Monday, March 30, 2015

Jack Kirby's Kamandi Artist's Edition

 Title Page

 Credits/Indicia Spread

Chapter Divider

When I was a young lad, Kamandi was my favorite Jack Kirby comic. Actually, there wasn't even a second favorite. I really didn't get a chance to see his earlier work first-hand. When this came out, it gave me an opportunity to buy the first issue, and experience this Kirby world from it's inception. The main attraction to me, was that it certainly was inspired by "Planet of the Apes." Those movies both inspired me and creeped me out. Either way, they were exciting. Seeing this comic for the first time, gave me the same sort of mixed feelings. In the artwork, it felt like the panels had more breathing room than the what I was used to seeing from Kirby. Maybe it had more to do with the writing, and there being less words crammed into the word balloons. Anyway, I really liked what I was a seeing, and I could actually understand the storylines. A young boy is being chased by humanoid animals, and he is struggling to survive! What could be simpler?

When designing this Artist's Edition book, I was inspired by hazardous waste and radiation signs. I added a little grit and aging to everything to make it look like it's been exposed to the elements and it didn't hold up too well. I also kept the palette very basic and limited. I think simpler is better.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

John Romita Spider-Man Artifact Edition

 Regular Edition Cover

 Variant Edition Cover

 Title Page

 Credits/Indicia Spread

About This Edition and Table of Contents

This is the third book of John Romita's Spider-Man, I've had the opportunity to design. With the first two, I chose to design the books, as if they were designed when the stories originally came out. A nod to nostalgia or retro design. I was careful to use design elements and fonts that would accurately reflect that era. I'm not sure anyone noticed, but it was important to me. The third time around, I wanted to freshen things up a bit, I don't like to repeat myself. This ended up being much more contemporary. I stuck with the red and blue color theme (to match Spidey's costume), but I dirtied the colors up a bit. I used large images of Spider-Man and bled them off the page, to give the illusion of movement. I used the background color to create the outline shape of Spider-Man. This was to give the impression that he blends in with his environment. Diagonal lines throughout pages also re-enforce the action or movement of the character. It's not always easy to continue to create design styles that haven't previously been used, but to me, that is the problem solving that gives me the most satisfaction. I hope you appreciate and enjoy the results as much as I do!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jack Kirby Mister Miracle Artist's Edition

 Mister Miracle cover

 Mister Miracle cover variant

 Title Page

 Credits / Indicia Spread

Chapter Divider

Well, this is book number two from Jack Kirby. It's really quite amazing the imagination of Mr. Kirby. Who would think of creating a character who's greatest asset was his ability to escape from tortuous devices? Not only that, but how do you create a whole universe where he would continually be put in situations to challenge his abilities? But, that's the mind of Jack Kirby, kind of odd and quirky at times, but he made it work. I also love the costume he designed for Scott Free (get it?). Any time someone is wearing a mask and their nose suddenly disappears when it's on... that's brilliant and amazing. His stories and art, are also both brilliant and amazing.

When designing this collection of stories, I thought using the style of posters of Harry Houdini, would be a good influence. As with almost all of the artist's editions, I chose to use a limited palette. I think if there are too many full color pages in the book, it would appear too jarring, and perhaps take away from the impact of the original art pages. Of course, the designed "posters" had to look as if they were battered and torn from being exposed to the elements. It was kind of like creating a "what if" scenario. Like, what if Mister Miracle actually did perform in a circus, what would the advertising for that look like? Again it's such a delight and privilege to design books dedicated to such influential artists and creators.

Now that I think about it, why are there only two artist's edition books on Jack Kirby's art? It sure seems to me like there could possibly be more.... Hmmmm!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cave Girl


 Title Page Spread

 Bob Powell Biography Spread

Table of Contents Spread

I love the look and feel (even the smell) of old comics. The aged paper warms up everything on the page. The colors seem to meld into the paper better, and everything feels comfortable. I can't really explain the soothing nature of looking through vintage paper goods. I'm sure there is some sort of medical research that's been done on the subject, but for me, I'm sure it has helped lower my blood pressure.

I wanted to bring that experience to the book design of Bob Powell's Cave Girl. This is the first book I've had the opportunity to design with the Kitchen Sink imprint for Dark Horse comics. I think in most cases when companies are reproducing old stories, they do a great dis-service by trying to clean them up and then reprint them on shiny snow white paper. It causes the art, to lose all of it's character and reveal flaws that weren't present when originally printed. I wanted to use the brownish paper tones from the original comics and introduce them into this book's design. I wanted the experience of reading this book to be similar to owning the original comic from the early 1950s.

The cover was intended to be an homage to old chapter serials or jungle movie posters. Throughout the book, I used examples of single colored comic images to again give it a look and feeling of vintage printing. The overlapping collages gave an added energy which mimicked the jungle action within the stories. This is a perfect book for enjoying on a cold winter evening, looking at the steamy jungles and the hyperactivity of Cave Girl, is sure to heat up any room.

Joe Kubert Enemy Ace Artist's Edition


 Title Page

 Credits Spread

About This Edition/Table of Contents Spread

When Scott Dunbier, my editor at IDW, told me we were going to be doing Joe Kubert's Enemy Ace as an artist's edition, I was extremely pleased. There were so many levels to this story and art, and I enjoyed all of them. First, this being a series that had a somewhat plausible place in history was great. This gave me context for the direction for the design. The idea of men flying around in wooden and canvas airplanes engaged in air battles also really intrigued me. Somehow war seemed more honorable, with rules that everyone adhered to. Almost like a sporting event. I'm certainly not making light of war or the horrors and deaths involved, but it seemed more gentlemanly. Like medieval jousting. Kubert knew how to draw those flying machines, and bring along the reader into the cockpit with the pilots. It was a bit of an adrenaline rush!

This particular period was also one of my favorites when it came to the history of design. I got to use the influence of my library of european designers. The graphics were strong, bold and a little avant garde. The dynamics of the graphic icons fit with the imagery of the air battles. This book was an absolute treat to work on, and as always the source material was very inspirational!  

Will Eisner's The Spirit volume 2

 Variant Cover

 Title Page

 Contents Spread

Chapter Break

It was nice to be able to revisit Will Eisner's Spirit. After the template was established for the first volume, it was requested, and made perfect sense, to use it again for the second volume. It really wasn't too difficult to pick strong graphic images from the stories. Will had created such cinematic staging and lighting that he made my job very easy. I chose again to had flat color and sharp contrast lighting to enhace the drama that was already there. I was basically hanging the curtins in the house he had designed and built!

Friday, September 26, 2014

John Buscema's Silver Surfer Artist's Edition

Book Cover

 Title Page

 Credits Spread

 Table of Contents

Back Endpapers

John Buscema became the artist who defined Marvel Comics "house style." His figures didn't have as much exaggeration as Jack Kirby's, nor did they appear to be as highly stylized. Buscema's figures and story-telling seemed to be more grounded in "heroic realism." There seemed to be a more controlled sense of interaction and activity. Let's say, more cool and sophisticated!

The work Buscema did on the Silver Surfer touched a certain nerve within readers. It almost instantly became a classic. To this day people look at it as being a high water mark for the work Busecema did for Marvel. It's not very often that an illustrator and the subject matter seem to be so harmonious.

When designing this book, I wanted to portray the idea of "space." Both as in, "outer space" but also as in "open design space." The character of Silver Surfer always seemed to me, to be both melancholy and lonely. I wanted to re-enforce that idea, by showing great expanses of monochromatic atmosphere. Like being swallowed up into the darkness.