Thursday, August 25, 2011

Falling with style

It was at about issue 3 that I really began to hit my stride. Up to this point, I'll be honest, I was still pretty terrified that I wouldn't be able to do work that would be deemed "good enough" for the Cars. I mean, I'm pretty confident in my drawing abilities, and I knew my way around the Photoshop pretty well, but I'd never really had a gig like Cars, a huge Disney franchise! I felt like the eyes of the world were upon me and I didn't want to fall on my face! And while my previous covers were pretty good, it was with issue 3 that I really started to get the hang of it and started to feel inspired.

This cover, the big multi-car pile-up is one of my favorites. In the story, Lightning McQueen experiences his first multi-car pile-up. The idea, I think, was to contrast his utter terror here with his cocky assuredness in the movie when he makes his way through another pile-up with much more confidence and style.

Yeah, I used this moment as the inspiration for the first cover, but we're talking about issue 3 here!

Anyway, the cover I originally presented had some pretty realistic smoke, but our editor didn't much care for it, so he asked me to give it another try. This next version is the one I prefer, I think the kinda cartoony smoke works well with the cartoony (not realistic) drawing and rendering of the characters, and it give the cover some visual energy. But really our editor didn't care for the smoke AT ALL and asked me to take it all out. So I did. Smoke or no smoke, that's no big whoop, so why argue? Also, in this version of the cover, I had the cars partially covering the Cars logo. I was careful to not make it unreadable, but I thought having the cars covering the logo a little bit added some energy to the composition. I think the editor agreed with me on this, but Disney didn't and instructed us to show the WHOLE logo. And so I give you the version of the cover that ultimately went to print.

Your mileage may vary, but I personally prefer the one with the smoke and the obscured logo. But I am not complaining! I mean, making changes is part of the deal when working on licensed franchise characters. Still, I can have my opinion, and I say to anybody who asks that the smoky one is the DEFINITIVE version of this cover. In fact, I use this image as my convention banner, WITH the smoke, thank you very much! I mean, here, look at this:

Here's a photo of me, meeting the great car designer, Chip Foose at this year's D23 Expo, and notice that banner behind us? Doesn't it look nice? Ha ha!

I still think of this cover sometimes. It was a lot of fun to draw! All those cars with funny scared faces flying through the air! I didn't try to make it realistic, I just wanted to do something that was funny and that would also be recognizable at a glance, that illustrated a key moment of the story, but that would also work as a stand-alone image. I wanted the coloring to be vivid, the characters to be accurate, and the brushwork to be fluid and confident. I really nailed it here and I'm very proud of this cover. I think it was this cover and the next that demonstrated (to myself if nobody else) that I was the guy for the job, that I could keep up and make work that would stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best artists out there. This is where I really became the Disney/Pixar's CARS comics artist!

I love the Cars!