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Go Behind the Scenes of IDW's Eight Million Ways to Die Adaptation

Lawrence Block's famous 1982 crime novel Eight Million Ways to Die, starring alcoholic ex-cop Matthew Scudder, has been adapted as a hardcover graphic novel for IDW Publishing by comics veteran John K. Snyder III, and CBR has an exclusive look inside -- along with commentary from Snyder himself.

In advance of the release of IDW's Eight Million Ways to Die, Snyder takes readers though a section of the graphic novel, detailing his art process and the research that went into keeping the book authentic to its period. As put in IDW's solicitation text, "Snyder's art both encapsulates and elevates these rough-cut gems in a graphic, grainy, and moody setting that evokes the dark, noir magazine covers of the period." Eight Million Ways to Die, adapted by John K. Snyder III from the novel by Lawrence Block, lettered by Frank Cvetkovic and edited by Tom Waltz, is scheduled for release on June 20.

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"From the opening sequence, Kim Dakkinen walking towards detective Matthew Scudder’s favorite watering hole and makeshift office, Jimmy Armstrong’s Bar. My process for most of the book was to go to a fully pencilled and sometimes partially inked page (1), then a light watercolor and paint base (2). Here I saved a separate file of Kim (3) to add back in after darkening and toning the page in Ps (4). The final stage (5) was to add in layers with some of the signage and sometimes accentuate minor effects like city steam (lower right of page) using previously saved texture layers."

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"From the opening sequence, Kim Dakkinen seeks the aid of unlicensed detective Matthew Scudder. Full pencil stage (1,3), followed by a light watercolor and paint stage, also using prismacolor pencil for the finished stages (2,4). A little heavier rendering here in the final stages of these panels to introduce the characters. All pages were rendered on either Strathmore Illustration or bristol board. For paint, I would use a combination of basic Prang watercolors, diluted Liquitex acrylic, and Windsor Newton gouache."

"Here is an example of a page in the light watercolor over pencil stage (1). Then, desaturating the color in Ps, and adding in a layer of brick wall textures (2), followed by a layer patches of 1980s graffiti pulled from reference files (3). In a separate file, the foreground of police are darkened and adjusted (4) and added and adjusted to the finished page (5)."

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"The enigmatic Chance, whose life and career becomes intertwined and forever changed along with Scuddder’s in the course of the story. Again, the base pencil (1), followed by light watercolor and final adjustment in Ps (2)."

"A vignette of Scudder and his regular routine, with pencil stage (1), and finished color/adjusted stage (2). Lawrence Block’s original novel was published in 1982, and it was vital to keep the setting in that time period rather than attempt to update it. This involved extensive reference, down to checking the right era and price of stamp in panel 2 (featuring George C. Marshall). And corded phones/land lines! Showing on the 42nd St. marquee in panel 4 are Bob Guccione’s Caligula, and the hint of a Bruce Lee movie in the background. Bruce Lee died in 1973 and Caligula was originally released in 1979, but movies were often kept in circulation and re-released long after their original runs. All before the major advent of cable and VHS tapes, which were still quite new 1982."

"In the course of the book’s events, Matthew Scudder suffers a major alcoholic blackout. To portray this, I used a patch from my original promotional cover (1), and in Ps, stretched and twisted it (2). A separate pencil/color piece of Scudder (3) was then applied as a layer to the background for the final image (4). Additional swipes of paint on board were scanned and applied as layers in Ps to further blend all of the elements together."

"Matthew Scudder does not normally carry a gun. So when one come into his possession, it’s a major development, leading him to reflect on past tragic events which led him to leave his career as a police detective. The top panel (1)carries a number of references. The background figures are representative of Scudder in his past professional days, and a nod to his original visual depiction on the first paperback edition of the first novel in the series, The Sins of the Fathers. There’s also a hint of the multiple image effect used by designer Bill Gold in the early Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movie posters. In the final version (3), it was necessary to lighten the background images to allow for the lettering from Frank Cvetkovic. As a result, I think the ghostly figures look nearly like wings, making Scudder something of an unintentional angel of death here. The close-up of the gun barrel (2) was also darkened in Ps, adding the halftone filter to again evoke the vintage movie poster style."

IDW Publishing's Eight Million Ways to Die is scheduled for release on June 20.

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