Thursday, 7 April 2011

Who's Next?

Amongst other bits and pieces and preparation for this weekend's Kapow, I've been doing a commission for John Burdis, I'd done something for The Cellar of Dredd before, a quick single illustration of Hondo-Cit's Inspector Inaba. I'd done that under my own steam following the fab time I had at the Hi-Ex Comicon, but this time, John had something in mind.

The following is all about the "process" for those of you who like to see the work in progress stuff.

I did an initial sketch based upon John's original brief:

"Dredd stood in the middle of a street with dead superheroes strewn all around him and Joe saying something along the lines of "Costumed vigilantes, leave the real crime fighting to me!"
The characters who would be dead would include Superman (head missing definitely), Batman, Wonderwoman, Captain America and all those other US bods.

One thought kept floating around my brain, a pile of dead super-heroes and something in Brian Bolland's classic cover to Prog 2000 kept nagging at me as well.

John liked the inital sketch but had a couple of requests for additions if I could manage them:

First up was a simple addition to the roster of the dispatched: "Green Arrow's arm with a broken bow"

Next was just a weapons' upgrade to the "Colt Widowmaker " instead of the Anti-Hero gun I'd been musing over as the reason why Dredd was now able to dispatch these super-heroes.

Finally, a nice way to really make the commission a personal one: " a large pristine BURDIS BLOCK and a couple of derelict smaller blocks with the names MARVEL and DC".

In Dredd's world, towering apartment Blocks are often named after famous people, sometimes for satirical reasons, sometimes equally as a tribute to that person. I felt that DC and MARVEL blocks could nicely be rolled into the one (albeit well beaten-up) DEE CEE MARVILLE block.

I wanted the blocks to say something about John and the two comic companies respectively... aside from the beaten-up aspect of DEE CEE MARVILLE, I wanted the block to hint at those companies' stock-in-trade - Super-heroes!

John's online forum name is COMMANDO FORCES, for reason's which are obvious to anyone who knows him. Hopefully my intentions for his 'block' shouldn't need much more explaining. For the DEE CEE MARVILLE block, I wanted it to look as much a possible like a cape flowing over the shoulders of a hero, almost immediately that dictated a very Art Deco style, evocative of old movie theatres.

By this point I've switched into Google Sketch-up to muck about with the architecture, mainly because if we decide to change the POV, I haven't got to reconstruct the difficult curvature on that art Deco styled block... but it wasn't there that my main problem would be!

I had inadvertently created, by virtue of the military style helmet, a very phallic looking building... "could you put some sort of roof sports complex/airport style thing somewhere around/on that part?". Thankfully we caught it and had a chance to make a suitable alteration.

The only other thing John wanted was "More gore on those bodies." I guess the super-hero fan in me was just subconsciously trying to limit the damage to all those "good guys", but, you've got to give the client what they want!

I'd been concerned over Dredd's footing and so I added in Reed Richards, utlising his 'rubbery' consistency to nicely fill in the space between Superman and WonderWoman.

After showing the last version to John, I couldn't help but think we'd lost the 'Military' in the styling of 'Burdis Block' in favour of Miners or worse still, Doozers!

The easiest way to show him some alternatives was a little fly-around movie taken out of Sketch-up. I can't advocate strongly enough the time saving aspects of this program for me, where previously (hours of projecting the perspective correctly) would have ended up making me want to stab myself in the head.

Throughout the process, there had been dissatisfaction on both our parts over the wording of Dredd's proclamation, neither of ours had been punchy enough. John had started a forum topic to ask for help and there had been some great and some very witty suggestions, but it wasn't until my good pal and Fractal Friction co-contributer Chris Askham suggested a short and sweet "When are you CREEPS gonna learn?", that either John or myself found a 'fit' for the illustration.

We we're all happy until John posted my initial sketch in the same forum topic...

PJ Holden (who has always been insightful and helpful to me from my very earliest foray into the comics business) suggested the even shorter and IMO 'sweeter' "WHO'S NEXT?". Sorry Chris, but you know when something's right.

With the final version okayed by John, I turned the 'pencils' into a 'blueline' ready to print out. Using another tip I'd picked up from PJ, I left the 'speech' to print out in Black for crispness in the final artwork.

I inked the dead super-heroes first because I knew there would be a lot of work in that part, in fact it took most of a morning to do, but after getting Dredd inked in, it was all fairly plain sailing and came together quite quickly!

I sent a scan of the final thing to John yesterday and I'm pleased to say he's very happy with it and looking forward to seeing it in the flesh at Kapow!

I guess that's it really, other than to ask: "WHO'S NEXT?"


Craig Collins said...

Beautiful work Kev, top notch.

Love the detail in the hero-pile, Spidey's hand and Dredd's foor sinking into Reed Richards' back a little. Amazing!

Philip Morgan said...

An excellent peice of work Kev! It'd be interesting to see the strip when Silver Surfer catches up Dredd, those Kryptonite tipped bullets won't be much good then. Hmm, how would he get out of that one?

Darren said...

Stunning. Simply stunning. ;-)

matt dawson said...

Really superb piece of work Kev! The splatter inking is especially nice to see and sets the pile of perfectly against Dredd. Beautiful inking and great design and composition. A real acquisition for John Burdis!

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

A helluva lot of work has been put into this and it's paid off in spades.
A stunningly good piece of art!