Bane of my existence?

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.

Staying on Bane a bit more… have you seen the trailer for the new Christopher Nolan Batman film? Uh, yeah. Pretty intense. I’ve really enjoyed the last two films… actually, come to think of it, I’ve pretty much enjoyed all of Mr. Nolan’s films. I’ve only seen one trailer for this film. I’m trying to avoid trailers for most films, now. I don’t know if it’s this way for everyone, but my brain fills in most of the rest of the film for the amount that they show you in todays trailers. I can’t stand it. It ruins the films for me. So far, the film looks like people escaping from Arkham or something and rising up sort of Occupy Movement style against the rich or those in power. Is this fascist Batman? Like I believe, the less I know going in, the better.
Well, with all this Bane talk, it just had me thinking of my friend Jesse who showed up on Conan last month as Baine (my deliberate misspelling). Which got me to thinking how cool it would be to draw Bane or better yet, Baine. That got me to thinking I should make it a paper doll so you could act out the Conan scene in the comfort of your very own home. Well if you haven’t watched the Conan video yet, do me a favor and check it out before you check out my drawing over at Deviant Art. Here’s a sneak peak, just to the right. Hi Jesse. Thanks for being such a great muse.
And finally, below is my favorite image from coloring these recent Dark Knight issues. I don’t know why. I just like it a whole lot. Sometimes panels do that for me. I just get into them more than others. Poison Ivy trapped behind glass. I just think the art already sang before it got to me. I see a lot going on. The weird color scheme. The rendering on the skin. The strange skin color. The little details on the individual leaves. The color of her hair and the flowers in it. The sheen on the glass. Like I said, just a whole lot of fun to color/render/paint.
Okay, not so long between posts and more original art, I promise. Some more Vampyrates and some more Zombie Love. I finally got some kinks worked out of my schedule and I’m raring to draw and post more stuff. I’ve actually been drawing a ton lately, so now I just have to scan some of it and get it all digitally and stuff.
Thanks so much… -j

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