Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CASTLE part 1

I've attached here the four pages of Crow's, (our murdered graphic novel artist's) comic book and the cover. You will find notes on each page next to it. It was written by the CASTLE writer's assistant John Zaozirny and edited by co-producer and the episode's writer, Terri Miller. It's important to note that the cliched, and heavy captions are intentional. After all, it's written by a twenty year old emo vampire-wannabe.

The artwork is drawn, colored and lettered by me.

<- The cover to Blood Everlasting, Crow's graphic novel. Crow's mother was played by the super lovely ZOE TAYLOR who is much prettier than the photo of her in the show. I tried to do her justice with these illustrations. She was kind enough to give me a lift home after our photo shoot. Note the blood drenched dress.

I would recommend reading the blog post first and then coming back and reading all the image comments in italics. You can click on any of the images for a higher res version.

It began with an email from (now) HEROES staff writer, Oliver Grigsby. Ollie has been the editor for the HEROES comics for a while and I think most of the best stories I've done have been with him. His email asked me to contact his father, Howard Grigsby, the producer on CASTLE. Apparently they needed a comic book artist and I was the first guy Ollie could think of. I guess the lasagne I cooked for Ollie and his wife, Abby as thinly concealed bribery paid off.

<- The original sketch for the cover of Blood Everlasting. The actor who played Morlock is Robert Arbogast, who I thought did an amazing job of playing a very subtle crazy person. You might note the similarity to my HERESY piece. It was referenced by the producers as a direct inspiration.

Anyway, Howard asked me to quote for some comic art and I did so - keeping to the rate that I quote for HEROES. Then... crickets chirping. I'm thinking, "Oh man, I've insulted him and he's looking elsewhere. He's probably told Ollie how greedy, short sighted, unprofessional and unreasonable I am."

It appears I was wrong.

Then the floodgates opened.

<- At this stage I had no idea what Robert's makeup would look like so I kept to this clean cut direction to showcase his pretty boy looks. Little did I know...

<- ...that they would go all "Rob Zombie" on us. I was excited to see that this page really got used. I drew it before the set photographer managed to get me reference shots for Robert's Morlock makeup. I had to add the beard and dishevelment afterwards. There are only four pages to the graphic novel (plus the cover) because that's all we needed. Two sets of open pages.

First I was sent Terri Miller's script for VAMPIRE WEEKEND episode 206. I had never seen CASTLE before. Reading the script I went from smiling, to giggling to downright laughing. One of my favorite lines was cut from the episode. It was a good cut, but I was sorry to see it go. I think it's the most accurate and pithy commentary on women's halloween costumes I've ever heard:

<- This is what I gave to the producers and the art department to show them what I had in mind. I drew these after the location shoot. That was a day which involved me wandering with certain members of the crew around different parts of LA trying to find locations that would work as sets. At one stage we're in a very nicely designed and appointed warehouse. A girl in lingerie and ridiculously high heels walks past and goes, "Who are all these people?" Turns out they were shooting an "adult movie" in the adjoining room.

You could be slutty Nurse... no,
too sexist. Slutty Doctor. Oh here,
you can be slutty Supergirl... or
love this one...

(He pulls it off the rack.)

Slutty slut!

I laughed and laughed and laughed. Then I asked myself why the hell I wasn't watching this show. I'm a huge Nathan Fillion fan, I had to draw Stana Katic for HEROES (see the link on the side for THE DEATH OF HANA GITELMANN) and the banter was as fast and as sharp as VERONICA MARS (probably my favorite tv show ever which Howard was coincidentally also a producer on).

<- I was buzzed to see that the last panel got so much coverage on the show. I knew that it had to resemble the location exactly. Karen, the director told me it would literally be held up to camera then removed to mirror the exact location. Karen and I meticulously coordinated the shot but I didn't hold my hopes up. How wrong I was! Those bricks and graffiti took FOREVER. Andrew Marlowe suggested the guys huddled by the burning trash can on the left.

I was asked to come down to Raleigh studios and talk to freelance director extraordinaire, Karen Gaviola; the episode's writer and co-producer, Terri Miller; the show's creator, Andrew W. Marlowe; the first AD the lovely, Barry K. Thomas; the head of the art department Alfred Sole; and of course, Howard.

<- a layout based on the photo reference I took of this old basement under an abandoned hospital. It gets used as a set so often there's still duct tape and fake spider webs up from the previous crew's efforts. But Alfred redressed it so well you'd never ever know.

The meeting was basically to show them and assure them that I can do the job and I "get" what they're trying to do. I brought my portfolio and that pretty much spoke for me. We bounced ideas, around and generally agreed that I would have a metric bucketload of work to do.

<- After looking at my reference photos I was forced to do a different angle of panel one. I just felt this angle helped the storytelling more. If you re-watch the scene before they find Morlock you can see that this is a step by step guide as to how to find Morlock's lair. If I ever get murdered I'm screwed cos I mess with geography and locations all the time. You'd need a teleporter to follow my graphic novels.

<- The idea is that Morlock has the spirit of his old lover floating over him and protecting him. But he feels alone not knowing that he is being watched over. Zoe was kind enough to pose for all these reference photos. You can see again I thought Morlock would be clean shaven.

Afterwards, Barry came up to me and told me that he is, "a huge fan of HEROES and that he's kind of locking it down right now." I'm used to this, and I'm also used to the misapprehension that a fan of the show has confused me for someone really involved in the who. I launched into my usual schtick of telling any HEROES fan that they should check out the online comics as they're set between episodes and expand on the stories in the show. He replied, "Oh, I know about them. In fact I've read them all and I'm a huge fan of your stuff. The work you did with Stana on the 'Death of Hana' was my favorite."

<- The last panel here got some great coverage and I was very happy about that. I remember kidnapping the location scout as my model. There's an amusing reference photo (that will never see the light of day) of panel one on this page of Terri playing Morlock and Karen looming awkwardly over her. They were doing that to give me a sense of perspective and composition for the shot.

I was totally taken aback. He actually not only knew my work, but liked it! Being recognized has happened a couple times before, but never in a professional capacity. Barry went on to do one of the nicest things for me and it was my favorite anecdote from my time working with CASTLE. I will go into that and meeting Nathan and Stana in a later post.


Stephanie said...

I didn't realize your work was going to be ON Castle...

So during last night episode I was wondering why the art work seemed familiar.. so very familiar..

I did a major facepalm when I realized it WAS your work...

It was so fantastic.. You've always been my favorite (shhh dont tell anyone) favorite GN artist.

Anonymous said... friends were over - to watch Heroes and then to not only watch Castle but to see your work ... they were so excited that you're my 'facebook' friend :) jas, so fantastic! ... so proud!!!

CurlyMarie said...

Woohoo! Great work, Jason, as always. :)

(p.s. I'm with Sheindie--I love being Facebook friends with an awesome artist.) :)

Christina Lollobrigida said...

Watching Castle last night I thought the line work looked familiar. There was a very clean look to it, and the facial structures seemed familiar as well. After abusing the power of Twitter I got your name from the writer of the episode. Of course after I had that, I realized I recognized your work from Heroes comics online!

The stuff you did for Castle was amazing though, just thought I'd let you know.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

I was so very pleased and proud to see your work on this Halloween episode of one of my favourite shows, Jas.

Niko said...

I saw your work on Castle on monday and I was very impressed by your work. During the show my gf and I were wondering 'Who did this?' I shall have to look into your work. Best of luck on your endeavours!


Ryan Stewart said...

I'm watching the episode right now, and holy cow, they feature your art so much! I love it! You're the next Tim Sale, Jason!

Thanks for sharing your great work and your awesome stories, too.

Keep up the good work!

Katarzyna said...

Great work :) "Castle" is wonderful show, so I hope you're going to watch it now! :)))

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