Saturday, May 23, 2009

Altered States


So as you know, Hero House took a long-ass time to come together. But once, way in the beginning of the process, Mike and I considered an alternate course which would have allowed us to burn through the art in much less time. Mike said to me, "What do you think about doing the book in a manga style?"

Now I'm not much of a manga fan, to be honest. And while I think Mike's manga style looks great (you can see some more of his art in that style on his site ), I always envisioned Hero House in an American comic art style. I don't think you can just take a comic book, do it in manga style and have it work out correctly. Manga's got its own storytelling style, even beyond just the art.


So ultimately Mike ended up doing a couple of tests just to see how the characters would look in the manga style (they're the art you're seeing it this post, a-dur), we decided to stick with the original art style, even though we knew it would take longer (and it did). But sometimes good things are worth the wait.

Next up, I'll try to get into the designs of some of our other characters. Because you haven't lived until you've met Animale.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Art Collector (Me)


So I had a surprise package waiting for me in the mail when I got home today: my share of Mike and Frank's original art from Hero House! Crazy!

What's really crazy about it is seeing artwork that I've been looking at for a loooong time (in the case of page 18, the first page Mike drew, over five years) up close and personal. Because Frank inked directly over Mike's pencils what I've got now are the inks (like the above page, the first page of chapter 2). Looking through them all together, I realized that what I requested as my souvenir was, by and large, not the big splashy action pages (with the exception of one particularly awesome splash page from issue 3, depicting the Year One team in all its glory) - I really seemed to ask for the pages that contained really great character work and great facial acting from Mike and Frank.

It's a real honor to be the owner of some one-of-a-kind art from a book that means so much to me. And I know that when Mike is a big famous artist, this stuff's gonna be worth a ton of dough. But, uh, I won't sell it. Seriously.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Original Recipe


(Above: Detail from Mike's first pass at page 18, the first sequential art done for Hero House. You can get a little glimpse of how the finished art changed here)

Now, I'm not saying that Hero House is the most original idea in the history of ideas. I was going for something with excitement and humor and interesting characters, rather than an experimental work that would announce me as the next Alan Moore. However, back when I first came up with the idea (over five years ago, as I tragically keep reminding you), there really weren't any "superheroes in college" books on the market.

However, as soon as the good people at Arcana agreed to publish the book, they started coming out of the woodwork. Robert Kirkman's Invincible went to college. Marvel launched Gravity. Seth Green (who works with some friends of mine, no less, on Robot Chicken) had The Freshmen at Top Cow. Each time I told myself that the premise was different enough, and that there was still room for Hero House in the market...although I died a little bit each time one got announced.

Strangely, the one that never gave me any pause was the web comic Superfrat. I'd heard of it at some point, but it's basically a gag comic strip, not an action comic book. So even though they're both about super-powered fraternities, I was never worried about them competing for the same audience. Although recently it's come to my attention that a friend of one of our creative crew asked him why he was working on Hero House when it was clearly a rip-off of Superfrat, which has been around for years.

So, with no slight to Superfrat, and just in the interest of setting the record straight:

Here is the first Superfrat strip, dated May 11, 2005.

Here is my first public announcement of Hero House on my old blog (which means it had been picked up by Arcana at that point), dated December 13, 2004.

So, yeah. We're not reinventing the super hero wheel, but we're not a rip-off.

Tell your friends. Tell all your friends. I AM the night.