Friday, September 22, 2006

A personal note to Wetworks:Team #1 fans...

The time Jim brought up the idea to do Wetworks again to the time we actually laid anything to paper was a long year of going thru many variations of where Wetworks could go. It was real hard because alot of the ideas were good but I couldn't make sense with my own mind how to justify bringing the team back. Jim gave no limits to the book saying we could do whatever we wanted to do, meaning rewrite history if we wanted.

The basic problem was I couldn't take what was left of the old team because there basically was nothing left. So going back to the time right before the symbiotes started to change them was the only alternative at the time (this was before Carey). But that still left a big question mark. That version of the team was too powerful, especially with Dane's hibernating psi-power. Since we had the Authority in the Universe the question always crept up if something bad enough happened that needed Wetworks type fire power then how could they get to it before the Authority got their hands into it. Wouldn't happen in that universe. We somehow needed a small event that would flow under The Authority's (and now) The Wildcats radar. But a small event that would somehow need a big team like Wetworks. So again Wetworks coming back made no sense.

Then Carey came in with his idea (spoiler in another post "Liquid Vapor#1) and I thought great start the book out with a seemingly small matter that the government deems Dane is ultimately qualified for, the engagement of Vampires. And all he askes for is the revival of the dead Mother-One cyborg. Simple track down one bad guy and get Mother-One back, good trade. All this set up in sneak peek issues of the past year or so. (maybe I should re-publish them here for clarity's sake)) Well the simple mission turns to bad to big to humoungously tragic. Remember this seemed a small matter so he had a small team assembled for this, less a strike team than a specialty team. Towards the end of the ten issue story arch Dane will need much more fire power. Wonder who that is?

So as set up in sneak peek issues there is a scene where Dane is talking to the Government about this mission for him and standing quietly in the background are two leather strapped gaurds. A male and a female. The color scheme of the desert scene was yellow to hide the fact that these two wore gold symbiotes. Yup they were none other than "Jester" and "Pilgrim" from Team #1. Insinuating along with the bowling ball helmeted soldiers in the other sneak peek that Dane also had human soldiers assembled around him too. This all hinting at the tale that Dane had used his vast resources and network from all of his years in service to form his own group, and yes that meant the cornerstone to his group would be Wetworks Team #1. The ones the old fans are asking about and the ones the new fans don't know anything about yet.

So for that immediate question of will we see the old team again? The answer is yes they are intact, complete, and are getting ready by doing push-ups and playing Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter in the background of the events of the first arc's. Tho' I must ask you all for patience. Mike Carey has devised an all consuming tale and some mighty fine new characters for us all to sink our teeth into. I am so confident of Carey's prowess that I have given him ten issues to introduce us to this new status quo. If you like what we did before wait til you see the trip Mike has in store for us. He has many of the same type of ideas Brandon and I had but his execution is much more grand and soild and therefore needs its own pace.

So for the old fans glad you're here and stay in tuned to meet some fantastic new characters and for the wait we will reward you with old dear friends...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This is an example of something I really get a kick out of. First I draw a plain naked figure then cut and paste it multiple times then print it out lightly and then take markers and such and apply different clothing designs. This one example is for a vampire lord....

Red is one of my alltime favorite Wetworks characters and one of the characters Mike insisted on writing. Red use to be a flambouyant character being the right hand to the Blood Queen. Now she is a sort of down trodden figure. A shadow of what she was in the past. So she wears clothes that show a semblance of what she was tho' nowhere near as flashy and bold as what she would have worn when she still was a Royal bodygaurd. Her hair is either pulled up and trapped or down covering her face. Mike prefers the hair up and I like it down.


One thing that I love doing, and I hope will get compiled into the TPB (my how we plan ahead) are design work stuff. There are so many millions of designs bouncing in my head that I hate to just use the first creative thought that pops into my head. I am infatuated with the film approach to design where we essential sit down and plan what we want our designs to say, how it should impact the viewers, what we want the characters to visually evoke. Historically I have gotten into most of my past deadline problems because I've been off planning and designing. Which is why it usually takes months for me to finish the first issue of anything. At this point in my career it is more satisfyling than actually drawing a solid piece of art.

Anyways, here are two examples of some of the design gone into Ashe. This character we wanted a drab sort of feel, compact, and practical hence the monochromatic color scheme. Mike had wanted a large trenchcoat, I compromised by giving him the lines of a coat but made it tight fitted. I wanted to show the practicallity of this character. Being a werewolf he transforms into huge beast form and back into small humanoid form. So he wears clothes that are made of a stretcheable material that will move with his changing form.

These pieces were done in Photoshop on a computer called a Tablet PC which allows you to draw on it's monitor like a tablet. It is the closest thing to actually drawing on a computer. I have recently gone back to a Wacom tablet. But when and if the Tablet PC's get faster processors will gladly return to the freedom of a Tablet computer.

Wendy Broome:Colorist

I have always tried to rock the boat in terms of color. From those days when Brian Haberlin, Alex Sinclair, and I were trying to figure out how to use Photoshop for comicbooks, to when I let us say bewildered the world with the not so well recieved color job on issue #1 of Stormwatch.

Color is in my blood. I love the way it shapes things I draw. In fact right now I am for the first time oil painting and having a blast....

But anyways, here we are with Wetworks #1 again and I couldn't pass the challenge to try colors again. This time I had an accomplice...Wendy Broome. She has been coloring for Wildstorm FX since the old school daze and just recently this year went freelance because she gave birth to hers and Matt's first child. So I liked what she had been doing prior to going freelance and asked if she would not like to color Wetworks for me.

Thruout a couple of months we had worked out a formula that you don't really get to see kick in til issue #2 of Wetworks. The formula goes something like this...

Since I was going back to my old penciling style with alot of blacks and cross-hatching I decided to change it up abit, the pencils that is, in terms of the highlight areas of the drawings. That meant that I would consciously be trying to open up the highlight areas of the drawing leaving as much open space with no lines in the highlight areas. So that leaves alot of detail in the darker portions of the drawings and an open area within the highlights. This would leave Wendy room to add in color an extra highlight that's sole purpose was to accenuate the forms/shapes in the highlight areas I didn't draw. She would in fact be drawing in color, albeit only in the highlight areas. And conversely since most of the drawing is in the darker portions there is very little if any color work or variations there.

I thought and still do that this is a better compromise to the "traditional" color method of trying to recolor in color detail every portion of the drawing. I remember in the old daze we use to get a kick out of turning off the black plate and seeing how well we could shade the drawings without any of the black ink lines. Back then it was fun for awhile but especially when you got complicated inks to color it becomes redundant work and sometimes overpowering.

So Wendy finally gets the hang of it in the first half of issue #2. As she e-mails me the pages I go crazy over its simplicity and impact. When something looks good and looks like its simple that's a good sign that it works....well...

Then Wildstorm FX goes thru another bout of needing to bring back work into the studio and top of that list is Wetworks. So Wendy is yanked off the book by issue three. Thereafter the book gets colored in house in the studio by Wildstorm FX. I'm sure the "pit" (as Wildstorm FX is affectionately called internally) will do a fantastic job I know them all personally but still, especially for Wendy and the time we spent developng this style...I will miss Wendy's input, and will be forever sorry for her not getting the chance to dazzle me with more issue of Wetworks...

Liquid Vapor #1:MyThoughts on issue #1

If you haven't read the book yet this post has minor spoilers thruout...

You know it's still a kick to get your stuff published and to break open that box of advanced copies and pour thru your book like you were still a kid buying comics at your local store. Even tho' I did this issue more than awhile ago it was still a thrill opening it up for the first time as a real, in your hands, comicbook. Even tho' I am "close" to the artwork having seen it a million times there still is a magic to seeing it reduced down in size (techNOTE:comics are drawn 11X17 and then reduced down to comicbook size when printed) and colored and packaged as an actual comicbook...

When we started this process to bring back Wetworks I had mixed thoughts. I wanted to draw these familiar characters again but logically couldn't figure out how to do it. Meaning, Wetworks team#1 is a big team with alot of fire power so if we brought them back what would they do? I didn't want to revive everything that we did before with the first series and redo it, a sort of 2.0 version. Or say hey all the vampires are alive again let's kill them again. I wanted a new storyline.

We went thru every story from a planet of warring creatures of the night where Wetworks would transport to and from that planet doing WETmissions ala Vietnam, to an extremely depressing maxi series of Dane one by one revisiting each member of the team in order to kill them with his hands (Papa's hands) because he knew the suits were about to gruesomely kill thier host. Talk about Wetworks within Wetworks...

Another thing I wanted, and I'll be honest in this blog...I've always been proud of what Brandon and I created both of us having never really created a whole new comicbook before that, but have always lamented the "way" we introduced people into that HUGE world. I thought we did it too fast, introducing too many characters all at once all the time never giving the readers sufficient time to let all the implications for each character to really sink in.

So this time I wanted to do it slowly and as much as possible from one point of view. From Dane's point of view, as he see's and reacts to characters and situations for the first time. So enter Mike Carey.

He had this great story whose very premise was what if there were another world of Vampires that weren't tied down to the rules of Mother Nature that our Earth bound vampires are restricted to? What if Vampires could freely roam the sunlit surface of a planet? Any planet? Now that's a threat worthy of a return.

Jim had this feeling that Mike and I could somehow wrap that around Wetworks. I called up Mike in England and we chatted up a storm of ideas. It turns out he actually read and liked the original series because we dared to take all the genre's we liked and smash them together. Well, Brandon and I did that unconsciously, wait til you see what Mike has done deftly going in and out of genre's like he was born there.

Now I loved not only his reverance for the original characters/storyline but also his fountain of new ideas and what smashing all of that together into one world would mean for the drama of a new story. So I decided along with my earlier thoughts that Mike should have all the room needed to setup and tell this story. So readers beware and get ready for a story that in a span of ten "horror/sci-fi/action" comicbook issues will unfold in real time and build into the rollercoaster ride that Wetworks is known for.

So, for those expecting a "thoughtful sensitive disertation of Man's hazardous desire to be a hero in a world that clearly needs heroes" no. This was and is an Action driven story. With Mike's expertise we are now telling it properly with proper introductions and depth but we are still basically telling a super-fantastic story of some super-fantastic humans in some really super-fantastic situations. Again, because of Mike the characters are more sunstantial and the situations are more ordered and based therefore making the horror elements truer.

This first issue nicely introduces the main characters and the main storyline that an unknown vampire threat has arisen and Dane is needed to take that threat down. In exchange he wants the Mother-One cyborg brought back to life...romance? A human element from Dane. Or is there just a practical need for Dane. I mean (as hinted at in previous Wildstorm books) Dane seems to be rebuilding his Wetworks team. There are a few pages where we've placed in the background what looks like soldiers with new hi-tech gear. The guys with the bowling balls for helmets. Those are Dane's men as shown by the close-up on one page of the new Wetworks patch on their left sleeves. Yup these are regular human men, all ex-special forces with my take on the new advanced cross-talk warfare armour/gear. Their primarly missions are one of security, here Dane's bodygaurds. You will see these guys in the backgrounds every now and then and will hear them talking to Dane thru communications links. We don't talk about it in the stories (because it has nothing to do with the flow of the story) but these guys are always around Dane. Whether you can see them or not. Dane is never alone. Well, never is pretty strong, eh? Most of the time....

Oh, and trivia...Red's first scene where she is with a guy in a hotel room. Originally this book was slated for Mature Readers so the original scene as drawn and inked and colored was quite a bit more racy that what you see here now. Maybe some time later on we will be able to show the original page as it still stands on the original artwork.

The armoured guys on the rooftop watching Dane are not Wetworks. By listening to their conversation one of them doesn't even know who Dane is. These are straight up military with their version of the advance armour. You can say these are IO's guys checking Dane out.

The touch about Red's addiction is Mr. Mike's genius. Making her a tragic figure with a once illustrious background. Remember she used to be the Blood Queens right hand. Second in combat only to the dreaded Blood Queen which Dane killed in the original series.

Ab-death is a blast. Notice I have tailored him after the Frankenstien monster somewhat. He is a hulking figure that to tell the truth noone really knows anything about. You will notice I draw him into the background thruout the issues.

Mother's operating room scene...wish I had three more pages at least. I love these kind of scene's.

The last page is again pure Mike. Where it looks like the werewolf (yes he is a werewolf) is gonna smash Red in the face then pulls out his detective badge...brilliant!

Well that's the first issue...enjoy...

Wetworks#1:Preview of inks

THIS IS A TEST...just trying out some new software and another way of showing artwork online. Instead of still images that everyone wishes they could "really" zoom into what about video zooming into still images.

You see I got my advanced copies of the book last week and thought some of it printed a tad bit dark. But then again I told Wendy I wanted a dark look. Live and learn. Anyways, I wanted to show off some of the inks that Trev did that might not be too apparent with the published book and since I'm not actually allowed to publish hi-rez images of the pages on the net I thought hey what about videos of the images that zoom into/pan into the pages? No one can print video stills onto t-shirts, right? Well, and make it look good, at least.

So here are some of the panels from the first issue up close and personal. I got a new computer just to do stuff like this my blog and videos and stuff. It came with a program called Muvee. Where you can load in video clips (or in this case images) tell the camera where to look at each image and add a music file then presto the program arranges all the images into a sequence that is timed to the beats of the music you've provided and spits out a video. So in others words I take five minutes to load images and a song and the program churns out a video that looks like I took hours to plan and put together...a perfect quick way for a busy penciler to advertise comicbook artpages he's taken hours, days, years to bring to life...I think.

The book comes out today, I think, so I will post my thoughts on and insights and trivia on the actual printed first issue next time...