Monday, March 31, 2008


Ah, I just have to say what a great day I had yesterday. I judge whether a day is "good" based on either an enjoyable or significant experience, or simply if I got a lot done. Yesterday was the latter. On a good day I'm happy if I draw a page. Yesterday I drew two pages (including the first page of the HEROES story which came out GREAT!), did a photo shoot, adjusted some layouts, wrote a blog entry, watched an episode of Veronica Mars and the first episode of Doctor Who, finished the last Harry Potter book (the Deathly Hallows which had a slow middle but a fun start and great ending) and went to the gym. I was buzzing with satisfaction by the time I had to go to bed. A nice, full productive day. It was like some sort of weird time dilation effect came over me yesterday. I just can't figure out how I got everything done. I just wish that every day was like that!

Ok, let's talk about the pretty picture.

This was a commission that I did back in Melbourne. In fact, I think it was the last one I delivered. It was the day after my going away party and my last day in Melbourne. Just before I hopped my train up to the country to head to my parent's place, I dropped in to see Jarrod from Classic Comics. We chatted and I left him this piece for our good mate, Corey Low.

I had met Corey at my Classic Comics signing, and he was a great guy who introduced me to his lovely fiance, Vanessa. Corey got in contact with me later as he was looking for a commission piece of his favourite character, Deathblow, Michael Cray fighting back to back with The Grifter, Cole Cash.

I couldn't wait to get stuck into this piece.

I believe this was the 5th sketch that I did for Corey. Despite my concerns that the 6'8 Deathblow would obscure the smaller Grifter, Corey really wanted Deathblow in the front. I thought I would try and capitalise on the visual dynamic between the two. If I could find a moment that describes their individual fighting styles I would be happy. I figured Deathblow is more your "stand and deliver" sort of fighter, while The Grifter is more the darting, weaving nightmare of guns firing from all angles. I think this sketch captured that, and Corey agreed.

I really enjoyed drawing the characters. I had only drawn Deathblow once before (for a sketch for Corey no less!) and I don't think I'd ever drawn the Grifter before. I did heaps of research into guns, combat vests and army pants. I wanted the solidity of Deathblow's static pose to offset the The Grifter's flowing movement. I really like how Cole's coat came out. It looks dynamic yet realistic to me. My perfect blend!

Always my favourite stage. Looking back I love this piece at this stage. It has a great deal of energy and truth to the characters. Deathblow was originally drawn by Jim Lee in the most incredible adaption of Frank Miller's Sin City style. The Sin City style is identified by its heavy blacks and carefully pre-meditated whites. While Miller is the true innovator, Lee is a technician. He took Miller's artistic idea and honed it to a razor-sharp illustrative idea on Deathblow. So to me, Deathblow always looks best in black and white. I just wish Jim Lee would do more experimental artwork like that. He's a brilliant artist pandering to a fan base that would buy whatever he does anyway.

Boy, I get annoyed by the constant correction by every program I use about how I spell "colour". that red spelling line really bothers me. I pride myself on my spelling and I can't abide it telling me I'm wrong. My parents paid a great deal for my education, and my spelling is one of the few things that I like to feel they got their money's worth on. And no, turning it off is not an option.

Anyway, rant aside. Onto the colour. I'm an ok colourist, and lets take you quickly through my mediocrity. What I do first is lay down the basic colours for each of the areas. At this stage I'm just making sure that the colours are the character's colours. For this I needed some extra texture. I found some great camouflage textures and painted them into his clothing to roughen up and make the texture more organic. I don't often do this, and it was a good choice. It brought the fabric to life.


I had a whole step by step thing going on here, but I figured if I found it tedious, everyone else would find it torturous. So here's one we prepared already. Let's go over what I did. Corey didn't want a background and left it up to me. I visualised that that the two would be infiltrating some military camp and shooting their way out as explosions they'd rigged went off in the background. I put together a nice background explosion from about 6 different photos and screen caps. I was happy how it came out. Next up, I sampled the background and began painting over my colours to merge the figures with the background. My approach to colour is to take flat, basic colours and then affect them by the lighting around them. This stage is harder than it looks, but it merges everything together. I then made the explosion hotter and whiter with some airbrushing. Some gun shots from the guys wrapped things up. As a final touch I added a tattoo on the inside of Deathblow's right arm that said "Vanessa". Coincidentally Vanessa is both the name of Corey's fiance and Deathblow's wife. Ta da! How's that for attention to geeky detail and coincidence? I told Corey that there was an Easter Egg that would get Vanessa to approve of the piece and his eagle eyes spotted it immediately.

Thanks again, Corey! All the best at the wedding. When you guys get to the states for your honeymoon look me up.


Onward with the Madame Tussaud stuff!

ROYALE WITH CHEESE: Will these two ever live down this timeless team-up? I like this photo. It's like John Travolta farted or something. And I don't care how high-brow I'm gonna get, fart jokes are still funny.


After the celebrity walk, came the action stars room. Guess which was my favourite room? I was stunned to see Spiderman, and couldn't wait to jump into the frame with him.

This is probably the best photo of the day. My sister is a genius who has an unknowingly good eye. I did eyeball the lighting (I'm getting pretty good at visualising how lighting will look from all the photo reference I take) but it turned out beyond my expectations. It's like a magazine cover. I remember getting a lot of laughs and looks as I posed for this one, but hey, you gotta go for it. But, if I ever decide to do a Spiderman book, this can go on the cover of Wizard. =)

FACEBOOK: Sometimes I chuck up artwork, smaller comments and photos. Say "hi" if you wanna friend-link to me.

ps two posts in a row! I might be back!

Friday, March 28, 2008


Let's get this baby out of the way. And when I say, "baby" I mean the last two pages of Kimiko. It's time to move on. It was a long time ago. Build a bridge.

In fact, I've been dying to move on from Kimiko for ages. I've got so much more stuff to show you, and this, some of the weakest, most rushed work I've done in ages is not my proudest moment. It's probably contributed to why I haven't been blogging (as well as being sick). I just don't really want to talk about work that doesn't excite me.

First up, some more news. I've been plugging away and I'm on book 4, (the last issue) of ZERO G. I will be happy when I don't have to draw another space suit again. To keep me sane, I have another HEROES gig coming up. The deadline is the 10th of April, so keep yourself frosty for that one. All I'm going to say is that while it doesn't feature any of our lead cast, it's a great story set in the mysterious year 1967.

I'm grateful that Annette is available to colour it. I think we're going to create the best looking HEROES comic we've done to date. I can't wait to show you what Annette and my stuff looks like these days. We've created a style together for ZERO G that I think is unique and arresting. I can't wait to hear what you think.

It was actually page five of Kimiko (left) that really motivated me to get Annette back on board. While I'm reasonably happy with the way I colour figures, the way I colour backgrounds irritates the hell out of me. When I put heaps of effort in, it looks cheated and I don't like that. Working with Annette will give me the time to draw it properly and avoid the horrendous cheat that I used on page 5 panel 2. It was just supposed to be a placeholder, to remind me I need to draw a proper background, but computer issues got together with my deadline and gang-bashed me in a dark alley. Whimpering and bleeding I was forced to leave the photo in.

If there was such a thing as a "walk of shame" for comic book pages, this might be one for me. As an effort of minimalism, one might describe it as more Spartan than Gerard Butler.

Two out of four backgrounds ain't so good. It's not my finest hour, but it definitely was my most desperate. Even panel 1 on page 5 annoys me. The texturing looks too realistic if you ask me. I should have gone for something more stylised. I actually get annoyed when my stuff looks too photo-like.

When it started at the layout stage it was all birds singing, rainbows and sunny meadows. By the drawing stage of these last two pages it was rolling thunderheads of deadline storm clouds and torrential rains of panic so dense they were sweeping away entire villages of resolve.

I ended up leaving page 5 and moving onto page 6. I wanted it to at least finish with some strength. I thought I would have time to come back and clean up page 5. Such was not the case.

I had more fun with page 6 as I actually got to draw some stuff. I like the lighting of the top panel. I was also trying to mirror Taiko's body language from page 3 panel 2 here on panel 2 with Kimiko. I feel that she has already become her father's daughter in this panel. I used a cinematic trick that they do on the show on panel 4. For some reason I notice that they use a framing blur on certain images, usually trying to highlight someone's eyes. I thought I would do the same here.

TOURISTY STUFF: Well, my parents joined my sister and I in London. They arrived just as I climbed off the back end of the flu. It just seems that London is tougher than I am. I figure it's had a lot more time than Australia to get it's bacteria together.

I finally made it out the door to visit Madame Tussauds. My sister was smart enough to hussle us out the door to get there when it opened. This meant we only waited for 10 minutes (as I left the queue was literally around the block!). I didn't mind so much as I was enjoying the first snow I'd ever seen in my life. My mum thought it looked like a cloud of insects, but I thought it either looked like an ash storm or blossoms, depending on my mood.

As soon as I walked in the door, I saw my favourite movie star: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. I wish he wasn't slouching so much as you can't really get an idea of his size, but he's a good 6'4 (I'm 6'1). His co-star in Walking Tall, Ashley Scott (whom I reckon is one of the hottest women on the planet - so yes, I enjoyed that film) thinks he has one of the biggest heads on a human being. We're talking physical size, not ego. I was dismayed to see my head was about as big if not bigger. I didn't feel so bad, as those of you who watch Entourage will know Turtle's big head theory: that to be a movie star you have to have a "big head". At least I have one requirement to get on the screen.

I realised that the trick to taking good photos at Madame Tussauds is having a sister with hands so steady she should be performing neuro-surgery (so you don't have to use a flash. They look fake under flash, but great under the lighting they provide), and to just go for it. We proceeded to take a bunch of amusing photos while I hammed it up around my wax co-stars. I'm going to show you these over the next few posts in the order they were shot. My favourites are at the end.

Cameron and I had a moment. She was really sweet, although she seemed a little stiff and nervous around me. But hey, who can blame her?

FACEBOOK: If you're on and you wanna say "Hi" to me, just look me up and write a short note that you know me from my blog, 9th Wonders or my HEROES work and I will add you to my friends list. Be great to hear from you. Don't be shy!

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Here ye, here ye. This is the last will and testament of Jason Badower. I've been struck down by some virulent Brittanic virus that seems to be some unholy synthesis of the Rage virus, Ebola, Leprosy and strain 138 of the Shanti virus. You get the point, I'm suffering. Suffering like a woman on the Boxing Day sales without her credit card. Surviving medical scientists have dubbed the virus, The Unholy Plague as only the depths of hell could have vomited up something so insipid and cruel in its symptoms and fatality rate.

Round 1 saw The Unholy Plague issue a totally unprovoked first strike. I hadn't been out drinking in two weeks. It had been regular work, early to bed and early to rise with a side order of good eating for two weeks. As far as I was concerned, my defences were strong, and going into any sort of match would favour me the victor. This didn't deter the The Unholy Plague. It first attacked me at 7am on Thursday morning with a couple rounds of vomiting. I thought a sneak attack was particularly ungentlemanly and secured a steadfast agreement to do pistols at dawn tomorrow... once I'd had some sleep.

At 1pm I awoke feeling like I'd been clubbed like Rodney King. It appears that while I was down and out The Unholy Plague laid a couple of stern body kicks which the ref didn't see. I protested the unfairness of this, but the ref was off warning The Unholy Plague's ring girl, Sinus Lass to stay outside the ring during the bout. During her latest verbal warning the bitch even caught my eye and grinned as The Unholy Plague went for an illegal choke hold inducing dizziness and nausea. I limped out of the ring, grabbed a couple glasses of water and stumbled back to bed.


I enjoyed these layouts. Simple, elegant and cinematic. I couldn't wait to draw Hiro!

I rose again at 6pm. I felt like The Unholy Plague had kidnapped me, hung me upside down in a large heshen sack and beaten me repeatedly with phone books and baseball bats. By the time my sister came home from work, she found me listlessly staring off into the distance, a half eaten piece of toast and a forgotten glass of water in my hands. I had devolved into (what is traditionally known in the zombie community as) a Shuffle. I struggled out of what could really only be described as Post Traumatic Shock and sent a couple apologetic emails to my editor promising that her pieces would be on her desk tomorrow. These were supposed to be the huge booth posters for the New York Comic Convention. They had to be the best work I was capable of. As soon as I'd hit the "sent" button, my sister hustled me off to bed. I warily drew up the doona/duvet (whatever) and reaffixed the sentry guns and landmines expecting another sneak attack from The Unholy Plague.


I ended up doing a screen capture from Kaito's funeral from season 2 and moved people around, but it's largely the same frame. I do like my Hiro. I think I got reference from season 1 here. The trees were a bit experimental for panel four and I like the gothic noir feel it has. Those of you paying attention might have seen my geek Easter Egg and noticed that I used Hiro's boss, Mr Kin Egami as the executive who confronts Kimiko.

I cunningly slept through pistols and vomiting at dawn. I awoke Friday at 11am. Sensing trouble, The Unholy Plague had decided to lob mortars over my defensive wall which had not done any more damage, but the constant noise and shockwaves had stopped my Mutant Healing Factor from kicking in and repairing me whole. Somehow I kept my eyes open for 10 hours and finished off the last two booth pieces. The first I was very happy with, the last, not so much. At 9pm I stumbled off back to bed. The sentry guns were fully armed, the landmines prepped and I issued orders to the troops to engage in perimeter sweeps to dissuade The Unholy Plague from the previous night's mortar strikes.


I especially like how all the people turned out. I felt that panel 1 got a bit muddy and confusing from poor composition, though.

Saturday (today) I awoke, at 730am. The perimeter was unnaturally quiet and reports from the front issued a suspicious all clear. I stared over the horizon surveying the battlefield. It was like regarding an old friend who had returned from overseas. You know them, you remember them, but you're going to have to get to know them all over again. Everything had changed. War does that to you. War changes you. The Unholy Plague changes you. I'm still reeling. A man returned to a country he barely recognises. Everything's the same but different. People regard me differently. Human beings can sense on a visceral, subconscious level when another has been through a near death traumatic experience. They regard me with a wary nonchalance knowing that intimacy with my recent experience will affect them on a primal and heretofore unrevealed level, even to themselves.


Panel 1 got a bit muddy, but I like the way the rest turned out. If I hadn't been referencing an actual scene from the show, I would have set this at sunset for more dramatic lighting than in the middle of a sunny day.

My mind is sharp, but my body is still reeling from the experience. Two regular cartridges of Neurofen slammed into my magazine seem to keep me alert through the fog of The Unholy Plague's wake. You only wish this sort of suffering on your worst enemy. It's the perfect sort of suffering. They lie there, weak, nauseous and drained while you dance around them, throw general insults and little scrunched up bits of paper at their nose. If you're lucky, they die... suffering.


Some added lighting effects. It was a buzz to draw Hiro again. I love drawing the guy. He's just so easy to draw. Overall for a fast, rushed page, this turned out really well. To give you an idea of how rushed, I drew and coloued pages 4, 5 and 6 over two days!

Inspired by the very mechanisms of human nature that drive us through our lives, we are forced to ask Why something like this could happen. How could something so brutal and heartless like The Unholy Plague be unleashed into our lives? But sometimes it's not our place to ask why, but merely give thanks that we survived. And the immortal words of Captain Malcolm Reynolds come echoing into my mind, "We're not gonna die. We can't die, Bendis. You know why? Because we are so...very...pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die."

And I thank God for considering me prettier than the ill-fated Bendis. But he left me scarred with a hollow, haunted look to my eyes (that hopefully adds charm and a certain mystique.) And in the wake of The Unholy Plague, all we can do is hug a loved one and thank God that all of us who are reading this were indeed pretty enough.

Or I could just be a big wuss and a drama queen.