Monday, February 11, 2013

'Lazarus Burne's Maleficus Seven' cover for 'Soldier Legacy's Strange Tales.

Lazarus "Larry" Burne and co., created by Chris Sequeira and Paul Mason. Art by Paul Mason.
This is the cover for the back up feature in next month's 'Soldier Legacy's Strange Tales'. It features characters created by writer Chris Sequeira and myself, which has a bit of a slight history that I couldn't be bother talking about in depth now, but basically it was a pitch that Chris presented, and I illustrated the original idea, using a cast of supernatural characters from one of the big guns. They couldn't find a place for it, so we then decided that we could create our own characters and do something ourselves with it.

What you see above is basically the concept ideas we talked about, and I went away and played on the drawing board. A couple of character ideas and details were merged- I'm not sure if it was forgetfulness, lack of sleep or otherwise, but essentially what notes we made in a plotting session last year is what you get. We were going to launch the original 8 page strip in last year's Black House Comic anthology 'Parahuman'. It was fun to plot- basically, the first 3 pages existed for samples for myself, and concept pitch for Chris. That character was removed and ours entered, and the remaining 5 pages was tossed around, and action panels made "Kirby-style"- however I wanted a demon to be "dealt with", I did :P. However, the Parahuman book was cancelled. At the time, I recall being pressed for time with Soldier #4, The Soldier graphic novel, the 6 page back up story in 'Dark Detective: Sherlock Holmes', and pencil layouts for the artist, that were all due at the same month. I was upset we lost a cool title that Parahuman was going to be, and the page rate and 50 copies of the issue was for all intents and purposes, the best thing going in any independent publisher I've seen on our comic scene in recent years. So it did boggle the mind that creators didn't jump on board. I'm getting off topic.
Anyways, the pages for our story were penciled and feature in my 2012 folio issue for last year's LA trip (colouring was shelved 2 pages in, but pencils were the aim of the game anyway), and got great response from industry folk. We decided we should finish the strip based on that positive response. When issue 5 of the Soldier was complete late last year, I restarting colouring, and finished it last month, where Mr Sequeira worked his scripting magic for me to letter, and here we are, ready to insert into our appropriately titled "Strange Tales" one-shot. We'll see what you readers think, yeah?

Anyway, think 'The Dirty Harry of Exorcists' (hence the homage to the original 'Dirty Harry' film poster and Clint Eastwood-ism in the main character). The names of the rest of the 'Seven', include (from left to right, front to back) 'Johnny Incubo', 'Ju Ju Heart', (then in white) 'Sister Strigoi', Sinquisitor, Grotesque, (and at the back) Deadriver.  

Oh right, the cover. A pinup for the book, and most likely a back cover for the issue. 
Like all my colouring, it's "man, this isn't working, what the hell am I doing?", until it gets completed, and it does work. Kind of. *sigh.
If I saved a screen shot or jpeg of every colour variation for the foreground figure, and the background figures, there would be about 200 images in this post, particularly when flicking through colour blend types, or overlays to lighten/knock back/bring forward the characters. Craziness. The main things I aim for are a clear focal point, value control, temperature control, and making sure the characters seem like they're in the environment- I feel if you manage to maintain the character's colour scheme in an image, you've failed. I feel you need to include the colours and "lighting" of the environment on your characters, otherwise the image comes across as "gawdy", with elements fighting for attention. Anyway, my 2 cents; I could be wrong. I prefer pencilling- I colour out of necessity.

The top of the post in the final image, and the process is below (roughs, clean up, flats, black and white value checking (an early one- still has "muddy" grey bits undefined), the almost finished colours: the pre-colour line holds and extra fiddly "on-top-of-the-lines" colours and highlights that the completed image has (in my poor man's attempt to get a "Dean White" feel to it). Unfortunately I lack the skill, patience, and bravery to be able to pull off the work he does in this colouring, and my little bamboo tablet is no match for the hand/eye control a Cintiq would allow to even properly pull off those fine white line details that lift his coloured characters off the page. One day perhaps, when I don't have multiple day jobs and actually make enough money to be comfortable enough to invest in toys....*to dream. Anyways, I make do with what I have, and a lack of equipment, or inspiration or any other thing you can think of, is no excuse when it comes to producing something. That's the beauty of the comic medium- worlds can be created with a pencil and paper.

 All characters featured here in this post are copyright © 2013 Christopher Sequeira and Paul Mason. Illustrations copyright © 2013 Paul Mason.

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