Posts tagged: Pencils

Title Pages: Batman Strikes #16

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.

The Batman Strikes! #16 featured a storyline where the Joker steals the Batmobile (Oh, NOES!). This issue gave me a full-page splash to play with for my title page, but it was actually page TWO, and followed directly on the heels of this page one:

Strikes #16 page 1

Strikes #16 page 1

The sound effects on page one and the title page to follow were hand-drawn by me. As I’ve said before, I love doing my own sound effects lettering, because I enjoy it but more importantly because I can better incorporate the sound effects into the pages’ composition and design. I had wanted the effect in the bottom three panels of page one of the light from the approaching Batmobile’s headlights creeping up Batman’s figure. Notice the curved shape on Batman’s cape in the bottom-left panel above the sound effect. The light then reaches Batman’s shoulder in the next panel, then reaches his face in the bottom right panel. Sadly the colorist didn’t pick up on this and the dark gray colors were used for Batman’s costume and the effect was lost.

Strikes #16 - Title Page pencils

Strikes #16 – Title Page pencils

Strikes #16 - Title Page color

Strikes #16 – Title Page color

 


Here’s the full-page splash title page, where the Batmobile’s headlights aren’t even on. I was trying to do some light-and-shadow effects on Batman’s figure, but it all got colored dark, saturated blues and grays. Oh, well.

Hey, at least the logo pops! The character length of the story title gave me an opportunity to pay homage to another version of the Batman comic logo, as I’d previously done in The Batman Strikes! #8. You can see the logo I was referencing in Batman Strikes #16 in this blog entry from Todd Klein’s Blog.

I always found the really angular drawing style of the show’s animation design a little hard to work with, and I think that’s on display here. The Batman figure is a little blocky and awkward. The script called for Batman to see who was driving the Batmobile, even though in the show the windows all have a mirror finish, but that’s a minor fudge for storytelling purposes.

This was the Batmobile design from the first season of the TV show, and it would soon be replaced with something less stubby-looking in both the show and the comic.

I’ll have more installments of Title Pages soon, but until then you can check out previous installments! As always, questions and comments are welcome!

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.

Title Pages: The Batman Strikes #12 & #13

Two new Title Pages again, both from my run on The Batman Strikes! which was a tie-in comic for The Batman animated TV series.

This first page is from The Batman Strikes #12, and is an example of me trying to create a splash page out of nothing. I like to open a story with a splash page (a comic industry term for a full-page image, rather than a page broken up into multiple panels), both because there’s a tradition of comic book title pages being on splash pages, and because a dynamic full-page image creates a dramatic “moment” which seems like a nice spot to place the story title and credits. I also like splash pages at the beginning of the story because of the role they can play in hooking a reader.

A cover is critical when a retailer is deciding what to order from the catalog, or when a reader is perusing the shelves of their local comic shop, but once they pick up an copy and flip through it, I like to be sure that the first few pages have some dynamic imagery rather than a bunch of sequential panel story telling that is hopefully compelling but may have to be read more closely to be effective.

Strikes #12 Title Page pencils

Strikes #12 Title Page pencils

Strikes #12 - Title Page color

Strikes #12 – Title Page color

 


So that was all in my head when I looked at the scripted opening page for The Batman Strikes #12, and saw that it was a 4-panel sequence of fairly static images, although one of them called for Batman perched on top of a building that was surrounded by plain-clothes security. My approach, then, was to make the first three panels work together as a triptych, so we had one large image across the top of the page. I went with a super-low angle which worked to frame the action of the security guys featured in panels one and two, but leave Batman visible several stories up in panel three. I also hoped that this extreme angle would make the image more dynamic, even though it was without any real action.

The story of this issue involved the scientist who created Bane locked up on a Gotham jail cell. The GCPD have to hold off Bane who is trying to reach his creator, and the reader is unsure if Bane is attempting rescue or revenge. I tried to create a sense of menace with the logo, with broken, uneven lettering and including a cross-hair design element. I was hoping to evoke a tone like Assault on Precinct 13. Overall, I think this page was pretty effective.

Strikes #13 - Title Page pencils

Strikes #13 – Title Page pencils

Strikes #13 - Title Page colors

Strikes #13 – Title Page colors

 


Next up is The Batman Strikes #13 which again features Catwoman. The story title logo was pretty simple this time, and I laid it against the side of a building. I was again trying to open up a multi-panel page to create a more dynamic full-page image. The best I could do this time was to create a large image of towering skyscrapers in Gotham that runs across the background of the entire page with the remaining four panels floating over it.

And that’s about all I can think of to say about this page, except encouraging any fans of 1970s Batman comics to speculate whether that building with the open area in the middle and a tree inside is the Wayne Foundation Building.

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

And remember, questions and comments are welcome!