Wednesday 22 December 2010

Cover from the Emerald Isle!

Here is the cover of the excellent 2000AD fanzine 'Tales from the Emerald Isle.' The fanzine is the brainchild of David MacDonald (who also published the brilliant 'Doomlord' and 'Thirteenth Floor' reprints a few years ago) and features 2000AD's roster of Irish characters in stories written and drawn by the hottest up and coming talent.

The superb cover is by Alan Nolan, if you recognise the style, he produced the brilliant Slaine artwork in the Zarjaz Pat Mills special. His wonderful site is here.

Over to Al as he kindly tells us more.

"Emerald Isle editor David McDonald gave me a good idea of what he wanted for this cover -- the bould Slough Feg in one corner, opening up his tattered cloak to reveal Irish-tinged 2000AD characters Judge Joyce, Sinister/Dexter and Maeve the Many Armed.

Now I was familiar with Joyce and Sin/Dex, and practically on exchanging-Christmas-card terms with the Weird Lord, but Maeve the Many Armed I was flummoxed by. Must have happened during one of my few sabbaticals from reading the galaxy's greatest comic.

So I googled and googled and eventually came up with a reference...{%22ImageId%22%3A21516442}
...which turned out to be from a 2007 issue of Strontium Dog fanzine Dogbreath, and drawn by my old pal (and very talented artist) Vicky Stonebridge. Thanks Vicky!

I started off by drawing a very rough thumbnail at about A5 size for composition (Emerald_Cover_1.jpg), leaving enough room up top for a logo that I didn't have yet. As Joyce was my second favourite character (after Feg) and probably the most recognisable, I stuck him at the front with a dirty great pint of the black stuff. Sin/Dex I have coolly strolling from under the Weird Lord's smelly cloak, while Maeve goes all valkyrie behind them."

Al continues "I scanned this in, changed the colour profile from RGB to CMYK in Photoshop and stripped out magenta, yellow and black colours, leaving only cyan which I lightened to about a 20% tint (Emerald_Cover_2.jpg). I then blew this up in size and printed the light blue sketch at A4 size."
"Next, I inked directly onto the A4 printout using (mostly) an Artline Drawing System 0.2mm felt tip, adding all the detail and shading as I went, drawing at about 100% finished size. I scanned the finished artwork in a very high resolution."
"In Photoshop I cleaned up a few of the black lines, and greyed out parts of Joyce's helmet. I also added a white moon shape out of a grey tone at the very back to add depth.

By this stage the logo (designed, I believe, by another old friend Mike Carroll) had come in, so I added it to the "dead" space at the top, adding shading and highlights to the logo and tilting it slightly, and putting a shadow behind it to make it float over the action. I also brought Feg's right horn/antler in front of the logo, to give the whole shebang a more 3D look."

"And Bob's your Monkhouse, that was it, flattened the layers in Photoshop and saved as a jpg which I sent on to David."

Mike Carroll's brilliant logo

Absolutely fantastic! Thank you so much for that Al, you're an absolute star! I simply couldn't end this entry without including Al's hilarious, but ever so cool, back cover! He's really channeling the spirit of McMahon there!
Sincere thanks to Al for sending such an entertaining and informative commentary. If you want to buy Tales from the Emerald Isle (and you'd be mad not too!), then get in touch with Dave at Hibernia Comics.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Festive Fraser - The cover of Prog 2011!

Merry Christmas Earthlets! Behold the awesome cover of Prog 2011 by Nikolai Dante/Lilly MacKenzie creator Simon Fraser. Man, those colours are absolutely beautiful!

Simon said "Tharg wanted something Christmassy without anything Christmassy in it per se and Tharg might be flying like the Silver Surfer. So seeing as I seem to be drawing a lot of futuristic city scapes these days , I did one in the style of an old sci-fi book jacket sort of thing. The kind of books I used to borrow/nick from my Dad!"

"Here's the initial sketch, plus the worked up colour sketch (for the Editor to approve/hate!)"

Si then takes some of the magic out of his image by telling us "the city linework and the Tharg were drawn separately and assembled in Photoshop so I could use odd bits of paper that I had lying about." Odd bits of paper??? Dammit I want my Christmas cover to have been painted using pixie dust on pieces of reindeer hide. Not, odd bits of paper!!! That really is a beautiful cityscape though...

And here is the fully assembled image in all it's glory. I really, really like this cover, the colours are beautiful, those planets are stunning and it does indeed manage to be festive without a hint of tinsel. A triumph of brilliant design!

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Clint Langley - Team Player!

Behold yet another amazing Clint Langley cover, this time featuring players of Slane's oddball Murderball game! The image is a fantastic homage to Bob Peak's seminal Rollerball poster from 1975 and, as ever, features some of Clint's fantastic character designs. Here's the poster from the film, if you're unfamiliar with it....

Teamwork is very much the theme of this week's post as we take a peek at how Clint has collaborated with other professionals and indeed, other organisations.

Firstly, let's see how he worked with writer and artist Nick Percival. After I gushed about the Legends: The Enchanted novel in my recent Nick Percival post (available for a ridiculous £2.99 on the Comixology app), I mentioned to Clint how it's lush, digital artwork very much reminded me of his. He hold me "Yeah, I know the book well, I did some splash art for the film concepts for it."

And here they are; firstly, most of the principle cast astride their bikes looking all mean and moody. From left to right we have Bear and Goldilox, Jack the Giant Killer, Red (Riding) Hood, Hansel and Gretel.

Next is Jack the Giant Killer who, with the help of some narcotic-like magic beans, is no doubt off to slay another giant.
The next set of collaborative works are laden with great sadness. On several occasions, Clint was lucky enough to work with the late, great John Hicklenton who, after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis, bravely took his life in March this year with the help of the Dignitas group in Switzerland. The week of John's death, 2000AD carried this fantastic ABC Warriors cover by Clint, in which Rojaws pays tribute to one of the comic's most original and memorable contributors.
John Hicklenton will perhaps be remembered mostly for his outstanding work on Nemesis and his fine, super-violent work on Judge Dredd strips Black Widow, Heavy Metal Dredd and the controversial Blood of Satanus. His passionate art style was visceral, highly individual and never, ever predictable, resulting in raging debate among the 2000AD fan base.

It is perhaps because of John's ultra violent approach to his work and his love of music that he was chosen to follow Simon Bisley on the Heavy Metal Dredd stories. Below are several images from Rebellion's Heavy Metal Dredd Collection which Clint was able to digitally enhance...

In the final months of his life, Jonny wrote and illustrated the brilliant graphic novel, 100 Months (on sale for £12.99 this week only!) The novel, in which Clint gets a dedication, tells the story of Manu, the vengeful Earth Goddess who wages an angry, bloody war on all that is wrong with humanity.

"Fear me! All who obey the coin!"

Even without knowing the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding the book's creation, it is a difficult and very thought provoking read. It's gruesome, yet beautifully intricate illustrations trap you in the page for the longest time and, despite the abundance of violence and gore on show, it is often magnificent prose that has a more profound effect on the reader.

"The murdered carpenter..."

100 Months is an angry, yet ultimately uplifting look at mankind's fragile relationship with the earth and is, without doubt, a fine testament to a true visionary. You can order the book from Cutting Edge Press.

Simply stunning work...

Finally, this week saw Clint contribute to the Willow Foundation's 'Star on Canvas' online auction. The Willow Foundation is a charity formed by former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper Bob Wilson and his wife, with the aim of giving special days out to seriously ill people aged between 16 and 40. The auction saw many well known faces from the worlds of sport, art, design, fashion, music and entertainment paint a 20x20 cm canvas to raise money for this worthwhile cause. Big names such as Bob Hoskins, Ricky Gervais, Tracey Emin, Dave Gibbons, Mark Harrison, David Tennant and Stephen Fry all contributed paintings to the auction. Clint was asked and painted the beautiful 'Bowling Wool: Together', raising a very respectable £471 for the charity. Clint said "It was a privilege to be included and contribute to such a great cause!!!"

I'm sure you'll join me in congratulating him on such a worthwhile endeavour.

Bowling Wool: Together

My thanks, as ever, go to Clint for being so kind to share these images, especially as many were sent at obviously a very sad and difficult time. I think his eagerness not only to help this blog, but causes like the one above, speak volumes about this wonderfully talented man. Thank you sir!