Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I got an email out of the blue from Frank Mastromauro, editor extraordinaire. He asked me if I was free for a HEROES gig. While I was pretty busy with Zero G, the idea of drawing something that wasn't a space suit was more appealing than Angelina Jolie covered in chocolate.

I got the script and despite an upcoming holiday to Paris (details below), I was really eager to do this. The script by RD.HALL was fantastic. Moody, smart, tight and gave me a whole bunch of exciting stuff to draw.

I'm so proud of the final product. What I really dug was that R.D.Hall seemed to have such a clear idea of how he wanted this to look. Annette's colours bring so much life to the piece. People have really noted the brilliant job she did on the auras, and have especially commented on R.D.Hall's great idea of the hippie with his tie-died aura. I also have to comment on the great lettering job. Again, R.D.Hall asked for her captions on lined diary paper, but Comicraft went above and beyond with their lined school-paper captions. They made her seem younger and added a great juxtaposition between the content of the captions and the normal school work or kids notes we would normally see on such a piece of paper.

My biggest goal for this project was to quite simply, draw the pants off anything I'd done before. I wanted to inject as much detail and life into the graphic novel as possible. I saw this as a horror story. It's about a serial killer's first victim. And more than that, it's about a vampire. Randomly, Annette coloured Linda's jumper red on the first page, and I asked her to maintain the red to add to Linda's whole "vampiric" nature. After that, I followed Micah Gunnell's lead on War Buddies part 7 and kept her clothing and hair flat black after this page.

For my part, I started off researching the year 1967. Cars, clothes, hairstyle, makeup (I drew her eye lashes different to how I normally draw eye lashes), architecture, fashion trends (I had to carefully plan all her clothing, although R.D. Hall did suggest the turtleneck sweater on the first page), music and movies. I have a huge folder full of everything I managed to soak up from the web about everything 1967-ish.

It was a huge challenge to figure out what a 16 year old girl's room would look like in 1967. I will be honest, I don't see the inside of a lot of 16 year old girls these days (despite all the disparaging comments about the age of my ex-girlfriends). So again, it was off to the research library. R.D.Hall helped me out here with some specific direction. He asked for her room to have lots of stuffed animals and "curiously, lots of old shoeboxes". I decided to go overboard on the stuffed animals, as I saw Linda using them as a substitute for real human contact. An indication of imaginary friends. The shoe boxes were easy.

Panel 1 I wanted to explore as much detail and mood in her room as possible. Long dark shadows line the walls, and I wanted a singular very strong light from the window. I had a ball drawing all the folds of the quilt (I haven't drawn fabric in Zero G for a VERY long time). The stuffed animals were fun and so was the design of the bed-head. For this page, my lovely sister helped me out and modeled for Linda and her mother.

The parents were fun. I liked the idea of these parents cowering around the edge of the door frame, scared of their daughter. I really wanted to communicate that Linda has done something in the past to really scare them. When viewing the page in black and white, I noticed that the shadow cast by the back of the door almost looks like a panel border and heavily bisects the panel. I asked Annette to help me out by adding a glow from the lava lamp to help soften this shadow.

I really wanted to include proper band posters, but there just wasn't enough time (nor was it important enough) so I just played with some random posters and made sure they were illegible.

The withered squirrel was also fun to draw. How often does one get asked to draw a withered squirrel? Answer: not often enough. It was the final panel though, that I drew my first real Linda. Even though Micah Gunnell and Robert Atkins had drawn Linda, neither of them had drawn her as a 16 year old. And also, there's kind of my take on the character. I have to figure out what I want to say by her appearance. It was this last panel that I was happy with how she looked. She looked a bit old, but hey, girls always look older than guys.

I was going for something vampiric, aloof and cold. Big, wide blue eyes, full lips (denoting passion and hunger) and a slight widow's peak resembling our classic Christopher Lee vampire. No detail is too small for me.


A beautiful statue leading to the underground metro (subway) overlooks the Obelisk marking the Place de la Concorde, and in the distance the Eiffel Tower.

So yeah, I haven't been blogging because I haven't had any internet. I did purchase a 30 minute card for an exorbitant amount, but with a French keyboard it took me 25 minutes to write two paragraphs to Annette giving her some suggestions and feedback about the Heroes gig.

It was a whirlwind trip where I devoured Paris in four days of non-stop walking, touristing, and photoing. My parents had been to Paris twice before, and for my sister this was her third time. So while they wandered off to satisfy their shopping urges, I wanted to gorge myself on culture and history.

The view looking right outside of my parent's window from our hotel.

It was the first time I'd been in a non-English speaking country by myself. My previous forays to Malaysia had been buffered by my parents and cousins. I found it an amusing and interesting experience. You can basically get by with please, thank you, yes, no, excuse me, good day, good evening and good bye.

What I couldn't get by with was the terrible coffee. First, they have no idea what soy milk is (soja), so it was all long blacks (cafe noir). Then it was the size. They basically serve it in a cup that looks like an espresso cup mated with the tiniest latte cup in the world. So it was heaps of mediocre, small coffee at Starbucks price. Ow.

What I also found hilarious was the changed names of the movies. Now, this happens in Australia too. Your WAR (Jason Statham and Jet Li) was called Rogue Assassin here. The Rundown (with the Rock) was called Welcome to the Jungle. So I found this especially funny. I guess "The Game Plan" just doesn't translate. Is this a comment on their language or their inability to play sports?

This was my observation about Paris to my sister. London was inspired by history, but Paris is inspired by creativity. It's not enough to have a large, imposing building. It must be made into a work of art. Every building was beautiful and oozed character. But oddly enough, very few of them (and I seriously mean maybe a dozen or so) rose beyond 5 stories in height.

NEXT: Page 2 of Moonlight Serenade and Paris day 2: Versaille.


Anonymous said...

nice stuff jase. I have to say I much prefer seeing mainly black and white here and less tonal stuff, I think sometimes it makes your pages too muddy.

Ah Im just a traditionalist, don't listen to me :)

- darren c

Anonymous said...

You know why few buildings are highrises in paris Jason! has WWZ taught you nothing?

its becuase of all the catacombs underneath the city. you can't make a foundation that'll handle a massive building.

Lesson for the day from Peter M!

RyanGibsonStewart said...

Great stuff, Jas. It's great when you read a comic that has a dead squirrel on one page and a sexy Linda on the next. Yowza!

CurlyMarie said...

I actually really like the first panel on this page. You've included details like the stuffed animals, the 60s-style headband, and the girl's posture as she writes (and the fact that she's writing in a notebook at all) to put us squarely into the time and place of the story. We know a lot about who this girl is, in a broad way, right from the first panel.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

Excellent work on this one, Jas.

I love Paris in the springtime!

KJC (who firmly believes there's nothing more appealing than Angelina Jolie covered in chocolate)

jasonb said...

DC: hey mate! Ah my tonal stuff is me wanting to be John Cassaday. Annette says that it saves her heaps of time, and I love it... so there! =)

Peter M: dude! Just finished Zombie Survival guide and loved it! I'm so pissed I forgot to check the catacombs. I so wanted to get down there and see what Mr. Brooks was talking about!

RGS: Dead squirrels and sexy chicks. I see we have the same priorities. Great minds and all that.

curly: Thanks curly! I'm glad you're picking up these details. I do aim at the smarter, more attentive reader like you, and chuck in the dead squirrels and sexy chicks for the readers like Ryan. =)

KJC: thanks Kelly! and I'm gonna try and keep this PG and not swap Angelina Jolie fantasies right here. How's the comic going?

Kelly J. Compeau said...

The comic is really coming along, thanks for asking, Jas. Just this afternoon I finished writing the last 8 pages of the 22 page script for the first issue, and the artwork for my 7-page pitch to Image Comics is almost done. Erik Larsen should see it on his desk by mid May. Whether or not I manage to secure a print publisher, The Black Tower will continue on for the forseable future as a webcomic (so long as the money keeps flowing).

I'm still hoping you'll be available to draw an issue or two somewhere down the line, babe.


RyanGibsonStewart said...

What can I say, I have base desires. Dead squirrels appeal to the little boy in me; sexy girls appeal to the big boy in me!

jasonb said...

KJC: I'd definitely love to do that with you one day. Let me know when things start going up online. I'd love to see what you're doing.

RYAN: Amen brother. Amen!

Flawedprefect said...

Now if you stood next to that poster of the Rock...

Just getting back into reading your blog, mate! Good to see the stuff is still getting churned out. Love the new banner, btw.