Archive for August, 2011


Came across a couple websites with a ridiculous wealth of production design inspiration.  Some samples from duldule.com and dezeen.com below.

Robert Kirkman
Geoff Johns
Brian K. Vaughn
Shane Davis
Sean Murphy
Pat Gleason
John Layman
Cory Walker
Amanda Conner
Mitch Breitweiser
Valentine de Landro
Freddie Williams III
Jamal Igle
Phil Hester
Khary Randolph

What series do they all have in common? A big summer crossover event? Or maybe some Batman or X-Men related book?

Nope. It was Jay Faerber’s Noble Causes.

Great article by Greg Burgas at Comic Book Resources about the series and how underrated it is. Reminded me of all the incredible talent Jay had on the book and just how many up-and-comers Jay gave a helping hand to along the way (including myself – I drew a few stories and was the cover artist of Noble Causes for a time).

Jay is one of the most underrated writers in comics. There’s a reason why guys like Brian K. Vaughn, Robert Kirkman and John Layman rave about his stuff. He’s currently on staff writing for Sarah Michelle Gellar’s new CW series, The Ringer, plus he’s got a new comic coming out from Image September 21st called Near Death.

Super-interesting video of Sara Pichelli inking the new Ultimate Spider-Man in Photoshop.

The reference madness that goes on in my studio while working. That’s all for one building!

Gabe Bridwell Desk Shot, what's on the drawing table 8.22.11

Last October, I had the pleasure of attending an Atlantic Center for the Arts residency with Paul Pope, Craig Thompson and Svetlana Chmakova (see previous ACA posts – part 1, part 2, part 3, & part 4). One afternoon, I went over to see what was going on in the Craig Thompson group studio. There sitting on the table was a stunning new comic page by Craig. It was his introduction to Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s Daytripper trade.

I was utterly enthralled with the piece. First, it was an original piece of Craig Thompson’s art in my hands!! Second, it was such a gorgeous page, I got lost looking at Craig’s lush brushwork, patterns and hand lettering. Third, I found what Craig said in the page to be a very insightful. But more than anything, I was mesmerized by the idea that Craig had done the introduction as a COMIC. Now maybe doing an intro as a comic isn’t a groundbreaking idea to everyone, but it was to me. It hit me hard and I began to think or rethink lots of different possibilities. You could take virtually anything and “do it as a comic”. I was so captivated by the piece, I actually stood there and drew it in my sketchbook (see below) so I could have it for inspiration until the Daytripper trade came out. After I got done staring at the piece for an hour and a half, one of the artists in Craig’s group, the amazing Jake Wyatt, told me that Craig was really worried the introduction wasn’t any good and that he hadn’t actually “said anything” with it.” Over dinner that night, I got a chance to tell Craig how amazing and powerful I thought it was. I worry he was too humble to accept my sincerity.

Craig Thompson's introduction for Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba's DAYTRIPPER

Gabe Bridwell's study of Craig Thompson's DAYTRIPPER intro

I was reminded of that Craig Thompson story because I’ve recently seen a couple creators do promos/ads for their projects as a comic instead of just the typical static illustration or poster. And I LOVE that idea of just “doing it as a comic.”

Jay Faerber and artist Simone Guglielmini have a new series coming out from Image Comics called Near Death. To promote the comic, Image did a sweet poster of the cover of issue #1 by Tomm Coker. Doing a cool promo poster is always a good idea (especially when you have someone as amazing as Tomm doing it), but it doesn’t really get the logline of your average series across. So Jay and Simone did a 3-page promo story that spells out the premise of their book. The promo straddles the line and is basically a comic and an ad at the same time. They’ve even managed to work in testimonials from Brian K. Vaughn and John Layman. The idea and execution is absolutely brilliant! And extremely effective as well. I’d be way more inclined to pick up Jay’s book after reading the promo comic than if I’d just seen the cover to #1 (and I don’t mean any offense to Tomm Coker with that remark).

Jay Faerber's NEAR DEATH promo

Jay Faerber's NEAR DEATH promo

Jay Faerber's NEAR DEATH promo

Another example of “doing it as a comic” I’ve seen recently was for Shane and Chris Houghton’s comic Reed Gunther. I think Shane and Chris felt Reed Gunther was being unfairly categorized as an “All-Ages Kids Book”. But instead of just slapping a blurb on their book saying, “A comic for everyone” or something like that, they did  2-page comic explaining the idea instead. And I think it turned out great. It honestly made me take notice of the series more than any of the other promo images they’ve done.

Shane and Chris Houghton's REED GUNTHER promo comic

Shane and Chris Houghton's REED GUNTHER promo comic

And the last example I thought of is some of the promos that J. Scott Campbell did for Danger Girl and Wildsiderz. The Danger Girl promo was a fun little 2-page comic that not only got the series premise across, but also showcased it’s fun factor and sense of humor. With Wildsiderz, Jeff pushed things quite a bit more and basically did a 10-page comic trailer for the series.

Now I’m sure I’m missing some really obvious ones, so help me out if you guys think of any and mention them in the comments.

J. Scott Campbell's DANGER GIRL Promo

Wild Siderz #0 Preview Comic by J. Scott Campbell

Wild Siderz #0 Preview Comic by J. Scott Campbell

Wild Siderz #0 Preview Comic by J. Scott Campbell

Wild Siderz #0 Preview Comic by J. Scott Campbell

Wild Siderz #0 Preview Comic by J. Scott Campbell

 

From Axel’s recent interview with CBR:

“What do readers want from an event? Huge stakes, a satisfying climax that brings about some sort of lasting change to the status quo and a few loose threads to keep them guessing where the ongoing story is headed. And let’s face it, usually those threads come in the form of something bad looming on the horizon. If there’s one certainty in comics, it’s that victory always comes at a price. It’s our job to find ways to keep the inertia going 24-7, to keep the pressure on our heroes.”

I couldn’t agree with Axel more. The comics I find really entertaining are ones that change up the status quo, explore that new situation to the fullest, then change it up again. The catalyst for the changing of the status quo doesn’t necessarily have to come from an event or crossover though. It can just be a regular arc of the book. Either way, Marvel is on the right path with their event comics. It’s about what stories they can tell. Not what gimmick people will buy. That’s a lesson DC has still failed to grasp.

 

You know that feeling you have when you get a new page of original art? You just bask in the glory of it. Savoring every detail.  Memorizing every nuance. You develop a personal relationship with it. It’s amazing what that single page can make you feel.

Now multiple that feeling 176 times (one for every page) and you MIGHT begin to understand just how staggeringly awesome IDW’s Walt Simonson’s: The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition is.

The first thing you notice is just how massive the book is. At a full 12’x17″ it dwarfs even the tombstone-sized Alex Toth: Genius Isolated book — though it’s not nearly as thick (photos below show scale compared to regular comic and against a DC Absolute Edition). The book features seven full issues of Thor Walt wrote and drew (Issues #337-340 & #360-363). Walt hadn’t sold any of the pages, so they were able to scan the original art, all in full-color, so you could see construction lines, paste-ups, whiteout etc. Plus, all the pages were lettered by the brilliant John Workman, so you can actually read the story (and study John’s work).

Walt is in my personal pantheon of creators. Of course his work on Thor was legendary, but I hold his X-Factor, Fantastic Four and Orion work in the same regard. All of what makes Walt such an amazing artist is just bursting out of these pages. The power. The energy. The storytelling. The unbelievable draftsmanship.

Owning his full-size pages and getting to really study them is such an amazing opportunity, I can’t even put it into words.  What I can tell you though, is this book has already had a profound affect on how I’ll approach all my future work.

After one day, Walt Simonson’s: The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition is already one of my most cherished books.

Walt Simonson's: The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition Cover

Walt Simonson's: The Mighty Thor Artist's EditionWalt Simonson's: The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition

Walt Simonson's: The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition

Walt Simonson's: The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition

Walt Simonson's: The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition

Walt Simonson's: The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition

Walt Simonson's: The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition

Ming's House of Metal Recording Studio W-I-P Sketches

An artist friend of mine is working on writing his own comic and asked my advice on the following:

“There is a sequence I want to put in my comic, but it’s not essential to the main plot. It’s a scene that gives insight into the main character, his motivations and the world the story takes place in, but it’s not vital to the story. Do I keep it or cut it?”


Good question. And this will sound kinda like a cop-out, but that’s really part of your voice as a storyteller. What do you choose to keep in and take out?

How self-indulgent do you get? Do you go Mignola’s route and show lots of aspect-to-aspect panels — they help set the mood and establish location but don’t advance the plot at all. Do you go Tarantino’s route and show a scene of two characters talking just because they play off each other well and not because they advance the story? How cutthroat are you with your story and pacing?

My general approach is to see if I can’t take the idea you’re talking about (something that shows characterization and world) and add that into another “important” scene that DOES move the story along. I forget who called it this, but someone used the word “telescopic” storytelling. Like adding multiple storytelling functions, one on top of the other, so that a scene is doing like ten things at once. And that is really fucking hard to do as a creator, but I also feel it works great for reader participation and immersion.

Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure that every single scene in The Happy Samurais #1 “turns”. There’s a point to every scene.  Some value in the scene (trust, loyalty, love, hope) goes from positive to negative, or negative to positive. And once the scene turns (and I’ve made my point), I get the hell out of there (start the scene as late as possible, and end it as soon as possible).

If a scene DOESN’T turn, it better be really fucking interesting on SOME level. There is a super-popular series out there that used to piss me off with this constantly. I’d get done reading a scene and be like, “WTF?!  Why did you even show me that? That scene had no point (except to piss me off) and had no bearing on the outcome of things.” If a scene is entertaining and you’ve got space for it, then fuck it and put it in there.  Most monthly books don’t have the pages to spare on scenes non-essential to the plot.

When in doubt on what storytelling decision to make, I generally go back to Walt Simonson’s advice: “For every decision ask, ‘does it make the story better?”.

Iraqi-British Architect, Zaha Hadid.  The first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.  Pretty obsessed with her work at the moment.  Some day I hope to make a trip to Zaragoza, Spain, just to experience her bridge pavilion in person.

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design

Zaha Hadid Design


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