Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 07...

Once more unto the breech…

Hi Guys

I left my tearful family in England for a second time after the holiday. My children were a little sad to see their Dad disappear again after a lovely time in Wales the week previous, but I told them it was only for two weeks and I would call them everyday before they went to bed, as I had the first week out in New York.
I had the easy bit I was going to work again in, what I now consider to be the best city in the world. Margaret, who at the time could not drive had to look after the kids and get them to and from school and go to work herself at the day nursery. My Dad and Margaret’s sister would help with the driving bit, but the rest of it lay squarely with Margaret, to which I will always be indebted.

I arrived much the same as I had on my first trip out to New York. The weather was still gorgeous and the route into the city was the same. The limo dropped me off at the office had it had the first time and I entered the offices with my suitcase, considerably more heavy this time around and my Portfolio and art materials in my hand luggage.

Once inside and settled I made a quick telephone call home to let them know I had arrived safely and then I showed the pages to Janet and Joe that I had completed whilst away. I returned to the Jolly Madison Towers hotel, this time in another part of the hotel. I unpacked my clothes and then returned to the offices, having taken a shower. It was late afternoon when I arrived in the USA and it was now time to eat.

We ordered in and chose to eat Mexican, something we hadn’t done on my previous trip there, so it was something new for me. I like spicy food and this was a welcome treat for me and would remain so, once a month, or so, for the duration of my stay in New York. I told everyone all about the exploits of the missed flight, the convention and the wonderful holiday with my family as we ate and then there was just a little time left to put down some further washes on the next couple of pages before retiring to bed.

As I lay in bed in the hotel room, I have to admit to it feeling a little like returning home for me. Something about it all felt right, like I truly belonged there, the only thing missing being my wife and kids. There was a loud bang from below, but this time I knew what all the commotion was about, it was simply the refuge truck removing the rubbish from the previous day. I smiled and wondered how much work I could get through before leaving again in a fortnight’s time?

I awoke to another gloriously sunny day in Manhattan. I decided I would try some Bagels, which I would buy on the way into the office, once I had had breakfast.

The guy in the hotel restaurant recognised me and we chatted for a while, before I went to work. Yes I had begun to look on it as a job again and not just a PR exercise. I was there to get the book on track with their deadlines, so I expected to be busy.

The office seemed even busier now, upon my return and there were about to be some new faces added to the fray. That day I was told a guy was flying in from Sacramento in California and another was flying in with his agent from San Paulo in Brazil. It really was starting to look a whole lot like the United Nations inside the Bullpen. Another guy had been added to the pencillers, as well Adam Pollina and he was due in that week also for a brief trip into the city. I would meet Dave Lapham and his wife as well this first week back as he too paid a visit to the offices.

The schedule now looked more full too – it’s surprising what exactly can happen in a two-week period. There was Plasm both the comic book and the card set issue zero, Dark Dominion the comic book and card set issue zero, The Good Guys, although this was unfortunately becoming increasingly late, Charlemagne, which Adam Pollina would be drawing and a whole slew of other titles being worked on by Jim and the others, which were at different stages in their development.

It was late summer, the weather was great and the books were looking great too. Joe’s pencils on our book were getting better and better, as he continued to work on issue one. Everyone was talking about the book in the office and how they loved the way Joe and I were working so closely together, each adding our own unique touches to the book and yet melding together so perfectly as we did so.

There was still a long way to go though before we had the first issue under our belt. I found myself working long hours on Dark Dominion as we strove to give it a really different look from all the other books in production at Defiant. These hours would get longer and longer, as the time went by. I was used to working the candle at both ends back home in the UK so the schedule was nothing new for me.

I always tell young artists and students, that you need an incredible amount of determination, stamina and staying power to be a successful comic artist, as well as being able to tell a story. You need to be able to work incredibly long hours and get the book out on time, often without sleeping for over 24 hours and in some cases for a few days, just to meet a deadline and I like to think I am quick.

I sat at the drawing board once more, armed with a cup of coffee and a fresh Bagel and continued with the next pages, working closely with Joe as he pencilled others. We were almost extensions of each other by this stage, even though we had been working together for a relatively short period of time. But this symbiosis was vital in achieving the look we wanted for the book, to set it aside from the others in the Defiant Universe, but to also set the style for the book.

Janet brought out the cover she had painted over Joe’s artwork for the same issue. It was fantastic and helped to make it feel the job was now well on its way.

Below: Detail of Michael Alexander's "Glow" SFX:

The topic of conversation that morning was the way I had painted the SFX on Michael Alexander to show the transitions between him being in the “real” world and that of the Dark Dominion, the other side of the world in which we live, the hidden world dominated by the Demons that tempt and direct our every lives, if we allow them.

It was a clever concept and one I had been looking at in a similar story idea, which I was later to submit to Jim, as a possible extension to the series plotlines.

I had chosen to utilise the glowing effect, which was already established in the card series, which had been produced first, before the comic, which had been drawn by Steve Ditko and Coloured by Marcus David and take it one step further.

The concept behind Michael, who was an unlikely candidate for the typical American comic book, as an aging guy, who could see and also walk between the two worlds, was one, which showed him normal in the “real” world, but glowing in the Dark Dominion. Michael’s appearance becomes a metaphor for what is actually happening to him within the Dark Dominion. To some he is the glow that must survive in the darkness, because of his abilities to tread both worlds. To others he is a last glimmer of hope. To others he is merely a glint in the grander scheme of things.

With all this happening I decided to really go to town with the painted art and show him go from real to glowing by developing a look for the SFX and used a stippling effect on the outer edges of the character when transforming between worlds and using the existing glow effects when in the Dark Dominion. This really worked and made the transition smoother. It certainly had the desired effect amongst my fellow professionals in the office and also with the fans of the book, who instantly seemed to jump on the look of the book and its different appearance to the others in the Defiant Universe as much as the story content and concept.

Whilst there were obviously people disappointed that Steve Ditko was no longer on the book that was soon put out of folks minds, as the book progressed and gained momentum. We were all pleasantly surprised at how well the new book was accepted by the fans and the trade press at the time, which was great, especially after all the effort that was being expended in the production of the artwork, on a gruelling monthly schedule.

Later that day, towards lunchtime, I was introduced to the guy from Sacramento, Charles Yoakum, who has remained a great friend to this day. We quickly hit it off and he was put to work inking, after a brief trip to his hotel to shower and unpack. We would soon find we had similar interests, and a love of certain comic books and their creators.

As we spoke more and more I realised this was me, a mere two or three weeks ago. Charles had one weeks worth of clothing and he also had an apartment back home in California, which he was supposed to go back to in a few days…Should I have mentioned it to him in a more expanded way, no way I was having fun and Charles would too, in a few days.

As early evening approached we were joined with yet another artist this time it was the guy from Brazil, Oclair Silverio, with his agent. I would soon become his interpreter. There must have been something of a similarity between his Brazilian and my Lancashire accent. I could speak no Brazilian and he could speak only an odd word of English, yet the office was soon laughing at how he and I managed, somehow to interpret for each other, through signs, mime and a great use of imagination. These next couple of weeks looked like being fun.

The office was quite electric with creative juices overflowing in all its little nooks and crannies. Everyone was bouncing off each other creatively and the Defiant Bullpen was everything I had imagined the Marvel comics one to have been back when I was a kid reading them in the sixties and seventies. Although most of what was documented in the comics of the time was exaggerated and fictitious, this one was there in front of us all, acting as both a mutual playground and a source of mutual inspiration.

Below: Detail of the Ectoplasm SFX used on all the denizens of Dark Dominion:

I have not had that repeated during my career to date and it was special. The nearest thing to come close to it was my association with Morpheus Animations in the early part of the new millennium, following my initial involvement with Theme Park Conceptualisation, when I was inspired to new levels. It was a special time and one I shared with some special people. It was a time when I was so busy and it went so fast there was hardly time to look up from the drawing board to see what was going on, before I was hit with the next pages.

Yet throughout the time at Defiant everyone seemed to be enjoying it, just as much as I was. It certainly prepared me for my new venture when I decided in March of 2005 to set up a new company. Once you have experienced such a great working environment, everything else, even well paid jobs, pale into insignificance and make one crave for more of the same.

Below: Defiant Publicity shot of me, working on Dark Dominion Issue #1 Page 4

That evening we ordered in food and as part of the working day anyone working after six o’clock was provided a meal paid for by Jim’s company. He really looked after his people. I was using two pages of Dark Dominion payments as expenses. All that was happening was I invoiced for the two pages, I was given money from the petty cash and when it was gone I took along the receipts and received the money back. So in effect I was going to be paid back for everything I spent the money on to survive during my stay there for the two weeks period.

When I returned to my hotel room, I lay ready for sleep and once again wondered could this get any better, I was one lucky Brit. Tomorrow would bring more of the same zany, manic, creativeness.

But I’ll share that in my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

May 26th 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 06...

Or, there and back again…

Hi Guys

I awoke and made sure everything was packed for the flight back home. The coming weekend was going to be a very busy one.

I was going to arrive in Manchester and then get a lift home. I would then, after briefly hugging the folks back home and telling them all about the trip to New York, pick up my friend and fellow artist, Leo Brown and attend the London comics convention. That was Saturday spoken for and then we would return later in the afternoon on Sunday, just before the convention closed down.

On arrival home, after dropping off Leo at his home, I would pack the car ready for an early start on Monday morning for our trip down to North Wales and the little cottage waiting for us there, called “Gwynt Y Mor”.

That was the plan, as I went down for the last time that week for breakfast in the hotel restaurant. I was excited to be going back home and looking forward to everything that was in my itinerary. I walked over to the office with my suitcase and was relieved when it and my portfolio and art materials were all together again.

I sat at the drawing board and began to work on Page four of Dark Dominion. I was soon telling everyone that the rumours circulating the Defiant offices were correct, I was going home, but I would be back inside of a week or so.

Page four contained the first of the creatures that reside in the realm of Dark Dominion and I began to lay down the initial washes for the page. I was not to get much further, however as Janet came out of her office and asked me if I would like to take a trip down to Grand Central Station, with her and Joe, where we would have something light to eat. I agreed and packed everything away. I had some pages to take with me, so I could continue on the pages whilst on holiday at night. They went in the portfolio and my art materials went in my hand luggage. I was set, upon my return from our little trip I would be setting off once more for JFK airport.

The walk to Grand Central from the offices was only a very short one and near to Mid-Town Comics, which although Joe had spoken of I had not yet seen, although I would on my return trip. The station is a huge, brilliantly designed building, lovely on the outside with its sculptures and on the inside with its wonderful staircase seen in many a movie (Carlito’s way comes to mind, although at this point it had not been released and would be a film I would take in again on my return trip).

Below: Page 4 of Dark Dominion Issue #1:

The three of us chatted and drank tea and coffee and ate a selection of cakes from the café buffet. I had not had Pecan pie before, but from that moment on I was hooked. Joe commented about my T-Shirt I was wearing with the motif “Charlotte”, it was a hornet’s basketball shirt, but he laughed and asked why I was wearing a girl’s shirt – He didn’t know, at this point, that I have a very good and long reaching memory and would have my revenge.

We went back to the office where Pizza had just arrived (this was a common occurrence at Defiant), so we all sat round the front near reception and on the veranda and chatted whilst eating the most humongous pieces of Pizza I had seen in my life, up to this point. Everyone was excited that I was going to coming back once more for another two weeks and was the most common subject discussed with me that lunchtime.

Eventually the limo arrived to take me back to the airport and Joe very kindly accompanied me there. Once I was unloaded we said our goodbyes and I said I would see him in a week or so.

Not having flown on my own before this trip, this was the first time on a return flight to the UK, so I immediately went to the nearest airport attendant and asked where to check in. I was shown and I handed in my suitcase and went through customs with my portfolio and hand luggage.

On the other side of customs I relaxed a little and spotted another airport attendant and showing my ticket to him asked where I was to go and where I would board the plane. He took me to another area of the airport and said I was to await the call to board the aircraft from here.

I sat and waited, now feeling much better, I just had a couple of hours to kill.

I asked another passenger if he was waiting for the flight to Manchester in the UK, but he told me he was going to Chicago.

I sat and read some magazines I had bought whilst in Manhattan and gradually the clock ticked down. Occasionally I looked up over the magazines when I heard another influx of passengers enter the area, to quickly depart on their flights. The weather outside had changed and was starting to rain quite heavily.

I asked another airport attendant if the flight was in for the return flight to the UK and he said it would be a while before we boarded, but that I would hear an announcement to board when it was ready.

I sat and waited, with a little unease creeping in, as I had not seen anyone on my flight and had not seen anything on the screen to say the flight was imminent or indeed heard any call.

Just before the flight had been due to set off I figured something was wrong, so went to find the nearest desk and asked them about the flight. The girl behind the desk looked up at me and then her monitor and then turned her gaze to me again and said those immortal words… “The aircraft has already taken off!”

I could not believe my luck or lack of it, how would I get back in time now, all had been going so well with the trip up to this moment?

I asked her what I was to do and she told me there was another flight to Manchester in the morning at seven o’clock. I explained that was too late, as I needed to be home long before then.

I asked about my suitcase, I was told it would be on the flight. Now bear in mind this was some sixteen years ago and what I said then I would not dream of doing now. I asked her about the security of the situation, why was my luggage still on the plane if I was here, did no one check these things…after all there could be a bomb on it now. I really did find it strange they had not taken the luggage off the flight for that reason, even back then in 1993. I was told I would be able to pick up the suitcase on the following Monday morning at Manchester airport.

So my luggage was on its way home, but I was still in the USA.

She then said I could go on a stand by to HeathrowLondon. A plan hatched.

I agreed to do that. I then waited until the flight was ready for boarding and waited in the queue for the flight at the back. The Captain walked past with his co-pilot and said “It’s going to be an heavy one tonight.”

All I could think of was I was not going to get on the plane; it was going to be too full. The lady at the boarding gate was aware I was hoping to get on the flight and gave me the nod to approach with my ticket. It was then that I asked if there was a telephone I could use to warn the folks back home of my new flight arrangements? She pointed me in the right direction and I rang Leo.

I quickly explained the situation and asked him to explain everything to Margaret for me and to pick up my car from home and travel down to London where I would meet him outside the Cockburn Hotel near Russell Square where we were staying across from the convention venue. He agreed to do so, or at least I hoped he had as I put the receiver back as they were calling the final departure call for the flight. I smiled with relief as I went through to the 747 aircraft.

The weather was raining quite heavily now as the plane took off and I smiled to myself as I now realised what the Captain had meant by heavy…the weather. I was on my way home.

The flight was uneventful and I soon found myself walking out of the airport with my portfolio and hand luggage into a sunny London Saturday morning. I wondered if my suitcase was having a good time.

Outside I asked a Taxi how much it was to Euston Station, it was £30.00. Luckily a passer-by going to catch the bus called out to me and said it was only £1.50 on the shuttle bus and only took about half to three quarters of an hour to get there. It was still only seven o’clock UK time so I decided to save some money and get the bus.

By the time I walked along the street to the hotel Leo had already arrived, having driven at close to the speed of sound in my car and was waiting outside the hotel in it with a huge tray of cream cakes. His brother was a baker and he had called at the bakery and picked up some supplies figuring I would be hungry. I was in the UK again but the food was still coming thick and fast.

I arrived at the convention and waited for the obligatory UKCAC presentation on the stage where organiser Frank Plowright would discuss our latest projects with us to the fans. He asked what I had been doing recently and I explained about Defiant. The convention was spent speaking to folks both fan and fellow professional about the last week and my missed flight, between signing things and sketching.

The weekend seemed to move at an exceptional speed and no sooner had I stepped foot on UK soil then it was time to go home to my family. Leo and I spoke at great length on the journey back and I asked if he had got some stuff together to show them. He had and I said I would pick them up when I dropped him off at his house and hand them to Janet and Jim personally.

Below: Joe and I sitting in the cafe area in Grand Central Station:

In no time at home I had done so and arrived back home, laughing now with Margaret about missing my flight. The kids were in bed by this time so greeting them would have to wait until the morning. I packed the car ready for the holiday and put the car away in the garage for the night.

The following morning we were up bright and breezy. The kids were excited to see me and also because they were going on holiday. I gave everyone their presents and we set off and headed to North Wales via a stop at Manchester airport to pick up my suitcase. On arrival there I was told that it could not be found and to try again in a few days, so off we set once more to our holiday cottage.

It was sunny when we set off, but by the time we arrived at the cottage it had been raining a little. It eased off and we all went to a local shop to check it out and buy some milk and stuff. It was in the middle of nowhere, really and once the clouds had lifted that afternoon we saw that we were surrounded by mountains. It was situated near the coast on the borders of the Snowdonia National Park and was a lovely rural setting, ideal for peace and quiet, but maybe a little too quiet at the time, thinking about it with two young children to entertain.

Below: Joanne and Simon at "Gwynt Y Mor":

The week was spent travelling to different places, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Llandudno, Pwllheli, Caernarfon Castle and Conway Castle, which were both magnificent to visit. The highlight for the kids was a day out to the Anglesey Sea Zoo, where they saw lots of sea creatures and a few farm animals too.

All was going fine until one day just outside a repair garage (I swear it could not have been more fortuitous) the car decide to break down. I managed to get the reluctant garage owner to take a look at the car. He said it was the carburettor and he couldn’t do anything, but that there was a garage I could call at tomorrow just down the way towards where we heading back to the cottage. He sprayed some quick start fluid on the leads and we set off again, having managed to get it going again.

The trip back was a dicey one, as the car engine was now struggling and anyone having visited this part of Wales before will agree that it is a hilly place at best. The car went in the following day and the rest of the week saw us having fun at the seaside, playing in the field that was part of the cottage grounds, visiting castles and the sea zoo and me working on the pages whilst the kids and Margaret slept at night. I managed to complete pages four and five whilst there at the cottage, which seems like quite a feat to me now as we went out somewhere different everyday and enjoyed every minute of it too.

We returned home and on the way back again called at Manchester airport. This time the by-now badly battered suitcase was there. It had obviously not had such a great time and was now going to see early retirement, after just one trip.

Below: Joanne and Simon at "Gwynt Y Mor":

We arrived home exhausted and Margaret and I laughed that we were in need of a holiday. We sat down and Margaret had a cup of coffee and I had a Tea, the last I would have for quite some time, although back then I had no idea, just how long that was to turn out to be. Margaret washed my clothes from my earlier trip and, once dry, I packed them again, along with an extra weeks things and took along something smart to wear as well, just in case this time.

The tickets for New York had arrived whilst we were away and I was due to fly out the next day, for a fortnight…or so I thought. Packed once more and with my Portfolio containing the pages I had completed in Wales and art materials at the ready too in my hand luggage, I retired for bed, excited once more to be returning to America, but wishing my family were coming along with me this time.

But I’ll share that in my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 23rd 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 05...

A further look at the comic and Jim Shooter’s Defiant Comics…

Hi Guys

I awoke to my last full day in New York early, excited and keen to fill the day with as much as possible. I wanted to savour the air, hear every sound, and feel the excitement of that great city as much as possible before returning home to England.

Tomorrow would be a quick morning in the office before leaving for JFK airport once more in the limousine that had first picked me up.

I went downstairs once more to the hotel breakfast restaurant and found I was really early with hardly any other guests sitting at the tables.

By now I had sussed out where the cups of tea came from and helped myself to one, despite thinking that honestly the one thing I could not get in New York seemed to be a great cup of tea, coffee, certainly, but the tea wasn’t like home, but it was a fair price to pay for everything else that came with the city.

I chatted once more with the hotel waiter, still insisting I did not personally know the Queen or any of the royal family, honest. Two hundred and odd miles may be a short distance to Americans, but to us Brits, it wasn’t just around the corner, so no, we were not neighbours. The guy laughed and said, “Why back home we would be next door neighbours at that distance.”

I once more crossed Madison Avenue and walked around the block to 37th Street and the offices, looking at the immensity of the buildings surrounding me like a series of canyons. I remembered one of the first things Joe had said to me about folks looking like tourists, being easy targets for muggers, although with zero tolerance this was getting less and less, nowadays.

Inside there was even more buzz than usual and I was greeted like Elvis again as always, which even now I find incredible. The extra buzz this particular morning was we were about to be joined later that day by Alan Weiss, artist on War Dancer. Now Alan’s work had first blown me away on two particular comics, one was an issue of Captain America, which contained a werewolf theme to the story and a black and white story in an issue of Savage Sword of Conan, with another Robert E Howard character, Solomon Kane, which contained vampires.

Today was going to be even better then I had thought, with my meeting Alan later in the day, how could it possibly get any better than this? I would learn soon enough.

I sat down and began work on page three of Dark Dominion, which the office were beginning to pass positive comments on, which was great for me to hear. Bob Downs had come into the office and sat at the drawing board beside mine. In fact as the morning went on we were joined by a veritable horde of creative folks, perhaps all making it in today to meet Alan.

Dave Hillman was there as was George Roberts, Ben Jung, Joe, Janet, Jim and all the office staff and around about ten o’clock we were joined by a newcomer, Su McTeigue, who, like Ben Jung was there to train up as a Defiant colourist. Su was already hand colouring or separating for Marvel Comics at the time. There was a world of difference though, as she traded codes and marker pens for brushes and coloured watercolour dyes.

Below: Page Three of Dark Dominion:

Well as I worked on page three, the noise in the office hit crescendo and was the busiest I had ever seen it. Part way through the morning I was chatting with a few of the guys out on the veranda and we took some photos of me, as it might be the last chance to do so, before I flew back home tomorrow afternoon.

Lunchtime arrived and this time I was treated to a trip downstairs below the office, in the street and an Italian Deli/takeaway, which would become a familiar haunt of ours. Joe had said he was going downstairs for lunch and this first time we ate in and once sat down I realised why Joe had wanted to sit in and eat, as he wanted me to witness, what would become a ritual for us to observe each time we paid a visit.

The two main sandwiches, if the world war two torpedo-sized sticks could be called that, were Chicken Parmesan and Meatball Parmesan, and both were equally delicious. Both came if you wanted with cheese and Bolognese sauce and extra cheese if you wanted it.

We sat down across from the long serving counter and began to eat out lunch. More and more folks came into the restaurant and as they did the atmosphere and main guys behind the counter became more and more frenetic. A smile began to develop on both our faces as we saw the main guy, who had seemed a very warm and reasonable man, develop a Hyde-like manifestation to his demeanour and becoming more and more agitated as the customer queue grew in size until it was outside the deli/restaurant.

The way the service worked was quite simple with one guy sorting the (what seemed like three foot long) bread sticks, whilst another put on the chicken, and another the meatballs, depending which you wanted, whilst the last guy before the guy taken your money served the cheese and sauce.

You had one chance to answer and the answer had to be delivered quickly and concisely too, if you didn’t want physically threatening with the meal. Whoa betide any and all that dared risk his wrath. Those chatting in the queue and not hearing his first request where greeted with a screaming Banshee, shrieking out in a New York Italian accent, straight out of the best gangster movies, “Cheese Y Sauce!

As we continued to try to devour our lunchtime repast one guy still didn’t respond to this shrieking voice, so he lent over the counter and bellowed the same three words again twice, each time getting louder, at which point (and you had to be there to understand) until the guy was almost face-to-face with his customer, giving the said customer a coronary. I never saw him again after that day.

Below: Me on the Defiant veranda, ready for leaving the next day:

Following lunch Joe and I went along to the village once more and checked out a couple of comic shops again, one of them being possibly the best comic shop I have ever been in, and somewhere I would visit a lot during my time in the states, Jim Hanley’s, on West 33rd Street. After browsing and picking up some new books we left and headed back to the offices, via Manhattan Mall on 6th Avenue and 33rd Street, where I picked up a couple of presents for Joanne and Simon and then one for Margaret.

By the time we returned to the offices Alan Weiss and his wife Pauline had joined us. He was introduced to everyone before going to speak to Jim again in his office and then the three left along with Defiant Publisher, Winston Fowkes to get lunch.

When they returned to the bullpen, Jim and Alan went into Jim’s office, whilst Pauline joined Janet in her office/studio. A short while later Alan came over to me and quietly spoken said his rough southern drawl how much he loved what I had done with page one of Dark Dominion and that he would love me to colour up one of his upcoming War Dancer comics at some point. I had hardly spoken to the guy and he wanted to work with me…this had to be a long dream and I was going to eventually wake up and realise it wasn’t real.

I was so over the moon, it felt incredible. Here was a guy I held in such high esteem and here he was praising my work…could it get any better?

Around four o’clock, or so, Deborah Purcell came over to my drawing board where I was now putting the last touches to page three. She smiled and complimented me on the page, asking me how I was going on and finding things? I told her everything had been brilliant and that I had enjoyed my time there and thanks for everything.

She then said Jim had organised a meal for himself, Joe, Janet, Deborah, Alan and his wife, Pauline, Debbie Fix, Winston and me. We were going to be setting off for the restaurant around seven o’clock, would that be okay? I mentioned I only had t-shirts and jeans with me for the trip, but Deborah said not to worry that was fine.

Well as soon as I finished page three I went over to the hotel, packed the stuff for leaving tomorrow, showered and got changed into my next to final t-shirt and jeans, which I had brought over for the trip, before going around to the office again to meet the others. When I got there Joe was wearing a jacket and trousers and Janet was wearing a nice dress, I was there in my t-shirt and jeans, oh well Deborah had said it was not that swanky a do, so…

On arriving at the restaurant, I realised it had all the trappings of a very swanky place. We walked inside and we were shown to a large dining room full of large swish thick heavy curtains, large circular tables and a grand piano in a corner of the room. As we waked through past the other tables for what seemed like an age, I glanced around the tables and saw everyone dressed to the nines, in tuxedoes, suits and dinner jackets and me in a t-shirt and jeans.

I can safely say I was receiving glances at every turn and I would have been embarrassed, had I not been with the others. The guys at the table all stood to receive us and then I was sat between Deborah and Joe. The evening was fantastic, with a lovely meal. I had a fresh salmon starter and a steak for the main course, followed by the most exquisite sweet. I was aware all of the time though of the glances and staring from around the room, at the scruffy one at the table over there.

When I mentioned this to Deborah, she just turned to me and smiled and said, “No they aren’t looking at you thinking you are scruffy, this restaurant is well known for celebrities visiting it. They are just wondering who you are. You must be famous, as you have got in without a dinner suit on.” I later found out that Jim and Winston both knew the owners and had said they were bringing along a guest from England, which was why I was allowed in, dressed as I was.

I didn’t sign any autographs there, but I did feel a little under-dressed. With the meal finished I noticed Jim, Deborah, Janet and Winston all speaking to each other in a huddle around the table. Deborah turned to me and asked me if there was any possibility in my staying longer. I could not believe my luck.

I explained I was flying back home then would travel through the night down to London to appear as a guest at the convention this coming weekend and then going on holiday as soon as I got back from it, with my family. She asked if I would ask my wife if I could come back then for a couple of weeks to help get the books on track with their deadlines, once all that was done?

I said I didn’t think Margaret would mind, but that I would call her tomorrow to confirm with her, but explained that I had Margaret’s total support and there would not be a problem.

That said she turned to Jim and they chatted for a while before Jim stood up and asked everyone to “Raise their glasses and share a toast to the Brit from across the sea whose powers they could harness for good!”

The room really was looking at the table now and I reckon I could have shrunk and hid under the table, had I not been so excited that yes I was going home, but that in a weeks time I would be returning to the city where Spider-Man swings and super-heroes aplenty keep vigil over its inhabitants.

Below: Jim Hanley's Comic Shop:

The rest of that night was a blur of excitement and anticipation as I prepared mentally to go to the convention then switch to Husband and Dad to go on holiday and then return here to continue working on the Defiant Universe of books.
By the time I reached the hotel my mind was overactive, as I fought to go to sleep, tomorrow I was flying again.

But I’ll share that in my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 20th 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 04...

A further look at the comic and Jim Shooter’s Defiant Comics…

Hi Guys

That morning I awoke to the obligatory sunshine, which, as someone from the North of England will always attest, is something of a rarity in that neck of the woods (I can fully understand the melancholy mood of the Conan books set as they are in the fictitious mist shrouded hills of Cimmeria. Which is a funny thing to think of as I write these words as that morning I had turned on the TV in my hotel room to find myself watching the new Conan kids cartoon, which had not yet started to air in the UK by then.

I remember seeing how the US cartoons and in general TV shows differed I the way they were surrounded by the ads. Thinking the show had finished I had just gone to have a shower at what I thought was the end of the cartoon when low and behold back on it came, but only for the titles. Now here in the UK we have the titles following the epilogue of a show to tie up looses ends, so that when the break happens we see more adverts, but then the start of another show.

After Breakfast I returned once more to the office, with the infectious end soundtrack of Conan going through my mind. I was getting quite used to my working here by now. I sat at the board and began to finish off the War Dancer pages. They didn’t take long and were finished before Lunchtime. Janet had worked on some parts of the pages and it was my job to ghost her style so as to make anyone reading it believe one person had done the painting, that way there are no jarring effects to the storytelling.

Lunchtime came and this time the office was ordering from a deli, having had pizzas the day before. I remember receiving a wonderful Caesar salad and sitting out on the terrace with Greg, Grey, Janet and some of the other office staff.

I looked across at the Empire State Building as I ate my lunch and began to put it all into perspective…I was in New York living and working amongst other comic creators…I was eating my lunch on a terrace fourteen floors up in the shadow of one of the tallest and certainly most well known buildings in the world, working on comics…life didn’t get much better.

Six months earlier I had no idea I would be in the States working on some terrific new comic books for a new company formed by Jim Shooter and working with some of the best guys in the business.

During lunch the folks on the terrace asked all sorts of questions, about what I had worked on, my then young family, the UK and particularly the part of England I was from. I found out lots about them too, as I asked similar questions. Things were becoming much more relaxed for me, as I continued to settle into the groove that was the New York comic scene.

After lunch I left some of the guys on the terrace still discussing things and returned to the drawing board and Dark Dominion. Page two was the first sequential page and was the first to see Joe leaving out details, which we had already discussed and which I would paint in without any pencils. I was able to add more steam from the manhole cover in panel one, reflections to the windows, Times Square buildings, signage and folks passing by the windows, all fully realised in colour. This meant Joe and I had to work closely together on the pages with discussions as Joe pencilled the book, with me over looking his shoulder and getting Joe to leave out that detail and that one there, as he progressed on each page, until it became second nature to us both, with Joe knowing what to leave out and me knowing what to add.

It helped as well because before the pencils had begun there had been an inordinate amount of photographs of New York above and below ground taken. The ones underground in the well known under-city dwelling area frequented by an entire part of society in New York for real had been taken with special security along whilst the photos were taken, for fear of attack from the folks living below. It sound like something out of a film, but it was true.

The process Joe and I were using of us working very closely together brought to mind the way John Buscema, Ruby Nebres and Peter Ledger worked on the Warriors of the Shadow Realm books with writer Doug Moench in 1979 and here we were working in a similar vein and much different than the process of producing the artwork on the other books, which seemed, once the books were published, to be picked up by the fans, whose letters sang high praise of the unique look we were achieving.

I have recently looked at the originals and compared this particular page to the comic and have found the printing to be a little off. Quite a bit of the detail has been lost on the page, but then the technology we are using nowadays is so much more superior that I sometimes forget we are quite spoilt in the reproduction values we get back now.

That said the look of the book was totally different and back then it just looked so significantly different that folks seemed to latch onto the book. It was helped enormously by the inking of Mike Barreiro, Bob Downs, and Charles Yoakum the latter two of whom, as time went on, became great company to me, when burning the mid-night oil again and again. It also helped that the story was written by the legendary Len Wein (of whom I will speak in a later Blog in this series) and brilliantly lettered by George Roberts, whose mannerisms and speech always reminded me of Huggy Bear of Starsky and Hutch fame.

Below: Page two of Dark Dominion Issue one:

As the afternoon closed on the office I rang home and spoke to Margaret and the children again, wishing them a goodnight, before their Mum tucked them in. I finished the page and was joined by Janet and Joe, pretty much as I was doing so and they said they were going to take me down to the South Street Sea Port for a meal at one of the nearby restaurants.

By the time we arrived having gone via a couple of shops on the way, before catching a ride in a cab, my first ride of any distance in one, the light from the sun was dimming a little as it began to sink beneath the horizon. A myriad little white lights twinkled and reflected off the water of the Hudson River as it lapped against the moorings and water’s edge. We stood on the jetty and stared out across the river somewhere over there was the UK and home.

It was a beautiful balmy evening and we sat down to eat in a fantastic nearby Japanese restaurant. I had never had Japanese food, but I have always loved trying anything, so I was keen to go along when they asked if I like their food.

The restaurant was beautifully decorated in traditional Japanese designs and sculptures. There was a lot of black I remember and we sat below the table in little recessed trench like seats, having taken our shoes off at the entrance.

What was served amazed me. I had become accustomed in my short stay in New York to the large servings of everything, but the starter was humongous and had just about every type of sushi going.

It was finger food, so there was no problem, but then it came time for the main courses and of course the traditional and obligatory chop sticks…and I had ordered Teriyaki Chicken and Boiled Rice…what was I thinking?

I guess that was one way to learn fast, how to use them, as I realised both Joe and Janet could use them and despite the fact the starters had been a large portion I was looking at crumbs, so to speak, if I didn’t get my act together and quick.

Joe and Janet persevered with me until I was quite the oriental whiz kid with them and was not only able to eat the chicken, but also the rice, and not a grain at a time, as I had been trying to do. By the time we had all stopped laughing at my efforts, the remaining food was cold, but still delicious.

We walked a little to walk off the enormous oriental meal, before catching a cab back to the hotel where Joe and Janet then went their separate ways into the New York night and I returned to my hotel room.

Below: South Street Sea Port at night:

It had been another great day and I realised there was one full day tomorrow, before I would be flying back to the UK once more. I was preparing for a rather busy return too, with me attending UKCAC 93 (UK Comic Art Convention) in London over the weekend and going on holiday with Margaret and the kids from Monday onwards for a week in a little cottage in North Wales.

I read a couple of comic books I had bought, watched a little TV and then retired to bed. I wondered what tomorrow would bring and felt extremely lucky that I had been able to work here in New York, just like I had dreamed of doing so many years ago, when I was a young boy, when I first realised I wanted to be a comic artist.

Joe had mentioned about going into the village again tomorrow to check out some more comic books and a place near the Empire State Building called Jim Hanley’s.

But I’ll share that in my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 18th 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 03...

A further look at the comic and Jim Shooter’s Defiant Comics…

Hi Guys,

Well that night I felt great, I had successfully worked on the first piece of artwork in New York on the legendary Steve Ditko’s cover for the Dark Dominion Card Set Issue "0" Folder cover and received recognition of the fact from those in the Defiant offices and tomorrow I would begin work on the actual first issue.

I had rang home and told everyone what the reaction had been to my first piece of work for them and how it had been Steve Ditko’s cover, my wife didn’t seem to get that, but then she doesn’t read comics after all. I decided to watch a little TV and then retired to bed in the hotel.

The next morning began as the previous, with me going down for breakfast before going over to the Defiant offices. The guy who served me breakfast asked me if my visit was business or pleasure I told it what I was doing there, which seemed to fascinate him and we had quite a lengthy conversation whilst he served folks, as well as me and I ate breakfast.

I walked over to the offices, I had left my portfolio and art materials in there the previous night, so it was a simple stroll across the street to the next block and around the corner. Once inside, I was greeted with the same enthusiasm I had received the day previous. I was introduced to new guys that had come in that day to work on the books; either pencilling inking, colouring, or lettering them.

It was this day that I met letter, George Roberts for the first time, inker, Hector, future Defiant colourist, Ben Jung, all rounder, Dave Hillman and pencillers, Grey and Greg Boone and an intern called Paul. So now as I looked around the offices I was seeing the growing numbers within the actual working Defiant bullpen. The day previous had seemed pretty quiet, but today was different with lots of buzz in the air and lots of folks milling about and settling in at various drawing boards to work.

Below: A photo of the view from one of my Hotel windows.

I was presented with the first of Joe James’ pages for Dark Dominion issue one, which was a splash page showing the lead character Michael Alexander sitting in a McDonald's on Times Square, which I was to visit for real later that lunchtime with Joe, to show me the authenticity of the books content.

Set in New York the trip was the perfect accompaniment to the production of the artwork. After all I was a Brit and the stories were all set in the USA and my book was set in NYC, so it was perfect for me to not only have photographic reference provided, but also to go out onto the streets and see the places for real.

The spread was quite a detailed page and was a shot looking into the McDonalds restaurant with Michael sitting in the front window, whilst the New York folks are going about their daily routines, with customers sat upstairs and on the ground level eating, drinking and discussing things whilst others n the far background are waiting to be served, whilst others walk past the large picture windows and one guy does card tricks for two others.

Add to that the McDonalds logos a couple of street sign a New York Taxi, a parked car a fire hydrant , bunting, a bag of rubbish, and a manhole cover on the road beside the sidewalk and the picture Joe had drawn was pretty busy to say the least.

My job was not just to colour the books as most of the comic books of the time were still being done (this was still pretty much pre-computer colouring time wise), but to paint the pages, something I had been doing for a number of years here in the UK for comics like Transformers and 2000AD, for book publishers like World International, and also over my own artwork too.

So I set about the first page. By lunchtime I had pretty much finished the page, much to everyone’s amazement, which surprised me again, as I was expecting to be slow in comparison to the US artists – I have to admit I was feeling better for this though and was becoming more at ease. I added the reflections to the windows, with the top window panes showing the New York skyline reflected in it’s glass and airbrushed some steam coming up from the sewers below the manhole cover, something I had seen the previous day and that morning, as I walked into the offices.

Below: Page 1 of Issue 1 of Dark Dominion:

It was this page that was to set out my stall within the bullpen. Joe and Janet were over the moon with the page and I heard some nice things from the other artists in there that day. I was ready for my next page, but that was to wait as the office ordered lunch in. Joe then took me into Greenwich Village, or the village, as they call it in New York, via a couple of comics shops and the McDonald’s which I had been painting earlier, one of the comic shops being the NYC Forbidden Planet shop. We spent an hour or so looking around the comics and Joe showed me some other sights that were in the first issue, for my reference.

Back in the offices I began to work on page two of issue one and was beginning to feel my feet at last. Janet came over from here office opposite my drawing board and asked me to have a chat with her inside. We had a coffee and she asked me how things were going, was I still fine working away from the family and if I knew any other artists who could play a part in the Defiant plan. I asked if it would be okay to make a few extra phone calls later when I called home to ask a few folks I knew in the UK. She said Jim had meant any calls not just home so it would be fine.

During the conversation she also asked whether I would like to colour some War Dancer pages with her, as she was getting a little behind with them. She was, after all, acting as colour editor and was pretty much hands on with all other aspects of the company too, which meant she was spread a little thinly.

Below: A photograph of the actual McDonald's in Times Square NYC.

Of course I never hesitated and I said I would love to. It would mean switching from painting in acrylic paints, which is what I was using for Dark Dominion to Doctor Martin’s watercolour dyes, which wasn’t a problem as I had used them on Judge Dredd over John Ridgway’s artwork, on some Marvel UK covers and some other stuff too, before switching to acrylics.

I helped Janet on War Dancer for the rest of the day and would continue to do so on the third day too. I ghosted her style, so as to blend my work with hers as much as possible, so as to not be jarring to the reader when viewing the artwork in the comics.

Later in the afternoon I rang home and spoke to everyone there and then we ordered some food into the offices as a few of us, Joe included where working late. After we had eaten and down a little more work, Joe asked me to accompany him on a trip out to the music store, so off we went, stopping off at a local deli for a soft drink.

We spent a while looking around the HMV music store and I couldn’t believe the prices compared to the UK, it was hugely cheaper. Joe bought his CDs and then we walked back towards the offices. Joe did a little more pencilling and then left for the evening. Everyone had gone and the bullpen was empty except for me. I turned Joe’s Ghetto Blaster up a little and proceeded back to work on the War Dancer pages.

By the time I looked at the clock again it was around 2:30 am, so I decided it was almost time to call the UK and check the folks availability for work with us at Defiant. I had finished most of the work for Janet on War Dancer and would be completely done that morning, when I would then return to work on Dark Dominion once more too.

Below: War Dancer: Page 6 Issue 1:

I rang John Ridgway and mentioned the set-up to him, but he was busy at the time with other work, but he asked me to get in touch again when I got back to the UK and he would see if he was available then. I also spoke to two illustrator friends of mine, who couldn’t believe I was calling them from NYC at 3:00 am in the morning. I asked them to submit some stuff to Defiant as quickly as they could, as they were looking for other artists. Unfortunately of the three calls that morning only John was to find work with them.

I replaced the receiver for the final time that night, stepped out onto the veranda looked at the Empire State Building lit up in all its majestic glory and decided it was time for bed…I was about to walk around the block in the most dangerous city in the world at just gone three in the morning. My friends and family thought I was insane. I stepped out into the New York air and walked the short distance to the Hotel. I have to admit all the talk from the family and my friends about what the media say about the city was at the forefront of my mind, with each step I took on the way back, but that feeling was soon to go.

My head hit the pillow and I was away…until the following morning at seven.

But I’ll share that in my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

May 16th 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Video Trailer…

Hi Guys

Just a quick nod of the head to my good friend and colleague, Bryan Talbot and his latest graphic novel due for release in October this year, Grandville.

Check out the Trailer below to see some of the magnificent artwork!!!

I for one cannot wait to get hold of it.

More from my Defiant Days tomorrow…

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May14th 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 02...

Another look at Jim Shooter’s Defiant Comics…

Hi Guys

It was late afternoon when the aircraft I was travelling in came in over JFK airport. The weather had been fine when I left England, something of a rarity over here and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon when we touched down on the other side of the Atlantic.

I went through customs; the first time ever I had travelled by plane on my own before, and was greeted by an Indian gentleman bearing a small plaque sign with my name upon it. His accent was such, as to make me wonder had I fallen asleep for too long and arrived back in the UK.

I was taken to a rather smart looking limousine and driven into Manhattan from JFK airport entering the city via the Queens Midtown Tunnel. When we arrived on the other side I was amazed at how tall the building looked. It appeared that we were travelling along man-made canyons.

Once on the Manhattan side of things it was only a matter of a few minutes before arriving at the front doors of the Defiant office building on 37th street, between Madison and 5th avenue.

I had decided to go straight to the offices rather than the hotel. The weather, now I was out of the limo, was incredibly hot, even for late afternoon, early evening; it was around six o’clock by this time. I was totally overwhelmed by the sounds and smells as I stood on the sidewalk; it was incredible. I was promptly helped out with my luggage of suitcase, hand luggage, containing my art materials, and my Portfolio into the lift, or elevator, as I soon found myself adapting to the language and saying.

We went up to the 14th floor and the Defiant offices, where I was greeted by Janet Jackson. No not the singer sister of Michael, but the colourist/editor of Marvel comics fame, who had left the hallowed Marvel halls along with Jim Shooter to help set up the Valiant comics studios three years earlier. Here she was again helping Jim to set up the latest venture, Defiant comics/Enlightened Entertainment.

The first thing she did was offer me a cold drink, which I was certainly ready for. She then asked if I was ready for something to eat and if I had even been up the Empire State Building? The answer to the first was sure and the second was no I had never been to the USA before. She took me outside onto the veranda where I saw we were overlooked by the most incredible sight of the imposing Empire State Building, as it loomed high above us. We were fourteen floors up and there it was, in all its majesty towering way above us…a quarter of a mile above us to be exact.

She asked if I had rang home from the airport and I told her I had not had time to do so. So she told me Jim had said that I could call home anytime, for as long as I wanted, as long as I was there, working for them, which was really nice of him. I made the call and excitedly told my wife, Margaret and my children (nowadays, now all grown up of course) Joanne and Simon all about the trip and what New York was like, or at least the little I had seen of it, if the wonderful city can ever be called little. I bid them goodnight as it was now late in the evening and told them I would call again tomorrow.

Below: The crest above the door to the Defiant Building on 37th Street.

With that I was promptly whisked off out of the offices, leaving my stuff inside, down the elevator, and outside into the hot New York evening air. The sounds and smells, just like when I had first got out of the limo, were overwhelming. We walked over the three blocks to the Empire State Building. Going inside we were greeted by a wall of gold with the embossed image of the mighty building behind the Information desk and the words from the receptionist, "Welcome to The Empire State Building! How may I help you?" We went into an elevator, which took us part way up the building. We then got into a second elevator and were whisked once more up to the 102nd floor observatory.

Once outside the view was magnificent and Janet was quick to point out our offices, way below. The people, milling around in the streets below, looked like ants and it felt great to be so high up and on the same building as used in the King Kong film. We stayed and watched the sun setting and then went down to the milling streets once more where Janet took me to a restaurant, which served Southern food.

On the way my eyes saw something move across the sidewalk with incredible speed and for a second I thought I had seen a small rat, or at least a mouse, when I looked again I saw it was the biggest cockroach, orangey-brown in colour, I had ever seen in my life. It was humongous with muscles on its eyebrows and looking like it worked out with Arnold. Janet saw my averted gaze and said, “Oh they are all over the island.”

I guess it must have scurrying home to the family after a hard day down at the office.

Being from Texas, Janet was keen to have me served up some southern styled chicken, so ordered me the most humongous high-piled plate of chicken I had ever seen in my life. There was every kind of chicken you could think of and it was delicious, my mouth is watering as I write these words, thinking of the marvellous first feast I was privy to in NYC, washed down by a huge glass of coke.

Following this we returned to the offices and I then went around the corner to the hotel I was staying at, the Jolly Madison Towers Hotel and checked in. I was shown to my room and I settled in watching for the first time American TV. The air-conditioning was on, but I opened the windows to hear the sounds below. I was in a corner room and so had a double view of the city. From one set of windows I could see Madison Avenue and out of the others I could see the Met-Life building, all of which was lit up in all their glory.

I unpacked and prepared my stuff to take along to the offices the following morning and retired to bed. It was around three o’clock that I was awoken by loud banging sounds below in the street and the sounds of a large vehicle. I got out of bed and looked below to see what all the commotion was about and saw the refuge collectors and their wagon in the streets below. I soon learned how the waste was disposed of in NYC.

The morning came and I found myself downstairs at breakfast in the hotel restaurant. It was another sunny day, the first of many, and I soon found myself speaking to the staff, explaining whereabouts in England I came from and that, no I did not know the Queen personally. With a hearty breakfast eaten, but a strange cup of tea, which they called English Breakfast inside me, I went back to my room, picked up my portfolio and art materials and made my way over to the offices of the Defiant Bullpen for my first day of work there…yes it was daunting.

As I walked across Madison from around the blocks of 38th and 37th street I wondered what lay ahead for me. I was a little nervous, feeling I was now walking the streets of and working in the capital of the comics I had grown up on. Was I up to the job and could I hold my own amongst my new peers? I would know soon enough.

I entered the building on 37th street and was greeted by the always smiling and jolly elevator attendant, who took me up to the 14th floor. The early morning Manhattan sunlight slipped in through the blinds of the front windows of the office near the reception. I walked up the guys there and introduced myself. I was greeted by all the folks inside the office and felt a little like Elvis had entered the building. I was unsure what had been said before my arrival at the offices, but I felt like everyone was expecting great things from me…now I really was worried.

I was taken to Janet’s office again and then shown my drawing board, which was mine for the week. I was then taken to see Jim in his office and then to the editor-in-chief, Deborah Purcell’s office, where I was met by her and Editor Ed Polgardy.

I was shown around the offices and introduced to everyone formally, folks like Rob LaQuinta, Zach Lynch, Peter Lukic, Brady Darvin, Clark Smith, and the guys at reception and shown where I could obtain cold drinks and snacks from the kitchen fridges.

The formalities done I was shown back to the drawing board, where I sat with Janet for a short while. Back in the UK, whilst working on the card series Steve Ditko had quit the book I had been hired to work on, Dark Dominion. Another artist was due to take over the book, but again he at the last minute had backed out of the book, so the reins had been passed over to the new artist, whose work I had painted the colours for on the cards, along with Steve Ditko’s; Joe James.

Below: The view of the Empire State Building from the Defiant Veranda.

I was then given the first assignment; colour the cover to the card set, the penciller was Steve Ditko. Now I felt the test was truly starting for me. I remember getting a cold drink, pouring some water into a small container for me to use to clean my brushes, sitting at my board and putting the first marks on the background of the cover…Steve Ditko’s cover.

As the morning progressed and folks came and looked over my shoulders, passing very complimentary comments about my work on it, I began to relax a little, but still wondered if the comments were purely just to do that and not the true viewpoint of the folks there, as they just tried to be nice to me…the Brit from across the pond.

Just before lunchtime, with the cover almost finished and folks commenting on how quick I had been (remember, I had taken my time to do the cover, feeling daunted by the task) I began to wonder why they thought I was quick. I would later find out and show them what quick was, as much to my amazement as theirs.

Below: The Issue Zero Card Set Cover.

It was around this time Janet walked over to me and introduced me to Joe James the penciller on the book now and I was asked to accompany them on the veranda, where lunch was ordered and we chatted to break the ice as the new creative team on the book. I had been told my expenses were being paid, so lunch was free for me, which was great. We discussed Joe’s take on the book and what he wanted to do and I explained in pre-computer wizardry terms how we could make this book unique with some painted trickery.

Later that day I finished the cover and took it long to Janet, who then took it into Jim’s office to show him. He looked at the cover and then Janet, then back to the cover and then me, smiled his wide grin and said aloud, “You know, Janet, I really do think we can harness this guy’s powers for good!”

I figured I had passed my first test; they liked the cover for real. I have never heard whether Steve Ditko liked the colours on his cover, but I hope he has seen it and he did.

That day sticks in my mind as a turning point for me in my career, as folks from US comics spoke very complimentary about my work. I was about to make my mark in that company with my next assignment; page one of issue one of the comic book, Dark Dominion.

But I’ll leave that until my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May12th 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Defiant & Dark Dominion Part 01...

A look at Jim Shooter’s Comics Company and the comic…

Hi Guys,

This time around, I thought I would share my memories of a very important time for me in my comic book career. I have often been asked about this since it occurred and thought it was about time I came clean and told of all the things that happened to me, whilst I was out there in New York back in the mid-nineties. I still feel that some of my best work was produced out there at the time.

So much happened to me whilst I was out there that I feel the only way of doing the company that was Defiant and all its owners, editors, and creative folks justice is to write my thoughts of back then over several Blogs and I mean several rather lengthy Blogs too.

Back in March of 1993 I was busy working for Warner Bros on their Tiny Toons comic in the US, Paul Neary at Marvel UK, on a number of his titles there and producing what was to be my last work for 2000AD on a future shock entitled “The way we Whirr”. It was at this time I found myself at GLASCAC the Scottish version of UKCAC, which was, at the time, the yearly British Comics Convention.

I had not been in the convention hall for more than five minutes on the Saturday morning before I received a script off Andrew Helfer one of DC comics’ editors for his Big Book of Death book, or at least I was told I would be receiving it on the Sunday – which I did.

On the Sunday I met with the Tiny Toons, Katie Main, editor and received more scripts from which to draw the strips, but it was later on the same Sunday afternoon that I was to be given the chance of a lifetime.

I was almost ready for setting off back home and was awaiting my friend’s friend who had come along to Glasgow with us to visit a girlfriend. We were having a brew in the Convention Restaurant area with a cup of tea in one hand and my portfolio in the other, feeling good that I was going home with more comic book work to add to my list of stuff already on the go.

The weather was muggy, although it had kept fine throughout the convention weekend to be honest and as the weather turned for the worst a face I recognised sat on the table across from me with a young woman and a guy with a portfolio. The guy was Jim Shooter and the woman was Janet Jackson – no not that JJ, which is why Janet chose to be called JayJay by her friends, but the Janet Jackson of Marvel and Valiant fame.

Well I suddenly changed my mind about leaving and decided to stay a little longer to speak to Jim, who I had met and worked for early on in my career at Marvel UK, back in the eighties.

It was to prove a very wise move on my behalf. Occasionally something of a very serendipitous event will occur in ones life and this was one of those very special moments.

When the guys had left Jim and Janet, I waited a moment and then walked across and introduced myself. Jim recognised me and introduced me as one of his Marvel UK artists. He asked how I was and what I was doing and in the course of something like a twenty-minute conversation we discussed all that happened between our meeting on London in 1987 and this Scottish Comics Convention in 1993.

I was about to leave when Jim said if I ever wanted to show him my portfolio send some stuff over the offices in New York, where he and Janet would look them over. Well never one to look a gift-horse in the mouth, I told him that I had my portfolio on the table across and could show them my work now, if they liked.

They were looking for artists and especially colourists/painters, and looked at my Chopper pages, and my Shadows pages, amongst others and my pencilled and inked pages, but it was not the 2000 AD pages, which finally got me the work, it was “The Little House in the Woods” watercolour painting, which clinched things for me that Sunday afternoon. Not a comic book page or character, in fact nothing to do with a comic and in fact is a children’s book illustration produced way back in 1981.

That piece is probably the most commercially successful illustration I have produced to date, as far as obtaining further work from it for me, from new clients. It is the oldest piece still shown in my portfolio as I tend to drop pages quite soon after they are produced in lieu of newer and hopefully much better pieces.

It is also a firm favourite, along with “Christmas in the Woods”, amongst those collecting my limited edition Giclée prints, so it still continues to enchant folks in the same way it did Janet back then. I would love to know exactly what it is about that illustration, because I would love to be able to repeat its success.

Jim turned to Janet and asked what she thought, as he looked at the pages of Shadows drawn by my good buddy Richard Elson’s over which I painted the acrylic colours and pointed to a particularly moody purple and green set of panels. She turned the sleeves in the portfolio back to “The Little House in the Woods” watercolour painting and said “This is the one that does it for me,” adding, “I like this one best.”

Jim looked at her again and said the immortal words, “I think we can harness this guy’s powers for good!” This was something I heard him say only a small number of times to other folks when he saw what it was he was after, but when he said it there was a sense of excitement about the air following it.

He smiled and told me I would receive the first package off them, which would be for a limited edition card set for a new book they were working on called Dark Dominion. The book was being pencilled and inked by the legendary Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko.

Jim then asked me what my rate was for colouring and I told him and he said fine. I later found out I was the most expensive colourist/painters on their books and was earning nearly as much as the guys pencilling.

Anyway we said our goodbyes and the journey home seemed to last only minutes as I pondered this new phase of my comics career, whilst I drove home with my friend and his friend too. True to his word only a matter of two or three weeks later the first cards arrived, some drawn by Steve Ditko and some by newcomer Joe James. Steve Ditko, most folks in the comics business would kill to work with such a fantastic legend and here I was in my UK studio, doing just that.

Below one of the original cards scanned from the original artwork and then four of the cards as they appeared in the set:

The artwork was being printed via Xerox machine onto Saunders, Waterford, Hot Press 90lb watercolour paper, which coincidentally was exactly the same process I had been using here in the UK on the work for London Editions, 2000AD and the other publishers.

I had decided to try this technique following some work I had done for Marvel, 2000AD and the Scoop children’s Newspaper on Twins of Elvedon. My first work on the Twins story was done on Kentmere paper, but this was a very expensive process and so looking for a cheaper alternative for my other colour work I experimented with watercolour paper and it worked, on certain Xerox machines and at 90lb paper weight. So when I saw that Defiant was using exactly the same process I knew how to approach the work.

I sent the first batch of cards over to the New York offices via Fed-Ex, which received a great response and these were followed a few days later by a second batch. I repeated this process a number of times and then received a phone call from the then editorial director Deborah Purcell.

She asked if I would like to go out to the New York offices on an all-expenses paid trip for a week. I was over the moon. Deborah asked if I wanted to discuss this with my wife Margaret, who had come into the studio and overheard the conversation, giving me the thumbs up. I told Deborah it would be a pleasure and she said to expect the tickets via Fed-Ex in a couple of days.

Well the thought of going out to New York and working in the Defiant Bullpen was a dream come true for me and I couldn’t believe my luck. I had worked so hard to get into US comics and here I was about to walk the same streets as all the great American comics artists.

A couple of days later the tickets arrived and I was only days away from making a dream come true. My bags packed for a week and my wife and small children in tow, we set off for Manchester airport. It was quite an emotional scene as we parted ways and I went through customs, leaving the family to wave from the balcony as my plane set off.

I could have burst as I sat down in my seat and prepared for take-off. A movie played and meals were served and I can neither remember what the film was nor what we ate, I was so excited, but I knew that in eight hours I would be walking in the capital city of comics and then it hit home, would I be good enough to rub shoulders with these guys? It was daunting, I tell you, I would have to watch my self and ensure I did a bang up job to impress them, but again could I do so…?

But I’ll share that in my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 10th 2009