Monday, March 23, 2009

State of the Comic: 3/23


(Above: Mike's layout for Hero House. Thank goodness someone's thinking about this sort of thing...)

So heads up, you guys: posting might slow down over the next month or so as I shift temporarily from promoting the book to going into overdrive to get everything finalized in time to hit our deadline to be at San Diego Comic-Con. (Cross your fingers for us!) On top of that, one of AclinCorp's other projects is about to come to fruition: my wife (and AclinCorp CEO) Brooke might be having our second child literally any second now. So between those two things, I might not be checking in quite so regularly. But keep checking back, because there's still a bunch of cool stuff to share.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Brutal: Crafting the big guy

(Above: Ed McGuinness' tight-as-hell pencils to the Brutal cover, originally intended for issue #1.)

Let's face it: most of the characters in Hero House just look like a bunch of dudes. So I knew that Brutal--the President of Epsilon Epsilon Psi and the only non-human-looking member--would have to be memorable. Which is why he went through more designs than any other member before Mike and I finally hit on one we liked.

First things first, here's Brutal's description from the issue #1 script:

BROTHER BRUTAL stands in the center, a mammoth, strong-looking man at least eight feet tall in a suit with horns growing from his temples.

Here was Mike's first pass:


I wasn't crazy about the demon nose, and the horns weren't quite where I wanted them to be yet - I wanted the horns to basically look like Brutal's big gnarly eyebrows.

The next couple of sketches got a bit closer:


I wasn't quite digging the inhuman eyes, though. Around this time I also came up with the idea of giving Brutal a scar down the middle of his face between his horns, as if his skin had sort of split open when his horns first started growing in. You can see a bit of that in the penultimate sketch, where Brutal is wearing a very sporty vest...


Add slightly broader soldiers and voila! The finalized design sketch:


I think the scar ends up being less pronounced in much of the final art, but I think we accomplished what we set out to do - to create a visually memorable character that when you see him (or even his sillhouette), you'll immediately think of Hero House. It's why Brutal was going to appear on the cover to issue #1, before we decided to release as an OGN. Plus, as a bonus, he looks like he was born to be drawn by Ed McGuinness.

I'd like to take this opportunity to officially apologize to Mike for being such a hardass about Brutal's design all those five years ago, but I'd like to think it paid off.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The state of the comic - 3/9

Well, the finishing line is in sight. It has to be - we've got a firm deadline for getting all files in and completed if we want to have the book at San Diego (and I want to have the book at San Diego). This evening I'm going to be paginating the book - making sure that everything fits and all the cliffhangers come on a left-facing page. Luckily, it's something I'm very used to doing for the day job.

The other thing I need to do is figure out what bonus art to include in the book, out of the five years of material we've amassed. This one's a shoo-in: a pin-up Mike drew for me for a holiday gift a couple years back featuring a couple of super-villains you won't be meeting for a while in the book, so I won't say anything else about them at the moment...


Monday, March 2, 2009

Poltergeist: 13-year-old Justin is vindicated

(Above: Ed McGuinness' Poltergeist art, originally intended for the cover to issue #3)

So like I said, I'm not much of an artist. And before I hooked up with Mike, he was employed as a character designer for a video game company, so he was totally aces on the character designs (you'll see them all eventually on the blog). But I can say with pride that there is one character who I helped design. And I helped design him when I was 13 years old!

Like most other comic book dorks who dream of growing up to become comic book writers, I created a whole universe of superheroes and villains when I was a teenager. Most of them had names that would not have been out of place on Grant Morrison's list of pseudo-Image character names from Doom Force (there was a Hellweb and a Death Claw, and I'm not proud). I also drew all these characters in an art style that's basically exactly like my current art style, which, as you know, sucks.

But there was one character at least who was destined for greater things:


When the time came to add a disgraced former member to the Eps in Hero House, Poltergeist emerged from the depths of my memories. So what you see above is remarkably similar to the character you see in the book: same white skin. Same blue eyes. Same long grey hair. Same long trailing legs effect when he flies. Only, you know, it doesn't look like crap in the book.


Mike's first stab at Geist (the cool kids call him Geist) played up the haggard and drunken aspects of the character just a little too much. Geist's had some hard living when we meet him, but he's still only about 21 years old.


The next sketch was perfect, though. It captured something about the character that I hadn't quite articulated at the time. He's drunk and he's destructive, but he's convinced that he's a real great time to be around, and it totally comes off in Mike's second sketch:


Geist's big entrance is basically the first extended action sequence of the book, and it was the first sequence Mike drew (for our pitch packet, waaaay back when). And as you can see from the color panel above, Geist practically leaps off the page when he first appears. He's simultaneously a tragic character and a fun character, and he's definitely one of my favorite characters in the book. And not just because I drew him sometime around my Bar Mitzvah.