Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Badlands Covers

I have forgotten most of the story around the top illustration with the vultures, something about Nike. I do remember it being somewhat of a big deal with Willamette Week (or was that just me?). The art director, Katherine Topaz, threw all her trust in me for an illustration that would be both cover and a two page interior illustration. Later, this was the piece that High Country News saw and liked enough to have Kat get me to do a cover for them. One of the few times my work has been a reference for itself. Kind of fun though, sister illustrations.

With the cover for High Country News I again worked with with Katherine Topaz. She's one of my very favorite art directors and a swell designer. I was fortunate enough to work with her through-out most of her art directorial tenure at Willamette Week. Kat is a blast to work with, lots of fun and a risk taker willing to experiment. She also allows illustrators to have input into the overall design and end use of the illustration, taking advantage of the interplay between AD and Illustrator to great effect. This cover was a last attempt Hail Mary Pass for a tough, dry concept (tax revenue from oil drilling used for government services). The client had seen and liked the vulture cover I'd done for Willamette Week. After doing a butt load of thumbnails with way different concepts, in the end we went with something really close, to the vultures cover, that shared style and composition.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Near Art 3 to 6: End of the run

What was planned to be a 12 strip run made it to 6. Enjoy 3 thru 6 here and 1 and 2 in a previous post, then read below for details.

City Arts recently changed editors. When they did, the decision was made to make changes to my strip, Near Art. They cut the pay by two thirds, cut the size by at least half, and let me know that they were not to confident that the continuity was enough for a monthly audience who may, or may not have been, regular readers. But they did like the art! I'm trying to make the best of it. I will continue with the name Near Art (which I did not come up with) doing something else, for less money that takes less time and is not a continuity.

What saddens me most is that the strip was a 12 part romance, a little valentine for my wife, and we only got to part 6. I had thought I was going to rant here about editors making visual decisions and in-decisions, magazines dumbing down, and the devaluation of visual content, but that all reads like whining. (Oddly, a fitting tie to NA #6.) The best thing to do is to complete the strip myself, on my own.
And then sell it!

Live fast, draw hard.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Cool World covers

I like this cover the best. It was fun to draw the characters in my own style. 

No she's not holding up a building. I think I put something in the street names but I don't remember. 
After hounding my contacts at DC comics, I finally wound up with some work from them. If I remember correctly I had been doing a strip in the DC Comics employee newsletter and had sent off the obligatory second round of inking samples. The Ralph Bakshi film "Cool World" was being released and DC was doing the film adaptation. Film adaptations get a bad rap and rightly so. They are kin to license work and come with a ton of restrictions that are piled on by committee and client, at times making no sense. In this case I was told that I had to avoid likenesses of the actors (Brad Pitt, Gabriel Byrne, Kim Bassinger). I was tasked with inking the film adaptation and doing covers 2 thru 4 of the mini series. Bakshi was doing the first cover. I dutifully inked the adaptation.  I was really happy and excited when the editor kicked back my initial cover sketches as not being wild enough. They wanted me to really cut loose and have fun with the covers. So I did. Looking back, I think I went a little too wild but I did do just what I wanted on three covers for a major comic publisher.  Weeks later I got my share of the inked pages, finished art is divided between the creative team. All the faces that I inked so the did not look like the actors (as we had been told) had been carefully pasted over and redrawn to look like the actors.  It's funny that the method used to patch the art involved cutting a slit in the page art at the throat of each character and sliding in a new piece of paper on which  the new head was drawn. They had all been be-headed.
I don't think I have any of the pages I inked but I do have the pre digital covers stashed away somewhere. Every once in a while I come across the covers on line. Small, cool world huh?