Wednesday, September 17, 2008

INTO THE WILD part 1 - summary

I hope you all enjoyed INTO THE WILD. To say it's been an ordeal would be an understatement.

For those of you not sure about what INTO THE WILD is, you can find it for free on the HEROES website HERE.

The only reason I'm going to wax lyrical about my trials and tribulations is to give you some perspective on what Annette went through.

Many people bandy about the terms, "professional", "integrity" and "commitment". But we really only know whether we possess these traits under duress. And with the devastating events that befell Annette over the course of ROOT & BRANCH, in my mind there's no greater personification of those traits than Annette. Her effort in not only accomplishing this project, but excelling under such duress is a testament to how much she loves her work, HEROES and you guys.

So let me set the stage.

When Frank Mastromauro sent the first script to Annette and I, he told us the total story would be 30 pages. We read the script from Jim Martin and Timm Keppler and we knew that it was going to be epic. This would challenge, if not rival The Death of Hana Gitelmann. We knew this would be special. Even though we received the first script really early, I was still tied up working on another project. This gave us a little over a week for the first part, a week and a half for the second half and a week for the third half. Probably about 24 days to draw 30 pages. A good, consistent artist can smash out about a page a day.

We were going to be pushed to the edge of our creative reserves.

Be aware we're both full time artists working on other books already.

With every page of Root and Branch I was freaking out. Similar emails came from Annette. We really wanted to do all three parts, we just didn't know how. If I had a dollar for the number of times I debated handing off the third part to someone else, I could probably retire now. Annette had similar feelings. But I have a saying, "The pain is fleeting, the page is forever."

Annette and I knew that we owed it to ourselves and the fans to make sure this arc was consistently drawn by the same artistic team. We buckled up, committed and we stepped up.

We plowed through part 1, and I think we can easily say that it's some of the best work we've done together. Part 2 really wore us down, but we're both incredibly proud of the work. Suddenly we were at the point of no return and Part 3 loomed. I began work on it on the Monday (with the deadline being the following Sunday) averaging two pages a day at this stage. Both Annette and I were desperately trying to find a balance between moving quickly and moving beautifully.

Then on Thursday, Annette broke some devastating news.

Her email sums it up best:

"My dad has Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, he was in a nursing home for 2 weeks' respite... We're told he fell and hit his head very hard, and when he arrived at the hospital he was unconscious. Surgeons refused to operate because of his old age and medical history. The pressure from the bleeding is so great his brain has compressed to the left-side, so even if he did survive the operation he is already severely brain damaged. It doesn't even feel real at the moment, it all happened so suddenly..."

Annette was one of the few children still living in the same city and a great deal of the responsibility for managing her father fell on her. Keep in mind, we still have about 12 hours work per day to do. Somehow, some way she kept going. Her pages kept coming in - as beautiful as ever.

Three days later on Thursday, September 11th her father passed away.

We were about halfway through the book at this stage.

I offered all the help and support I could think of. She took none of it, (except an audio book I sent to cheer her up) and she kept churning out the pages. When we were chatting after it was done she mentioned this:

"I must say it felt like a blur, I'm not sure how we managed to get so many pages done in such a short time, but we did. I was so tempted to quit really, the deadlines for those last two parts seemed so impossible! But I really don't like leaving things half-done and just wanted it finished. The work was a good distraction too I guess."

I don't know the strength of will, composure and integrity it takes to finish a job when you have EVERY excuse in the world to leave. For god's sake, her father passed away. I can't think of anything worse than one of my immediate family passing on.

I don't know how Annette managed to turn the work into a positive means of taking her mind off this devastating and tragic event in her life. Most artists, hell, most people stop working at the slightest excuse. Annette uses her work as a means to deal, and in doing so rises above and beyond any expectation we should have for ourselves, her or anyone on the damn planet.

My saying about pain and pages seems so empty now as I've not yet had to deal with the pain of my father passing. But I do know that particular pain would last forever.

I'm terrified of the day that I have to walk in her footsteps. Because on that day we will find out what I'm truly made of. For someone who lives by those traits that she defines, I find the precedent she has set is awe inspiring.

I've never asked anything of my readers, but if you enjoyed ROOT & BRANCH I would really appreciate it if you guys left a note for Annette under the comments here. You don't have to log in, you can just leave an anonymous note. I know she would really appreciate it.

Thank you.

ps. I will go into the nuts and bolts of part 1 next post.


Stephanie said...

Hey Annette,

I'm really sorry about your Dad. And us fans really appreciate you finishing the GN even with everything you went through. It was amazing work as usual. I wish I could say more or help out in anyway but I don't know. I'll be praying for you!

Jason, great work too. I know your working two books at once but you can't even tell your work is so good.


Tarot said...

My condolences to Annette. Losing a parent is never easy, even when one knows that their parent is severely ill.

Thank you both for the wonderful work on this latest Heroes GN.

Anonymous said...


I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time.

Thank you for sharing your gift with us, especially under such trying circumstances. Your professionalism is admirable, and is very much appreciated.


themightytruk said...

Oh, wow. I'm so sorry to hear about Annette's loss. I know how hard it can be to lose a family member, and to lose one as close as a father must be especially difficult. My condolences. To be able to keep working this hard through all this is truly amazing. We really do appreciate all the awesome work you've done. And I wish you well in this hard time.

Tina Platt said...

I appreciate your work so much, and I am so sorry for your loss.
I lost my father under similar devastating circumstances and can tell you, it will be horrible for quite a while but it will get easier.
You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Bhero said...

Wow Annete I send my condolences for such a horrible loss. I know after the loss of my own I would have never been able to still pick my head up and especially pour it into something as amazing as this GN was. I admire your strength in that. My thoughts are with you and yours.

Honestly the writing, art, color, everything about this 3part was extraordinary and has left me breathless multiple times. It oozes with talent. The heart and raw emotion I felt the entire time reading was amazing.

Thanks goes to everyone involved. But especially Annette for truly showing her strength of character. That coloring in both the bridge scenes were like something I'd hang on my wall. (and I am picky lol)

Anonymous said...

my heart goes out to you Annette. Too often people just see the artist's work and don't consider they're people too, often doing it a lot harder than those who appreciate their work.

Condolences, sympathy and support.

- Darren Close.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Jason and Annette for a superb job with "Into the Wild," despite long hours and a death of a family member. I am so sorry for your loss, Annette, and you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.


GreenDragon said...

My deepest regards and condolences go out to you Annette, and your family.

All Heroes fans appreciate the quality work that you have produced during this very difficult situation, and we look forward more.

Thank You.

CurlyMarie said...

Annette, I have already admired you because of the many glowing compliments Jason has paid you in the past. Now I am simply in awe of your personal strength.

I know that at a time like this, you feel nothing like strong for any reason. Please know that it is OK--more than that, it is good--for you to break down, collapse, fall apart, and feel every kind of weak. Over time, your innate strength will see you through your difficult periods.

I am so sorry for your loss. Your family is in my thoughts this week. Please know that many people you've never met are thinking of you and praying for you right now. You've had an impact on our lives, and we want to offer you whatever sort of support we can.

You'll have a tough time ahead of you. Please give yourself space and permission to experience the grief. It is horrible, but it is something that you must go through before you can come out on the other side. Hang in there.


Anonymous said...

Annette... your work, with Jason's, is amazing, brilliant, beautiful and so appreciated! ...this arc was epic and engrossing and you both have fans for life ...but, for you to have followed through, to have the strength, the courage, the professionalism under the most devastating of circumstances is beyond admiration and respect ... just know that your father will live on in the minds and hearts of those who have loved/love him... wonderful memories will keep your dad alive forever ... my sympathies and my heart go out to you and to your family. Thank You so much and know my prayers are with you.

Volts said...

Hi Annette,

Sorry to hear about our father. Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your family.

Despite the loss, you did another amazing job coloring the latest Heroes novel, Into the Wild, Part 3. I hope your father was very proud of you, and that you get some well deserved recognition.


JustJayde said...

As a friend of Annette's I have to say that over the years she has inspired and awed me with everything that she does.

Kind , Compassionate, Driven and strong. She does everything she can to help her family and friends.

Her work ethics are amazing, and so are her skills. She will go far! A rising star.

Annette, I love you and wish nothing but the best for you. Keep your head up and better days will come along. 2008 has been a rough year all around and I hope with 2009 there is nothing but positivity headed your way. You deserve the best. Hugs!

- Jayde

Willow said...

Annette! I completely understand your pain. I lost both parents suddenly (several years apart), one was the 1AM phone call, the other I found. One of the most healing things for me, to work through those first stages of it, was to work virtually non-stop on a memorial quilt. I threw myself into it and got little sleep during that time.

The act of creating something helped me focus, something beautiful and good being born out of death and pain. It kept me together -- I couldn't have slept anyway. I hope working on these projects with Jason helped you in the same way. And I want to take the opportunity to say that your work kicks serious ass. :) (Psst... don't let Jason read this, but I think you're a better colorist).

Many, many blessings to you and your family during this time, and know that he is happy on the other side in the Summerlands. Maybe he'll come to you in a dream to say goodbye as my parents did. :) Virtual hugs!!

Anonymous said...

Hello dear Annette,
I just read about your father and I can only say that I'm very sorry about your loss and that I wish you all the strength and hope you will need to keep going in in life.

I completely understand your loss since my father died at the 19th february this year as well, followed by my nephew in marz and my brother in law in april (my birthdays week :/ ).

Remember one thing, no matter what happened, your father is always with you as long as you carry him in your heart remembering all the great moments you had together. :)

I wanna say thank you from the bottom of my heart to you, jason and everyone involved in this wonderfull GN you gave us even in such a difficult time.


Toni (Raekon)

Impish said...


I couldn't help but smile when Jas suggested leaving a message 'if we enjoyed ROOT & BRANCH'. You have done so much more than only that.

I don't know you. I haven't yet lost a family member so I can't imagine what you have gone through so far and what you have yet to experience.

But anyone that Jas raves about so unilaterally, so unequivocally, so consistently can only deserve it. For all that he's a passionate soul, he's also true and honest. You have earned his respect on a professional and personal level which is no mean feat.

Your work is inspiring, the mastery of your craft is beautiful to see.

I can only wish you happiness and the ability to hold onto your joy and passion amidst the waves of pain that life sometimes throws up.

Kelly J. Compeau said...


I am deeply and profoundly sorry to hear about the passing of your father during what was already an insanely hecktic and emotional time in your life. Condolences to you and your family.

Ororo_Munroe said...

Annette, I'd much rather be giving you a hug in person, but unfortunately I can only convey my condolences for your loss via the internet. You must be an incredibly strong woman to be able to continue working. I'd've turned into a sobbing wreck.

You both did a fantastic job. If Jason hadn't told us how rushed you two were I'd never have known because it doesn't lack any of the quality we've come to expect from the two of you.

ryangibsonstewart said...

My condolences to Annette and her family. Thank you for pushing through and leaving a legacy that is not fleeting.

baldbobbo said...

Great story, Jason. I have a much deeper appreciation for the excellent work you two put together. Thank you Annette, and as always, thank you Jason. Looking forward very much to you seeing you and her's work.

Annette Kwok said...

Thank you, Jas, and to everyone for the well wishes. I'm truly touched by your comments, and I really appreciate all the support.

To the GN readers, I'm so glad you enjoyed the latest novel. I try to pop by 9th Wonders whenever I can and appreciate all the feedback there also.

Thank you all again =)

StephW said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Annette. I can't even begin to imagine the pain of losing a parent. I admire your strength through this and I'm so grateful for both of your work on these GNs despite what you were going through. My condolences to Annette.

Thanks to both Jason and Annette for their wonderful work on these GNs so us, the fans and readers, get to enjoy the weekly GNs. You've made the last few weeks waiting for the new season of Heroes easier with your wonderful work. Thank you.

SArmy Natalie said...


I am so, so sorry that something so beautiful had to collide with something so tragic and awful.

It is a sad fact, that as artists, often our best work comes from us during or after our most traumatic experiences. Certainly this work you have done with Jason is representative of that and I think your Father would be so very proud of you. Rightly so.

Good luck with the coming days, weeks, months and years. As someone how has lost more than enough people, I have found that the day you stop talking about the ones that have passed away, is the day that they are truly gone. So never stop talking about him, or remembering his funny ways or 'that thing he said on that day'. Keep him close and he'll never really be gone.

Very best wishes,
Natalie xXx

P.S. Jason. That is possibly one of the most heartwarming blogs I have ever read, I'm sure it was a difficult one to get started, but you did a wonderful job. Art is pretty awesome too!!!

Whizzles said...

Congratulations on the success of Into the Wild. Thank you both for creating such an amazing story with enticing artwork. Well done.

My deepest condolences go to Annette. I'm truly sorry for your loss; I hope you recover easily and keep the better memories of him at heart.

DeletedSeen said...

I'm so sorry Annette, I don't know what to say. We're all here for you - I know we're online but we're really out there somewhere, and we're thinking of you.

I've got so much respect for your stunning work and your devotion to it, to Jason and to your fans.

I know when you're tired and working on that last little bit before you head off to bed you wonder whether anyone's ever going to notice that little bit you did here, or that lighting effect you did there, the reflection of police car headlights in a pool of ice, the different coloured glow of different coloured souls, the camouflage design on a lady's clothing, the beautiful skies reflecting the time of day, the warm electric glow of an old lady's table lamp compared to the artificial lighting inside a hi-jacked cab...

We do notice it, Annette, and we appreciate how much effort you put into making the page truly become alive and authentic.

So many of us have your work on our shelves, so many have it sitting on their coffee table, so many have leant it to friends.
Your father must have been so proud of his daughter and so happy to know that she is doing what she loves and with such commitment and with such appreciation from all who see it.

annette kwok said...

Thanks very much =) You are all amazing, I'll always remember your kindness and support.

Psimonic said...

Hi Jason and Annette,

I just went to pop a link on your Facebook profile and saw your news.
I'm sorry for your loss and wish you nothing but best wishes.

I'm also pretty damn impressed that in the midst of this you managed to stay true to your dreams and finished your artwork.

Annette I'm sure that somehow and somewhere your Father would be very proud.

My condolences,