Monday, 4 August 2008

daintree tropical rainforest

Here some pics from our recent trip up to the Daintree rainforest in north queensland. Inspiration for Uncle Silas if ever there was one. I'd been previously to New Zealand's south island 10 years ago which really kicked off my obsession with this kind of natural setting, and the Daintree was a brilliant refresher to everything I love about it. The feeling of being absolutely surrounded by nature in all it's thick, fertile, uncontrollable lushness is very humbling and primal. Loggers once raped this forest for it's 'Red Gold' gum trees- at one point worth more on the international stock exchange (ounce for ounce) than pure gold. Considering the rate of logging occurring in the Amazon I'd say it's value is beyond compare now.
Not that this pressing need to keep our priceless old growth forests from destruction stops loggers in Australia...

Of course, just off the coast of the Daintree is the Great Barrier Reef. More than likely, the setting for the 3rd Uncle Silas story. Again- absolutely beautiful. 

pencils finished!

... kind of. I've finally got them all down, but there are a couple of patches that I need to go over and tweek a bit, and a couple of frame sequences that I'm not happy with so they'll need revision too. I'll do them when I catch up to them in the inking part, which is now! I'm inking straight into photoshop with my wacom tablet and trying to replicate the brush style I started with on paper all those years ago. I don't have any special brush I just use the default one in the brushes pallet and try to get a quick and lush line. If anything- command+Z is my friend, my lover, my wise uncle, my conscience, my harsh critic... Especially with all those smooth bloody lines... what was I thinking?!? I wonder if I wasn't better off inking it like I do with Kookabarry...

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

screen saver

This is a screen saver I did a couple of years ago. I'm halfway through a second one so once that's done I'll post that too. You can get the size to suit your desktop from my site- just click on the wallpapers in the side menu bar.

Monday, 2 June 2008

What the strip looks like now...

feel free to check out my personal site for the first 14 pages of the comic!

The first interactive strip concepts... you can see- rough as guts. Simple as hell. The thought of that deadline had me freaking out. I'm seriously relieved that never went anywhere. Also, never name a character after a girlfriend at the time. Stupid move. Selena makes much more sense to the scheme of the comic and where it's going, being a science fiction story and all that... Tommy also works well. I had already chosen the name Silas before even bothering to look up the meaning. I was pleasantly surprised to find out it's a shortened version of the latin Silvanus

and more..

early character designs...

These were early sketches. They suck. 
Selena's character is based on my niece (who was maybe 8 at the time of these drawings - she's now 13(!). I wanted to draw a comic she'd be keen on reading in the newspapers rather than all the old necrophilia comics (prince valiant, phantom, etc..) and most of the dross that's out there currently. 

Selena, Tommy and Silas.

the man himself.

Here's the man himself. 
Scientist, biologist and geneticist. He knows more than I do, which makes him tougher to write for. Thankfully he's always explaining things to the two kids Selena and Tommy in language that even I can understand. I'd be buggered if he didn't. I don't know how old he is yet, but he's probably around his mid to late 40's... 


Well, to be fair, it began a long bloody time ago; 5 or 6 years ago methinks.
I started illustrating for News Ltd in Sydney and had a couple of ideas for comic strips that I wanted to get into either the Daily Telegraph or the Sunday Telegraph. Kid friendly, naturally. When a proposed revamping of the comic strip line-up was in the air, all the illustrators were asked if anyone had a comic strip that they could try presenting to the editors. I had several (kookabarry being one, as well as a puzzle comic strip that may yet see the light of day), but wanting to make something unique that only our paper would have had me thinking of making a comic strip for kids that was interactive somehow. 

I played with some ideas and came up with a premise for a kid's sci fi adventure comic strip that kids could vote on every week from a multiple choice scenario and by majority votes they could dictate where the strip would go.
Great idea! The first hurdle presented itself immediately: The comic section was preprinted by a week or more, and if we DID go through with this, the schedule of turnaround was insane: Kids get the comic on sunday; they have until tuesday morning to vote online or by phone; I draw the sucker up and deliver it by wednesday at the absolute latest, giving the designers just enough time to lay it out in the section and get it printed.

So I quickly ditched the interactive part of the comic and once the initial rush of creating something for the review had passed (as I was to find out over the years- most reviews and revamps of newspaper comic sections are painfully slow or just futile) , I started evolving and developing the sci fi adventure comic strip further.

I originally designed the characters simply, as I'd have to draw them up in a day with little time to get thinks right. After the panic was over, and I no longer had to worry about the screaming deadlines, I liked the designs so much I kept them. Stupid me: I just made everything else around them incredibly detailed.

I kept the dimensions for a sunday comic strip, thinking that it could still be a contender in the future. Also, as it would be an adventure strip, I endeavoured to make every page a cliff hanger, leaving the reader wanting for more. Not easy, but what the hell.
Now to the brilliant news:
Dark Horse Comics want to publish it as a book. 

I sent off some samples in 2005 for the New Recruits competition and didn't hear anything for over a year. Figuring it was done and dusted so I forgot about it. I'd also sent samples off to other publishers and newspapers but hearing nothing meant just that, so I just kept jotting down ideas and instead started focusing on kookabarry ( now appearing weekly in the Sunday Telegraph) and other strips while still doing freelance work.
Finally I got an email from Dark Horse that Uncle Silas was first in line for New Recruits if it hadn't been picked up anywhere else yet. So after nutting out some details and telling them that I'd need over a year to produce the 120 page epic, I'm on the case. 

120 pages... in colour... I must be mad.