Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 09...

And then it was Fall…

Hi Guys

Well there we were with lots of books, all being worked on at the same time and me living in amongst it all and I do mean living and late summer was giving way to early autumn, although the weather remained scorching.

Many nights saw creators working through the night at the office and catching a nod between times on the couch or the floor. I remember there were times when some of us didn’t leave the office for days, except to catch some air on the veranda or to go for a walk on the sidewalks of New York.

One morning Janet came over and asked if I would help her out with some of the colours on an issue of Plasm, issue four, so I left Dark Dominion and painted some of the pages on David Lapham’s book.

Oclair despite being a relatively quick artist had fallen a little behind on his War Dancer graphic novel and I was asked by Janet, if I would jump in to help out on this too. The late, legendary Dave Cockrum was drawing the Plasm graphic novel, Home for the Holidays, so once again I was working alongside an artist whom I had the greatest respect for. This was followed by Janet asking if I would paint War Dancer issue two, to give her chance to catch up on other things around the office, as well as all the comic book covers she was painting for them over all the various artists on the books.

So that meant I now had Dark Dominion, an issue of War Dancer and part of a graphic novel to paint as well as various bits and pieces on the regular Plasm comic book. Over time there I would be asked to ink some stuff on Dark Dominion and to pencil some stuff too. This would be followed by paint jobs and ink jobs on various covers helping out on painting Charlemagne amongst a whole slew of other things. To say I was busy there is an understatement.

A day or so later Alan Weiss would mention to me that he was looking forward to seeing how I would handle the second War Dancer issue, especially the sunset scenes he had drawn for them. I tell you guys, I just couldn’t wait to start them.

Below: War Dancer Issue #2 Pages 1 & 6 respectively:

One of the things I remember, which could have had a sour note for one of the creative team was an incident between Oclair and his Agent. This occurred one early evening when we were about to order food. I was beginning to feel hungry and there were about six of us there at the time, still working away. I asked the other guys, Rob, Bob, Joe, and Charles what they fancied ordering. We decided on Chinese and I turned to Oclair and asked if he liked Chinese food, he said he did or at least in sign language and mime we did.

Then he said he had no money, his agent had it. So I said Jim pays for our food after six. He repeated that his agent paid for him. Eventually I convinced him that he was just like the rest of us there working after six and was able to have Defiant pay for food, as long as we kept it reasonable.

He smiled and ordered with the rest of us then, making signs and sounds of fish, cows, sheep, chickens, until we arrived at something he liked best. Thank goodness the sounds animals make is universal otherwise we would have been stuck drawing carrots or something. The rest of the guys laughed at us both as they saw us trying to communicate and doing it quite well despite our differences in language.

Below: Warriors of Plasm Issue #4 Pages 18 & 21 respectively:

As we worked, waiting for the food to arrive, it somehow came around to the question of how much we were earning at Defiant. Oclair had indicated through our, by now, fully patented system of communication that he wondered what I was on rate wise, so I told. A broad smile was on his face as he indicated he was more or less the same and thought it was good.

There was something about how he did so however, that made me say something to Rob. I felt Oclair was looking at the rate I gave him as being the one for an entire book, whereas, in actual fact, I was meaning the per-page rate. I tried to clear this up and he still didn’t seem to get it. So I got a page and wrote on a piece of paper the page rate and indicated that was for the page, I repeated this a couple of times and his eyes widened.

He repeated what I had just done and I nodded that he was correct. He then took a full comic off the drawing board and indicated that was all he was getting from his agent for an entire book. By now all the office was huddled around the two of us. He walked over to me and gave me the biggest hug ever and looking me squarely in the eyes smiled and said with a very Brazilian accent, but much better than mine, “Thank you”. I think he was almost crying, the emotions were running so deep.

He took out a piece of paper and wrote San Paulo on it, which was where his family had their home. Then he sketched out a quick drawing of his family and then what kind of house they lived in and then he drew another house and told us, with one issue’s money he could buy an house like a mansion and that his family would be so happy, as he was going to return home a very rich man. I wish I had kept that little sketch, but like lots of things in life you don’t give them a second thought, until later.

We soon learnt that his agent had been keeping any money provided for the trip and giving him only money, as and when it arose and was lined up to make a massive amount of money with Oclair, merely getting what pittance was left.

The gesture that he was going to fire him the next day was quite obvious to us all and we knew something really great had just taken place. Oclair used to have this way of clicking his fingers, by flicking his wrist quickly to create this finger clicking noise and although he tended to do it to signify success he was doing it over and over this particular evening.

The food arrived and we all tucked into our Chinese meal. Again, Oclair looked over to me winked and smiled a big cheeky grin, it was obvious he was now a very happy man and the home-sickness was not as pronounced as before as he had already spoken to his family and told them all about it and then said they wanted to meet me as I was an hero. I remember feeling slightly embarrassed, but extremely happy to have been of service to a fellow professional like this.

Below: Warriors of Plasm Issue -Home for the Holidays graphic novel Pages 17, 33 & 35 respectively:

The next day I went into Janet, as I had told Oclair I would and said I thought we needed a real interpreter and explained the situation to her. Before long I was doing so again in Deborah’s office along with Janet. Both where horrified and knew full well that Jim would be equally horrified too. An interpreter was found after Joe who could speak Spanish, after everyone thought it was a similar language, turned around saying, jokingly, he thought I could get more understanding out a conversation, as the languages were actually so different.

Oclair turned up at the office with his agent in tow, who very soon disappeared. He came out of the office and there was a cheer around the office as Oclair raised his eyes in triumph, shook Jim’s hand and then Deborah’s and Janet and Joe’s. He then walked over to me and again gave me such a huge hug and then the office cheered again. Justice had been served.

I then began to hear talk in the office, around this time regarding a Marvel lawsuit against Jim, which laid claim to the name Plasmer a new character, which to this day I have only seen pictures of on the Internet, when reading articles written about the lawsuit. Marvel claimed that Plasm the first of the defiant comic books to be published had too similar a name and demanded Jim change it. Rather than fight it in court, Jim (which is just the kind of guy he is) decided to simply change the name of the book to Warriors of Plasm, which of course neither sounds nor looks like Marvel’s character.

This still wasn’t good enough and Jim spent an inordinate amount of time, money and energy fighting the case in court. I still feel that with the market share he had created at Valiant, which in Marvel’s eyes stole a section of the comic buying market shelf space from them was enough to cause Marvel concern when he started Defiant. He had done it once and could do so again, so they sued.

Yet despite all this Jim was still the consummate gentleman all throughout my time at Defiant. He looked after us all there and we became one big happy family, but our leader was at corporate war with a much bigger fish, with much better and more far-reaching resources than this new start-up company. All Jim had was his integrity and what money he had at the time to fight the far richer Marvel company, that and his honour.

Below: More photos from the Defiant Bullpen:

Defiant CEO - "Big" Jim Shooter
Editor-In-Chief - Deborah Purcell
Editor - Ed Polgardy and Art Editor - Janet Jackson
Editor - Ed Polgardy - takes a break
Editor - Debbie Fix
Graphic Designer - Peter Luchik & Production Assistant - Paul Williams
Colourist: Ben Yung
Production Assistant - Rob Laquinta on the Defiant Couch
Production Assistant - Rob Laquinta on the Defiant Couch again
Letterer - George Roberts on the Defiant Couch
Letterer - George Roberts on the Defiant Couch
The Two New York Cops - Great guys
Their Utility belts
The Group of New York Cops

With his work on Plasm and the “Home for the Holidays” graphic novel complete it became time for Oclair to go home once more to his family in Brazil. Joe and I escorted him to JFK and saw him through customs, but not before each of us received a Brazilian hug. I watched him go out of sight and we turned to head back to the car, which had taken us there and then made our way back to Defiant.

I often wonder what happened to Oclair. I had a telephone number, but when I rang it, upon my eventual return to the UK in 1994, the voice on the other end of the line could not understand me when I asked for Oclair. Maybe he bought his big mansion house back home, but whatever, I hope we get a chance to meet once more in the future and continually look on the on-line networks in the hope of re-establishing contact with him one day.

Now I had an apartment and Charles was still on unlimited hiatus and in his hotel, so I was asked if it would be okay for him to stay with me for a while. I was over the moon, someone to speak to, back at the apartment whenever I was there. So Charles, like me, packed his belongings and we moved him into the apartment until such time as he was able to find his own, which to be honest wasn’t that long away.

I remember the first morning with us both there. We each had separate rooms, but shared the kitchenette and bathroom/washroom. We set off for the office and as it was yet another glorious day in NYC we decided to walk in and grab a bite to eat on the way in. Just around the block there was a wonderful café/deli type place, small but very well stocked that did great Danishes and Bagels and Croissants.

When Charles, who has a wonderful Californian accent, said he was going to order a coffee and a croissant on the way in I didn’t catch what it was he was going to get. That was down to the different pronunciations though. He was going to ask for a “cresahnt”, whereas I would have asked for a “quoissahnt”. Funny really as this happened quite a lot during my stay there with all the other guys too, the obvious be tomato. Incredible really, the same language but then again not. The in-joke I used was always the same, “Look guys you are wrong, we invented the language – look I am English. You guys just use American.”

Charles and I had some great fun during his stay with me. One day we both needed some reference of the NYC Cops, both uniform and vehicle wise. So as we walked along the streets of Manhattan we looked for likely candidates and it was decided that, I, being the token Brit here should do the asking, so I did.

I have to say what followed was marvellous, I don’t know the names of the guys you will see in the photographs above, but they were so accommodating to us both with the taking of the photographs. So much so that they were both going to take the belts off to show us, but I said we only needed to actually see them. They were both brilliant and spent a good ten minutes or so, actually discussing our time in NYC. We asked where we could get photos of their cars and stuff and they moved to the side and there just beyond the next block we could see Police vehicles galore, so off we went to take those too.

Lots more things were to be seen and happen during my time there…

But I’ll share that in my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
June 30th 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 08...

A feeling of Deja Vu…

Hi Guys

That first week of my second stint in New York passed as the first trip had with me producing more pages of Dark Dominion and being surrounded by some truly talented guys. Both the new guys, Charles and Oclair were proving to be incredible artists. I was introduced to my first taste of bottled Iced Tea, which I loved from the off.

Charles, with his small paint brushes, (I use similar ones) was providing inks on War Dancer over the artwork of Alan Weiss and some other odds and ends. Oclair was painting the Plasm graphic novel, “Home for the Holidays” over the late Dave Cockrum’s artwork. Both books looked great and we were starting to see movement at last towards a real production schedule, albeit a rather manic one.

The weather was still glorious and the work was still abundant to say the least. Everyday seemed to bring in something different and yet it seemed in that short space of time that nothing else had existed prior to it. The only thing that seemed to link back to my old life was my family, who were waiting patiently on the other end of the telephone everyday for my call.

Like I said in my last Blog, I had the easy part of the deal and it was Margaret who had the hard part, not only coping with the daily dose of getting the kids to her Mum’s, as they were still on Summer holidays, but also the psychological part of emphasising the fact I was going to be coming home soon. After all, at the time my daughter, Joanne was only ten years old and my son, Simon was only six.

Joe was busy working on pencil pages, but only just ahead of me, with little lead-time between, leaving me sometimes with me waiting for the next pages, hence me helping out on the other books. Joe and I were spending time each day, before Joe began pencilling a new one, discussing Len Wein’s plot and deciding what to leave out of the pencils for me to paint.

The most obvious difference for me that week was Saturday morning. It was my first in New York. I was going to be the only one in the office, at least first thing, so it was decided I should be given a key. I was the only freelancer to have this privilege during my entire stay there. The only other guys with keys were Jim, Winston, Janet, Ed and Deborah, so I really felt I had their trust to be given a set of keys to the company front doors.

I entered the office for the first time that morning with the sunlight streaming through the partly closed blinds. It was obviously deathly quiet and although I had spent nights until late, although not as late as it would get, it still felt a little weird being so quiet early on this Saturday morning. I went to my board got out the latest page, put new water in the glass container I used for cleaning my brushes and adding to the acrylic paints, turned on the coffee machine, turned on Joe’s ghetto blaster and sat down ready to start work once more.

Armed with that morning’s first coffee of the day, I began to work listening to Sting’s “Ten Summoner’s Tales”, something I would be doing quite often during my tenure there. I would normally drink tea here in the studio, but I was becoming accustomed to being, like in Sting’s earlier single, "An English man in New York".

Below: Dark Dominion Issue 1 Page 05:

I really loved the way Joe drew his monsters and had great fun adding all the ectoplasmic goo everywhere I could. This page also shows more of the SFX I used when Michael Alexander was changing form to enter the Quantum world.

It was around mid-morning when I was joined by Charles and Oclair, with his agent in tow. This was followed by Joe, Ben and Su who all took their appointed places and began working on their pages.

By mid-afternoon there was only Charles and I in the office and by mid evening, with all the work we had needed to do complete, we too left for the day. I remember going along for a Pizza with Charles and eating it in the Pizzeria, along with a bottle of Iced Tea.

Below: Dark Dominion Issue 1 Page 08:

The premise behind the Quantum world colouring style was something Janet and Jim had arrived at before I became involved. In the Quantum world everything was drawn without real detail and was coloured entirely in grey tones. This helped to make the SFX colouring of Michael “pop” out on the page, but it also meant I couldn’t use greys for shadow effects, as it needed to be completely different in look and style to the real world. The reader had to instantly realise where he or she was.

The other humans were coloured up as auras, which used colours based on personalities. Janet had done a lot of research with Jim regarding colours and auras. The strength of Michael’s aura reinforces the premise that he is the guiding light in a world of evil.

Sunday I spent on my own in the offices and that really was quiet, but it was great to order food in and then sit quietly on the veranda outside, contemplating the situation.

The next week passed equally as quickly and it as apparent that Dark Dominion was still nowhere near completion and the vibe around the office was one of inevitable lateness with all the other books.

Inkers and colourists were constantly jumping from one book to another to help on pages. It was mid-week and Deborah again asked to speak to me in her office. We sat and drank coffee and discussed Dark Dominion and the present situation with Defiant. She asked if there was any chance of my staying on there for an indefinite period to try and help further to get the books on deadline and she meant all of the books too.

I rang home and explained the situation to Margaret who said to go ahead. There was only the alternative to come home and with the books already late on schedule, until that was remedied then there was the possibility of losing the work as it became impossible to send me stuff through to the UK and then for me to send it back on time.

It was decided then I was going to stay for a while, but for how long I had no idea and just as before I was running out of clean clothes to wear. There was a meeting following the one with Deborah and I in Jim’s office. In there were Jim, Deborah, and Janet. When the door opened again I was asked in, it was obvious there had been further discussion as to my prolonged stay.

I was asked if I would rather stay in a self-contained apartment rather than in the hotel? It was a great idea and meant I could at least wash my stuff. It was a longer distance to travel to and from the offices, but I could always get a cab.

I was told my expenses were to continue for the duration, but with a slight difference. I would need more money, so I was given a bank slip following every expense sheet I filled in along with my receipts, which I took down to the bank and drew out the money from there. I was also told I could make telephone calls back home as often as I wanted. I could also send stuff through to them and Defiant would pay those bills too.

In effect it meant that as a thank you for staying on there and continuing to work out of the office I was going to receive my page-rate and also expenses, which in actual fact meant I would live in New York for free and be paid for all the work I did for them on top of this. This was incredible and I felt really privileged to be in this position now and as a consequence of this I was always careful and prudent with how I spent the money. I walked most days, rather than get a cab, I ate well but as cheaply as possible, but I worked hard too, very hard.

Joe came over, obviously having spoken to Janet and said, “Welcome to New York for real now,” and as a means of celebration we went along to Mid-Town comics to look at the books there.

Below: Dark Dominion Issue 1 Page 17:

As I said above the idea that we could only use greys in the Quantum world meant that shadows had to be blues, purples and greens with lots of secondary light SFX, under lighting and warm glows that had to be used instead.

It was part way through issue one that I saw an opportunity to add some humour into the backgrounds and also sneak some graffiti in for good measure too. In the background of panel 2 (above) I wrote the little ditty about Bill Stickers being innocent, after explaining to Joe why. Here in the UK guys that illegally put up fliers and posters are sometimes called billstickers or posters.

The joke comes from official notices, put up by the authorities to the effect that Bill Stickers Will Be Prosecuted and some wise guy writes underneath in marker pen…Bill Stickers is Innocent!

There have been many times where that has been used on TV comedies here in the UK and also in British comics too, so I thought we would try our hand here in Dark Dominion to do some of the same.

In a later Blog I will show examples of using graffiti to let friends, family and colleagues have their moment of fame within the pages of an American comic book. I have seen this done lots of times since, but had not seen it done before Dark Dominion, myself.

So it was that later that week I went back to the hotel, for the last time packed my belongings and went down to the apartment on 54th street between 5th and 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas). Now I really was living and working in New York. I had my new apartment, I had the keys to the office, and I had an expenses agreement, you would not believe and to top it all I was being paid well for the privilege too. All I needed now was my family there and it would be complete.

Below: Three photos inside the living room of the apartment on 54th Street:

Charles and Oclair too looked like they would be staying on a little longer too, as their continued stays were extended. Like me Oclair was missing his family. He was younger than me and it seemed that his feelings of home-sickness, added to the language difference, were causing him lots of concern. Charles on the other hand was single and seemed to be enjoying all that the city of New York could offer a young man.

The next day Grey came into the offices with Greg Boone and I was shown how to make homemade Ice Tea, knowing I had taken a liking to the bottled versions on sale in the stores and delis. This is now a regular drink for me during the summer months here in the UK and something I took to creating for myself, whilst out in NYC following the guys showing me how to make it so easily.

Below: Photos of some of the Defiant Bullpenners:


Penciller Supremo, Joe James larks about
Painter Extraordinaire, Oclair
Lettering Guru, George (Huggy Bear) Roberts
Inker/Production Artist, Hector listens to some tunes
Office Assistant, Zack Lynch, this guy did most things around the office
Production Artist, Rob Laquinta scheming against me with Joe

It was during my third week there, my first in the apartment that I began to worry over a slight concern of mine. I had visions of my reading about the early exploits of fellow Brit comic artist and writer and now fine and graphic artist, Barry Windsor Smith, who back as a very young Barry Smith had worked illegally in New York for Marvel Comics back in the late sixties. He had been caught and promptly shown his departure orders on the next flight home to the UK.

I saw parallels with my situation. Okay I was living in an apartment and not as a vagrant on park benches, but I was still there on a normal visa, so I voiced my concerns to Deborah. I was told this had already been spoken of and I was assured that if I wanted one Jim and Winston would sort out the details and I would definitely get one, so everything was covered and I felt better. Here I was being offered a Green Card.

No one knew how long I would be there and we just played it by ear, on a weekly basis and as each new week arrived there was more and more work and more and more books behind schedule and my stay there became more and more extended. I just figured on a weekly basis that I would be going home soon.

I began to wonder if the books would ever get on schedule, with the only one on track being Dark Dominion. Summer was technically over, but the weather continued to be brilliant. I was about to witness my first fall in the USA, not a physical one but the one we call autumn over here in the UK.

But I’ll share that in my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 20th 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Orphan Works Bill...

Latest update from the Illustrators Partnership…

Hi Guys,

Well after quite a long hiatus for me, and following the doctor’s instructions of taking it a little easier of late, I am adding this latest Blog to my roster to ease my way back into everyone’s web-lives once more.

Before I upload the next instalment of my recollections of my time at Defiant comics in NYC, however, I thought I would just bring this to your attention. I received this as an email last evening and thought you guys needed to see it too.

Just when you think things are going to sorted out logically someone comes along from another planet, the one called “self-importance” which is the next planet to “Haven’t-got-a-clue” to assume the power trip once more.


Orphan Works: Back Again6.17.09In Orphan Works Land, no news has been good news, but that's about to change:


US Copyright Register Marybeth Peters told Intellectual Property Watch that orphan works legislation is expected to be introduced within the next 10 days. It is her understanding there may still be some issues in the House version to be resolved, and there are some stakeholders - such as illustrators and other artists - "who are probably going to lobby pretty hard against it."

Peters said this issue is important to her, and the fact it came so close to passing last year is almost bittersweet. "What I hope it isn't ... is it's one magic moment you get" to finally get it passed, then it doesn't happen, she said.

We don't mean to disparage the Register's comments. She's had a long and distinguished career at the Copyright Office. But her statement deserves a reality check. Illustrators are not opposed to an orphan works bill. We're opposed to this bill.

We're opposed because its scope far exceeds the needs of responsible orphan works legislation.

Moreover, illustrators and artists are not the only stakeholders who oppose it. At last count, more than
83 creators organizations are on record against it, representing artists, photographers, writers, songwriters, musicians and countless small businesses.

Last year, we proposed amendments to the Orphan Works Act that would have made it a true orphan works bill. The amendments were drafted by the attorney who was chief legal counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in drafting the 1976 Copyright Act. The amendments were co-sponsored by the Artists Rights Society and the Advertising Photographers of America. They can be found here: http://ipaorphanworks.blogspot.com/2008/07/hr-5889-amendments.html

On July 11, 2008, we submitted those amendments to both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. In our preamble we wrote this:

As rights holders, we can summarize our hopes for the Orphan Works Act simply: to see that it becomes a true orphan works bill, with no unnecessary spill over effect to damage the everyday commercial activities of working artists. We'd be happy to work with Congress to accomplish this. No legislation regarding the use of private property should be considered without the active participation of those whose property is at stake.

Last year more than 180,000 letters were sent to lawmakers from our Capwiz site. These letters did not come from obstructionists. They came from citizens whose property is at stake. They may lack the resources of big Internet companies and the access of high-powered lobbyists, but last year they spoke. They asked only one thing: that Congress respect their personal property rights and amend this bill to make it nothing more than what its sponsors say they want it to be - a bill that would affect only true orphaned work.

We urge this Congress to listen.

- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership


For news and information, and an archive of these messages:

Illustrators' Partnership Orphan Works Blog:

Over 83 organizations opposed the last Orphan Works bills, representing over half a million creators. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.If you received our mail as a forwarded message and wish to subscribe to the IPA mailing alerts, click on the link below, "Join Our Mailing List" and follow the simple directions on the Web Page.

Please post or forward this message to any interested party.


My next Blog will be definitely be Part 8 of the Dark Dominion series.

But for now, for me, it’s back to work on Hot Wheels.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
June 18th 2009

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Thanks to all the Well-Wishers...

I am back at work once more…

Hi Guys

I would just like to thank everyone that took time out of their busy schedules to send their get well wishes to me this past week. I have to admit to having felt like I had been hit by a runaway train.

I was rushed to the hospital over the weekend of 30th & 31st of May and the Doctors ran some tests adding I wasn’t to do anything for a week. In actual fact I was totally unable to do anything, I was so weak and suffering from total exhaustion.

I couldn’t work for over a week and even now things are a little slower than usual, due to my still trying to recover fully. If I have still to answer your email, please be patient, I will answer ASAP.

The illness has set my current deadlines on “Worlds End” behind again, after it was gaining in momentum, but other deadlines are looking in better shape at the moment.

I should be back on with my graphic novel in a couple of weeks and for all those that sent messages, here is some new artwork from “Worlds End” taken from selected panels:

I hope you have enjoyed viewing the panels here and I look forward to any comments from you guys.

Your emails helped to keep me going through this last week and I appreciated every word sent through to me, so many thanks to all involved once again.

My next Blog will be Part 8 of the Dark Dominion series.

But for now, for me, it’s back to work.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
June 9th 2009