Wonder Woman/Conan Black and White

Most people don’t get a chance to see the Black and White artwork associated with a comic unless they are art buyers.  Although Wonder Woman/Conan was wonderfully colored by Wendy Broome, I think the pages from this first issue are really cool in black and white as well.

Here are the two double page spreads from the issue along with a couple of other pages.  Spoiler alert if you haven’t bought and read the comic!  And if you haven’t, shame on you!


I’ve worked with a lot of good inkers over the years but Matt Ryan seems to get my sensibilities better than anyone.  It’s always tough doing a splash page or double page splash when two characters or sides are facing off.  You need to show both with some depth, even though they are facing one another.  Here is my solution for Conan’s big entrance into the story.


The story called for Wonder Woman’s face to not be clearly visible to the crowd so I had to draw her in a way that her hair covered her face.  Same challenge here that there was for the previous spread, show Wonder Woman and her opponents even though they are facing each other.  Problem solved but not after some trial and error.  Again, terrific inks by Matt Ryan, especially on all of the tiny people in the crowd.


I really like the figure work on this page (panel 3) and the final brooding close up of Wonder Woman.  I usually sell most of my pages but some of these are going to be hard to part with.


I like this page better after Matt’s inking then I did after I penciled it.  I’ve sold this one already and I am already missing it!

That’s it for now.  I just wanted you to experience a little bit of the thrill I get when the Matt Ryan sends me back the inked originals and I get to see them full sized for the first time!


Turok #3 Cover Process

Look out, two posts in one week!

I recently just completed a run of 5 alternate Turok covers for Dynamite.  As each one gets released on the internet I will post a blog.  I recently saw that my cover to Turok #3 was online so here I am.

This issue’s cover happens to be my favorite of the run.  That’s not to say I think it’s the best necessarily, I just like it the best.  Probably because of the T-Rex.  Now strangely with these covers I had a pretty clear vision with each one about what I wanted to do.  So I just did one cover sketch. My editor liked it, so I went with it.  Like they say, your first instincts are usually right.  (I have no idea who “they” are)

So here is the 8.5X11 cover sketch drawn on 20lb copy paper.  I went ahead and inked this with a micron (or something similar) because I was only doing one so I had a little more time to solidify my concept.


Shortly after doing the sketch, there was a slight story change.  Turok’s daughter was no longer to be featured on the cover.  It didn’t change the composition at all.  I just removed the daughter and kept everything else the same when I took it to pencil.


At this point I wasn’t exactly sure what the background was going to be, other than it would all be handled in the coloring stage.  So I inked it.


I made a slight alteration to make sure the tomahawk was not touching the hood of the car.  The background was supposed to represent some weird energy zone where things out of time would randomly appear (thus the old car).  So I knew I had to go do something funky but not distracting in the background.  This is where working in photoshop is a real advantage.  You can try a bunch of different things and keep deleting failures until you find something that works.


What I did here is drop in a flat yellow-ish background and then use the lasso tool to create some random looking shapes.  I took some of the green from Turok’s outfit and did a color fade (from green to yellow) in the lasso shape.  I also lightly dropped in some of the red from the T-Rex in the background and some lighter yellow streaks.  With a brush I spotted those glowing embers.  Finally I dropped a layer of the background yellow (about 15% opacity) over the car to harmonize it a little more and keep it from sticking out too much.  Our focus should be the dino and Turok, not the car.

And that’s how I did it!



Wonder Woman/Conan #2 Cover and Print

It’s been too long.  It’s time for a post, so let’s take a look at how I put together the Alternate cover for issue #2 of the new 6 issue minis series, Wonder Woman/Conan.   The first issue just came out and readers seem to really like it.  I am quite grateful for the positive response and I am hopeful that it will continue to be that way through the next 5-issues.

You may be asking why I’m doing the alternate covers instead of the regular covers?   You also may be asking why not any cover to issue #1?  Both are excellent questions and the simple answer is the covers were assigned before I was ever offered the job.  Nutty yes, but that’s what happened.  I, however, continued to complain about this arrangement to DC until they decided to do alternate covers for each issue so I would have covers to draw.  I am very thankful that they thought enough of me to make this happen.  The alternative cover for the first issue had already been assigned by the time I started drawing so I didn’t get my first cover until the second issue.  And that ladies and gentlemen is the story.

As I was working on the cover to the second issue, Dark Horse (Conan license holders) decided they wanted an image to use as a promotional print for SDCC.  I got my cover finished just in time and it became the SDCC Dark Horse print.  So even though the image has not been released as the alternate cover to issue #2 yet, it has been released as the print so therefore I can share it with you.

Okay, I’m exhausted so let’s get to the art!

I did several roughs for this cover because I was trying to find something really cool to fit this very cool project.  Also there is a lot going on in the second issue that would lend itself to a great cover.  My favorites were A and E.  A was chosen and I was off.

WW:Conan#2cvrSketchA WW:Conan#2cvrSketchB WW:Conan#2cvrSketchC WW:Conan#2cvrSketchD WW:Conan#2cvrSketchE

Dark Horse requested that Conan be a little more aggressive looking on the cover image so I accommodated them in the pencils.


You will also see that I added a second crow head since there are two in the story.  Everyone was okay with the pencils so I did what naturally comes second, I inked it.  Again mostly with brush and a little pen on the straight edges and chain.


Once this was done I had to jump right in on the colors because I had very little turn around time to meet the deadline for the SDCC print.  My 15 year old daughter flatted the colors on this for me and she is surprisingly fast and good.  Especially for her age.

I wanted the background to be red so this would really jump off the stands.  I incorporated some of that into the characters skin tones so it would have some color harmony.  Conan has a darker more bronzed skin tone than Wonder Woman by REH’s description.

The background had a little experimentation to it.  I used a flat red and then used the lasso tool (photoshop) to create random looking shapes and then did a color fade inside the lasso.  This helped create the splotchy look to the background.  I did multiple fades over some of those so that they blended more organically and then added some soft brush spotting over the top creating a faux water color effect.


Then things got interesting.   About a month after the print was released Dark Horse let me know that Conan was holding his sword wrong!  What?  I was wondering where this information was in the penciling stages.  However, such is the life of a commercial artist.  I had to figure out a way to patch in some new black and white art into the color file without re-coloring the whole thing.

I penciled and inked the sword correction.  The flat side of the sword should be lined up with the back of Conan’s hand. The outline of the hand is just there as a guide.  I was only going to use the sword and it’s hilt.


I scanned it and then pasted it in the black copy layer (I’m coloring in CMYK channels).  Then erased the parts of the old sword that were still showing.  This in turn created areas on Conan’s chest and arm that were now uncolored.  so I went in and did some touch up and saved the day.  It felt like the old days when I was working in a commercial art studio in Portland.  Creating patches to correct art was one of my specialties.  Of course, I had no computer help back then.


So there it is, the final final art.  You’ll notice I got a wild hair and added some light flares to the swords.  I’m also particularly fond of the chain.  I took a brush with very random edges (again in photoshop) and applied splotches of color at about 30% opacity to create a rusty metal look.

This blog is admittedly a bit long-winded but it does offer up some insights into the problems we sometimes run into with comics and commercial art in general.