Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not everything makes it in...

Well, in the weeks leading up to it, Mark and I pitched a few ideas of our own. As part of that, I made a few sketchy passes as what a cover for this might look like. The first cover sketch you see here was just a sketchbook drawing that I colored, just to give it a try. The first editor of the Boom! Pixar Books, the very patient Paul Morrissey, suggested that my drawing of Lightning might be a little stiff, and that I should try to bring a little more energy, a little more destruction, into the drawing to really sell it. So I did another sketch of McQueen, that you also see here, that I think does that exactly.

Ultimately, Pixar did not opt for our pitch, and went with what eventually became "The Rookie." But it was good practice, I think. One thing I've found out about doing comics of this sort, is you have to throw a lot of stuff at it, and only relatively little sticks. Every story that gets accepted is accompanied by dozens that don't. Every cover sketch is one of many. It's the thankless job of the editor to select the best, most promising stuff and shepherd it along to publication. So thanks to Paul are due for the yeoman's work he performed on ALL the Pixar books, including Cars.

And perhaps Mark and I will get a chance to tell this tale someday. I still hold out some hope for this one! If the cover is any indication, I think it would be a pretty good yarn!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Second First Cars Cover!

Well, for most of the run on the Boom! Studios Cars comics we did two covers for each issue, and this was my other cover for the first issue. I actually think it's really cool! Lots of action, and I got to design those two cars in the background. So, right off the bat, I have designed some characters that are in the Cars canon! How cool is that? They are Skull an Flame, #66 and #99, two of McQueen's early racing rivals from when he was an up-and-comer, racing in the monor leagues at the Thunderhill race track. I really, truly hope they decide to make toys of these characters, I would really dig it.

Anyway, Boom! recolored this one as well, because they wanted the colors to more closely match the colors of the interior pages. No hard feelings, that's just the way it is, and I can see their point. Still, I personally prefer my own coloring, although I probably should have used some color holds in those lights in the background. I hadn't quite gotten the hang of color holds at this point, so I just did the best I could and sent it on its way.

Another interesting thing about this one is that I drew it with McQueen breaking the panel border. I knew that he would be trimmed off, and I designed it to be that way, but I wanted to draw ALL of McQueen, just to be sure that I got his proportions correct and everything. And I also think it makes a pretty interesting illustration like that. So here I present that cover, untrimmed and with its original coloring. Please to enjoy!

Friday, November 26, 2010

My First Cars Cover!

Well, eventually it was time to start drawing pictures for comics. Sure, I did some more sketches for story proposals that Mark and I were cookin' up (I'll get some of that interesting stuff up soon, I promise!) but these images are where I really started to rev up my engines. Time to start drawing Cars comics covers! I did a bunch of sketches, and the sketch you see here was an early favorite of mine. I was trying to get a lot of excitement into this picture, what with the rockets and explosions and all that, but Boom came back with "Why is Lightning McQueen being shot at by rockets?" Okay, fair enough. I also got a comment that Disney wants us to avoid drawing the undercarriage of the Cars. One thing I've learned is that when drawing licensed characters, there are rules you have to follow. Donald Duck never wears pants. I figure it's because these characters have been carefully designed long before I came to them, and so I have to pay attention and do it right. It's just part of the gig. Like if you're a session musician, you don't just play whatever you want however you want, you read the music and follow the band leader and do the best job you can. I actually never had much problem keeping the Cars on-model, but it was something I had to be mindful of and responsive to, and it all part of the job. So I went with a new design based on that original premise that I think we can agree worked out much better.

I'll be honest, I was absolutely terrified at this point. This was the BIG SHOW! The highest profile work I'd yet done! Disney! Pixar! CARS!!! There's hardly anything bigger and I had stage fright! I wasn't certain that I could color a comic cover up to the very highest level of quality yet. I just had to throw myself into the deep end and sink or swim. Thanks here are due to my friend in comics, the great Steve Buccellatto, who very kindly and patiently gave me some tips on how to properly prepare and color in Photoshop so it would print out right. The second image here are the results, which I think, afterall, looked pretty good.

Well, Boom ended up recoloring it anyway. I don't mind, really. FIrst, I understood that my work was subject to editorial decisions like this, and to have my work changed is nothing to take personally. The interior pages were being colored in a more muted pallete than I had used, and the new coloring worked better as the cover for those pages. So, while I was disappointed that my original coloring didn't fly, I was VERY happy that they kept me on for the subsequent issues. My work got better, I think, but here is where it all began.

Thanks for visiting again. I'll have some more stuff to share on Monday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Learning how to draw the Cars

So, after I got word that I was going to get to draw the Cars, I had a few months to get ready. I decided that I had to practice drawing them, get used to their personalities and proportions, so that when I drew my first cover or pages, that I would already be familiar with them. So I drew these model sheets of most of the major characters. I think they really helped me hit the ground running, and I contiinue to use them as a handy reference.

While working on these drawings, I made the decision that I would approach drawing the Cars using the notion that I have heard John Lasseter talk about of "Truth to Materials." These characters are CARS, they are made of METAL. They are not funny animals, they are CARS. So I would not use a lot of cartoony exaggeration, "squash and stretch," in them in any way that is not apparent in the movie or in the "Mater's Tall Tales" cartoon shorts. In those, the characters only move at natural joints in the wheels and axles, and of course, the face and eyes. In this way I would remain true to their nature as Pixar depicts them. But, of course, If Pixar wanted to have them look TOTALLY realistic, then they would just have them rendered by a computer. They wanted COMICS, and that meant they wanted a COMIC BOOK style. So I figured that we could deliver that just by virtue of them being hand-drawn and colored rather flat. Basically, I draw them as realistically as I can with a crowquill pen, and it's a lot like drawing backgrounds in a mainstream-style comic book. I have a strong opinion about this. I really like the result.

Thanks for checking in. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I won't post anything until Friday. So stop by Friday and see something you almost certainly haven't seen before!! Happy Turkey Day!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cars Test Pages

In a way, Cars came to me out of the clear blue sky. My frequent collaborator, Mark Cooper, and I had self-published a collection of short stories we had done called "Intrepid Events." (I will certainly post some of that stuff in this blog in the near future.) A couple of weeks after getting a table at the Emerald City Comic Con and selling a few, Mark called me up to tell me the news that Boom! Studios had called to ask if we would be interested in auditioning for their upcoming line of Cars comics. Rarely have I been more excited! So Mark and I came up with a story, Mark wrote the script and I drew and colored a couple pages. Soon thereafter, I learned that our work was approved and that we were ready to contribute to the Cars comics! (Someone told me that, at some point, these pages had to have found their way under the eyes of John Lasseter himself! YOW!!!) And thus began my relationship with the Cars Comics. So far I have drawn and colored several dozen covers and drawn 6 full issues. It's been one of the most exciting and productive creative efforts of my life.

I have many people to thank for this. Ross Richie, publisher at Boom Studios for giving me a break. Paul Morrissey and Aaron Sparrow, the editors of the Cars books, who'se patience and guidance were essential for me to give these images my very best efforts. Alan Porter, who wrote most of the issues I worked on. Patrick Rills, a colse friend and collaborator whose interest and assistance was extremely invaluable, (we were close... SO CLOSE!!!) But most of all, Mark Cooper, without whom I would not have done Intrepid Events, would not have been contacted by Boom, would not have drawn those test pages that got me in, and whose conversation and moral support offered me comfort and encouragement every step of the way. Furthermore, I have enjoyed the company of everybody I have met at and through Boom Studios, and I have a whole coterie of friends I can indiscriminately instant message at random and inconvenient moments each and every day. Thank you all!

Over the next however-many months, I'm going to share with you a LOT of the work I did for the Cars comics, covers, sketches, pages, unpublished behind the scenes stuff. Just keep coming back, people, there's a lot on the way!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Big Daddy McQueen

Big Daddy McQueen

Well, folks, I've been at it a while now. For the past 2 years I have been providing covers and art for the Disney/Pixar's CARS comics published by Boom! Studios. It's been a fantastic experience, and I have done a lot of work for them. This whole time, I've been so wrapped up in it that I have neglected to develop the online presence that the world seems to expect of it's artists in this day and age. Well, worry not! I am establishing this blog to share with the world my work on Cars, and also to share my work on various other arty-cartoony projects. In addition to the talking cars, I'll give you intrepid space women, fightin' repo men, ghost detectives, talking dinosaurs, and all manner of stuff that has sat in the vaults far too long. So, thanks for stopping in, stand by, more to come.