Friday, May 07, 2010

THE TRIP part 2 page 2

BOOM! Yeah! Another post! Take that tardiness! Post by post trying to re-establish communication and some regularity. I'm also warming myself up because when my announcements go live I will be posting ALL THE TIME. Hopefully because people will want to know what I'm doing... but definitely because I love hearing the sound of my own typing.

Ollie and I have some stuff in the pipeline that is beyond exciting. And I mean more than just the tabletop gaming we're doing. That's right, I've started running an old skool roleplaying game. Ollie is playing a Cleric, his wife Abby is a Ranger and we have two other buddies, Tony and Matt playing a Druid and Bard respectively. It's old skool nerdiness hopefully done really well... (as made more obvious by the fact that we're playing Dungeons and Dragons without a Fighter or a Wizard) but you can be the judge because we've been recording the sessions for podcasting.

When my OTHER announcement goes live I will make up a site to release these podcasts for anyone that cares.. Even if it's just for the players.

Bring on the nerd!

But why roleplaying? Because I believe it's one of the most genuine (and inexpensive) ways to get people together while actually enjoying each others company. It's like watching a film where you're all allowed to commentate (Mystery Science Theater 3000 style) over everything. Unlike getting together to watch a film in silence, this is actually interacting and enjoying the company of the people around you. Apart from the time it takes me to prepare sessions, it's so much bang for your time.

And I just miss creating these shared worlds. Some of the most fun I've had hanging with friends has been in roleplaying sessions. Now you may think that I need to get out more (and maybe I do), but I think I have a pretty exciting life. And roleplaying still ranks as consistently the most fun I have while hanging out with people without alcohol. Ok, maybe a bit of alcohol.

When the site and podcasts go live I will let you know and I hope you enjoy it! I plan on furnishing it with a fair bit of art so that should tempt you through the virtual gateway.

I've also uploaded some more art on my deviantart site:

Look for the pieces SILVER JONES, PUMPKIN and STAR.

Anyway, let's talk some HEROES.

Page two of part two.

Again, I tried to keep mirroring the layout of scenes familiar from panel to panel (eg. panels 1 and 3) so you know what it is that Hiro is seeing and what is actually there. I thought things could get confusing and disorienting otherwise.

Apart from the card guard from Alice in Wonderland in the first panel, a better look at Jim and Foz in the fourth panel, there's really only the silhouette of The Joker in the fifth panel welcoming Suresh into Arkham Asylum.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

THE TRIP part 2 page 1

And we're back with your regularly scheduled programing. I'm working with a new company now and it's incredibly exciting. I can't make any announcements yet, but rest assured you will be the first to know. But it means that I'm in the office for meetings a lot and not by a computer to do some blogging. So if you can forgive the periodic interruptions, I'm pretty committed to getting this back on track.

The website I've been working on should be live by the end of the month. There should be a big announcement. We will start by only issuing invitations, but anyone who is reading this can considered themselves invited. More details as they become apparent.

All I can promise you is that between the site and the new company, I think we're going to take over online comics. I can't wait!

But let's talk some HEROES.

This is yet another collaboration with the inestimable Jim Martin. I think Jim runs second to Ollie Grigsby for the number of HEROES comics we've done together. I always enjoy his scripts. First up, it's really obvious when you read a Jim Martin script that he's having fun and he wants you to have fun too. He wants you to have fun reading it and drawing it. That enthusiasm and care for his collaborators is infectious and helps take the project to another level.

On panel two of this page, I decided to make the two orderlies Foz McDermott (on the left), writer of part one, and Jim Martin, writer of this part. They're good buddies, and I couldn't pass up the in-joke. I'm sure it's become obvious to anyone reading the comics that it's all about the in-jokes. Characters are often named after crew members or friends and friends likenesses are cast as supporting characters. It's fun and when the fans are let in on the joke I hope they realize the fun that everyone is having creating these.

I again want to point out Annette's stunning coloring. The way she communicates the two different worlds is fantastic. I love seeing her versatility exercised on the page and I feel these stories really show off her ability and the breadth of her talent.

Friday, April 30, 2010

THE TRIP page 6

Three days in a row. I rock. Well, a little bit anyway. But given how bad I've been it's like patting someone on the back in commiseration after you've shot them in the foot.


Panel 2: That's Kang and Kudos from the Simpson's Halloween special. It's fun turning cartoony things into more realistic renditions. It's such a great exercise to add texture and a sense of depth to things that are just beautiful clean linework.

I guess that's the advantage of having a reasonably unique style, when I draw something, no one knows what it's going to look like... Least of all me!

Panel 3: And Mohinder is wearing the face muzzle/mask from Silence of the Lambs. We're not supposed to know it's Mohinder here, but I thought it would be fun for readers to get a bit of a clue what's going on. I think it lends the story a nice pay-off too. Suddenly we see that there's been a purpose and a focus for this crazy adventure. It brings it right back into the realm of HEROES and the plot.

Of note if you compare the silhouettes of the orderlies to the ones in part 2, they're totally different. Here they were just generic guys, but in the next part I decided to have a bit of fun with them and gave them actual identities. You're going to have to wait til next post to see who I made them.

This brings us to the end of Foz McDermott's run on THE TRIP. He passed the baton to his good buddy, and fellow HEROES scribe, Jim Martin. I will get into that next post!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

THE TRIP page 5

I'm blazing to catch up! A back to back post. Now that I've got time to work on these, I'm having a ball writing them up.

A huge challenge was swapping between Hiro-vision and real life. I wanted to make sure that people could understand what was going on. Wherever possible I tried to mirror panel layouts, so things just became a "spot the difference". With Hiro in the same position in each panel, it just becomes a means by which you see how elements change. A good example of this is panels 2 and 3 on this page. But I really set the standard back on page 3. Every panel is a mirror of another one on that page.

You can see on my line art (the black and white version) that I separate all my backgrounds onto separate layers. I find it allows either Annette or myself (whoever is coloring it) to pick which elements you want to bring forward and which elements you want to push back. For example, Annette decided to make the background 100% black in the last, but faded it back in panels 2 and 3. In panel one she decided to pull some elements (the log) forward, and let others like the forest fade into the background. I find this technique takes a little longer to do at the drawing stage, but allows great flexibility at the coloring stage.


Panel 2: That's some sort of Yoda-like creature. Again, a generic princess.

Panel 5: A huge Flame giant cos I wanted to draw a huge giant. I think he helps add scale to the proceedings. That's Bilbo throwing the One Ring into the lava too.

Note: I am particularly happy with Hiro's likeness on panel 4. I think it's very... "him".

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

THE TRIP page 4

Dear god, I'm more than behind on these. I need Marty McFly and the Delorean if I ever want to catch up! In the past, I never let myself get more than one chapter behind on these. But I think I'm now... uhh... Let me count: there's part two of this, then 1963 parts 1 and 2 and then 1988 parts 1 and 2. Uhhh... I think that's more than one.


Anyway, just looking over these pages I drew last December, all I can do is just gush at Annette's awesomeness. The biggest task I gave Annette when we started working together is to create unique palettes for each scene and place and time. I felt (that ages ago) she did a bit of "one lighting". This work shows how she not only grabbed that bull by the horns, wrestled it into submission but also mastered it. Her versatility and control of that area is just inspiring.

The lush green peeling away to the Mordor-like wasteland is just amazing. You can just feel the heat!

Ok. Pop culture references:

PANEL ONE: That's a homage to the Cheshire cat. The Gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel and... an Ice Dragon... cos I felt like drawing a dragon. So there. Although it would be greatly appreciated if someone could shoe-horn that into some sort of pop culture reference.

PANEL TWO: The gardener is based on one of the HEROES staffers. I just scanned all my emails and I can't find Foz's link to who it is. Damnit! If anyone who reads this knows who it is, please drop me a line so I can edit this post.

PANEL THREE: The Mario Bros. line ushers in the Mario Bros. references. Toad and some bricks with money inside them.

PANEL FIVE: Foz specifically asked me to channel Mordor, but I decided to go for the rocky part and add more lava pools. I think I had been playing a lot of Dragon Age, and I was inspired by the design for the Dwarven city. Foz wanted the background building to look like Arkham Asylum. And I tell you, now that I've started playing Batman: Arkham Asylum I've had their brilliant design ingrained on my mind. If I was to draw it again, it would look eerily similar to their design.


Now that I've moved into my new house I'm all settled and posting will resume. I'm also going to unveil something huge soon which also accounts for my tardiness and un-postingness.

Sure. That's a word.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

THE TRIP page three

Now the story really starts to get going with the pop culture references. Alright let's do this by panel.

PANEL ONE: On the far left is some super hero chick walking along with a red Hulk-like character. I don't really get to draw super hero chicks or Hulk-like characters enough so it's fun to bust out of my purple pants every now and then and just let my inner nerd hang out. God, that really sounded far more wrong than I intended. Just take that at face value, ok?

Foz called for a Mario-like character climbing out of a Mario-like pipe. By getting rid of the moustache, it made my copyright avoidance job a lot easier. But with the side burns and the tuft of hair out the top of his head he looks like a little Elvis. Man, that would be a surreal game. Playing a mini Elvis collecting peanut butter sandwiches and cadillacs while kicking the heads of screaming fans with blue suede shoes.

To the right is my take of a Storm Trooper sitting on one of those huge lizard things. I forget their names. No, I'm not pretending that I forgot their name to make it seem like I'm a less of a nerd, I actually forgot their name. The way Annette colored him though, he looks a bit like a Halo dude. So I like the color choices even more.

The most fun reference was having Spock standing there. I just thought it would be too fun having Zachary Quinto as Mr Spock standing there. I'm sure Hiro would have been really confused when he went to see the new Star Trek. He would have been like, "Sylar! Billain!" But he's probably a bit too far away for you to fully make him out.

But then, Hiro was probably even more confused when he went to see GET SMART when he saw himself up there.

PANEL TWO: That chick isn't meant to be anyone other than a princess. She looks less than totally princess-like. I should have made her look more innocent by making her eyes larger or something.

PANEL THREE: That dog is just some random dog. I was going to use Star, Ollie and Abby's dog but it occurred to me too late, damnit.

PANEL FOUR: Nobody is anybody here. I think the dog is based on a photo that Foz sent me in. He wanted me to use that dog for the missing dog poster but I couldn't find anymore reference to draw it in the proceeding pages. It's funny, the panel with the least "bang" in terms of references took me the longest in terms of time. That mall... took a while. Those palm trees drove me quietly crazy too.

PANEL FIVE: Again, no references here. Just a lovely little garden. I enjoyed the silhouettes and as a design I think it worked out really well.

PANEL SIX: The butterfly has turned into the Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, or a homage to them at least. Linkie here for reference:

OVERALL: I'm especially happy with the art and the flipped panels from Hiro-vision to normal. I wanted to lay it out so when you went back and forth it was logical and you wouldn't get lost, even when the colors are all relatively normal. Annette and I agreed to return to a less-saturated palette here so you could get the color gags. Ie. the super hero lady in purple is a middle aged lady in purple. And the Red Hulk creature is really some Floridian dude in sandals and socks.

My next story 166 - 1963, drawn and colored by me and written by Howie Kaplan is up. I'm gonna try and punch through these and catch up by the time 167 goes live.

Wish me luck!

Oh yeah, I got engaged to Heather on Valentine's day. So it's not like I've been sitting around not-blogging and wasting my time or anything. =)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

THE TRIP page two

It seems I tend to update this blog when I have a new HEROES project in the works. But generally as soon as I hear about it I have to start working on it. Then during a brief break I binge-blog out the rest of the pages so I can talk about the new stuff. The latest story is written by Howie Kaplan and is fun, fun fun. It fills in a really key gap of the HEROES universe and I'm buzzed to be able to draw it. In fact, I'm having a riot of a time. Pun intended. You will see what I mean.

But let's scrunch our faces really hard into our best pinching a loaf expression and go back in time to the Trip. I want to cover a great deal of the pop culture references and the burden that they became.

As I mentioned, that which became the most fun, became the most laborious part of doing this comic. Ironically, it actually bothered me the least. Normally it's the artist suffering under ridiculous deadlines and horrible circumstances. I was aware that there would be issues and had brought my laptop to Boston over the Christmas break to do any edits that needed to be done. Luckily, I felt that they were of a reasonable size, whether I agreed with them or not.

The problem is that I'm not the last person in the chain. I'm probably the first person actually. So when Nanci Quesada sent me the corrections I got up bright and early to work on them and finished them before midday. But Annette still has to color them (which was more than half the legal changes) and Nanci still has to get them approved and do the post production on them. So while it was a little tedious for me, it was a lot tedious for Annette and Nanci.

NBC legal's main bone of contention was the similarity between the drawn characters and those that were most recognizable. There were occasions that I drew in characters that I felt were too close to the version I based them on and changed them even when I wasn't asked. I figured that just because NBC legal wouldn't recognize them, doesn't mean the owners of those characters wouldn't. And I don't want to cost some lawyer their job because they're not well-versed in pop culture.

I've included the original black and white version. I think it will be easier to tell who the characters are without their alternate colors that Annette so wonderfully and lovingly rendered. Also, this is a previous version before NBC legal got at it. So characters resemble who they are based on a lot more.

I really want to take my hat off to Annette here who took my style and created something dreamlike and surreal here. It took a bit of going back and forth between us, but I'm super happy with the result.

Not all of these are my idea. Foz really brought the pop culture power here and I just riffed on what he suggested.


From the top to the bottom.

That's based on Angel from the First Class of Xmen.

Behind his left leg is the spaceship from Futurama. I'm guessing these two are how Hiro sees birds in his halucination.

Below the Futurama spaceship Foz wanted a T-rex walking down the street (in actuality a business man) and I decided to put a little person on his back as a homage to the scarlet Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy, an old Jack Kirby Marvel Comic. Annette even colored him red but no one cared. And I kind of doubted that Marvel are going to sue HEROES over a project that the wife of the Editor In Chief edited.

Let's go down past the purple trees to the street below. That silhouette walking down the street among the umbrellas is a Predator.

Some sort of cat-like Pokhemon looks onto a table with a devil sitting there.

That's a land speeder from Star Wars parked out the front.

Coming up the steps is a Terminator Marine walking with an Alien.

And right down the bottom is a tiny Superman chasing a tiny Wonder Woman. I have no idea what these actually are. Maybe they're two pieces of trash rolling across the pavement?

Anyway, it's Hiro whose brain is scrambled, not mine. You should ask him.

More updates soon, I hope!

Friday, January 15, 2010


Parts one and two of The Trip are up. You can find them as graphic novels 160 and 161. Oh, forget it. Here are the links to the free graphic novels. Grab the PDFs if you have the bandwidth. And if you don't have the bandwidth, I'll still be your friend. I'd just rather you didn't touch me.

The first part was written by Foz McDermott (whom I worked with on COG) and the second part written by Jim Martin who I've worked with so often that an umbilical cord trails between his mansion in the clouds and my Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs.

This was also the first time I got to work with Nanci Quesada. We got off to a tumultuous start, but it turned into my favorite HEROES working experience after.

It started one morning when I was still sleeping in my coffin. I heard the phone go but I decided that the lid on my coffin was just too heavy right then to even check who it was, so I let it go to voicemail. Bad mistake. It was Ollie Grigsby on the Batphone.

When I finally rose from my Place of Eternal Rest I immediately checked my email. The principle line of communication for most people (the phone) lay forgotten. There was an email from Nanci Quesada asking me if I was exclusive to Aspen and would I like to do some HEROES work. I was excited to work for Nanci. I admire her stable of artists. Dennis Calero. Michael Gaydos. I'm huge fans of those guys. And to pull up a metaphorical, and perhaps somewhat hopeful, chair next to them would be really exciting as a creator and fanboy. But there was a small hitch in the road. I was booked out so solidly that I was outsourcing my bodily functions to India. This is normally a great problem to have... Except when HEROES comes knocking on your door. But maybe, just maybe if it was a nice easy story to draw (like Stuck In the Middle also written by Jim Martin which was mainly set in a closet). If it was simple enough I would be able to fit it in. So I asked Nanci to send me the script so I could take a look.

So Nanci sent me the script. I think I got to the page where Foz describes a ring-wraith flying over Arkham Asylum set in the lava stricken lands of Mordor when I finally blanched. There was no way I could squeeze this in. You could roll up the world's largest shoe horn and the biggest tub of lube you could find and it still wouldn't fit. I wrote her back telling her how busy I was, and that the story was just too much, but that I would love to work with her in the future.

I then noticed the phone and called Ollie back. Ollie asked me about the story telling me how much he'd love to see me draw it. He thought it was right up my alley, and I heartily agreed. But I told him I couldn't do the story. It was wa-ay too much work with everything I had on my plate. The way I hit deadlines is by making sure I don't take on too much work. And unfortunately this just came in too tough too late. The disappointment in his voice almost broke me. I'd never felt so appreciated in a single, "oh."

Then fortune struck. An email arrived explaining delays on another project. Suddenly what was due that week was on indefinite hold. Providence? Fate? Destiny? Or D. All of the above?

I was free to do the HEROES gig, but what if Nanci had already assigned it to someone else? I emailed her. Sent a carrier pigeon. Made smoke signals and then noticed that Nanci popped her phone number on the bottom of the email. I called her immediately and we had a great little chat. She told me the stories were still available and she'd love to have me. Yes! Score!

A quick email to Annette confirmed that she too was available. The pieces were really falling into place. This was too good to be true. Nanci told me the first six page part (160) was due on the 23rd - the same day I was leaving for Boston on vacation to freeze my proverbials off and stay with my girlfriend Heather's parents. So I told Nanci that I would have all twelve pages done before I left. Then I looked at the date. The 10th of December. 12 pages with layouts, art, colors and sign offs. It was going to be a rough one. I called Heather and checked that she was ok pretty much not seeing me until vacation. While disappointed, she saw what a great opportunity it was said it was totally cool with her.

So, pith helmets on we hacked our way into this twelve page jungle of fan boy soup.

I saw one fan asking what he was supposed to get out of these graphic novels. I'm not sure what you're supposed to get out of any of these graphic novels. But maybe you should be reading these two graphic novels as a subconscious stream of Freudian and Jungian metaphors detailing everything you need to know about Hiro's profile. Correct diagnosis should allow you to construct a mind map and psychological profile so accurate you will be able to predict every line of Hiro's dialog for ever more.

Or maybe you're just supposed to have fun...?

I know I did.

Until the thing that made it so fun did a heel turn so drastic that New World Order Hulk Hogan would have been proud.

Oh how little we knew. Back when Nanci, Annette and I were so young and innocent. With our eyes full of stars, dreams and moon beams.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

GI JOE part 3

Let's finish this GI JOE action off so we can get into my latest HEROES work. You can go do your homework and grab the free comic at:

Come back in a day or so and I should have the first blog entry up. There will be a quiz.

Right. Go Joe!

<- Stormshadow Paris: Tiger stripes. Because Paris is filled with tigers. Why you would think you could camouflage in with them rather than say, getting eaten is beyond me. On the other hand, there's something distinctly and delightfully low-brow Parisian about covering yourself in a tiger-print jumpsuit. It reeks wonderfully of Euro-trash. Like something you'd see on a Eurovision broadcast.

<- Stormshadow Movie: Some sweet desert camo to hide his awesomeness before he impales you on his family heirloom katana.

<- Stormshadow Basic: Everything the power broker needs to wear to work. Urban camouflage and katana. I just read MARKET FORCES by the brilliant Richard K. Morgan and I can't help but think the characters in that would strangely love this suit.

<- Stormshadow Arctic: Not what I'd wear to the arctic. In fact, I can tell you that I went a little more Snake Eyes - full body head to toe black. Just to prove it, here's me in the gear I amassed to brave the Boston cold on Mount Sunapee. It's Silence of the Lambs meets Snake Eyes:

<- Viper Basic: I always wear an armoured face mask with a tshirt. I do like the bad-ass alternative camo pants that you can get with this outfit though. I'm sure he'd give a mean head butt in this thing. Anyone else notice the ridiculously overt Army of Two reference with the masks? Cool, but seriously derivative. I wonder if the Vipers in the movie were also suspiciously homo-erotic in their over-compensation to appear the peak of heterosexual. The Army of Two guys went all the way on the dial from Hetero, to Manly, to Bad-ass, to Rambo and to finally just You're Really Just Trying to Hard Cos You're Actually George Michael Toilet Block Lover. <- Viper: Movie. Just the plain design bereft of camouflage. A little more sensible in the body armor department to. You can also get a button camera so people can watch you kill or be killed. Sweet. Reality tv to a new level.

<- Neo Viper: Some sweet badness wrapped in a fine camouflage design. <- Viper Arctic: Here he is with the urban camo design. I like their design a lot. Practical and largely makes sense except for the fact that awesome looking red visor would make a really good target. Definitely what not to wear if you ever get turned into a zombie.

UPDATE: So I'm writing the second issue of my six issue graphic novel called ORBIT for I'm also drawing a prelude mission which is the sixth story and I'm about 12 pages into that. It's easily the best work I've ever done. And Annette is coloring that. My uber-website is coming along and I should be able to make some announcements on that in the next few weeks when it goes live. This is not a personal website. It's a website that will change the way you interact with the web. Big talk, but you can decide whether I achieved my goal.

Next up HEROES 160: Trip. Written by Foz McDermott and art by myself and the amazing Annette Kwok.