Hey, there, Marvelites.
Well, by now you’ve heard the amazing news, the legendary comic’s character Marvelman has finally found a home. I’ll get into this in future columns, but Marvelman was arguably one of the most influential characters that led to my wanting to be a professional comic artist in the first place. So, long ago, when Dan Buckley and I spoke about this legend of the publishing industry, it was a far off dream of mine that we would one day be able to publish his future adventures, yet, here we are. I’ve been in the middle of some incredible things in my nearly 10 years here as EIC, but this one is right near the top.
Needless to say, when I was assigned to do the very first piece of Marvelman art, my heart literally jumped out of my chest, I couldn’t wait to get to it.
I had the concept immediately, I didn’t want it to be too complex, just something simple and iconic that relayed a simple message to the reader, “I’m back, come and join me on the adventure of your life!” The angle I choose was a worm’s eye view, as if the viewer were standing on solid ground looking up as Marvelman effortlessly floats above. I wanted to convey a god like feel to him that was evident near the end of the modern run by Moore, Gaiman and so many brilliant artist. In that series he wasn’t an overly muscular hero, he was more akin to a ballet dancer, lithe with athletic proportions, I found that refreshing at the time and wanted to convey it within this piece as well. Everything about Marvelman was graceful and that was all important to me.
For the background I envisioned a simple starry, night sky, nothing too complex, but something that would give the viewer a sense of his expansive powers.
I wanted the look on his face to be kind, but with a hint of what is yet to come. But, to me, what was going to be the most important part of the piece was the hand that he was offering us, I wanted to get this just right and I knew it was going to be much harder than it sounded. It was an attitude, a lean in, a posture that was going to make this work for me.
Here’s my very first digital doodle of the figure. As you can se the hand is just fudged in. I was going to work extra hard on getting that gesture just right. That said, I was happy with the body language and posture of the figure at this early stage, which rarely happens for me.
Just to be sure, I took this reference picture of my own hand that I would use as a guide for the actual drawing.
Now, here is a more fully realized digital drawing of the figure, the hand is working for me, but his eyes are looking off into the space, I need them to look at the viewer.
Time to spot blacks. I went with a double light source as I wanted, once again, to convey that this guy was more then human, more than superhero. I also fixed the eyes at this point and it’s starting to come together.
Now a much tighter drawing, some of the rendering is loosely drawn in.
After several dozen tries at getting just the right starry background, I finally come to something that I think works well but isn’t overkill. As you can tell, the figure is hard to read against that field of black, but that’s actually by design.
Because the one final tough to this sketch is Marvelman’s shimmering halo. Now he separates perfectly from the background and it all seems to be working together.
Before I go any further, I do up a quickie color guide for Richard Isanove, not to dictate color, but to make sure he knows what the costume’s colors are.
Now, I did a little thing that I’ve been doing from time to time. I took my digital layout and printed it in a very light gray tone onto Marvel board. I then use the gray tone like a blue line drawing and do my finished pencils on the board. In this case, it made the background easier to do because it was already there and I couldn’t possibly draw it any better than the splatter brushes I used in Photoshop. I also decided to do the piece oversize knowing that this piece was going to be made into a poster and blown up larger than I’d feel comfortable with.
Here are Danny’s final inks, what more can I say about him that you haven’t already heard.
And finally, Richard’s colors are just out of this world.
Well, I hope you dug this installment as much as I had a blast drawing this piece. Oh, yeah, one other thing I didn’t mention, I had to design it keeping in mind that there would be other pieces that connected to it. What those are you’ll just have to wait.
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