Category: Misc Comics

Creating a Cover: Young Justice #24

It’s time for another installment of my Creating a Cover series. As usual, this cover was being designed before I had seen the script for the issue in question, let alone had drawn it, so a suggestion from series writer Greg Weisman was key in figuring out a cover concept. Greg suggested Batgirl being grabbed by the throat by an arm belonging to the yet-to-be-revealed Match in his mutated “Bizarro” form. Behind them, would be Plastic Man, helpless to intervene behind the force-field barrier cutting off central Metropolis from the outside world.

Cover Sketch a

Cover Sketch a

Cover Sketch b

Cover Sketch b


We had wanted to hide Match’s identity/appearance on this cover, because while he was revealed in the previous issue, this cover would be made public as part of the solicitation for the issue before that had happened, so a shot from Match’s point of view seemed the most effective. My next priority was to get Plastic Man and Batgirl as large in the frame as possible, as we were more concerned with the characters and their expressions than the setting. The first sketch was well received, but Greg wanted Batgirl to look more aggressive and less victimized, so a second sketch with an angrier expression and a Batarang clutched in her hand as a weapon was added. I had to shrink the Batgirl figure down a bit to have room for her hand with the Batarang in the frame. I tweaked a few other things while I was redrawing, such as the pattern of lighting and shadows on Batgirl’s mask, and I realized that I hadn’t had Batgirl’s hair visible in the first version, so I rectified that as well.

Young Justice #24 cover pencils

Young Justice #24 cover pencils

Young Justice #24 cover inks

Young Justice #24 cover inks


The layout drawing was tight enough that progressing to pencils and then inks was pretty simple. It’s always nice when penciling to know you’ll be inking your own work. While my pencils are still pretty tight, I don’t have to much thought to line weight or texture at this stage, since I’ll be making those choices myself rather than having to indicated it for another artist in the pencils.

Young Justice #24 cover colors

Young Justice #24 cover colors

Young Justice #24 final cover

Young Justice #24 final cover


On the left is the first draft of color by Zac Atkinson. Zac did his usual great job, but we wanted Match’s arm to be a little more pale and chalky – not as completely bleached-white as a full-on Bizarro form, but far enough to be noticeably paler that Batgirl and to provide strong contrast with his original skin tone. On the right you can see the finished color as it appeared on the published cover, along with all the final logos and other trade dress.

You can find my previous Creating a Cover installments here.

Character Design – Young Justice #14 – ATLANTIS!

So the last time I did an installment of my Character Design series, it was what was meant to be the first of two parts on our Atlantis storyline from Young Justice #14/15. And… I’m just getting to it now. Wait, when did I start inking Young Justice interiors in addition to penciling them and penciling and inking the covers? Oh, that’s right, issue #14. It’s like that made me busy or something. So, at long last, here we go!

For anyone who would like to read more about these characters both as they appeared in Young Justice and their counterparts in DC Comics comic book continuity, I’ve provided links to the relevant pages on the always useful Young Justice Wiki!

First off, Aqualad’s parents. His mother Sha’Lain’a was described as age 34, blonde with GOLDEN skin (not Caucasian), prominent gills – more-so than Aqualad – and webbed fingers and toes. And we know from Aqualad’s description that she was VERY beautiful (granted, through a son’s eyes, but still…). I originally drew her with shorter hair to better show of the gills, but Greg wanted longer hair so that changed in the actual comic. And then as it turned out you never get the best look at her in the comic anyway. She appears on one page with several panels on it and there are always many speaking characters in each panel, so there was never an opportunity for a good close up. Oh, well.

Aqualad’s father, Calvin “Cal” Durham, was described in the script as age 40, African-American, gills, webbed fingers and toes. Shaved head. Atlantean garb. That was pretty straightforward, and I tried to design an outfit for him in keeping with what we’d seen of Atlantean fashion on the show.

ShaLaina

ShaLaina

Calvin Durham

Calvin Durham


Next up were Aqualad’s friends, many of which had already been designed for the show (like Lori Lemaris, Topo, La’gaan, Garth and Tula), but some had not. Some of them were anthropomorphized mer-people, which were the most interesting design-wise.

I’d seen versions of Aqualad’s whale-buddy Blubber that were closer to human with a whale head, but I wanted something closer to whale. But my first attempt didn’t go far enough and I did a second version that was even less human. In addition losing the legs and the teeth, I added more detail to version 2 to make it seem less”cartoony.” I was determined to keep clothes on him as it’s a pet peeve of mine with intelligent aliens or other non-human creatures in comics that humans seem to be the only ones who feel the need to wear clothes.

Blubber - Version 1

Blubber – Version 1

Blubber - Version 2

Blubber – Version 2


Nanue Shark was a younger version of the King Shark character. This was another one that required two passes. The biggest challenge was that Greg was very concerned about the character appearing too cartoony, but it’s hard to get a look that is anything other than cartoony when it’s a shark head on a guy’s body. It doesn’t help that my character designs tend to be cartoonier than my finished page art, as I’m trying to design in broad, simple strokes that can be fleshed out with texture in a finished drawing. The revisions here are largely limited to losing the chin, making the teeth more irregular and like those of a real shark, and making the eyes a little smaller.

Nanue Shark - Version 1

Nanue Shark – Version 1

Nanue Shark - Version 2

Nanue Shark – Version 2


Then we had the humans of the group, who turn out to be part of a group of “purists” who are being manipulated by Ocean Master (do I need to post spoilier-warnings for a comic that came out a year ago in my blog entry about designs for that comic?). Here we see Ronal, Wyynde, and M’Chiste, all of whom are very loosely based on existing comic book characters. Loosely in the sense that it’s not much more than the name and perhaps a slight visual nod in the design.

Ronal

Ronal

Wyynde

Wyynde

MChiste

M’Chiste


And rounding out the group we have Chian and Danuuth.

Chian

Chian

Danuuth

Danuuth


The last character to be designed had to do with a land-based sub-plot involving T.O. Morrow and his robotic creations, specifically Jim Lockhart aka Red Torpedo. We’d seen an image of Jim Lockhart in his prime, but here was supposed to be an elderly man of 91. The trick was that while his human disguise was supposed to look older, his robot form underneath was unchanged so I couldn’t have him stooped over or do anything else to suggest a frail, elderly frame. I was stuck with a barrel-chested robust frame.

Jim Lockhart

Jim Lockhart


Whew! That’s it! Finally we have completed our look at my original character designs for issues #14 & #15 of Young Justice. I promise we’ll get to the next story arc much, much sooner.

You can find my previous Character Design installments here.

Happy Colorist Appreciation Day

Young Justice #11 - Cover Inks

Young Justice #11 – Cover Inks

Young Justice #11 - Cover Color

Young Justice #11 – Cover Color


It’s one of those things that makes you ask “Who DECIDES this stuff?” In response to colorist Jordie Bellaire’s tumblr post this morning, today has been deemed Colorist Appreciation Day on Twitter. Or, since it’s on Twitter, #coloristappreciationday.

I color most of my work outside of comics myself, but most of my work in the comics field is drawn by me but colored by another artist. And make no mistake, coloring can make or break a piece of art. I’ve benefited from good coloring and suffered terrible coloring.

As an example of how good coloring can *benefit* artwork, I direct your attention to my gallery of Young Justice covers featuring the colors of Zac Atkinson. You can see his work as well as my uncolored line art for each cover. You can find Zac on Twitter at @zacatkinson, and his website is www.evilby.me.

Zac Atkinson

Zac Atkinson

So thanks to Zac and the other great colorists I’ve gotten to work with over the years! Appreciate colorists today!

The Weekly Dose Podcast #14

I did another interview about my comics career, drawing DC’s Young Justice comic and Marvel’s Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes comic, the uniqueness that is Young Justice fandom, and CONvergence! I’m at about 40m:30s mark.

 

To listen to the podcast on the Comic Book Therapy website, click here!

And if you’re interested in more interviews with me about comics, visit my press page.

New publicity photos

When I was at the New York Comic Con in October I ducked upstairs to a makeshift photo studio DC Comics had set up in a press booth overlooking the main hall of the convention. I was on my way in as Jim Lee was wrapping up and on his way out. DC was using the convention as an opportunity to nab many of its creators for quick photo sessions to get some nifty new publicity photos for the revamped Talent Profiles section of their web site. The photo shoot itself probably only took two or three minutes with a variety of quick poses, some dignified and some silly. It probably took a good half an hour to actually get to the press booth and back, given the crowds at the convention!

These were the three best shots from the photo shoot. I didn’t even realize at the time they were taken that they were going to be in black and white. I think they turned out fantastically well. I don’t normally care for the way I photograph but I like these a lot!

You can visit my page on the DC Comics web site’s Talent Page to see which of the three was used there. Now we just need to get some of the credits there updated. Ironically the only credit I have listed there with a thumbnail image is for my sole DC Comics writing credit (I co-wrote The Batman Strikes #35), which features cover art by another artist. So the only art seen on my page isn’t by me! What are you gonna do…?