Reading a great comic is like enjoying a great meal, but at the end of both sometimes you want to know more about how it was made to get a larger sense of just how good it was. One of the things I like is seeing production work and behind-the-scenes notes on great comics. From the excellent Watching The Watchmen book by Dave Gibbons to collections with backmatter, they give you a larger appreciation of the work.
Later on this month, Image is set to publish a collection of the recently released Undying Love miniseries by Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman. When CBR’s TJ Dietsch spoke with the duo earlier this year, Coker described it as a romance “filled with action and monsters,” like some modern-day pulp story soaked in blood and vampires. With this collection on its way, Coker and Freedman shared with Robot 6 some of the preliminary art and sketches that helped the series get off the ground.
IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall has posted some interesting bits from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 at his blog, including the variant covers, a link to a preview, and side-by-side comparisons of Kevin Eastman’s storyboards and Dan Duncan’s finished art (colored by Ronda Pattison). It’s interesting to see how much the layout changes from draft to finished product, and also how dynamic Eastman’s drawings are — the figures are rough, but there’s a lot of energy to them, and they could almost stand on their own.
Regular visitors of Skottie Young’s blog have had a treat lately. Young has announced that’s he’s working on his own graphic novel (in addition to his other, current commitments) and he’s updating his progress in a series of extremely honest, self-reflective posts. There are a couple of things that make this different from other production blogs, a big one being that Young is already a beloved artist with a strong career and plenty of fans who follow it. Most production blogs – and I don’t mean anything negative by this, I promise – are publicity tools as much as anything else. Not that Young’s necessarily above wanting publicity, but the tone of his posts aren’t hyperbolic promotion. They’re educational, as much for Young as for any of his readers. Probably more so.
In his first post, he talked about motivation: Why he wants to create his own graphic novel and why he’s failed in previous attempts. The second post – the one that really got my attention – was more process-related. He wrote about his experience at Trickster in San Diego this year and how it gave him an idea for his next attempt. It’s not just a process-post though, it’s a beautifully told story with a twist ending that made my heart skip a beat when I finished it. He left Trickster with an idea for a cute, very Skottie Young-esque story about an apocalyptic rabbit. I would have bought it for the art and the hopes of some chuckles, but after playing with it for a while Young found the story turning into something else – something deeper – that I can’t wait to read now.
His most recent post is about the writing process: a topic I find especially fascinating when discussed by people who are drawing their own material. Is it best to write a full script first? Just make it up as you go along? Or something in between? Young doesn’t suggest that there’s a one-size-fits-all answer for everyone, but the way he applies the question to himself – and particularly to his previous failures – is heart-warming and enlightening.
“I did extensive research into historical documents for the styles,” he said on his blog. “In order to make that work, I used different typographies each issue, emulating different typefaces in real work; so I needed a uniform tone, technique and color in the finished art to identify all the covers as a whole collection.”
The five-issue miniseries by writer Greg Pak and artist Mirko Colak kicks off in July.
Many who have been following this blog know I’m a fan of both Image’s Skullkickers and Oni’s The Sixth Gun. So when I saw that the two creator-owned books were having a mini-crossover of sorts — or, to be more specific, an ad swap — I thought it might be fun to see if Skullkickers writer Jim “Zub” Zubkavich and The Sixth Gun‘ writer Cullen Bunn might be up for interviewing each other.
So the duo hit Skype and had a long conversation that covered many different topics — how they pitched their books, their writing process, how they work with their artists, finding time to write and much more. My thanks to both Cullen and Jim for doing this, with an extra tip of the hat to Jim for transcribing it. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second part of the interview.
Zub: So, let’s start right off with the big news. Did I hear correctly that you’re now writing full time? You quit your day job?
Cullen: I did. This is my third week as a full-time writer.
Zub: Awesome. What were you doing before that?
Writer and reviewer Justin Giampaoli, who previously posted the 10-part “Brian Wood Project” on his 13 Minutes blog, has launched Live from the DMZ, a website dedicated to the Vertigo series by Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. Giampaoli promises “a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the series, never-before-seen images, and full length interviews on each of the 12 volumes of the series, posting in regular installments for the remainder of the year.”
He kicks off with an introductory Q&A with Wood, who discusses the genesis of DMZ, his collaboration with Burchielli, and response to the series. “One reaction I thought we would get more of and barely got any was from people accusing me of being anti-American or something like that,” the writer says. “I thought for sure someone from the other end of the political spectrum would have some comments for me, but … nothing. Not sure if I’m happy about that or disappointed, to be honest.”
In his latest post at The Comics Journal, Frank Santoro engages in a little bit of compositional analysis, explaining how an artist determines where the eye will fall, and what are the static and dynamic areas of the page, using a page from a Tintin comic, King Otokar’s Sceptre, to demonstrate the ideas in action. In this case, the components of the drawn comic line up so neatly with Santoro’s diagram that it’s hard to believe Herge wasn’t doing it deliberately.
I’m usually suspicious of after-the-fact dissections, because it’s easy to look at a completed work and see things the artist may not have put in deliberately. But Santoro says that Herge was probably aware of the technique, but that for some artists it just comes naturally, like playing music by ear. And just as the artist may use it unconsciously, the reader probably isn’t aware of it, observing only that some pages are more attractive or compelling than others. It’s useful to be reminded that such swift impressions are often born of painstaking planning. Sometimes you have to work hard to make it look easy.
When the editors of the Graphic NYC blog asked Incredible Change-Bots creator Jeffrey Brown to discuss his influences, they had an essay in mind, but after working on the idea for some time, Brown came back with something different: A comic.
In the charming I’m Really Good at Playing, Brown uses his interactions with his son Oscar to make some points about creating comics, some obvious—his comics are inspired by childhood love of both comics and action figures, in which good and evil were clearly demarcated and good always triumphed at the last minute—and some subtle, like the way his wife can’t impersonate a shark as well as he can. As an extra bonus, he provided a diagram of his initial thoughts and how he turned them into panels of the comic, and he goes through all the steps at his blog.
Over at ComicsAlliance, Laura Hudson has a real treat for those of you who like your superhero comics with an alternative twist: 50-plus pages of sketches, thumbnails, pencils, inks, color studies and more from the Strange Tales II hardcover, which debuted this week. Click on over and get a glimpse at the creative process behind contributions from Kate Beaton, Jeffrey Brown, Ivan Brunetti, Farel Dalrymple, Rafael Grampa, Dean Haspiel, Jaime Hernandez, Paul Hornschemeier, Benjamin Marra, Edu Medeiros, Harvey Pekar, Frank Santoro, and Paul Vella. That’s hella Strange!
Although he’s constantly at work, every new bit of Paul Pope art that’s released is like catnip for a certain section of comic fans — including me.
So it comes with particular delight to not only receive news that the artist is doing a new fine art print for CBLDF, but that he did a process video showing how it was made as well as talking about why he’s doing it for CBLDF. Here’s the video:
Artist J.H. Williams III shares what I believe is a variant cover for the upcoming Static Shock Special DC is putting out as a homage to Dwayne McDuffie. At least, the solicitation for the title lists Derec Donovan as the cover artist.
At any rate, it’s a wonderful piece of art that Williams says was inspired by funk music.
“I wanted to try some different things in attitude,” Williams wrote on his blog. “The Milestone characters always had this unusual quality to them, which I think made them pretty cool. And some of them seemed to have this Funk aspect to them. Now when I say Funk, I’m referring to Funk Music. So I decided to see if I could bring that more forward in attitude for this cover. The result is pretty effective. It still has this iconic quality that the genre should have, but now it feels like Funk meets Superheroes to me. Resulting in something different than what I usually do.”
You can see the steps in his creative process, from rough sketch to the final version, over on his blog. The comic comes out in June.
Writer Warren Ellis and artist Michael Avon Oeming are teaming on a new project called Half Moon, and Ellis is using his blog to show their progress as it moves from the idea stage to reality.
“We’re working in realtime on this one. We agreed on the general concepts just a couple of hours ago, and will spend the next few days in development on it, to see what we’ve actually got,” Ellis said on his blog on Monday. “So I thought, and Mike agreed, it might be interesting to open the process out and let you see a bit of the sausage-making. As it were.”
Ellis said the project sprang from an email from Oeming that simply said, “Warren, I’ve been wanting to work with you for a long time.”
“And then a flurry of responses – because I’m not stupid, I wanted to get moving before he sobered up or the drugs wore off or whatever the hell had happened to him to make him email me,” Ellis said.
A second post shared the above concept art. Keep an eye on his blog for further updates.
Wow, he’s really, really fast.
Courtesy of the Comic Archive, artist Paolo Rivera shows how he created the cover to the upcoming Daredevil relaunch. As announced this past weekend, Rivera and Marcos Martin are teaming up with writer Mark Waid to chronicle the adventures of Matt Murdock and his alter ego.
Spawn creator Todd McFarlane channels his inner Bob Ross and shows you how to draw a face. This is a third in a series of videos he’s posted; he’s also covered how to draw eyes and how to start a comic page. You can find them all on the McFarlane Companies YouTube page.