Posts tagged: Inks

Gerry Anderson’s UFO – part 1

Gerry Anderson's UFO

Gerry Anderson’s UFO

Here’s a glimpse of a comic that never happened, a comic based on Gerry Anderson’s UFO, a 1970 live-action British Sci-Fi series from the same producers as Space: 1999 and Thunderbirds. A comics publisher had secured the rights to a comic book adaptation, and a 7-issue mini-series was mapped out. Issue #0 would have taken place immediately after the TV series, and would have essentially acted as a series finale. Issues #1-6 of the series would have picked up more than a decade later, acting as an epic sequel to the TV show.

The pencils, inks, colors and lettering were completed for the #0 issue, and pencils to #1 were underway when the plug was pulled at the publisher end due to lack of funds – another project that had been expected to fund this one hadn’t been the success that had been hoped for, and the money to produce and publish the mini-series wasn’t there. Valiant efforts to save the project were made, but the whole thing just folded. I’m happy to say I was paid for the work I completed, but I really wanted to see this project reach an audience.

The inks on the book were by Joseph Rubenstein whose work I’d known from everything from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe to some of John Byrne’s issues of Captain America. The colors were by colorist Matt Webb.

Here’s a taste of the comic that might have been…

UFO #0 pg 01 pencils

UFO #0 pg 01 pencils

UFO #0 pg 01 inks

UFO #0 pg 01 inks

UFO #0 pg 01 colors

UFO #0 pg 01 colors


Page 1 – This opening page shows Commander Straker’s futuristic car (this was taking place in 1980 after all!) pulls up to the Harlington-Straker Studios building, the ground-level cover for the secret underground headquarters of SHADO, covert defenders of the earth from alien invaders. One wonders if they coordinated their efforts with UNIT. In the shadow of Straker’s car (shadow/SHADO – get it? GET IT?) we see some of the vehicles depicted with fabulous model work on the show, the hallmark with Gerry Anderson productions of the era.

As I have a copy of the lettered version of this page, here’s a look at what the finished page would have looked like.
 


UFO #0 pg 01 letters

UFO #0 pg 01 letters


 

UFO #0 Pg 02 - 100

UFO #0 pg 02 pencils

ufo_00_02

UFO #0 pg 02 inks

ufo_00_02 REV

UFO #0 pg 02 colors


Page 2 – Straker’s entire movie studio office is actually an elevator that takes him to SHADO Headquarters, located below the studio. (I wonder how everyone ELSE gets down there? Surely they don’t ALL go in and out of Straker’s studio office…
 

UFO #0 pg 03 pencils

UFO #0 pg 03 pencils

UFO #0 pg 03 inks

UFO #0 pg 03 inks

UFO #0 pg 03 colors

UFO #0 pg 03 colors


Page 3 – SHADO operatives talk business in the office of Ed Straker (played by Ed Bishop). We had the mixed blessing of being able to use likenesses of the cast of the TV show, which was great from the sense of making the comic look and feel like the show, but it meant having to work from photo reference which is time-consuming and limiting. I was looking forward to the issues that would be set more than a decade later, which would allow me to get further away from photo-realistic likenesses of the actors. More of those spiffy Gerry Anderson vehicles can be seen in the last panel. I’m like the little touch of the shadow being cast on the cloud below.
 

UFO #0 pg 04 pencils

UFO #0 pg 04 pencils

UFO #0 pg 04 inks

UFO #0 pg 04 inks

UFO #0 pg 04 colors

UFO #0 pg 04 colors


Page 4 – Straker confers with Colonel Paul Foster (as played by Mike Billington) and then the pair respond to an emergency thanks to an early warning from the Space Intruder Detector (SID) satellite. I took special care to be accurate with my depictions of the vehicles, which were as much the stars of the show as the humans. You begin to get a sense here of the rather unique fashion sense on display in UFO. Very mod, or as Gerry Anderson fans would say, “fab.”
 

UFO #0 pg 05 pencils

UFO #0 pg 05 pencils

UFO #0 pg 05 inks

UFO #0 pg 05 inks

UFO #0 pg 05 colors

UFO #0 pg 05 colors


Page 5 – This page provides a look at the Moonbase which was the principle staging area for SHADO’s efforts the fend off alien invaders, as well as the purple wig and silver jumpsuitwearing female Moonbase staff. The wigs were intended to be part of the uniform and… yeah, I know. It’s kind of weird. Hey, it was the 60’s. No, wait. It was 1970. But meant to be 1980. I’m getting confused…
 
You can see Part 2 of this post with pages 6-15 here.
 
Part 3 of this post with pages 16-24 is here.

Title Pages: Batman Strikes #14

It’s time for another installment of Title Pages, featuring another title page from my run on The Batman Strikes! which was a tie-in comic for The Batman animated TV series. A Title Page is the page which features the story title and credits for the issue, and is often (but not always) a Splash Page, which is a full-page image, rather than a page broken up into multiple panels.

Issue #14 of The Batman Strikes! was the concluding chapter of the 50-issue series’ only 2-parter, and we opened with a full-page splash continuation of the previous issue’s cliffhanger: Batman and Catwoman under attack by Clayface!

Strikes #14 - Title Page pencils

Strikes #14 – Title Page pencils

Strikes #14 - Title Page inks

Strikes #14 – Title Page inks

 


This page is a great example of how I really tried on this book to compose pages with areas of high-contrast light and dark. And the full-page splash allowed me to frame a nice shot of good and gloppy Clayface menacing Batman and Catwoman and still gave me room for one of my more elaborate title logo designs, complete with hourglass and ripping letters, with space below for the story credits. That kind of texture work really played to series inker Terry Beatty’s strengths, and I always looked forward to seeing what he’d do on pages like this.

Strikes #14 - Title Page color

Strikes #14 – Title Page color

Sadly, this page is also a great example of why I wish I’d had more input on the coloring of this series, as I often felt like the approach used was working in direct opposition to what I was trying to do with the lien art. For some reason Clayface was given a special color treatment where all the blacks on the figure were lightened from pure black to a dark gray color. I felt this really flattened the character by diminishing the contrast of the light-and-shadow effects I was employing to give the figure weight and mass. A similar lightening effect was used on the cityscape in the background and the buildings were placed against a sky color that was tonally similar, which served to visually obliterate the skyline, and doesn’t bear any resemblance to how skyscapers in a large city look at night. Furthermore, a similar lightening color effect was employed on the clay in the foreground that Batman and Catwoman were immersed in. I feel that the coloring effect so overpowered the line art, that it’s use in the foreground, midground and background really flattened the whole image, and turned what had been a carefully composed image into something of a muddy (pun-intended) mess.

At least the coloring on the logo worked well, and the bottom third of the page really pops. I just wish that this coloring effect wasn’t used on Clayface, as it was through the whole issue!

I’ll have more installments of Title Pages soon, but until then you can check out previous installments!

Marvel Superhero Squad: #4 Hulk Talk Smack

Marvel Superhero Squad

Marvel Superhero Squad

Are you familiar with the Marvel Superhero Squad Show? Based on the Marvel Super Hero Squad action figure line from Hasbro, it was a comedy-adventure series that portrayed the Marvel Comics characters in a cartoonish super-deformed-style. Each episode had a “title card” that showed the title of that episode next to a parody cover, based on a classic Marvel Comics cover but depicting characters in the style of the show. I drew several of those for the show’s first season, and I wanted to share some of them with you!

Typically, I would be told what cover I was to parody, and what (if any) characters on the cover were to be substituted with other Superhero Squad characters. I was provided with model sheets for the Superhero Squad animation designs of all the relevant characters, and I then I’d get down to work!

Incredible Hulk #1 cover

Incredible Hulk #1 cover

The first of these covers was for Superhero Squad episode #4: “Hulk Talk Smack!” The cover to be parodied was The Incredible Hulk #1, the first appearance of the character! The Hulk was to merely be replaced with the Superhero Squad versionĀ  of the character, but all the other characters depicted were to change. The solder on the left was to become Wolverine, General Ross and Betsy were to become Ironman and The Wasp, the soldier behind them was to become Thor, and Dr. Banner himself was to become The Falcon! They also wanted the rocket-pad background eliminated, and the Hulk figure a little smaller in the frame so it wasn’t “cropped” by the edge of the frame.

Squad Cover #4 pencils

Squad Cover #4 pencils

Squad Cover #4 Inks

Squad Cover #4 Inks

MSHS Cover #3 Color

MSHS Cover #3 Color


Here’s the pencil version of the cover I had to get approved before I could proceed with inking. One of the ongoing challenges with these covers was to replace characters with (more or less) human proportions with the stocky proportions of the Superhero Squad characters, and yet I had to preserve the composition of the original. Sometimes this was tricky, but this time around everything was framed around the large Hulk figure, and his proportions were relatively unchanged. Still, you can see where I made some slight alterations in the composition to make it work with the new proportions. Also, note that the Hulk has lost some fingers and toes in translation to his Squad form!

The inks are by me, and the color is by another artist working for Marvel. Click on the color version to see the cover with revised color and complete with logos. One of the issues with these covers is that the “Superhero Squad” logo is very square, which meant it didn’t usually fit well into the space at the top of the cover art.

Squad #4 Title Card

Squad #4 Title Card

Finally, here’s how the cover appeared in the TV episode, next to the credits for the writer and director. I always thought this was something of an odd format as the story title and other text are fairly small and there’s a LOT of pen space the text and cover art are floating around in. But he, I wasn’t going to complain. It was giving me work!

More Superhero Squad covers soon! As always, questiosn and comments are welcome.

Creating a Cover: Young Justice #10

Time to break down the creation of another cover! This time it’s Young Justice #10, the second half of our Captain Atom murder mystery story! Last issue featured Captain Atom on the cover and no action, so there was a desire to see conflict with our costumed villain, who appeared at the end of the previous issue.

The villain in question is Rako (aka The Cambodian), and you can read more about the redesign of this character in a previous blog post. Once again I was designing a cover before the script for the story, so I didn’t have anything to draw from other than being told there was a fight with The Cambodian at an Asian-styled mansion, and that Superboy being cut by the Cambodian’s sword was a major story point.

Captain Atom #7 cover

Captain Atom #7 cover

YJ #10 cover sketch a

YJ #10 cover sketch a

YJ #10 cover sketch b
YJ #10 cover sketch b


Again I started with a template that used a logo masthead from a previous issue to help block out how the cover art I was designing would fit together with those elements on the finished cover. My first thought was to reference the Cambodian character’s first appearance in Captain Atom #7 by echoing the poses of The Cambodian and Captain Atom. There would be no torrent of energy glowing from Superboy’s wound and he was being sliced across the chest rather than the abdomen, but it seemed like the pose still worked. The original Captain Atom cover had no background, but I suspected my editor would want to see more of the Young Justice team than just Superboy, so I provided variations with and without the rest of the team rushing to Superboy’s aid, with the intent of including some additional background detail of sketch b were chosen.

YJ #10 cover sketch c

YJ #10 cover sketch c

YJ #10 cover sketch d

YJ #10 cover sketch d


I thought I’d offer a different angle on the action, and came up with a composition that would only show The Cambodian from behind, leaving him more mysterious, but framing the Young Justice team dramatically with the dark shape of his armor. Again, I offered versions with only Superboy and the whole team. You might notice that some of the figures are identical between the sketches. When quickly creating different compositions like this, I sometimes draw figures and use them as “building blocks,” assembling them in different arrangements in Adobe Photoshop to get the composition I want.

YJ #10 cover pencils

YJ #10 cover pencils

YJ #10 cover inks

YJ #10 cover inks

YJ #10 cover color guide

YJ #10 cover color guide


Sketch b was chosen, but Greg Weisman said that Aqualad and Artemis weren’t going to be present during the fight sequence being depicted, which was just as well as it uncluttered the image a bit. You can see where I found room to suggest a bit of background in the pencil art – I set the battle on the roof as that seemed to offer more space for Robin and Miss Martian to approach from above. As it turns out this battle is located entirely inside in the actual story, but I don’t think anyone will complain. After completed the inks, I threw some color onto the image in Photoshop to act as a color guide for the Cambodian’s armor and to show how the glowing sword was to be treated.

YJ #10 cover colors

YJ #10 cover colors

Young Justice #10 Cover

Young Justice #10 Cover


Here you can see the artwork in full color. I normally love interactive light sources in artwork, and the lineart suggested that the sword’s energy was behaving as a light source, but I think the electric blue is a bit overpowering here. You lose the blackness of the Cambodian’s armor, and with the light pastel colors used for the background it seems a bit jumbled. But I think it’s still a pretty solid cover, and on the right you can see it with the “trade dress” of the logos and other masthead elements.

You can read a 4-page preview here, and then pick up the comic in digital form or at your local comic shop.

I’ll be doing a Commentary blog entry on this issue in a couple of weeks, and will be doing another “Creating a Cover” entry for Young Justice #11 in a month’s time!

Title Pages: The Batman Strikes #8

This installment of the Title Pages series features the first Batman Strikes appearance of Firefly.

Batman Strikes #8 - Title Page

Batman Strikes #8 - Title Page

The title page of the issue was a 1-page scene establishing an arsonist-fir-hire who is shown to be Firefly by a reveal of his helmet in the final panel. Rather than find a way of inserting a logo and space for credits into this talky scene, I decided to have the title act as a masthead for the page, featuring the title of the story in flaming letters against a Batman logo based on the 1960s logo of the Batman comic book, but using the likeness of the Batman design from this animated TV series.

Batman Strikes #8 - Title Logo

Batman Strikes #8 - Title Logo

Here’s the final color version with lettering. Note the Film Noir tone I was trying to evoke in the story with the lighting through the blinds. To me, Batman is all about mood and atmosphere, and I think you can be true to that even in an all ages title. More soon…!

Batman Strikes #8 Title Page

Batman Strikes #8 Title Page