Wednesday, February 13, 2008

HEROES: Past Experience

This hit me from out of nowhere. I open my Inbox and suddenly there's a HEROES story!

My goal for this story was to make it the most "illustrated" story since War Buddies. When I work by myself, I tend to use textures and photos to fill up space. Sometimes it's laziness, sometimes it's because of the time pressure. I wanted to avoid doing that for this piece and really looked forward to drawing every element possible.

Then the Nightmare started.

My awesome new 17" laptop (Duo 2.4Ghz and 2Gb ram and 300GB hdd) started running like a dog with four broken legs. To give you an example, the simplest move you can do on Photoshop is to grab your canvas and move it across so you can draw the next bit. It's normally an instantaneous operation that I don't even think about. Doing that was making we wait for 30sec! Because the laptop is new, I stubbornly persisted for three days of this as I refused to believe that there was a problem. In those three days I drew ONE page and I was on the verge of tears. I saw my lofty artistic goals evaporating.

Finally I called my friend, Xander Black who discovered that my graphics card had turned itself off, leaving my ram and cpu to do all the work! He solved the problem and also did some nifty Googling and discovered that the version of Photoshop I was using has incredible problems with Vista. Problem solved, and if you look carefully you can see my shout-out to him on young Hiro's t-shirt on this page on panel 3.

BUT I had 2 days to draw and colour 4 pages! Most comic artists are doing well if they can do a single page of line work a day, let alone inking or colouring it!

J.T. Krul's script really grew on me as I drew it. I've scanned the message boards and one of the constant observations that people make is that, "this was such a fluff story. It doesn't add anything to the ongoing Heroes narrative."

Well. You're wrong. For starters, all the webcomics are part of the Heroes narrative no matter how much they progress or simply massage continuity. In this case, it explores a relatively minor character and projects her into the limelight. They even updated the YAMAGATO FELLOWSHIP website to coincide with the conclusion of the story. That's pretty awesome.

The other thing people need to do is consider their expectations of these stories. Remember, these are here to COMPLIMENT the show, not replace it. Now, I'm just making stuff up, but if Matt were to die or HRG got paralysed you can bet your bottom dollar it's going to appear on the show not the comics. The comic adds texture, depth and background, but it is not meant to stand alone. And when it does, like the Death of Hana Gitelman (where you find out what happened to the second tracking system HRG talks about) people get cranky and demand that it should have been on the show!

Do we see the tightrope that they're walking with the webcomics? Too much they get crucified, too little they get drawn and quartered.



J.T had some fairly specific scene directions, which really helped me discover what I wanted to do here. I realised that we had a transition from a closeup of Kimiko to a closeup of Hiro. I felt that the most logical transition was to pull back and then move in on Hiro at the end.

So we go from closeup on Kimiko's hands, keeping her as the centre element for panels 1 and 2 (hopefully letting you know who is speaking too). On panel 3 I shift her off to the side slightly and compositionally try to introduce Hiro. I'm hoping that the line of the bench that Kaito and Hiro are sitting on will get your eye to him.

Finally I closeup in on the new action. I think it works!


As I mentioned, I wanted to draw the pants off this piece. I can't imagine how much drawing one would have to do to get someone to take their pants off, but I'm guessing it's a lot.

So I had a smack at it. This is the level of detail that I normally draw with when my back isn't so far pressed up against a deadline I practically need consent.

C'mon, look at those flowers! That's a LOT of flowers! I also had great fun drawing all the characters, but especially enjoyed drawing George Takei. It was fun de-ageing him! Welcome to the magic of comics!


The interesting thing about the script is that it has THREE drastic scene changes in three pages (flashback, Kensei story, Kaito's office)! I had to figure out how to make sure that the reader wouldn't get confused between all three scenes.

I decided to do the flashback in the same way as the flashbacks from Company Man (Season 1, episode 17). I studied them carefully and tried to emulate the blown out whites and deep blacks. It's amusing a comic imitating a television show imitating a comic.

I really felt these grey tones brought some life to the piece. I think they're a bit dark, and if I wasn't emulating the Company Man style I would have lightened everything a lot.


I noticed that the whites on the flashback sequences were really white. Like white-white! So I went in and heavily airbrushed everything. I'm normally trying to cut back on the airbrushing ("Hi everyone, my name's Jason, and I'm an airbrushoholic."), but this page actually NEEDED it. I promise!

I especially love the bloom on the last panel.

Well there we go! I consider this one of the best pages I've drawn for HEROES. I love the pacing, camera work and had (at this stage) a luxurious amount of time to draw it.

Page 2 tomorrow. The Hell Page that took me 3 days of blood, sweat and oh so many tears.

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RyanGibsonStewart said...

Yay! Glad to see you doing some Heroes comics again!

Great comments as always, Jas. And your nailed the story. This was one of the deepest, most introspective webcomics to come along in quite awhile.

HERO said...

Thanks for sharin' (as always) the "behind the scenes" details about your work!

Appreciate the detail and work ya put into this one.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

You and your Easter Eggs and skillfully placed "shout-outs". I love it!

CurlyMarie said...

As always, I love hearing the creative process that produces the final work. Perhaps this story will grow on me in the same way it did you. (Right now I'm at a "Didn't love it, didn't hate it" point.)

I'm interested in your comment about using the line of the bench to draw our attention to LittleHiro. I hadn't really thought about it, but I did definitely notice that he had showed up in that panel. The subtle way of focusing the viewer's attention is cool--something I know how to do as a director when designing a stage picture, and yet I didn't think about it in this context.

jasonb said...

RYAN: thanks buddy! I agree, I thought the story covered a heck of a lot of stuff. Just cos it doesn't have Sylar of Claire in it, people think it's not part of the show. Have you uploaded more Youtube vids?

HERO: Thanks Hero! More incoming!

KJC: Hey, i gotta look after my "Heroes"!

Curly: mis-en-scene and composition works for everything! As long as you weren't aware of what got you there, but you got there, then my work here is done!

Ororo_Munroe said...

Love when you work on Heroes comics as it is the only time we can see your art tell a story in sequence. Usually it is just a screen shot; though you do a damn good job of telling a story with just one shot.

The page with the children was my favorite. You did a remarkable job capturing the innocence of youth. So soft and sweet.

I loved this story! Kimiko went from being the wallflower she was expected to be to jumping center stage and taking on the role meant for her brother. Girl power! =D

I agree with you. People expect too much from these comics.

RyanGibsonStewart said...

Ryan's shameless plug #1

Ryan's shameless plug #2

Ryan's shameless plug #3