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

No comments: