One of Image Comics‘ most heavily anticipated new titles of 2015 is “Descender,” by co-creators writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen. Before the first issue has even hit stands, the sci-fi series has already been optioned by Sony Pictures, and the March 4 debuting #1 was second amongst the top advance reorders for March according to Diamond Comics Distributors, behind only Marvel Comics’ “Princess Leia” #1.
With the series’ debut soon arriving, and the buzz around the title building, last week, Lemire took to Twitter to debut a variant for “Descender” #3 — a photo cover featuring a sculpture of the series’ main character, TIM-21, that Lemire’s wife Lesley-Anne Green created specifically for the variant.
“After all the initial buzz that the book received, I thought that a cover by Lesley-Anne would give people something really cool to check out and keep the interest high,” Lemire told CBR News of the decision to create the variant. “It’s really different and, obviously, something that you don’t see very often. And the reaction on Twitter to the cover has been overwhelming.”
Green was admittedly unsure of how one of her creations would translate into a comic book cover, but she’s pleased with the final product even though she repeatedly cursed Nguyen for developing such awesomely detailed character designs.
“It was definitely a challenge, but I wanted to give it a shot because I didn’t know if I could actually make something like that,” said Green. “Jeff said it didn’t have to look exactly like Dustin’s art and he really wanted my own take on it. I can only do what I can do. And that’s what I came up with.”
Definitely not a toy, Green created the sculpture of TIM-21 using a variety of techniques and materials including paper clay (clay infused with paper), tin foil (for the ‘skull’) wiring (for the skeleton), her son’s old t-shirt and shorts (for the clothes) and for the boots, FIMO, which is basically Play-Doh that you sculpt and then bake in the oven to harden.
Green studied Craft and Design at the highly competitive Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. Her first sculptures were little girls made of clay that she describes as “hideous but sweet.” She later transitioned to making dolls with soft bodies with clay heads, hands, arms and feet that are closer to the process that she used on TIM-21.
“There are straight lines and perfect shapes and shiny bits,”Green said of TIM-21’s robotic companion. “The dog really was the biggest challenge.” He is made of FIMO with painted wooden legs.
The planet surface, which serves as base for the sculptures, is a paper form covered with paper clay. It was later painted.
“Descender,” like many of Lemire’s original series, is a high concept executed in a very organic style. That’s why Lemire believed that Green’s meticulously detailed handiwork with organic materials made perfect sense for bringing an android that is very much like a real boy to life.
“It’s a really weird combination of Lesley-Anne’s style and Dustin’s, which turned out really cool,”Lemire said. “I think it works really well. ‘Descender’ is sci-fi and it deals with all of sorts of technological things but since Dustin is water coloring the book, he’s executing those things in a very organic way. You get that combination of technology and organic right in his drawings. That’s why this fits right in with that aesthetic.”
From start to finish, the entire process for the variant cover took three weeks. According to Lemire, when artist Skottie Young saw the final product, he said that he wanted to do an entire comic book with Green. Lemire and Green joke, however, that such a project would take decades.
Green not only made the sculptures, but created the background, designed the cover layout and photographed it. She has extensive experience modeling her current needle-felted creations as she photographs many of her pieces, which are later sold on her Etsy page.
These sculptures of characters from “Sweet Tooth” and this layout design were developed specifically as the variant cover for “Sweet Tooth” #33. Vertigo ended up passing on the concept, which was baffling to Lemire and Green at the time. Later, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee was equally stunned by the decision.
“I knew now that I was at Image and I was my own boss, there would be no one to say, ‘No,'” Lemire told CBR.
Over the years, Green has created a number of sculptures for Lemire, including representations of some of his earliest creations like his unnamed antihero from “Lost Dogs” and Lester from “Essex County Trilogy.”
“Descender” #3 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen and featuring a variant cover by Lesley-Anne Green, arrives May 6.
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