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


Magnus said...

Nice stuff as usual. As a software person I somewhat recognize the mixture of discipline and creativity. Just so much more of both in the comics industry.

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Magnus,

Thanks for the kind words, as usual and for dropping by again.

Yes, you really do need both of those and also I suppose a certain amount of stamina, to keep the long hours.

Lots more tales, artwork, and photos still to come.

Looking forward to hearing from you again then.


Anonymous said...

Hey Tim,
Haven't been around too much, but thought I'd stop by to say "Hi"

Take it easy

Tim Perkins said...

Hey Emilio,

Great to hear from you.

Thanks for dropping by.

Back in the sway, now!