Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
You can almost hear the title’s famous theme playing in the background when you check out this recent commission by Chris Weston for the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood classic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
The muted colors lend themselves perfectly to Weston’s approach to the piece, which features not only Eastwood but also co-stars Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach. Check out Weston’s blog to see his creative process for bringing it to life.
I still don’t know if this is a real thing, or if he’s gone completely unilateral on this, but I didn’t have a problem when Chris Weston recently declared it was “Kurt Russell Week.” In fact, I have Elvis playing on a loop constantly on the TV in my Winnebago. Yeah, that would be the same trailer with the Death Proof skull and lightning bolts stenciled on the side.
Weston seems similarly enamored with America’s Greatest Living Libertarian©, having designed a triptych of posters paying tribute to three of Russell’s iconic roles (“They’re a private commission for a collective of film poster fans,” he adds). Weston describes these pieces as “roughs,” a term which usually causes paroxysmic laughter among his peers. Or weeping.
Welsh writer Rob Williams must have been hit with the lucky stick as a child. His first published comic (Com.x’s Cla$$war) featured art by the great Trevor Hairsine. When Hairsine was poached by Marvel halfway through the series, his replacement was Travel Foreman. Since then, Williams has been consistently teamed with some of the best stylists around on many of his projects: In the U.K. he’s worked with the likes of D’Israeli, Edmund Bagwell and Brendan McCarthy.
It also seems that whenever 2000AD secures the services of a big U.S. artist to draw a Judge Dredd strip, such as Guy Davis, Williams is always the attached writer. On projects for U.S. publishers, he’s been paired with artists of the caliber of Cary Nord, Cully Hamner, Phil Bond, Greg Tocchini and Simone Bianchi. I’m really just skimming the surface here; there are plenty of other great artists he’s worked with in the last couple of years I’m sure I’m forgetting.
Chris Weston doesn’t blog that often — the perils of working more and more in a business where your projects are accompanied by non-disclosure agreements — but he recently posted a big update featuring art he’s created for his own amusement, some commissions and convention sketches, and some recent 2000AD covers finally seen without intrusive trade dress.
He also updates us on the fate of the “Carry On X-Men” poster we featured in December, stating that he was going to produce a silkscreen print but changed his mind in the post-Friedrich litigation landscape. Weston responded to a question about this image on Facebook this week: “I have asked Marvel three times for permission and offered to pay for a license to do a limited-edition print, but they haven’t bothered replying to me.”
The Nosferatu piece is a good example of the insanely complicated rendering Weston can bury in the background of an image, unnoticed at first glance. Hundreds of rats, thousands of bricks, each one hand drawn. And that’s before we even get to the ornate etching on the ship or the likeness of Max Schreck. Really, I’m dumbstruck by this.
Adding another string to his bow, comic artist/storyboarder/production designer/album cover illustrator/rapper Chris Weston has decided to branch out as a caricaturist.
He’s posted these over the past couple of days via his Twitter feed and Facebook page: the Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan cartoon (below) shows something of a classic MAD magazine influence (the Wilson being particularly Jack Davis-y); his second, “A Feast of Lecters” (above), shows an artist quickly getting the hang of this cartooning lark, displaying that unctuous slickness we expect from Weston’s linework.
The London Super Con happened over the weekend, complete with a sizable roll call of legends attending (including Neal Adams, George Perez, Bill Sienkiewicz and Brian Bolland). These days, it wouldn’t be a U.K. comic convention without a fresh batch of photographs turning up in the Twitter stream of 2000AD super-fan John Burdis and friends dragged up as Mega City One judges, administering some on-the-spot justice to his fellow convention goers. This time, there were some familiar faces to be spotted amongst his willing victims: There are literally hundreds of shots like these on Burdis’s Facebook gallery. Also seen at Facebook: a very jolly-looking Batman sharing a joke with Judge Court.
When comic artists work in the movie industry, we see little of what they produce due to Hollywood’s love of the the non-disclosure agreement. It’s understandable: Even if a movie is stuck in development hell, that doesn’t mean the project won’t eventually begin production (Brendan McCarthy originally worked on Mad Max: Fury Road from 1998 to 2003, and that movie is only now filming). It speaks volumes of the relationship between Chris Weston and director Albert Hughes that so much of Weston’s development art is allowed out into the wild — remember his storyboards for Akira?
I remember that a year or two ago, Chris Weston playing a little game with his Twitter followers: casting an imaginary Carry On X-Men film. If memory serves, I may even have contributed to it myself; I think I might have been the first to suggest Bernard Bresslaw as Colossus. And that was the end of that, we thought — until he updated his blog with this image.
Surely he’s not been working on this all that time? Weston is something of a movie poster nut, regularly uploading fine examples from his collection, and I’m also enough of an illustration nerd to realize he’s copping the style used by the great Renato Fratini on several U.K. Carry On movie posters.
This year’s CBLDF Liberty Annual from Image (#5) has this lovely cover from Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson. I’m always a sucker for an image of a girl on a scooter (see also: Adi Granov’s redonkulously-proportioned effort from 2009). Or on a cafe racer. As Ringo once put it, “I’m not a mod or a rocker, I’m a mocker.” Lots more below, from Simon Gane, Becky Cloonan, Chris Weston, Ron Wimberly and others.
The timing really couldn’t be better: 2000AD reaches its 1,800th issue the week after the U.K. release of the latest movie adaptation of its lynchpin, Judge Dredd. Even the most die-hard 2000AD fan would have found it hard to summon the bravado to predict just how successful the film would prove in its first weekend. A great time, then, for a relaunch issue of the revered anthology comic, with a headline-grabbing Simon Bisley cover, and a standalone Dredd story both written and drawn by the great Chris Weston.
With the first Dredd movie adaptation, 1995’s Sylvester Stallone star vehicle, previously very much a sore subject for fans of the character, maybe now is a time to put lay old ghosts to rest. To forgive and forget. To put old grudges behind. Or maybe sod that — now is the time for some arch-triumphalism at the expense of that terrible old flick, and run a strip called “The Death of Dan-E Cannon,” a title seemingly designed to troll the director of the box-office flop that nearly brought the comic to its knees in the mid-’90s?
We spoke to Chris Weston about his abiding love for 2000AD, his feelings about comic-to-film adaptations in general, and whether dissing one of the U.S.’s top TV producers so publicly could prove to be a bad career move. You’ll never work in this town again!
This week, 2000AD launched its new iOS reader, adding the U.K.’s iconic anthology to Apple’s lucrative Newsstand application. 2000AD artist Paul “PJ” Holden is a longstanding commentator on the digital distribution of comics, frequently blogging and podcasting about the subject, since long before the launch of the game-changing iPad device. ROBOT 6 asked Holden to review the app, and he quickly obliged.
PJ Holden: First, let me get this out of the way, I’m a 2000AD artist, who’s worked for “The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic” (as it is sometimes known) for something over a decade. In fact, I’m currently the artist on “Judge Dredd” (at least for the next two weeks). So, in some respects, I have a horse in this race. Rebellion, the parent company of 2000AD, has had a curious relationship to digital comics. They bought the digital comics company Clickwheel a number of years ago, far in advance of the real blossoming of digital comics with the advent of the iPad (and whatever you feel the merits of Apple vs Android, the iPad was what really opened the doors to the tablet becoming a mass-medium digital comic reading device) and have been selling PDF/CBZ formats of 2000AD ever since. Since then they’ve also opened a digital comic shop on the 2000AD website itself, again selling DRM free versions of 2000AD (in both PDF and CBZ formats). But now, at last, they’ve joined the surprisingly small ranks of publishers who’ve put out on iOS comic reader, and, as a publisher which also happens to be a video game developer, the only thing that’s really a wonder is how long it’s taken.
Creators | Following the appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor and the cameo by Thanos in The Avengers, Marvel appears poised to expand the cosmic elements of its cinematic universe with The Guardians of the Galaxy. While some fans eagerly await a movie announcement next week at Comic-Con International, Thanos creator Jim Starlin (who had to buy his own tickets to Thor and The Avengers) may be laying the groundwork for a legal challenge: Heidi MacDonald points out that Starlin has posted an early drawing of the Mad Titan on his Facebook page, writing, “This is probably one of the first concept drawings of Thanos I ever did, long before I started working at Marvel. Jack Kirby’s Metron is clearly the more dominant influence in this character’s look. Not Darkseid. Both D and T started off much smaller than they eventually became. This was one of the drawings I had in my portfolio when I was hired by Marvel. It was later inked by Rich Buckler.” [The Beat]
Comics | Tim Marchman, author of that much-discussed Wall Street Journal article, is at it again, this time interviewing Watchmen editor Len Wein about his work on Before Watchmen, and including the interventions of DC Comics Publicity Manager Pamela Mullin as part of the story. Between the embargo on the comic and Mullin doing her job, it sounds like the most interesting parts of the interview never made it into the final product. [The Daily Beast]
After a storied career drawing comics on both sides of the Atlantic, Chris Weston found one of the coolest gigs for any comic artists: creating storyboards. And after a long working relationship with filmmaker Albert Hughes on The Book of Eli and an aborted Akira adaptation, Weston re-teamed with the director for a different kind of project: an ad for the German liqueur Jagermeister.
Titled “A Seat At The Table,” the live-action spot was storyboarded by Weston based on Hughes’ ideas. The director then used Weston’s drawings to do a strict reproduction, down to a statue of arctic explorers. You can see the completed commercial is below, and check out Weston’s storyboards on his blog.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d skip lunch and dig in to the overdue Choker #6 (Image, $3.99). I almost considered waiting for the trade on this one, but I know once I see the shiny object in front of me in stores I’ll want to find out the ending to Ben McCool and Ben Templesmith’s story. After that I’d get Uncanny X-Force #23 (Marvel, $3.99), which still holds the crown for my favorite current Marvel book. I was hesitant of Remender & co. going off into Otherworld despite my fascination with the realm going back to my Excalibur days, but I’m being rewarded with good story for my allegiance. The only thing it’s missing is an appendix reminding me of older stories that he references here. Last up would be a two-fer with Spaceman #5 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and Walking Dead #95 (Image, $2.99). I’ve talked about both at length here, and they continue to buffet me with greatness.
If I had $30, I’d first snag Daredevil #10 (Marvel, $2.99) to see more of Paolo Rivera’s work over the solid storytelling by Mark Waid. Then, I’d rub my eyes to make sure I’m not seeing things and pick-up the 5+ year delayed book Sharknife, Vol. 2 (Oni, $11.99). I’ve been a big fan of Corey’s work back when he was doing inspired Mega Man rip-offs, and the chance that I’ll finally see this sequel is exciting and heartbreaking. I hope the quality of the book inside is enough to stave off my feelings about the severe delay the book had.
And for splurging, I’d spend my CBR paycheck on Gone To Amerikay (DC/Vertigo, $24.99). This book is at the intersection of three reasons I’d buy it: Colleen Doran, Derek McCulloch and historical Irish narratives. I’d hold McCulloch’s Stagger Lee up to any graphic novel of the past decade in terms of skill and potency, so to see him pair that with Colleen Doran’s crafty linework bears my immediate attention.
It’s taken just over five years to get there, but Marvel’s The Twelve is finally nearing its conclusion. And no one could be more excited than artist Chris Weston. When Weston was approached in 2007 to draw J. Michael Straczynski’s story of a group of WW2 heroes lost in time until the modern day, it was a unique chance for the celebrated UK artist to create a time-spanning work on what would be the biggest stage in the industry. But between Straczynski and Weston’s commitments outside of comics, the production went through numerous stops and starts, which led to the 12-issue series taking nearly four years to complete. But with Weston finishing the art on the book last September, he celebrated the end of one chapter of his life and the beginning of a new one.
In the build-up to working on The Twelve, Weston expanded his horizons and began doing storyboards and concept designs for the movie The Book Of Eli. Over the course of The Twelve, and thanks in part to the delays the book had, Weston did extensive work on The Book of Eli as well as director Albert Hughes’ aborted remake of Akira. Currently working on Hughes’ next feature, Motor City, Weston plans to use the money he makes to fund his most ambitious project yet: writing and drawing his own comic series. Weston has done creator-owned work in the past with other writers and has also written smaller works on their own, but this new pursuit, both writing and drawing the material, could be one of the most risky and potentially most rewarding jobs of his career. 2012 will be a formidable time for the artist as he prepares for what comes next.
Chris Arrant: First off, can you tell us what you’re working on today?
Chris Weston: I am “between jobs” at the moment. I’m reluctant to take on anything substantial as I’m getting ready to work on Albert Hughes’ next movie, Motor City. I really want to avoid another situation where my film work coincides with my comic-book work. Unfortunately, that has meant turning down some pretty cool comic-book jobs. I’m not going to name them as it would be unfair to the artists who eventually accepted them. However, I’m keeping myself occupied by doing a few covers for 2000AD, some personal drawings, research and private commissions.