pleased with how they turned out.
In the far back corner is Rob Beck a great young guy who has been emailing me encouragement quite regularly. I asked him to send me some snaps for reference and drew him in. His rationale of why he's in England is that he's a teleporter who accidentally teleported there and now can't get back.
And that's all for the shout outs for this page. I remember joking to Annette on panel 1 that I was disppointed that she didn't individually colour every single person in the stands. Thank god she laughed. Someone closer to the edge of sanity might have stabbed me. Ollie called me after I had drawn page 1 and mentioned that Sprint needed their new phone in the story. I suggested that it might fit really well here. I think it's the best product placement you will find. It tells us what Elle is looking at in a page of excess detail. I'm very happy with the way it came out.
I want you to go back and take a moment with the background of panel 4. All those struts let alone the entire city of London stretched out behind them. Yeah, that took a while.
No really, go back and have another look.
Ok, enough of that . You can move on now.
When I shot the reference for panel 4, Ollie couldn't figure out why I wanted to have Abby and him in the shot. I told him that I wanted the reader to think that Elle is following them, then when Claude pops up we then figure out who she's really following.
Speaking of which, you will notice that I changed the way Claude is facing when he appears. I wanted us to be able to see his face and thus recognise him. I was pretty happy with his likeness. But Claude is quite easy to draw.
It was Ryan Gibson Stewart that pointed out the funniest comment with regard to this series. He said to me that I must be pretty buzzed that I got to draw a cross over between Doctor Who and Veronica Mars. =)
One more day for the competition entries people! Scroll down to the COMPETITION entry and write in what you think.
SQS 2 is done, and I can't wait to see what you all think.
One word.... BIKINIS!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
He covers so much ground on this page. Most writers would take at least two pages to do. But he finds the key moments and takes you through them perfectly.
I must say, I thought I'd get in trouble for panel 1. But I tried to skirt the line between what would happen, what's decent and what's a little bit sexy. It's kind of creepy to draw naked pictures of actual people, so I did my best to just tell the story and be honest to the situation. Annette heightened that with the amazing electrical effects all over Elle. I also think that this is one of my best likenesses of Kristen Bell here as well as such a great performance of the character. I hope you're thinking, "Damn that looks like it hurts!" rather than, "Kristen Bell naked!!!"
Ok, now you're probably thinking, "Kristen Bell naked!!!"
I know Ryan Gibson Stewart was happy that his shout out on the towel was in the same panel as a naked Kristen Bell. Coincidence? Consideration or conspiracy?
It was Nathan Koeher who commented on my Facebook page that the extras all looked like main characters, and that was exactly my goal. I drew everybody imagining that they were the main character in the panel. I then used composition and my greyshading technique to draw the eye to where Elle was. This was especially apparent in panel 2. That's a lotta people! The tall skinny guy with the glasses, spikey black hair and facial hair on the left side of the page is Chris Moreno, my art director on Zero G. What's funny is that I drew the Superman tshirt on the right as an afterthought. Annette then coloured the hoodie in the exact colour of one that I own. I thought that was a nice bit of psychic synchronicity.
Some people noted that they weren't particularly happy with my likeness of Daphne on these pages. When I had to draw this, there had only the first two episodes of season 3 aired. Her makeup has changed and her look has evolved. I've also built a better representation of what she looks like in my head. If I had to draw her now she would look a lot better. It's like when I had to draw episode 20, ROAD KILL. There had only been one episode with Zachary Quinto and I hadn't quite figured out what he looked like. My likeness of him these days is much better than it was back then.
That train carriage took forever though. I remember it devouring most of the Richard K Morgan book "Woken Furies" that I was listening to at the time (well worth the read by the way). Annette then did the most perfect job of colouring it. But that is nothing compared to the incredible job she did on the speed effect on the last panel. Is that perfect or is that perfect? You can see the evolution of the effect from the layout to my drawing to the final coloured version. I drew some action lines to indicate the movement. On a separate layer I blocked in which colours should be where. I then sent Annette a bunch of screen caps from the first episode and she worked her magic. I'm sure we will see how other colourists tackle Daphne's power, and I doubt anyone will come close to what Annette did. It is a perfect stylisation of the effect we saw on the show.
When I was down at the set last I was raving to Timm Keppler and Jim Martin about how I hate speedsters. Hate. Them. I don't mind them in a fight, but running across the globe?! WTF?!!
Here's why. Time is relative.
Hiro illustrates that best. The effect of him slowing and stopping time is the same effect as Daphne moving at super speed. Time is still working normally for them,. Let's imagine Hiro can't teleport. Even if he stopped time would he still run to Paris from America? Seriously, could you imagine him doing that? Left leg, right leg... repeat. Lots. It just wouldn't happen! He'd get to the end of the block and go, "Screw this!"
But that's what Daphne is doing. Just cos she can do it in the blink of our eye doesn't mean it doesn't take her weeks or months (in her relative time) to get there. It's the only use of a power on HEROES that bugs me.
But I just smile, shake my head and just enjoy the best damn show on television.
Feel free to look me up on Facebook. Just please let me know you heard of me through the blog. I think a friend started a fan club for me there too, and I'd be extremely flattered if you joined. I know it doesn't seem like much to anyone, but these sorts of numbers (like the number of hits on this blog) get people in the industry to take me seriously and give me much better opportunities.
Don't forget the BOOK OF LIES competition. It ends on on the 27th of October. Scroll down or just click the COMPETITION tab for details.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Two reasons allow this to stand out above the rest.
1. I had heaps of time to do it.
2. It features cast members.
What made it the most fun to draw was that I had been requesting an Elle story for ages. When I met Ollie Grigsby on set ages ago he told me that there was an Elle story in the works and that he would make sure I got it. While I never doubted that Ollie would do everything in his power to make that happen, sometimes life gets in the way. So, while I appreciated him saying that, I had no expectations. When I got the email from Frank saying that they had requested me for the Elle story I was happier than Claire at a pep rally. When I got the script itself with Ollie's name on it I was so excited I had to be careful I wouldn't blow up Costa Verde. It is a great script. Claude's dialogue is just perfect isn't it? And the whole thing ties in so nicely to the big picture. I really felt this was one of the best complimentary graphic novels they'd done.
This came in way ahead of schedule so I was really able to indulge in the backgrounds. A friend sent me a great essay once. It compared backgrounds in comics to a musical score in movies. Rushed and hurried backgrounds are akin to the wah wah pedal and tinny track that accompanies a porno. Lavish backgrounds are like an orchestral score from John Williams. I'm no John Williams, but I metaphorically single handedly attempted to haul in my own Philharmonic Orchestra.
I was living in London for the first 5 months of this year, so everything was very distinct in my mind's eye. When I was looking for research I knew exactly what to look for. What helped is that this was so well researched by Ollie. He even plotted out their CHASE. How cool is that? Given I had walked that very route I knew what you would see as you approached each area.
As you can see from above, I drew ALL of Tower Bridge. I was a little dismayed that it got covered up by the word balloon. But you can see it in all its glory above. Research-wise I couldn't find out what gun the guards use so I just threw in M-16s. A friend later told me they're SA-80s - and they don't hold them like that. Ahhh well.
I also love drawing likenesses. Annette commented how much Claude it looks like Claude. I joked that I can literally scribble lines and it looks like Claude. With reference he's quite easy to draw. Beard. Messy hair. Wild eyes. Easy.
I couldn't say the same about Kristin Bell. She is one tough lady to draw. There were countless times I had to redraw her face. She has such delicate features and the balance between them is so exact. I also found it much easier to draw her from Veronica Mars as they have a very powerful lighting design that lends itself to my style much more.
And yes, on one episode of Heroes she actually wears that lightning pendant. I thought it would be cool to chuck it in also.
Speaking of Annette, I think this is the best work she's ever done. It is indeed a beautiful sunny day in London, and the subtlety of the electrical effect in the last panel is beautiful. You can see I didn't draw any of that. It's all her. We're playing with this technique where i draw backgrounds on another layer and Annette is able to push them back to allow the
Having been watching Heroes, I was buzzed to finally see the scenes that I had watched filmed. The first one was Meredith telling Sandra she's going after Claire to rescue her from the Vacuum Man. The scene I saw blocked out was Sylar, Claire and HRG after recovering from the worm hole. I couldn't figure out why she started out every time flat on her face. Now I know. It was great seeing the finished scene.
But last night there was this scene where a distraught Peter is trying to push his way past Sylar. Sylar tries to stop him and says, "I can help you Peter." And it just got me thinking of this:
Don't forget the COMPETITION I'm running to win a copy of the BOOK OF LIES by Brad Meltzer courtesy of Grand Central Publishing. You have til next Monday!