Kevin Ring and I have been working extremely hard and into the wee hours of the morning to bring you the relaunch of our Vampyrates story. Originally a stand alone print issue published by Bloodfire Studios, the new series rewrites that early tale and heads off on a whole new course. As of today, we can officially point you in the direction of our cracking new book on Amazon. The title is presently Kindle or Kindle viewing device ready. So if you get a chance, head on over there and buy 3 or 4.
While this isn’t a complete overhaul of the story, major things are changing and updating. For example, our protagonist was originally named after my friend and inspiration, Kevin Ring. Well, when I realized I wanted to do a full fledged series, I immediately thought of asking Kevin to help me work on it. He dove right in.. no.. it was more like a cannonball. His excited enthusiasm for the story rivals my own. One of the first things we did was change Kevin’s name in the book to reflect where we are headed. Kevin explains the name change fairly well in the book itself, so I’ll let you read more about that there. A lot of the previous artwork has been updated, redone and sweetened for the digital release.
There’s new pages, new panels and a spiffy new cover. If you liked the original J.H. Williams III cover for the print version, that’s in there as well with out the logo or cornerstone on it to cover anything up. Speaking of the logo, we’ve updated that as well to reflect Kevin coming aboard, so now both our names are up there, shinny and new. Draw your own innuendos. Let’s see, what else? Oh… we’re working on a t-shirt. I wanted to design a specific Vampyrate flag for our motley demon crew, that just yelled iconic. I tried a bunch of different designs, but we settled on the one pictured below. I liked this one the most and it kept getting picked when I would show the different designs to people.
So keep checking back here or at the Vampyrates Facebook or Google+ pages for more details. If you’re more of a Twitter sailor, we got that covered as well. There’s not much up there just yet, but Kevin and I are going to use this Twitter account as well as the Facebook page as much as possible. If you like following the production of a comic book, than I think our documenting of the process makes this the place for you. Check these out as I post pencils, sketches and convention appearances. And lastly, I wanted to let you know about my Comic book coloring in Adobe Photoshop DVD/Download that came out this week. I personally take you through how I render a complete Vampyrates page from start to finish in Photoshop. The wonderful fellows over at Photoshop Cafe did a really nice job of me look like a pro.
They did such a nice job, that I want to save more of that for my next post… so, head on over to Amazon and pick yourself up one of the new books. Maybe one of these days, I’ll figure out how to put a buy button on the right hand side of the page.. rrrrrr you kidding me? I don’t have time for that.. I have to finish issue two.
Wow.. what a crazy week.
Thanks for dropping by,
Pencils and keyboards are really buzzing as we approach the launch of some new Vampyrates comics. We’ll keep you updated right here and over at our Facebook page on when and where you’ll be able to get your hands on the new books and some really cool shirts. So keep checking back over the next month for a treasure trove of new art and stories.
Jeromy and Kevin
What can I say? I’ve been fairly busy. Earlier this year, I was offered some work on a Graphic Novel for DC Comics. Did I say work? I should say a ton of work. It was a 140+ page hard cover Graphic Novel for Blizzard. A World Of Warcraft story to be precise. Now, I know when I agreed to take on the book, it was going to be a significant amount of work on top of my already busy schedule of Detective Comics and Justice League Dark. Can you say under statement? Needless to say, I finished the book fine and it printed rather nicely, but directly on the heels of completion was San Diego Comic Con, where I was a guest of the Con… is this a run on sentence? Anyways, the San Diego convention treated me amazingly and I had a great time meeting so many nice fans. It’s going to be hard for any other convention to live up to SDCC 2013 experience. Do you hear that Angouleme? Yeah right, in my dreams.
So, speaking of conventions. The second San Diego Comic Fest is being held this weekend (Oct 4th-6th) at the Town and Country convention center in Mission Valley. Kevin Ring and I will be showing off some Vampyrates goodies and I’ll have some of my recent color work for DC at my table. I’ve made some real break throughs on moving from traditional to near completely digital artwork recently, which has been interesting. I’ve made a lot of these advances in my art while working on a how to digitally paint comics DVD, that I’ve needed to finish for like 4 years. Dude. Ideally, I’ll have more news on that soon.
Now, it’s off to Comic Fest.
Phew… this was supposed to come out two weeks ago.. but between Batman, Resurrection Man, Justice League, Zombie Love and life… things took longer than expected.
Quite the opposite, actually. You see, I’ve been lucky enough to work on some pretty cool Bane, or more specifically, Dark Knight pages and I’m a bit behind on posting about them. Issue 7 of Dark Knight featured a massive brawl between Bane and Bruce (sorry, spoiler alert). Really incredible pencils by David Finch and as usual, gorgeous inks by Richard Friend. Funny anecdote about Rich and I. Years ago when Rich was just starting and I had just started at Wildstorm, we got to talking at a local San Diego Mini-con. Rich was trying to break into inking, so he asked me if I had anything he could try out on. I gave him a page to a comic I was self publishing (it’s weird to say self publishing when Dave Jolosky and Daren Bader were right there with me.. cullo, I digress) called Offspring (90 cents.. I’m insulted). So, Rich did some inks over a pinup of monsters I had drawn and showed it to me. Now, you have to understand, I inked all my own stuff at the time, for various reasons including I was picky and didn’t like not inking my own stuff. So I had to tell Rich I wasn’t into it and that kind of thing always feels awkward. Okay, flash forward to present day and Rich is easily one of the best inkers in the comic industry and I’d give my left (insert body part here) to have him ink anything of mine these days. Alright, end of anecdote.
My biggest dilema with this issue was it being night time with two characters in dark colored costumes. You don’t want to push Bane’s blues to saturated or he looks too cartoony and you don’t want Batman’s grey costume to just die on the page and get lost. I tried to use a deep green for the water color so the characters would stand out against it. The white bits of the splashing water really helped define different planes and helped with some depth, in my opinion. Drawing in knock out areas helped create more depth of field as well. Now the more I get into this post, the more I’m realizing, I don’t think I talked about the last issue. Yeah, I just checked and I didn’t post about Issue 6. I posted about the cover, but I didn’t point out some things I wanted to post about in that specific issue.
Getting to color Batman is a real joy. I’m not weirded out to say that. Getting to color iconic scenes like young Bruce losing his mother and father is a big deal, though it’s been rendered so many times. In High School, I wore this Frank Miller Dark Knight shirt (I see the’re still making them). I actually read Neal Adam’s Continuity books before realizing he helped create the look of what Batman is and so many modern artists unknowingly emulate. I re-learned what could be done with super hero comic story telling by reading Frank Miller’s and David Mazzuchelli’s Batman: Year One. I’m just trying to say, I really get in to coloring this stuff, to say the least. So, Issue 6 had a ton of cool things to render in it. Superman and Batman finished fighting in the rain. Getting to add all the gritty details on the dilapidated shack they crashed through was great. All the rain drizzle and lightning. Fun stuff. Again, sorry to keep saying the same thing over and over, but David and Rich’s drawings really sold the mood in this issue. Mood is something I’m so used to having to put into pages, because the penciler hasn’t done it that well (this is partly untrue in that, I get to work with a ton of talented pencilers because I’ve been doing this so long). But I guess my point is that a lot of modern pencilers are drawing less and less dark areas and leaving it up to the colorists to fill in where the light is coming from. Which can be fine, but in the wrong hands, you’re just asking for something bad to happen, storytelling wise. I pick up a number of comics where the penciler is used to working with a really good colorist who sets up a missing mood for the page and on top of that, does a lot of the modeling on the characters. Then these same artists try to draw the same way and they get a less talented colorist who doesn’t know what to do with their thin outline drawings and ick. I understand that some reviewers and editors say no that one buys these books because of who the colorist is, but this doesn’t belie the point that without a good colorist, a book can look like ass. Circling back to the origin of what I was trying to say, Dave and Rich really know what they’re doing, so I don’t have to waste my time worrying about that.
We move from this scene to downtown Gotham and we get to see Gordon and some cops nabbing this crazy looking dude. I had fun on this page and particularly this panel, to be more specific. Is it weird for me to say, I always like rendering black people different varieties of brown. I grew up with comics that were rather flat (knowing when to leave something flat is actually an artform in itself, but I’ll save that for a different post) and the colorists of the past were limited in what they could do and really just made all the black people one same flat hue. I hated that as a kid. It pulled me out of the story. I like making everyone on a page having disimilar skin tones, because that’s the way it is. I made this police officer sort of a mocha/nutmeg color, or at least that’s what I call it in my head. The villain was this shark guy that I’m really not remembering the name of right now. Come on people, I color a lot of comics, it’s a wonder that my brain hasn’t exploded pixels yet. I also enjoyed lighting up outside the paddy wagon with the police lights and throwing a red rim light on all three characters to really separate them from the background. To tie up this issue, we get to see some Scarecrow and this new character, White Rabbit just before the big fight between Bane and Bats. I like Scarecrow’s eyes in this panel. The burlap texture I created for Scarecrow’s mask worked really well in my opinion. Some people hate when something looks to realistic and some people love it. Some people think I’m a genius (wait, what? really… they obviously didn’t see my Jr. College grades) and others think I’m a terrible artist. I shoot for somewhere in the middle, so as to pull as many people along for the ride.
Okay, back to issue 7. Batman and Bane kick each other’s butts through out the issue. What? It’s a comic book, lighten up. Good guys fighting bad guys. It’s Joseph Cambell escapism. Everyone and their mothers are flocking to super hero movies to get their minds off of, perhaps, not to happy a time in their own lives. Seeing the bad guy get his just due or seeing the hero overcome seemingly insurmountable odds lifts a lot of people up. Theoretically, nothing wrong with that. I love indie comics and art films a ton, but my tastes change throughout the day or week and sometimes you don’t want to have to take things so seriously. Okay, back to the comic… Bane really serves Batman up in this issue. He’s menacing and truly lives up to his moniker. A real killer or slayer in the best villainous sense of the word. The comic obviously goes somewhere that I’m not going to divulge here… so, you just need to go pick it up. Or have it delivered to your tablet of choice.