Designing the "Last of the Greats"

Death in superhero comics is done all the time, and sometimes it's even undone. But even in the most kill-happy, big ticket event comics, it's rare to see an entire superhero time bite the dust.

That premise forms the hook for "Last of the Greats" -- the new Image Comics series from Joshua Hale Fialkov and Brent Peeples. In the series' first issue, released earlier this month, readers were introduced to various members of a seven-hero family team tasked with saving the world on their own terms. But when six of the so-called Greats fall, it's up to their last-standing brother to save the world...if he feels like it.

For an inside look at the series, Peeples opened up his sketchbook for CBR readers to show how he took Fialkov's conception of a world-class superteam and readied them for death. Below, the artist shows how each phase of his design process went and what changes he made to craft an indelible series of images. Take it away, Brent!

How many times as kids did we sit and design our own characters while drawing in class instead of doing our work, hoping one day we would get to do it for a living? Well, I was just the opposite. I always wanted to draw comics for a living, but was the kid who wanted to draw established characters.

The idea of designing characters always stressed me out. When the great Josh Fialkov, writer of little books you may have heard of including "I, Vampire" for DC Comics and his creator-owned "Tumor" and "Echoes," brought the idea for "The Last of the Greats" to me I was not only filled with joy to work with someone I liked and respected, but also thought, "Shit. I have to design these things."

However, once I started the process, I got very involved and found it quite a joy.

We discussed a bit about The Greats -- what they were and would be and where they came from. Josh wanted them to reflect the different regions where they appeared, but at the same time we also thought they should have somewhat of a uniform look.

The first design was a bit over the top. Though I really liked it, I had to keep in mind that I was going to have to draw these characters over and over, so I probably should simplify and scale down quite a bit. Josh said to me, "Think of iconic characters. Superman, Batman, etc. You see their silhouette, and you already know who they are."

From there I started thinking on the idea of silhouettes. Simple lines that tip you off to who they are. Build, hair, bust size, all of it. If I lined all The Greats up next to one another, could I tell who is who?

So once I figured that out, it was now time to design the costumes. Something appealing, yet easy to draw over and over again. I tried a space age-looking suit, but honestly, it was crap.

Finally I said, let's go simple. A unitard of sorts, with a sash. I like sashes. Probably stems from my love for scarves. Once I had the basic design, I started tweaking the costumes to show diversity and reflect each Great's region of origin.

And after much trial and error, we found the one that worked. I knew it was the one because Josh's response was something along the lines of "Bad Ass" or "Perfect" or "Brent, you are one handsome genius."

So there you have it. "The Last of the Greats." Now with all that said, go buy, read, enjoy and tell your friends. We have great stuff coming your way. This is a creator-owned book that Josh and I and all our collaborators are working our tails off on to deliver you one of the best books on the stands month in and month out. The book lives and dies with your support, so be sure to let your retailers know you want to pre-order the book. We won't disappoint you. For more, check out www.TheLastoftheGreats.com.

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