Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Moriarty, The Lazurus Tree

 This month I  have an issue of a comic book out on the stands. It is Moriarty: The Lazarus Tree, published published by Image.

Moriarty is the brainchild of  writer Daniel Corey and artist Anthony Diecidue, and of course the central character is the villain from the Sherlock Holmes stories. However, Dan has added a number of interesting twists to the plots and has really explored the character beyond his relationship to Holmes. The series is a fun read and watching both these creators develop over the past couple of years has been a treat. (They also have a trade paperback version of the first series, Moriarty, the Dark Chamber, that is available.)

(Lira posed for a number of Retrowood paintings I did for development.)
Anyway, Anthony had a big wedding coming up to the lovely  actress and model Lira Kellerman, and this slacker actually wanted to take some time off from his schedule for a honeymoon. So I got recruited to do a fill in issue. Because of my schedule, I realized I'd have to do the job very quickly, so I decided to approach the work less as I would a traditional comic and instead draw it as if it were a storyboard. People are always hounding me to have my comics have more of the spontaneity of my boards, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The entire twenty pages took my seven working days, and I don't think I ever worked more than 7-8 hours a day. There certainly is a freshness to the finished work that I really like. Dan was gracious enough to provide me with excellent reference on the stories specifics, so I didn't have to spend much time on that. I was also very familiar with the period so my reference time was kept to a minimum. And I had the excellent help of my assistant Mitchell Reslock, who handles all the hard stuff I didn't want to spend time on, like backgrounds, spotting blacks, erasing, scanning,etc. Ideally, I'd love to just have him do all the work and then I'd just sign it.

Of course Anthony couldn't keep his hands out of the mix, and he ended up coloring the book. A beautiful job that really takes the work to another level. But that was hardly a surprise since I've worked with Anthony on a number of jobs and have always loved the results. (As I finished the comic in record time, it was ready to go months ahead of schedule. Consequently, Anthony also had me do layouts for the previous issue, which you can also probably find at your local comic shop.)

So break open that piggy bank and head down to the comic shop and look this stuff up. You'll thank me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prom Night at the White House

    In 2008 I had the chance to storyboard a documentary called Prom Night in Mississippi. The story revolves around a school in the South that, in the 21st century, still had segregated proms (one for blacks, one for whites). Morgan Freeman, who was from the area, offered to pay for the prom and everyone's expenses if instead there was simply one integrated prom. While a majority of the students readily accepted the offer, and plans went ahead, a small segment of the school and their parents insisted on having a "whites only" prom.

(Director-Producer Paul Saltzman and producer Patrica Aquino on the road outside the White Prom.)
    Paul Saltzman, the director who had been shooting footage of this from the beginning, now ran into a snag. He was denied access to film anything connected with the white prom. Paul needed a series of illustrations depicting all of this action. That was where I was called in.

    I wound up doing about thirty plus drawings for six or seven sequences. Paul was always really easy to work with. (With what he was paying me, he couldn't afford to be too picky.) And the project was one I was extremely proud to be a part of. (Two out of three isn't bad.) When I wound up watching the finished film I found  it intensely engrossing; Paul brought a warmth with his interviews with the students that made the film a very personal experience. It's definitely worth  adding to your Netflix list.

  Recently Paul sent me an email to let me know there was going to be a special showing of the movie at the White House. So just in case he'd never seen an episode of Tales from the Crypt, G.I. Joe, or any of the Narnia movies, President Obama was now going to have a chance to view MY work. I'm excited about this. However, when the president does see my drawings, I hope he realizes that, like many Americans, I am often looking for work that is usually hard to find.