Monday, January 31, 2011

The Big Head

A bit of unfinished business from last year: the cover art to R.E.B.E.L.S. #19. My final cover for the series.

I'd written up a lengthy blog post about it at the time, but in a spectacular techtard moment, deleted the whole thing irretrievably.

It was just too much.

I'm a fragile-spirited creative-type, I couldn't go back after that, and so it languished among my drafts. This tragic event also may or may not have contributed to the 6 month blogging hiatus. I'm not saying it did, but re-read the above carefully, and draw your own conclusions.

I'm dusting it off today though, as I've just gotten news that I'm among the 2011 Joe Shuster Award nominees. The Shusters are Canada's own comic creator awards, and I'm pretty chuffed to be recognized by them this year. More info about them and what they do here.

But wait, what has that got to do with...?
This cover is among the pieces I'm nominated for, and the only piece on their list not yet on the blog. Oh, and also? Getting the nom has given me one.

So, enough jibber-jab, this is my attempt to (sorta) re-create the post you would have read, if I didn't have fat Hungarian sausage-fingers. Ahem. This cover was different from all the others before (and since,) in that pencil never touched paper.

I did my rough digitally as per usual, but worked it a little further and blocked in some shadows.
And after an embarrassing photo-shoot in the studio bathroom, in the dark, lit only by the LED on my bike lock key, I had my reference ready to go. (Please see future Photo-ref Wednesday posts...)

And so I proceeded to skip the pencil stage entirely to lay in the blacks, straight onto the bristol (with a brush!)
And then proceed to lay in grey tones
In successive layers from dark to light
With Copic cool grey markers.
Maybe not as intricate as the original would have been, but there you have it kids!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Clement Sauve

Died last night.

He was 33 years old, two years younger than me.

I barely knew Clem, I only met him a handful of times. We sort of crossed paths career-wise at Devil's Due in the early 2000's. I took over from him first on Infantry covers, and then on Voltron for all of one issue before it was canceled.

I liked him, but I barely knew him, so it's not my place to get into some of the things other people are, but he was one of us.

This has been borne out by enough of my peers that even though I can only speak for myself with absolute authority, I'll say it anyway: Most of us who create as a way of life are driven by similar things. Our secret origins are often eerily similar, and tend to result in a lack of faith/interest/understanding in real-world trappings like wealth, family, and shiny things. We just want to make shit. And underneath that, perhaps born of simple fear, we share a desire to leave something behind, long after wealth, family and even we ourselves are gone.

Clem left a wealth of awesome behind.

Whether you knew Clem well, or never heard of him until this post, please take a moment today to learn a little more about him and look at all the beautiful things he made.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sit and Deliver

I thought I'd balance yesterday's case study in less-than-hoped-for results, with another Soldier Zero cover, this time the cover to #3, which is one I think came together well.

This one was a bit of an experiment, both in terms of layout, and use of graphic elements. Stuart, the man inside the alien suit, hadn't been seen on the covers yet, and I thought featuring him, a human character for humans to identify with, was important.  

Funny how there's a lot less to say about a piece I'm happy with...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Road is Long

The version I liked best, to see the version they went with and printed, keep reading.
Sometimes despite your best efforts, a piece doesn't quite come together how you planned, and this piece, the cover art to Soldier Zero #4, available last week in finer comics establishments is as good a case study of this unfortunate phenomenon as any.

I had high hopes for this cover and a pretty clear idea of what I wanted: Ominous up-shot of the alien, who we're still not sure is hero or menace, dark roiling clouds behind --a storm brewing (pretty clear subtext there,) as well as a visual touchstone (hydro poles) showing us that, despite the freaky sky, we're still here on Earth, in familiar territory.

There's a voice, that keeps on calling me...
In drawing the final, I added a roadway (it would have to be there to justify the poles,) but that combined with his abdominal twist kind of made him look like he was sauntering on down the road, whistling a jaunty tune.

...down the road, that's where I'll always be.

The publishers request to make the sky less druggy (I'm parahrasing) resulted in a red sky in almost the exact same shade as the red guy.

Also along the way I'd given the cover a flip (we do this sometimes) not thinking it through fully in this case, and thus ensured the sunset would be obscured by the logo.

In digging up this image, I see they darkened the cover a fair bit on the production end, which, I think helps some (thanks guys!)

What do y'all think?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's Raining Men

So my buddy Wheeler is starting a new themed sketchbook.

A themed sketchbook, for those of you who don't eat, sleep, and shit comics, is a book fans (and occasionally non-drawing professionals) will use to collect sketches and commissions by artists, all adhering to a single theme. Such as Green Lanterns, or jungle girls, or monsters, or occasionally, a more rarified choice, like the Royal Tanenbaums, or in the case of Wheeler's sketchbook: Gender bent superheroes, specifically, female to male.

The whole thing kind of arose out of a conversation we had about the way I'd approached gender bending the JLA in a Superwoman/Batwoman one-shot I did a few years back. Redesigning a male superhero costume for a female is so elementary, you  barely stay awake while doing it. But going the other way, from female to male presents some interesting challenges, since so many female heroes' costumes are designed to accentuate and emphasize their (female) sexuality.

They wouldn't let my male Black Canary wear the short shorts I'd given him. They made me give him long pants, and I'd even done away with the fishnets to show what a good sport I was... They did let me have my stalky, hirsute, bearded Wonder (Wo)Man though.

I had the honor of inaugurating the book with Man-Storm, maybe the only female to male gender bent character with less clothing than his female counterpart.

A bit of context for the less-than-obsessed.
More Wheeler fun here and here.

And Along came a Gambit

X-23 #5 comes out next week, and that made me realise I haven't breathed a word about the fact that I'm the new regular cover artist on the book.

I couldn't be happier with this gig for a ton of reasons. Most notably though, because it puts me squarely in my favorite corner of the Marvel U:  Mutant Land, and because it reunites me with my NYX partner-in-crime Marjorie Liu.  And speaking of NYX, there's a nifty kind of NYX synergy here dontcha think?

Oh yeah, also? I get to draw Gambit.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Out of the Void

Surprise surprise, he's back.

I know what you're all thinking: All the neglected blogs get a brief flurry of activity in early January. This is only because New Years forces everyone to confront the aspects of their lives they could have tried a little harder on.  There's never any lasting change.

Don't worry. No promises here. I'm not turning over a new leaf. I'm not a different guy. Drawing things will always be my first priority. Posting things... well, that's a different number on the list.

But I do have this piece of cover art to show you from Soldier Zero #6.

Maybe in a few days I'll show you another one.