Hey there, gang!
Wow, it feels like ages since we’ve hung out, well maybe it has been a while. San Diego Comic-Con has a way of sucking the hours out of my days before, during and after. But no worries, I’m back and in the saddle. And yes, I know, I know, seeing me in video is a pretty scary option as opposed to just this attractive font on the page.
So, lets get into a new Cup O’ Doodles for this week. Since I feel like I owe ya, we’ll go over two “One More Day” related cover pieces I did for Wizard Magazine.
The first piece I was commissioned to do needed to hint at the (supposed) death of one of our beloved cast members. With so much rumor and speculation going around about what was going to happen to MJ and Peter, and yes I was the person spreading them, I thought what better way to get people talking than to show Spidey holding up a limp female body that could be MJ. Of course the trick was to somehow make it seem like it was MJ when in fact it was Aunt May, who eventually was shot in issues of “Amazing” which had yet to come out.
Like all my covers, this one started out as a very rough doodle. I wanted to use very high contrast lighting to keep the piece dramatic and to make sure I had enough shadow coverage to keep May’s face obscured. In my first attempt I thought a cool up-light from the street below might do the trick. This drawing started very small and was done digitally on my Modbook which is a modified Macbook made by Axiotron. It’s like my Cintiq tablet, but I can take it anywhere. If I recall correctly, I drew this sketch on a plane.
Just to give myself options, I reworked that initial sketch using a down-light. While I felt that the up-light was much more dramatic for this piece, Wizard preferred the down-light because it enabled us to see more of Spidey’s costume. The up-light would have kept most of it in shadow and they wanted people who saw the mag on the newsstand to know immediately that it was Spidey. Good enough for me, now it was time to get to work.
Using Sketchup, I built a very simple set based upon my initial doodle.
Altering the Sketchup model a bit, I then proceeded to draw a tighter version. The trick again, was the woman’s face in shadow. Also, the clothing was really more something that May would wear, I mean that skirt is pretty dang long.
Unfortunately, I’ve seem to have lost my digital file of my pencils for this piece so we’ll have to jump right to the inks. However, the pencils were done in the old school method. I took my digital layout, printed it out and lightboxed it. As you can see I added another little detail to the woman, a wedding band. I’m operating under the assumption that even though Uncle Ben was dead, Aunt May still wore her wedding band, but people would most likely assume it was MJ. Also, evident is all the additional work I added to the background such as textures and lighting. Before the inks were started, I filled Danny Miki in on what we were trying to achieve and he knew exactly what we were going for. Danny is a tremendous artist in his own right and I never mind when he adds some extra rendering or textures to my stuff, he always makes it look that much better, so he needed to know the background behind the piece.
Richard Isanove had to operate under the same set of parameters. Most importantly to hit May with a harsh enough light that we wouldn’t be able to tell exactly what color her hair would be. Needless to say, when this cover hit the stands, fans started to freak out.
My second Wizard assignment was the parting of Peter and MJ. While this one seemed simple enough, I really wanted to convey as much emotion as possible with the character’s body language. Once again, here’s my first digital doodle. This was created quickly just as proof of concept for the art director at Wizard. I wanted to simply convey what the “idea” of the cover was going to be. The concept was approved, but they wanted the layout shifted further to the right as they had a lot of text that was going to run down the left hand side of the cover.
So, knowing that, I started to work on the figure and the body language. While I thought it was okay, it lacked something.
I went back to ground, hunched Spidey over more, lowered the angle of the head and lowered his hands so that they were against the ground in complete and utter defeat. This made him feel more broken to me, more at his wit’s end.
Time to tighten the sketch up a bit more and figure out the proper musculature. Learning from the previous cover, I knew that Wizard wasn’t going to want Spidey covered in that much shadow, but for me, not to have the dramatic shadow, which illustrated so much about the mood, would kill the piece.
Here I tried to split the baby and reverse out Spidey’s costume’s webbing so that Wizard wouldn’t have any issued with the reader not being able to identify Spidey properly. When I was done, I hated it, it was just too busy all around and took away from the piece. MJ was added in of course, her body language needed to illustrate her pain as well so I simply had her hugging herself, nearly turning back to him, but not quite being able to.
Once again, I went old school and did the old lightbox to board thing. Here you can see that I decided to leave the spider icon on his chest open and knocked out for color. Wizard was happy with this approach as it definitively said Spider-Man.
As you can see, once again, Danny adds so much more to the actual piece than I put in. Finding a guy like Danny who brings his own unique flavor to my work, yet manages to keep it all stylistically in the same vain, is quite rare and I’m pretty lucky.
And of course, the Fabulous Frenchman brings it all together. I would compliment Richard some more, but he’s already arrogant enough. Wizard asked him to add in a tone of bleed so hence the added space to our left.