Sunday, August 31, 2008

Todd Dezago: Mind Reader

Hopefully, you’re all having a great holiday weekend. I know I am, despite some moderate to severe back pain. My sister-in-law is up with her kids and we’ve been busy trying to keep everyone entertained and fed. I’ve also been ducking out now and then to check on a friend’s cats while she’s out of town. Like a lot of you are probably doing, I’m keeping my eye on hurricane Gustav, hoping he changes his mind and lets New Orleans off the hook. This one’s looking to be even worse than Katrina and that’s just not fair.

I’ve been lamenting lately the fact that I don’t have any artwork to post. That’s because any drawing time I have is reserved strictly for working on the PERHAPANAUTS story. But I don’t think I ever came right out and said that. Todd deduced it anyway. He emailed me this morning and told me I could post the first page or two of pencils if I wanted to and that Christian could do the same with his inks when he’s done. So here’s page one. I’ll share page two later. Any more than that may be showing too much. I started on page four this weekend and hope to have that done before I go on vacation next Saturday. However, I’ve got a portable light table and the awesome portable drawing table Craig Rousseau gave me at Heroes (Thanks again, Craig!) so I should have all I need to work with while I’m at the beach if I have to.

Looking at this page made me think about Mike. (Actually, what doesn’t?) I remember when he first started out and was doing the Doc Savage mini for Millennium. He was really enamored with Brian Stelfreeze’s artwork at the time (well, actually, that never stopped) and was sort of trying to emulate his style while he was doing it. I think it caused him some frustration because he didn’t really draw all that much like Brian. By the time he was doing the backup stories in JUSTICE LEAGUE QUARTERLY, some of the “Brian” was falling away and Mike was starting to loosen up. Then, he got the FLASH gig and I remember his five minutes of elation turning to panic because this was his first regular monthly gig. He did a few preliminary sketches of Flash but pretty much had to jump right in. (I remember him freaking out because the first page was a series of panels featuring, like, a Ferrari and a Ducati and something else fast. Here was his first issue and Mark wasn’t cutting him any slack!) When the Flash arrived on the scene, you could tell Mike was struggling to get a feel for him. Every panel looked like a different artist had drawn him. There were a couple of Kubert panels, some Infantinos. Maybe a Stelfreeze. It took a couple of pages before Mike’s Flash showed up. Eventually he got a a real grip on the character and really started to make him his Flash.

And that’s why Mike’s run on FLASH has always been my favorite of his work. Because you could see his process at work on the page. You could see his struggles and the rawness of his art. It was very endearing. For me, anyway.

Now, I’m no Mike. And I have no intention of making drawing comics a fulltime career. But I feel like I’m experiencing a little of what Mike was going through with FLASH on this project. Though I did some character sketches, when I started on this, I didn’t really have a feel for the characters yet. If you look at that pin-up we did, Big and Choopie don’t look anything like they should. And here, on page one, I’m still feeling my way around them. Check out Choopie in the bottom right panel. He’s so off-model it makes my head hurt. I drew that head fifteen times and couldn’t get it right. If Christian wasn’t already inking it, I’d still be noodling with it. But, I promise, by page two, I’m pretty sure I’m getting a handle on him. And I think Big looks okay on this page and by page two I think I’ve got him down. There are some questions I probably should have asked the boys before I started out. These are hard characters to draw. Craig makes it look so easy and he has such a unique style that I’m finding it difficult to draw Big and Choopie and some of the others without flat out imitating Craig. But it’s do-able. I saw that clay sculpture of Choopie someone did and I have no idea how they pulled that off. But if someone can translate Craig’s Choopie into three dimentions, I can certainly translate these characters into my style and make them work.

I have to admit I was chuckling to myself a bit when I was drawing that first panel. It gave me fits when I was trying to figure out how to stage it. It seemed that I wasn’t going to be able to get in everything I needed to draw without cheating but I finally figured it out. Once I did I decided to have some fun with Christian and I spent a long afternoon drawing that monitor screen with all the grid lines and the vortex. I thought it would drive him nuts and so I ribbed him about it. He just shrugged and said, “Whatever. I have a ruler.” Blast! He did ask me to stop filling in the black areas though because it was making his ink slide off the page. So the next page (and the ones I won’t be posting) will be a little looser.

I hope you like the page and have a great holiday!


Heywood Jablomie said...

HOLY S@#T MAN! that page is sweet! if i knew you i'd hit ya. kidding-but man don't knock yourself i think you did a great job with the page and i didn't see any direct imitation at all. can't wait to see the final product.

stupid question-who's coloring this for you guys? are you?

...and yeah that monitor job is just sick...

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Matt,

I agree with Heywood.

It's a great looking page.

When is it due out?

Have fun with the rest of the pages.

Can't wait to see it all finished.

Regarding adding the blacks, when I began pencilling the Worlds End graphic novel I was adding them in and then decided, as I was digitally painting it all there's no real need, so the more recent pages from around page 25 or so I have mainly just been doing the line work with very little black added.

Best Wishes,

Matt Wieringo said...

Thanks, guys. Heywood, Todd tells me (much to my delight) that Rico is going to be doing the coloring. Rico is so darned good. I really love what he does with Craig's artwork. I tried to mimic his palette when I did the pinup but I don't think I pulled it off. It seems like everyone thinks that now that coloring is done on the computer that it's easy. Well, it ain't. I have nothing but the highest admiration for the guys that do it well. And that includes Rico.

todd said...

yeah, matt!
i've gushed to you about how wonderful this is and think that, while maybe you can't see it right off, you really ARE making them your own! big looks great and you seem to "feel" him really well. the body language on all of them (but that shot of the chief especially...) is perfect!
take your time!
it's great!

Warren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Warren said...

I think it's gorgeous. I can't wait to see the published story! You got the goods, Matt. :)

And I had to edit this to say: Thanks Todd for letting us have this peek!

Anonymous said...

Hey Matt,
That page looks great!
I can't wait to see the finished story.

Brian said...

Great job Matt and it looks like Choopie to me right off the bat, without being derivative of Craig, so I'd say you hit what you were aiming for.

Leanne said...

Matt, this page (and Christian's inks) look fantastic!

Big and Choopie are indeed hard to draw. I think they look great in your style. I only had to draw them in one panel, so I didn't have much of a chance to screw him up TOO badly. It makes me appreciate Craig's art more than I already did after trying to tackle these characters.

I really can't wait to see the rest of this story. Persuade Todd to let you post another page when you're finished ;)

Matt Wieringo said...

Hey, Leanne! Thanks! Todd gave me permission to post the first three pages but I'm only going to do the first two. (I'll post the second one tonight.) I think page three may give away too much of the story. Hopefully, Christian will be done with the inks to page two this week and can post them on his blog.