Monday, October 17, 2011

"The Divide" Comic Book


JAMES - Oh man, I can't tell you how psyched I am about this one. Last month I was asked by the folks at Mondo to create a 12-page full-color comic book for the upcoming Xavier Gens directed movie, "The Divide." Not only that, but it would debut at the New York Comic Con this past weekend, one of the biggest comic events of the year (and this part I didn't even know about until I was done drawing and coloring!).
The comic serves as the back-story of one of the characters in the movie, Wendy, and her mother - sort of setting up the events that take place in the movie, as well as a peek into the untold fate of "Wendy" beyond what the movie shows. I got to work right away. The pic at the top of this post is the cover. Here are some photos that show my process for the rest of the comic, step by step, focusing on a climactic two-page spread - one of my favorite scenes. Click the photos to see them larger: 

It all started with these note pages, with the tiniest little sketches on them. The Director Xavier sent a very simple and rough outline of the story that needed to be told - so I had to figure out how to turn it into 12 pages and make it flow like a story. Everyone was cool with having no real dialogue in the book, so while it saved me having to actually "write", I did have to make sure the pictures could be strong enough to tell the story by themselves.


Next I made a better rough sketch of each page, which I drew actual size of the comic so that I could fee it out better (the final comic is a mini-comic - or "ashcan" - so I needed to take the size into account of how I'm going to compose my scenes).


Then I started drawing pencils for each page. I drew them almost double size - which is still kinda small for me, but after so many days in a row of drawing at that size, I was pretty locked in. I drew all the pages in pencil first before beginning any inks - this was probably the longest step in the whole process, because I was still making decisions about certain scenes and characters.

Next, it was time to put some ink on these pages. There are three acts to the story, and each one has it's own pace and vibe. The first act is very calm, domestic, and sad; the second act is all adventure (these pages are the end of the second act); the third act is cold and clinical. So while I kept my ink-style consistent throughout, I wanted to make variations for each act so that the style becomes an important voice in the storytelling.

Here's a close-up of the final inks for page 9.

And here is the final page 8-9 spread. I colored everything in Photoshop, and made all the necessary additions at this stage: the exciting panel borders on page 9, the sparks shooting out on page 8, the lasers for the guns, and lots of other stuff throughout the other pages. I kept my color palette very simple and consistent throughout - almost approaching it like I do with my screen prints - but I made good use of filters to set the tone again for each act.
This was one of the coolest things I've ever worked on, and I'm so proud of how it came out. Big thanks to Mitch at Mondo for putting this one together. The movie will be out in January 2012 (on my birthday, no less), and hopefully these comics will make return appearances at any future advance screenings. In the meantime, here's the trailer. Thanks for reading.

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