The Men (and Women) in Grey are back! Prog 1982 sees the return of Bulliet and his ETC crew as they fight back against the Godstar which is threatening to blow them to smithereens! Once again, series artist and all round clever clogs Mark Harrisson is on cover duties as he brings us a cinematic feast to our eyes!
As ever, Mark has been kind enough to give us a fascinating breakdown of his process, which is brilliant. Over to Mark...
"Tharg basically wanted a heroic "Gears of War" image, a "Those who are about to die" heroic shot. I thought also movie poster and both these approaches would inform the cover..."
Fenix in the Flames
"I roughed up a quick sketch of a tableau of our heroes, with projections of shattered buildings pointing to the Oval Godstar, giving an impression of being hemmed in, surrounded by flame and explosions, trapped. It's a moment just before the attack. Alighting onto these building and closing in, I would put the "Angels' transforming into corporeal demonic scrotum beasties!" Wait... what!?!
"Yes, you read that correctly. All the alien bad guys have some sort of sexual imagery involved. I may have some issues... ;) The strip goes full John Martin with a biblical Apocalypse."
Hmm, I think Mark may need to get his testicles checked out...
In Grey Area, we have seen the Homeworld being attacked by 'Angels' which pour out of the Godstar. Mark told me a little more about their design "The angels in their "light" form are based on Mandelbrot shapes which I thought looked pretty cool. I wanted something Doug Trumbull "Brainstorm" like; morphing beings of light that were both angel and demon."
Next, onto colour choices, "The Gears of War image cited by Tharg made it easy to get a general feel for lighting and colours - plus I love GOW. An interesting fact - the makers of GOW contacted me a few years back saying they were huge fans of Glimmer Rats (that had been one of the influences on the game) asking if I would be interested in doing a comic strip for them! Unfortunately it would have been a conflict of interest so I had to decline. Liam Sharp I believe got the job and did an excellent job! I'm free now!!! ;)"
"Approaching the cover like a film poster was natural for me as that approach has been part of my comic strip DNA from day one. Getting a film like aesthetic. It's probably why I've gravitated to concept art also. I started out doing caricatures of TV and movie stars. (I still am in my Prometheus Parody!) "
"I cast most of the major characters in a strip like a film (something I've done since Loose Cannons- my first strip). In the past I "cast" Susan Sarandon, Teri Hatcher, Dolph Lundgren, Rutger Hauer and Jean Reno in my strips. Many other artists do this. It can even influence character changes (Nick Fury to Sam Jackson!)"
"For Grey Area I've been using Brad Pitt for Bulliet as a general guide. Just to keep their likeness in mind. I usually do a sheet of heads that help; some expressions, plus it helps to keep me on track to any changes and reuse some shots. I have a terrible memory!"
"Here's a story, of some lovely ladies, who were blowing up some very ugly bugs!"
"Something I discovered when researching a lot of comic artists for line art (which is a particular passion of mine right now) was many of these artists did the same thing, reused the same headshot, just larger smaller or flipped. It can save time to just drop your own art back into the work and trace over it!"
"Something artists also do is pose for the characters and film/photograph themselves (yep - even pose for the female characters - lots of imagination involved there! ) Lots of hands on hips when I look back on it. Well it's heroic!" I would like to point the honourable gentleman to any of Neil Roberts' posts on this very blog for evidence of some top class photo reffing!
I pose for most shots that are close/medium as I've found "acting out" the scene in a strip helps come up with nice little character nuances. Especially gesturing with hands. Helps the characters look less static as if waiting for their lines. "
"The guns were trickier but I had (for the strip) created a template that I used to get a foundation to work from. These templates make up the foundation of anything a bit complex. There's one for the Godstar in line form."
The patented Mark Harrison Super Soaker
"I've also made custom brushes that can create repetitive alien shapes and a custom action that can render the red, black and white silhouettes out as line art. Saves a lot of time and keeps the line weight consistent."
"The cover originally had Bulliet looking more like me but as I worked over my face. I thought the conceit of the art might as well be followed through and painted it to resemble a certain movie star. ;) Shameless pitching for a possible movie? I think we wouldn't say no film or TV show! :)"
Count me in, I think a Grey Area show would be brilliant! Below is Mark's mock up of the cover...
"It's behind you!!!"
Followed by his glorious final image - glorious!
"Coming this summer... a movie like no other... Brad Pi-"
*Cough! Cough! Splutter! - Ouch! My poor throat!"
And, of course, how the cover looks on your Progshelf - drokking marvellous!!!
Six soldiers (six and a half if you count Luwot) against a planet sized entity and a million angels. What could possibly go wrong?
Huuuuuuuge thanks to Mark for another thoroughly entertaining read into the making of a truly outstanding cover. However, I must urge him to get those testicles looked at ASAP!