Friday, May 25, 2012

Groo Artist's Edition

Cover to Sergio Aragone's Groo Artist's Edition

Title page

Credits page

The great thing about doing book design, is getting to work with such a variety of different artistic styles. When I think of Sergio and his art style, the word that pops into my head, is fun. It's hard not to look at his stuff and smile. There is so much detail, that this larger format, really helps show how much effort is put into each panel. Maybe effort isn't he right word, because I get the feeling that this stuff just flows out of Sergio's brush. I've been a fan of Sergio's work for a long time, so this was a real treat for me to work on. Amongst all of the chaos and mayhem, there is control and order. Everything is placed with precision and accuracy into the panels, nothing is left to chance. Check it for yourself, when inspecting a scene of action with lots and lots of characters, see where your eye naturally goes...right to the main character. Sergio leaves nothing to chance, he knows his stuff.

This book gave me permission to explore a more humorous approach to design. Of course, the table was already set, based on the subject matter. It's always fun, and a little daunting, to try to get inside the head of the artist. How is my design paying homage to his vision, without stepping on his toes? I would hate to come across, as if I hadn't done my homework, and had no idea what this artist was trying to convey. I think part of being a good designer, is to also be a chameleon. You have to disappear into the book, and take on the characteristics of the book's artist.

Sergio is certainly unique in his abilities and vision. He is also well deserving of a book in this oversized format.

Daredevil Artist's Edition

Cover to Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Artist's Edition

Title page

Chapter divider

Every-time I design an Artist's Edition book, it becomes a new challenge to me. I never want to get into a rut and design in a way that becomes too comfortable or inappropriate for the material. Part of the challenge of this book was to not repeat myself with using the same design approach from another book. Even though Spider-Man and Daredevil share a lot of similarities, (urban setting, rooftop swinging, gymnastic fighting techniques, angst ), I had to figure out a way to make Daredevil unique from the Spider-Man book.

Believe or not, part of the fun for me, is the research. I looked up Hell's Kitchen, and tried to get a feel for that, and compared it to how Mazzucchelli portrayed it in the book. I wanted to maintain the dirt and grime of the city, along with familiar architecture. When designing the books, I want to enhance the featured artist's work, without overwhelming it with my own personal vision. I think it's important to keep your ego in check. One of the most fulfilling aspects of these books, is the participation of the artist. They always have final say on the approval process. When you get the pat on the back, that says you did a good job, that is true satisfaction.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kaluta Sketchbook Cover 2

Original Concept

Approved Cover

I received a Kaluta illustration intended for the cover of the Kaluta Sketchbook series #2. When I saw it, I went, "Wow!" I've always admired Kaluta's ability to capture different eras in history. It's all in the details; the style of the clothing, the telephone, the lamp, the blinds, and the great coloring. So, when I looked at this, I too wanted to support and enhance the illustration, by dressing it out in period appropriate design. It looked very "Detective Pulpy" to me. I pulled out some reference from the 40s, and wanted it to mimic the pulp magazines appearance. If you know the history of pulps, you know that red and yellow were prerequisite colors for use on the covers. I did my best to keep it exciting and eye catching. I thought I was being clever by adding the bullet holes to the masthead, as if someone was shooting back at the main character. I felt pretty happy with the results, but the response I got from Kaluta, was "Nahh." He actually wanted to keep it consistent with the first volume and use the same type treatment and layout. I guess I got too excited and decided to make it about me, instead of pulling back and allowing the illustration to speak for itself. I think those are good lessons to learn, sometimes subtlety is the best solution.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Doug Wildey's Rio

Rio cover
Rio Title Page
Sample art from the book
Sample art from the book
Sample art from the book

This book and design came as a complete surprise to me. I think based on previous posts and my Cowboy Culture Gallery Show, it's obvious I have a sentimental place in my heart for the old west. When Scott Dunbier asked me if I'd be interested in designing this book, I almost fell off my saddle!

I had been familiar with Doug Wildey's work on Rio, but it becomes a whole new experience when you see his original art. IDW made a great decision when they decided to publish this book. Not only were all of Wildey's stories collected in one place but they turned this into an art book. This was going to be presented in a similar format as their Artist's Edition books. Although the art wasn't going to be printed at original size, the boards were going to be scanned and printed to look as close to how the original artwork looks as possible. When I look at this stuff, I think it's easy to see Wildey really had a passion for this subject matter. Not only is there a cinematic approach in his presentation, but it feels authentic. There is a grittiness and flair that en-captures the flavor of the old west.

The artwork itself looks very americana and immediate in it's execution. Wildey would color and create his artwork, with pretty much whatever he had on hand. There isn't a fussiness or pretentiousness to it. You can see the use of magic markers, acrylic paints, colored pencils and even crayon. In fact, if you look at some of the artwork close enough, you can see tumbleweed and dried clay imbedded in the art. It reminds me of some of the paintings of Charles M. Russell. I love the sincerity in the work. He wasn't faking it, these are things he knew. I had a new found appreciation for his artwork, he's walking a fine line between commercial and fine art. Either way, it's definitely art with a heart!