Monday, May 26, 2008


A while back (but what is the passage among time among friends except for a greater opportunity to let stories grow for the telling?), I was approached by Jenny Clark who was working on a historical romance. She needed an illustration of her characters to help them become more real to her in the final leg of her book. I suggested that it would also be a good idea to have a piece that would work as a cover to her novel.

I also found the idea of doing the cover to a romance novel of the highest level of intrigue akin to wondering whether Bond wears briefs, boxers or those modern little Calvin Klein shorts.

I think Jenny sums up her own book the best:

When a meteoritic crystal opens a wormhole on the grounds of ruined Kilchurn Castle in the Scottish Highlands, trapping American physicist Elizabeth Martin over 300 years in the past, her cheating ex-fiancĂ© becomes the least of her worries. Pursued by the politically avaricious Earl of Breadalbane, who wants to use her "Sight" to further his consolidation of power, her only choice is to take refuge with an outlaw clan—a temporary measure until she can find a way to return to her own time.

That's the plan, at least, until she finds in Alec MacGregor, her handsome protector, a love worth giving up everything she's ever known.

But it is the late seventeenth century, and while Scotland is torn by the power struggles between supporters of the exiled King James and the English who would seek to rule them, she and Alec are swept into the intrigues of Earls and Kings, and events that could take their lives…or separate them forever.

While it's a historical romance novel, Jenny was quick to point out that she didn't want some "bodice-ripping" cover art. I was both amused and glad. Then Jenny sent me her brief. What it lacked in "brief"-ness, it made up for in thoroughness. I was overjoyed that she'd already done my research for me. Kilburn castle, highlander kilts, swords, guns, hair, clothing. Virtual casting of both Alec and Elspeth. I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate this. It was great to meet someone else who was so thorough with every little detail. It also saved me a heck or a lot of time and trial and error.

In fact, Jenny was really proactive the entire process, which really sped things along. She did everything from copying and pasting corrections to drawing all over the thumbnails I sent her.

I love this piece at the linework stage. It's just a really nice balance between her simplicity and his detail. I think it just hits the eye really nicely.

When the tones kick in, I'm especially happy with several things. I love the texture of her jeans and the fill light thats coming from the right.

The colouring really opened up what was quite a muddy, dark toned piece. I realised that I find ambient soft lighting really tough to deal with. I laboured on getting the right palette for this for hours. I like powerful, dramatic lighting. I also find that the more things you give me to colour, the more I struggle. I think Storm and Batman turned out so well because they had such few colours in them.

But I'm trying to pull away from this with the upcoming three part HEROES gig. I want a softer colouring that's more in harmony with the linework. It was commented recently that my colouring can tend to overpower my linework. And given that everyone seems to agree that my linework is my strength, it's something I definitely want to look in to.


Last Tuesday I went down to chat to HuwJ's comic book Masterclass at the Movieum. They were a great bunch of guys with a lot of talent and most importantly, passion. HuwJ is doing a great job of nurturing the extraordinarily wide range of talent. We're talking everything from anthropomorphic beans to Top Cow. It appears I spoke for 2.5 hours. I warned the dudes to interrupt me whenever they wanted, as I'm the sort of dude who will not only talk until the cows come home, but I will talk to the cows too.

I had a great time, and they really fired me up. If any London based comic book artists are interested in a comic book course, I do recommend what HuwJ is doing down there. Shoot me an email and I will put you in touch with him.

As I left, HuwJ and his business partner, Russell gave me a limited edition Brian Bolland print of Judge Dredd. I was totally taken aback. Then they invited me to come down to the London Expo this weekend. But then I remembered that I really wanted to go to the Alan Moore signing that was on at the same time at Orbital Comics. I mean, Alan Moore rarely leaves Northhampton let alone journeys to London. And he never heads overseas. Well, thanks to HuwJ I was able to do both. He also mentioned that I was in town to the Orbital guys and they were keen to have me down for a signing. Their marketing manager, Emily found me in the queue for Alan Moore and was shocked that I was waiting with everyone else. I assured her it was fine. I met Dez, the director of the biographical film on Alan that they were promoting. On his business card it mentioned he was not only a film maker but also a martial arts choreographer. Needless to say, we had a divergent, but very interesting chat.

But Alan Moore! What a lovely gentleman. I had a brief chat to him, and regretted not being able to really pick his brain about the language of comics and storytelling. If there's anyone who could help me find solutions to the questions and queries that I have about comics, it would be him.

But he definitely Knew The Score.

I did have a great chat after with Emily, the marketing manager for Orbital and her friend Ami. So far, we've figured out that we want to do things on Saturday the 7th. I will let you all in on more details as they become apparent. It will be just in time for the first part of my HEROES trilogy to go online.

London HEROES fans, be ready!

I then journeyed across London to the ExceL center, where the London Expo was going on. I bumped into 30 Days of Night creator Steve Niles; his partner and illustrator, Sarah Wilkinson; writer extraordinaire, Tony Lee; one of my favourite artists, Frazer Irving; Writers Al and Keiron (who's surnames I've forgotten, but guys, email me and I will add your links!). A real treat for me, was bumping into fellow Aussie and Killeroo contributor Andie Tong! It was great to finally meet him and we had a great time catching up.

So I'm on my way out and this dude is standing behind this kinda chain link barricade. He wouldn't let this guy get past to get his girlfriend. Anyway, I kept him busy and distracted while the dude nipped past.

As you can see, I don't let size intimidate me. I've seen bigger Hulks in my time.


Jenny said...

WOOT! I can't say enough what a pleasure it was working with you and how AWESOME it is to see my characters brought to life. Thanks SO much. You rock!!!

Deniz Bevan said...

Hi - fan of Jenny's here :-) What a great job, this is *exactly* how I pictured the characters! I think I'll have to ask you to do some art for my own Young Adult novel soon. Have you got any cat drawings? :-))

NBB said...

Hi Jason,

you did a marvelous on Alec and Elspeth! What a fabulous way to bring the characters to life

Anonymous said...

Dude, I am officially insanely jealous of your good fortune in life. ;)

*Looks at her keyboard with the E and N completely worn off... the M and L on the way out too... and keeps writing...*

Anonymous said...

that Bana hulk sculpture from a previous blog post was WAY bigger than this one. That said, I think this Norton Hulk is much more like the comics

- dc

leper messiah said...

You always looked at me with more love in your eyes than that... and I look much worse than that Hulk.

Doc_Bo said...

Alan Moore, Stan Lee quote ...could life be any better! ... so excited and happy for you =) more on Stan Lee, please ......ron

Anonymous said...

Quote: "the more I struggle" - I'd like to believe that, but, uh, I don't! Once again, this is such a beautiful piece. I think the linework is really strong - thankyou so much for letting us in on the process. I hope you can continue doing so as you move onwards and upwards, we all find it really insightful and appreciate the time you spend with your fans, so to speak. Though if you get pressed for time, your idea about podcasts is great!

Noooooo! The London Expo was last weekend?!! I thought it was this weekend, I was supposed to go to that!! So good to hear about what you got up to, it's great that you are meeting so many people, and so many of your own colleagues and influences. Tell us more about Orbital - and what was that about Stan Lee?! - Noo