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Kieron Dwyer’s “Sky High” Connection

by  in Comic News Comment
Kieron Dwyer’s “Sky High” Connection

Official Press Release

Kieron Dwyer has worn many hats in his 18-year career in comics: penciller, inker, painter, writer. He has worked on numerous titles for both major, and many smaller, comics companies, impressing readers with a broad spectrum of art styles for numerous genres beyond the mainstream superhero work for which he may be best known. From stalwart heroes like Superman, Batman, Captain America and the Avengers to indy projects like Last of the Independents, Remains, Black Heart Billy and his own adult humor title, LCD: Lowest Comic Denominator, Dwyer has covered a lot of ground.

In an already long and fruitful career, 2005 has proven to be one of the most fertile for the artist, with two brand new creator projects in stores or on their way. Sea of Red and Night Mary are both the brainchildren of Dwyer and his friend and frequent collaborator, Rick Remender. With three issues in stores, Sea of Red has already shown itself as one to watch, garnering critical praise, a strong fan response, and one of the most impressive debuts of any recent Image title. Night Mary, which launches this week, has had very good advance word and looks to be yet another compelling horror-suspense title from IDW (IDW also published Remains, a zombie yarn by Dwyer and Steve Niles, which earned Dwyer an Eisner nomination for his covers). Both properties have also been receiving strong interest from film/TV producers and video game companies.

Now, fans of Dwyer’s work and filmgoers in general have something else to check out: SKY HIGH, the recently released Disney film about a family of superheroes whose teenage son is about to enter the titular high school for superhero offspring. A lighthearted family film, Sky High has a host of actors that comics fans already know and love: Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston star as the Commander and Jetstream (picture Superman and Wonder Woman marrying), Lynda Carter appears as a school administrator, Bruce Campbell plays the school coach, and Kids in the Hall alums Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald are hilarious as teachers.

Where does Dwyer fit into all this? Both the prologue and the epilogue of the film are done as comic book style panels and pages drawn by the comics vet. The end credits crawl features additional panels by the artist, created for the other sequences but scrubbed at various stages of production. In all, the footage adds up to several minutes of screen time. How did such a cool gig come to Dwyer?

“Quite literally, this thing fell from the sky. I had only just heard about the film a day or so before I was called about working on it. Some people were discussing it online, due to some similarities to Invincible, and I found it sort of amusing, since there really are no original ideas anymore anyway. Out of the blue, I get a call from the folks at Picture Mill, an LA-based film-titles company, asking if I’d like to take a shot at the gig. Hell, yes, I said!”

“The funny thing was, they first told me they wanted a sort of Bruce Timm-style, Batman Adventures look to the art. Having too much work on my plate already but not about to turn down a plum gig like this, I thought, ‘Sweet! That should be pretty easy, and pretty fast.’ Famous last words! When I submitted the more animated looking figures, they were pleased with them, but a few days later they came back and said the film makers decided they wanted something more realistic, and presented me with samples of what they had in mind: pages from Bryan Hitch’s Authority issues! ‘D’oh!’ Suddenly I realized the job wasn’t going to go quite so quickly.”

“Still, what we ended up with, what’s on the screen, is a happy medium between cartoony and realistic, and I think it works really well as an entry point to the characters and the movie. The movie, by the way, is quite good. Like a lot of people I’ve heard from, my expectations for it were not exactly sky high, but I was very pleasantly surprised at how charming and sweet the movie is. The performances certainly elevate the film, especially Dave Foley, who is hilarious as the Commander’s former sidekick.”

“I got to see the film last week in LA at a screening for cast and crew, and while the audience there was full of biased people, the response was terrific, and it gave me great pleasure to see my drawings up on a huge screen in a fancy theatre (Hollywood’s El Capitan, owned and restored to its former glory by Disney in the early 90’s). Start to finish, this was definitely one of the very best gigs I’ve ever had, and naturally I hope the film does well enough to merit a sequel or three, and I hope I’ll be asked back to work on them!”

So, with Sky High behind him, what’s next for Dwyer?

“Rick and I are busy keeping Sea of Red going, and looking forward to the release of issue 5 and the trade paperback collecting issues 1-4, since issues 1 and 2 are extremely hard to find for a lot of people who want to read this book. The trade is entry-level priced at $8.99 and will be a terrific jumping-on place for new readers, and hopefully they’ll go right back and pick up issue 5, a special origin issue with art by Paul Harmon. Paul’s a hugely talented guy, and I urge folks to check out his own Image title, MORA. He’s definitely one to watch.”

“We’re also going to wrap the first Night Mary 5-issue series in a couple months, and assuming it does well, we’ll move right ahead with a follow-up to that. For those not aware of it, Night Mary is the story of Mary Specter, a girl who is blessed and cursed with the ability to walk in other people’s dreams and nightmares. Her special gift allows her to help people with problems they have, which are manifested in their dreams. Unfortunately, she is also vulnerable to another, malevolent dream-walker who has reasons to see Mary and her family and friends suffer. His stronger abilities allow him to spill out into the waking world, making for dire, real-life consequences. It’s a pretty dark story, a horror book with psychological and suspense angles to it. Typical of my work habits (read:schizophrenic), I have chosen to draw all the dream sequences in different art styles, as befits each nightmare. The reality sequences are all done the same, in a sort of washed out monochromatic style to offset the colorful and more vivid dream sequences. Rick and I are both proud as hell of the book. We hope it connects with readers who like intelligent horror stories.”

“In addition to Sea of Red and Night Mary, I’ve got a series called THUG in the works with my Last of the Independents cohort, Matt Fraction. Hopefully, we’ll be announcing something about that one soon, but in the meantime, check out the first 5 cover images I’ve done for the book, which is a pulp noir tale of crime, corruption, conspiracy and California at the end of the sixties. I think anybody who’s a fan of hard-boiled crime-fic movies starring Robert Mitchum, Lee Marvin, and the likes will definitely dig THUG.”

“There’s definitely some other stuff on the horizon, but nothing I should go into at this point. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, go see Sky High!”

While it might be hard for Kieron Dwyer to top 2005 for diversity and volume of work, it won’t be for lack of trying. As always, check out his websites, www.kierondwyer.com and www.lcdcomic.com for news, updates, new work, etc.

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