Sunday, December 12, 2010

The first bit of progress!

Before you get all excited: I did not actually do all these today. I *finished* work I had previously started. Even better, these are re-dos of work I had already done, so it's bonus work and no real progress has been made. Still, I'm happy to show it off! Feedback is greatly appreciated, as I will be turning these into finished pencils and at least one into a final inked page.

This assignment was the "fun" one of our Visual Storytelling class! We were tasked with designing two covers and we were allowed to use our own projects! I think everyone put extra oomph into their work for this one, because it was the first project that was fully theirs. I intend to oomph it up as well! You may not care about the backstories to the images, but I'm giving them to you anyway! (Click the images for a bigger version.)

I think every creative person has one massive epic tale in their head, and mine is Maquette. The story is a rumination on power, as it follows the leaders of a rapidly-modernizing (fantasy) society as they deal with a prophecy that claims the end of the world is at hand. The story gets its title because of the odd situation of the society. It exists in the only fertile area on an otherwise inhospitable planet. With a tradition of written history only going back a few generations, it's as if Maquette sprang out of the ground fully formed. To top it off, their holy scriptures contains a disputed note that may indicate the great saints used their massive power to create their own model society. Is that what Maquette is?

Anyway, I've put way too much time into this idea. As it sits now, I have 44 "episodes" outlined, with room to grow even further. For this project, I settled on episode 36, which centers around my favorite character, Annelise Ellen Rose. She's a ruthless bitch who will not let anything get between her and her goals, and this is a prime example. At this point in the story she has basically come back from the dead thanks to fortunate plot devices. (And magic!) She's been battered and bruised, has been robbed of most of her possessions and just found out she's the most wanted person in Maquette after her role in the so-called Witches Guild was outed. Being the badass she is, her reaction is to storm into the local police station and dare them to try and arrest her. That's where the cover scene comes in.

The changes between this cover and the original I drew are minimal. I increased the figure to break the border of the masthead, and cleaned up the way I drew the gears. I remain not the greatest at anatomy and figure drawing, so I'm not that satisfied with Annelise's depiction, but I'm slowly learning. Oh yeah, and for those not in the biz, the X's in the background indicate that area is black. Using them saves my finger some wear and tear at this stage.

While cover #1 was supposed to have a central figure, cover #2 was anything goes. For this one I decided to present my take on the whole superhero thing. (You might be surprised at this, but superheros are BIG in sequential art!) I give to you: The Utopians!

The story here is that we have a world in which supers are known to exist and they pop up here and there, with some time periods having flare ups in super activity. One of those flares took place in the mid-late 1970's, which peaked when a group of villains did a legion of doom sort of thing. The world cried out for saving, and, lo and behold, the Utopians appeared in a burst of clever marketing. Their promotional material made the claim that they were the 12 strongest supers to ever exist, and they certainly did wonders with cleaning up the villain mess - although people rarely saw Utopians in action. Supervillains were defeated. Organized crime was quashed. The Utopians were doing a great job... but that's about when they started killing politicians for corruption. Very quickly they went from saviors to holding the western world hostage. They were too strong and they weren't afraid to make examples out of people who crossed them. Eventually, a deal was struck and, for a great (and undisclosed) price, the Utopians agreed to go away forever. What followed was a dark age for supers, as either few existed or most kept their abilities secret out of fear of reaction from a snake-bitten public. Now, in the present, we focus on a man who is trying to bring back the superhero group with a cast of mildly-powered supers. Can he be successful, or will the legacy of The Utopians prove too much? (And did the Utopians *really* go away forever?)

For this cover, I wanted to show a splattering of the Utopian illustrated trading cards that were distributed. I went so far as to design each card on a separate page, so I knew what I could plug in when I arranged the falling pattern just right. I'm actually quite pleased with how this is coming out. The only big mistake is that I put in Hazel's card twice. One of the tiny cards should be a generic Utopian logo. There are a few tweaks to be made, like with spacing in the logo and tightening of some card designs, but I like where this is going.

Did you actually read through all that? If so, kudos to you! What do you think of my almost-progress? What should I change before it's too late?


Darc Sowers said...

Hey, ya! Wow, these look really cool. And the stories behind them sound even better. Damn it, I want to read 'Maquette' now. I can't think of anything I'd change myself. They look stellar to me.

I'm sorry about not sending a guest comic along. I'm afraid my wrist has been flaring on and off for the past month now. Cold weather does it every time.

I saw you mentioned reading about repetitive stress injuries on Wikipedia. It's different for each person, but unfortunately the whole accepting being in pain's proven true for me. I injured my wrist in high school over fifteen years ago and I still have pain every day. Though you can get used to it after a while.

I'm not sure if you've ever tried it, but there's this stuff called tea tree oil. You rub it on joints and muscles and it helps alleviate some of the soreness. It's not perfect, but it does help lessen the pain. Smells strongly of eucalyptus though.

I'm sorry again for not being of any help with the guest art. I hope things go better for you soon. Hang in there!

Christopher J Paulsen said...

Darc! <3

Thank you for the encouragement! One of these days I will find a way to tell Maquette's story - I hope. Until them, I'll keep refining my outlines now and then. (As for the Utopians, it was a thought exercise turned into an unwieldy beast. I won't admit defeat yet, but it's clear superhero is not my best genre.)

Don't worry about a guest comic thing. Last thing I want to do is exacerbate someone else's injury to aid my own.

I do need to learn to suck it up and play through the pain. For now, I'm moving frustratingly slow and tentative. Over time I'll toughen up, and I should let that come organically rather than try to force it.

I've been using arnica gel for my hand, which sounds like a similar thing to tea tree oil. I haven't noticed much of a difference yet, but it can't hurt, right? I also was gifted a hand exerciser which I've been playing with.

If this is what I was meant to do, I'll find a way to make it work!

Tristam said...

Chris, is it just by chance that the picture for Maquette (which looks very interesting) and the picture of you in your last blog are nearly identical to one another?

Christopher J Paulsen said...

Hah, I didn't notice that, Tristam!

Considering the images were actually done months apart, it's just a funky coincidence. (Although it would be good practice for me to use a webcam for modeling poses.)