HIGH JOHN 1: Dixieland, The Old West & The Dirty Brush
Greetings Dieselfunkateers. As the Juneteenth launch date of HIGH JOHN CONQUEROR approaches we are feverishly working to get everything in place. Part of this process involves informing the public of the genesis of this project and what the intentions for the future will be.
Our first post is all about the Art. I fully concede my work will likely never be in the contemporary style or level of the crosshatching Image guys…sadly. Hey, we all want to be sexy. But I have to face facts; I yam what I yam. Thusly, I LOVE OLD COMICS. I love the pen and ink work of Harold Raymond, Frank Frazetta, Hal Foster and Burne Hogarth. Those cats had it down. So my every effort has been to seize control of my brush…albeit digital, and bring as much power and lushness to my work as possible…like those before me. But in my OWN WAY.
More specifically, High John Conqueror is a HOMAGE to my love of Western, Crime and Sci-fi comics.
Moebius and Charlier’s Blueberry
Bernet’s ‘Torpedo 1936′
and last, but absolutely NOT LEAST…David Mazzuchelli’s Rubber Blanket
Now I’m not going to even suggest I’ll be as good as those guys are. But for HIGH JOHN CONQUEROR…That’s the standard for the attempt.
Greetings Dieselfunkateers! Alex Simmons’ BLACKJACK is back in two upcoming side by side adventures, Blackjack: Trial by Ice & Blackjack: Trial by Fire. My long collaboration, this time in the form of cover art, continues with writers Alex Simmons (Creator of Blackjack) and Chris Ryan (Creator of City of Pain, City of Woe, City of Sin). Blackjack, aka’ man of action Arron Day, is featured in stories that defy the imagination, yet put him within a definable time and place.
This began as an over the phone description by Alex of the basic cover design. But in this case I took it further by wanting to do a double cover. So the sketch was literally done in five minutes.
From a personal point of view, I’ve taken to doing the character as a way of imprinting my take of classic pulp covers while hopefully adding something new. This can often appear in the form of a homage. I’ve always loved the Greg and Tim Hildebrandt cover of Blackjack. I decided this would be my inspirational starting point
I’m not the most accurate of artists. But after spending time with an illustration, I take a break and go back to an image with fresh eyes. This can be repeated over and over again until I end up with an acceptable design. In this case, while the initial idea was fine, the cross handling of Arron’s colt handguns obscured his face.
I tried different poses. Admittedly, this was a fun diversion but I knew the asymmetry would not work for a double cover.
Ultimately, the decision was made to go back to the original idea but have Arron hold the colts side to side allowing the emotion in his face to communicate properly. I preferred this as it took the spirit of the original homage and went in a slightly different direction. I collected reference for lighting and design. Each job is different. The deadline was tight because the stories were being written as I was working. Thusly, the basic composition of Arron dominating the double image yet being off to the side in the split images was the direction. I would fill in the background later. I began with a relatively tight pencil rendering.
Then work proceeded towards doing a tight rendering of Arron. Taking the fire and ice motif would suggest light and shadow. This was further aided by making sure I had ample reference.
At this point Alex and Chris had provided story elements so I could go into filling out the background space. One of the stories takes place at the Olympics with Russian elements. The other story takes place in the snowscapes in Europe. So a google search run was most definitely in the cards. Several hours, photo shoots, and layer blending later I had a finished image.
Standby for more information on these new stories. Very proud to have provided cover art.
Also, It’s been a good long while since I’ve posted an update. Please know that MAJOR CHANGES are afoot in the way and mode that Dieselfunk Studios does business. Standby for further news.
Design Brief: The brief was very basic in providing descriptive keywords.
Rough: Sometimes the visuals come immediately. So the basic layout was done very quickly.
Pose Variants: Of course once I got far enough in the design I had to choose the best pose for Arron Day aka ‘Blackjack. Did we want the 1. I double dare you to make a move. 2. i’m gonna shoot first variant. 3. Guns blazing variant, We choose variant 1.
Reference Photos: Hey, the Internets Rocks:-)
Final: A bit of Photoshop and Manga Studio and ‘Voila. I’m a huge proponent of integrating typography with images so its was just a matter of a few tweaks.
Very PROUD, once again, to be affiliated with the works of Simmons and Ryan and BLACKJACK.
IS’NANA on the INSIDE! Greetings Dieselfunkateers! Greg Anderson-Elysée’sIs’nana The Were-Spider is next up in my monthly Creator and Characters of Color series. Elysée is one of the nicest cats you’ll ever meet in this industry plus he’s a damn good writer. One day I will finally get around to getting to work on our Creator Owned project.
Presently closing out multiple deadlines for projects, while also rebuilding the ol’studio.