‘Twas the Clayface before Christmas

Here’s a little confection for you on the night before, what I hope will be (as Baldrick would say) a very Messy Kweznuz.

The script for Young Justice #11 called for not one but two creatures to emerge from a Lazarus Pit at Fortress al Ghul. Furthermore, the script called for them to emerge in the traditional manner – nude. The problem was that this was for an all-ages title, so this was immediately problematic.

YJ #11 page 16 pencils

YJ #11 page 16 pencils

YJ #11 page 16 inks

YJ #11 page 16 inks

YJ #11 page 16 color

YJ #11 page 16 color

First out of the pit was it’s owner, Ra’s al Ghul, as Sensei, Talia al Ghul and Ubu look on. I tried to position Ra’s so it was clear he was nude, but that nothing inappropriate could be seen. I had shadows and the fact that Ra’s was covered in goo from the pit to help me, but I didn’t even want to have goo dripping in a way that seemed overly suggestive or drew attention to what I was working to conceal. I wanted to deliver an image that was sure to sail past the standards and practices watchdogs without issue. FAIL! You’ll note that in the finished art, Ra’s is discretely wearing a pair of white shorts – introduced at the ink stage (by inker Dan Davis) and absent in the pencil art.

YJ #11 page 19 pencils

YJ #11 page 19 pencils

YJ #11 page 19 inks

YJ #11 page 19 inks

YJ #11 page 19 color 1

YJ #11 page 19 color 1

Page 19 was worse. A second figure climbs out of the pit, appearing at first in the shape of Ra’, then morphing into Talia, before beginning to shift into it’s final form as Clayface on the following page. (What’s going on here? Ready Young Justice #12 to find out!) Again, I was trying to use body position, shadows and goo to cover Clayface while in the forms of Ra’s and Talia, as you can see in the pencil and ink stages of the art. Again, this wasn’t deemed good enough, even though I would consider the bodies as “covered” as if they were wearing clothes. No “naughty bits” visible. Ra’s tighty-whiteys were again added at the ink stage, and more “shadows ” were added to Clayface-Talia’s chest. Both writer Greg Weisman and I were given a chance to offer feedback on the first pass at color (above right), and neither of us were happy with it. I thought it looked like Clayface-Talia was wearing a dress, and it seemdd like more Lazarus-goo was appearing AFTER Clayface climbed out of the pit. Greg and I were both hoping to get closer to the original intent, and our editor Jim Chadwick and colorist Zac Atkinson were generously willing to take another crack at it.

YJ #11 page 19 color 2

YJ #11 page 19 color 2

Here’s the revised version, which is a little better. I’m not thrilled that the Clayface figures seem all-green, but given the alternative I could live with it. The email conversations around all this had grown to the point where I was trying to see the humor in the situation, and I decided to volunteer my own revision to the final page of the story – the reveal of Clayface – which was non-humanoid enough that no one seemed to think needed to be covered up.

Clayface in Shorts

Clayface in Shorts

When I sent this out to the creative team an email soon came back from Greg Weisman who asked with some concern “You are kidding, aren’t you?” I assured him I was.

You can find issues of Young Justice at your local Comic Shop or you can buy a digital copy online!

2 Comments

  • By Yojimbo, December 27, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

    So that’s it, Clayface was looking for his pants in Gotham when the Team jumped him! ;)

  • By Christopher Jones, December 27, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

    Exactly!

    Actually, by the time issue #13 rolls around, you’ll see the events the led up to that Clayface appearance on the show!

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