First up, you can find the free graphic novel at the HEROES site >HERE<. I recommend downloading the pdf to see all the detail. I've drawn it so you should be able to effortlessly read it on your screen.
I haven't been this excited about a graphic novel since SUM QUOD SUM. I loved what I did with Jim and Foz in the meantime, but two things really stood out for me. First up, I got to work with Ollie again. While the other guys are incredibile talents, Ollie just has my storytelling style down to a "T". I just find his and my stories read that little bit better. It's like they're greater than the sum of its parts, you know? Ollie outlined the story for me, and it just sounded so damn exciting. I loved the twists him and Zach came up with. Then Zach Craley sent me the Dennis Calero artwork preceeding mine and I was blown away. Looking at the artists before Dennis and I noticed it was comic book superstar (and all-round nice guy) Phil Jimenez and before that Michael Gaydos. Holy crap, I knew I just had to step up. The second thing was that Ollie told me that this would be the story printed for San Diego Comic Con. I just knew I had to bring my A game.
Another thing that fired me up was that I recently had to put together a proposal for a super secret project that Ollie and I are hoping to work on. I realised that SUM QUOD SUM (see labels on the side) was the last time I went without sleep and worked around the clock to hammer out the best possible artwork I could do. I've done some nice work since, and some stuff that has come close but nothing that rivalled it. I'm all about self improvement and I decided that FAMILY was the time to show people just how far I could hit the ball now.
The other factor to the story was the Nissan integration. This means that Nissan could really be the only logo in the whole story. I remember turning to Ollie and asking him what the hell we're going to do. I had to fill up two shots of Times Square with fake ads!
"Shout outs." he said.
So I put a call out on my Facebook for anyone who wanted a shout out. Here's the complete list of all 28 shout outs:
page 1 panel 1
Lee Olson: Heather's middle names
page 1 panel 3
rob beck: : you were originally the guy fighting Alexandre, but you got covered up. You can now find yourself on page 2 panel 1
Anthony Mitchell: that's you in the scarf in the bottom right corner dude.
page 1 panel 4
page 2 panel 1
Kelly J. Compeau
"Da Shark Shack"
Ok, these guys got covered up and lost:
You can see your shout out over on the left without the Sparrow Redhouse text. I'm so sorry. I just couldn't squeeze you guys back in. =(
Paul, buddy... you also got left out. I had to redraw the Cube on page 2 panel 1 and I had to shift the background around and you got erased. But here was your shout out dude, "Absolute Abstruse". I even drew you a bottle and everything!
I'm so sorry.
I think I managed to fit them all in, but some got covered by lettering. For example, my sister is on a star on the Hollywood walk of fame that's directly under the caption, "Are you ready to join the fight?". I think a fair few of them got covered up. But I have no control over the lettering. On the good side, I read a lot of posts saying that while they saw all the shout outs, they didn't seem to distract or detract from the story. I figured that people would just gloss over them the first time and then go back and look for them the second time.
I think the only pall over the proceedings was that Annette was unable to colour this because of other commitments. She gave me plenty of notice though (and tips on how to deal with Abby's forcefield), so I was more than able to factor in the time it would take to colour this baby. I did a better job than I've normally done of colouring, in fact, I would argue that pages 4 and 5 (the last pages I coloured) are the best I've ever coloured (I like the subtle effects like the reflection of the room in the tv in panel 2, as well as the red palette guiding your eye from panel 1 to panel 2). But I really think it looks so much better in black and white. If you want to do me a huge favour, go click on the black and white links and see the extraordinary amount of detail I put into every panel. I didn't skimp on a single panel. I recently bumped into a retired comic book artist by the name of Frank Gomez, who used to work for Top Cow. He told me that the secret to being a superstar comic artist is this... LONG HOURS. The more time you put in, the better it looks. And the proof they say, is in the pudding.
In the script, Ollie had Micah's captions introducing each person. I can't remember where I first saw the idea, probably in Grant Morrison's X-men run, but I pitched to him the idea of this big bold lettering introducing each character like a 70's tv show. Somehow, in a comic it gives it a real blockbuster feel. Ollie dug the idea and he modified the script to accomodate it. I had such a clear vision of how I wanted to design it, and I'm really happy with how it came out. Zach Craley sent me an email commenting how much he liked it, and that cinched the deal for me.
The biggest thing for me was making sure I set the scene. While there are captions telling you where you are, I really tried to find places that oozed an undeniability of location. While it seems obvious now, the Hollywood Walk of Fame was a late location selection - but perfectly fit the bill. I also wanted to make sure that each location had a specific colour palette.
Huge thanks also to Kat Purgal as Sparrow, Abigail Wong as well... Abigail, Ollie as Lee and Zach Craley as the Hotspur rental dude. I will talk about the great job they did and the modeling stuff later. That's a whole other ball game and I've rambled on for long enough already.
I hope you all enjoyed the story. I also hope it's obvious that Ollie and I enjoyed ourselves immensely making it.
NEXT: Wednesday, page 2. Nissan and Sinus Infections.