Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Absolute zombies!

I'd had an inkling to do a zombie western for a while and after a wild night of geek chatting at one of the Belfast comics creators meetings, Andrew Croskery went home and wrote the script for 'Welcome to Absolution'

I pencilled the four page comic and we somehow managed to convince Andy Brown (Publisher of Beserker comics and Slaughterman's Creed inker) to greyscale-paint over my pencils and David Withers lettered it up.

We're showcasing the whole story as part of the 'Tales of the Undead' collection on (the Northern Irish creative showcase) and its just gone live, so click here to read the whole strip. It should also see print in a soon-to-be-name print anthology that will be available at BICS this year.

Here's a little breakdown of how the process for this one went:

Andrew's Script:

The original idea was to draw this as a 19 panel tabloid sized spread for the Gaurdian comic strip competition last year, but we hadn't realised the deadline was a few days later, so Andrew's script was originally written as such.

Welcome to Absolution

"Panel 1: Wide panel, establishing shot. Preacher Joe is riding on a mangy horse on a small dirt road. It is night time, with a big hammer horror moon. He is riding towards a small, western town. There are still a few lights on in the town, particularly the inn.

We don’t see the preacher at all clearly but something is in his demeanour that suggests despair, guilt, dismay.

The horse he is riding is a bag of bones, making its way towards the town through sheer force of will – step after determined step.

In front of a town is one of those old ‘Welcome’ town signs. It says: ‘Welcome to Absolution. Population 300.’ Except the 300 has been ‘x’ed out with what looks o be blood and replaced with a smaller number. Maybe need to do some research on the size of towns in those days.

Panel 2: Preacher Joe has ties his horse to the outside of the inn. He is leaning against the open door frame, staring in. Again, we can’t see him clearly in the darkness, but he seems hesitant to enter the establishment. We can see the dog sitting chewing on something in the background.

Panel 3: Preacher is now in the inn. He has stopped at a desk. There is a ledger on it, with a few names written on it. The writing of the last name tails off and the pen marks slides down the page like the person who was writing it had slumped to the ground while he was writing his name.

There are a bunch of bunches of keys scattered on the desk with key fobs and numbers attached to them. The preacher has picked one up.

Panel 4: In the dimly lit room, the preacher makes his way across, pushing his way past tables, brandishing an oil lantern.

Voice from behind him: “Been a while since we had new blood around here, sugar.”

Panel 5: Preacher spins around towards the voice, brandishing his lantern in its general direction. We can see a dim figure of Jezebel, sitting with her legs crossed, drinking from a bottle of scotch.

Preacher: “Who’s there?”

Voice: “And a preacher no less. Why don’t you scooch on over, honey? I sure do got some sins that need forgivin’.”

Panel 6: The preacher steps towards the woman.

Preacher: “I think not, woman, but maybe we can pray for your torment-”

Preacher: “Gasp!”"

Loose pencils by myself:

For traditional comic format, I broke the spread down to four pages. I chose the first 6 panels to show on page 1 so we ended on a bit of page-turner. Andy and I were figuring out how to collaborate on the art so I sent him the layouts/scribbly pencils below as a work in progress.

A tighter version of the pencils:

Andy said he'd like all the structure to be there, but I should tighten as much as I wanted and he'd do the  painted finishes.

Annotated layer:

I sent the above image to Andy via email and since I wasn't doing the finishes myself, I added a Tiff layer of annotations for some of the points that weren't quite clear in the pencils. You can click below to see what I wrote, but beware that it spoils a lot of the plot and twists in the story. So go read the full strip first if you haven't already.

Paints by Andy:

Andy sent me back the brilliant pages, which were even more detailed and atmospheric than I'd imagined.

Lettered by David:

Some very cool lettering added by David that really adds to the atmosphere.

Great, fun collaboration that created art a lot different from any other project.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Potter's Wheel

A took on a few non-comics commissions a little while ago, one of which was to listen to the song 'Potters Wheel' by  John Denvor and to do one big illustration. Apart from that, I had no other direction. I could come up with any image, any style, any media; whatever they song influenced me to draw. 

Here is the piece I came up with:

This was too big to scan in one go; somewhere between a3 and a2 size, so in the process the top right looks a little blurry. 

Drawn initially with pencil, then with a pot Winsor & Newton black indian ink and a brush, a kuretake waterbrush filled with an ink solution and a set of Faber Castell 'Shades of grey' pens

Some work in progress:

Reference photo: 

Some pencils:

Inks before wash:

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Spandex Seven

My editor over at Titan, Martin Eden, writes, draws and publishes his own comic Spandex. To promote the release of #2, he gathered together an impressive months-worth of artists to portray the Spandex characters in a Japanese influenced daily showcase. 

He asked me to take part a few months ago and I created a little homage to this Seven Samurai movie poster.  Here's a quick look at the process/layers. 
The main figure of Liberty in the foreground. Drawn with black indian ink and a brush (first time I'd inked in months) for the linework, with a grey then yellow overlay using these Winsor & Newton coloured Inks.

I had drawn some of the other characters in the above picture, but tried inking them with pen and didn't like it. These are the redraws on a separate sheet, again using the W & N Black Indian Ink with a solution of the same ink inside a refillable brush pen. 

The final image composed together, text added, and the colours adjusted. 

A few other artist friends had seen the above piece, really liked the galley concept and decided to get in on the event so check out Andrew Croskery's, David Withers, Jay Faulkner's pieces. Local artist Bridgeen Gillespie also has a piece on show and you can view the whole gallery here

Speaking of local artists, after our last monthly comic creators meetup at the Garrick last Thursday, Paddy Brown has set up a blog over at Add it to your blog list to keep up with the Belfast comics scene.