Friday, September 19, 2008

INTO THE WILD part 1 - overview

I just want to thank everyone for taking the time to support Annette. As artists we sometimes feel that we live and work in a vacuum. We sit endlessly in tiny dark rooms pumping out artwork onto ftp servers. One of the best things about working for HEROES is not only the immediacy of the feedback we get, but also the support of the fans. To everyone who took that little bit of time to post to Annette, I’ve never been more appreciative or sincere when I say .... Thank you.

<- page 5 fully coloured by Annette Kwok

But the normal delay in comics can really kill your creative enthusiasm for the work. For example, I finished working on Zero G: book 1 around the time graphic novel 20 (Road Kill - Annette and my HEROES debut) came out. It's only now about to hit the shelves on October 1st. Talk about delayed gratification. While I love Zero G book 1, it's not as dear to me as the baby I just popped out over the last three or so weeks named INTO THE WILD. But, I only recently finished ZERO G: book 4, and if you thought INTO THE WILD was good, wait til you see what Annette and I cooked up for the rest of Zero G. It knocks everything else out of the water.

But the feedback on the boards is such a tremendous boost to my enthusiasm. Seeing what people “got” or “missed”. What people liked, what they didn’t like. It really fills up my tank in the wee hours of the morning when exhaustion is kicking in like half a dozen shots of tequila.

Jim Martin and Timm Keppler were great. Just like working with Ollie Grigsby and Zach Craley, we had a very strong line of communication. Even if it was just to say, “Man! The latest page is awesome!” it was a line that I greatly appreciated.

One of the main things that drew me back to INTO THE WILD (no pun intended) was Sabine. Apart from a brief appearance in OUR LADY OF BLESSED ACCELERATION I was the only one who had drawn her. She's mine damnit! =)

I also got to work with my friend, Sonia who modeled for Sabine. She was the only one I knew (on very short notice) who had the spunk to pull off a great Sabine performance, and that she did. While she doesn’t exactly look like Sabine, there’s something she’s got going on which is very similar. I got my reference shots, she got a great bottle of wine, we were both happy. And just before you ask, no she didn't need to take her top off for the last two pages.

Plus I loved the ROOT & BRANCH arc and it was important to me to bookend the entire saga with a strong sense of visual continuity. While I wouldn’t dare say it should have been me, the only way the whole company arc could have possibly been better is if it was all drawn by one artist. But in this case I was specifically asked for by the writers to draw this epic finale. That humbled me greatly. Jim paid me such a great compliment when he mentioned he was so happy when he heard I’d signed on as he knew, “he’d be in good hands.”

I also knew that I just *had* to draw the reveal of EVS dropper! I mean, c'mon. I read these like everyone else. I read the 9th Wonders boards. I'm also curious. So when I found out, I just had to be involved.

<- page 5 line art and tones.

Of course the script by Jim Martin and Timm Keppler made the decision even easier. It was well paced, damn exciting and full of reveals and twists, twists and more twists. Every new script I read got me more and more excited. But I will talk about those as we come to them.

I've rambled about page 1, so let's talk page 2 onwards. You might have to slide back to the last post where I posted the previous pages


I remember finishing the panel of the 4000 or so Julien clones on page 1 and dreading page 2 onwards. Then I realised it all occurs in a corridor. Yeah! Minimal backgrounds and no excuses.

The whole structure of the story is fairly complicated. I was complimenting Jim on the HEROES’ team attention to detail and continuity on this whole arc. He grinned and muttered something about good luck rather than good management. I told him that a good team makes good luck.

<- page 5 layout.

The only small contribution I made was when I got the artwork for part 100: FORESIGHT early and noticed that the artist, Alitha Martinez (whose work I love!) had drawn a whole bunch of clones in the final shot with the binoculars. I mentioned that in the staging of my script, there's only Connie, Sabine and the main Julien clone. I also realised I had to draw a window in the corridor or Thompson wouldn't be able to see in!

PAGE 3 & 4

I was so jazzed to draw Connie. The main thing I realised was that she had to look serious and ready for battle. I had to ditch the ditzy, plastic fantastic and bring on a serious side to Connie or this whole arc would stumble. I turned to my work colleague, Kath as a model. Kath is only 22 but has a level of grace and dignity that I felt Connie needed for this arc. I just had to age her 20 years and give her breast implants (which Jim politely described Connia as, “an older woman who takes care of herself and has had a ‘little work done’”. Unfortunately I had never drawn Connie before, and the only visual piece of continuity is her earrings. This meant that a fair number of readers thought this was a new character. As an aside, when I had to draw Penny for the first time, I suggested that they add dialogue from Thompson saying, "Penny?!!" so we knew immediately who we're dealing with.

<- page 6 fully coloured by Annette Kwok.

So people were asking how a ditzy, fake milf could possibly be EVS Dropper. One poster on the 9th Wonders boards (god, was it Citizen?) put it best. He said that Connie has been in disguise. One of the tenets of Mihomoto Musashi (the greatest samurai ever and author of The Five Rings – the Japanese version of the Art of War) is to always get your opponent to under-estimate you. What better way than to play down your intelligence and paint yourself too stupid to be a threat? It worked perfectly. So as Citizen said, what we see here now is the REAL Connie - and that's exactly what I went for. The REAL EVS Dropper - serious, methodical, vicious and deadly.

I also continued wherever I could to use Eric Roberts as visual reference for Eric Thompson. That signature Robert’s wide mouth that he shares with his sister Julia, flat nose and distinctive brow line. I figured he's gonna take after his father after all.

Drawing Gael was fun. My main thoughts on drawing him were to age him up. I figure anyone who is co-running the company, or at least responsible for all these operations can't possibly be a kid. And I was right. He's in his 20s when he's at Julien and Connie's wedding in part 2, 19 years ago. I also put him in a simple black suit to further emphasize his seriousness.


The infamous page 5. I laughed my butt off when I read one poster who described this story as "porn for 10 year old boys". The script is very funny too. It literally reads, "CAT FIGHT!!!"

<- page 6 line art and tones.

While Timm and Jim were obviously having fun, I had to bring the rain on their parade. Instead of making it as titillating as possible, I wanted to make it as serious as possible. I kept their choreography - the slap, the torn top and the push through a door, but I wanted to portray it as vicious as I could. I wanted these characters taken seriously, and if we queued the wa-wa pedal, such would not be the case.

I'm so happy with the slap. There's a real sense of movement and impact with no action lines and no point of contact. Look at it without the sound effect, it works without it. It looks like it hurts. That sort of thing is really hard to do. Add to the fact that it doesn't look cheesy.

The shirt tear was much tougher. I figured that Connie (being a VERY angry woman) would lash back with a punch, Sabine sidesteps slightly and Connie misses, but grabs Sabine's shirt for balance. The sidestep and Connie's momentum all add to tear off the already torn top.

You will also note that I learned my lesson from BLACK OUT. Remember Mohinder fell into the hospital room and we weren't sure which room he fell into? I made sure to draw Julien's room this time to give the reader a sense of geography. See? I learn from my mistakes!


I dug page 6. It was tough to stage (ie make sure everyone is in the right position and then pick the right angle that flows around the action), but I think it worked out well. I'm especially happy with panel 5 where Connie and the clones confront Sabine. I think the panel looks great. And how about that? Julien is her husband?! WTF?!! I was totally hooked at that point.

The main thing I loved about INTO THE WILD were the more somber colours that Annette used. Normally Annette has a very vivid palette. But the murkier tones lent an edge of impending doom and disaster that I couldn’t possibly communicate with my art.

I’m going to break the next two parts of INTO THE WILD into two posts covering 6 pages each. This way INTO THE WILD will be wrapped up in 4 posts rather than 24 which would, quite frankly just be tedious.

Seeya in a couple days!


Volts said...

Hi Jas,

There were a few other things I thought you and Annette did very well in this first part which you didn't mention: the continuity with which you kept the blood spatter on Sabine's shoulders, the seamless way in which the EKG appears in the display, the way the Julien clone's gun smokes after being shot, and the light effect shown on Sabine's gun when it is shot out of her hands. All done very nicely, and probably not so easy to accomplish.


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this page. It's my favourite page now out of all the work you've ever done. I absolutely love the layout, I love the action, and the figures are beautifully drawn and coloured.
It's an absolutely perfect example of what comic art should be!