Friday, September 28, 2007

Entry 8: In the Beginning

 Okay. This is the oldest thing of mine I have ever posted on line, and probably the oldest thing I will ever post on line. This 2 page spread was drawn in 1992 when I was 13 years old. It's the second and third pages of the first issue of a 4 issue series I had created. This was the most ambitious thing I had tried to do back then. Until this point I had only just messed around with drawing sequential pages. Most of the drawing I was doing in those days was just swipes of Jim Lee or Silvestri or Barry Windsor Smith or Mark Texeira. I could copy an image pretty well and I had "Drawing comics the Marvel way" so I knew the basics of constructing figures and drawing comics, but I hadn't taken the idea of creating comics very seriously.
 When I was 13 I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I would have to go through 6 months of chemotherapy. My family decided that before I really started to get sick from the treatment we should take a little vacation. We would go to southern California and visit family. Also we could go to Disneyland since, if you're a kid with cancer, it's free for you and your family for 2 days. So my dad made the call to Disneyland to make the arrangements. He gets to talking with the girl who's helping him and by a stroke of luck he finds that she used to be the receptionist at Homage studios, the studio where comic artists Mark Sylvestry,  Whilce Portacio, Scott Williams, and my favorite, Jim Lee worked. She tells him that she could set up a day that I could go check it out. You have to understand that I idealized Jim Lee. This wasn't the Make a Wish Foundation but even if it had been, I might very well have wished to meet him.
 Going to Homage studios is what made me want to draw comics professionally. When I got home I found inspiration in the very drugs that were making me so sick. A.B.V.D. Adriamycin, Bleomicin, Vinblastine and Dacarbazine, drugs that were being put into my body to kill the Cancer that my body couldn't fight, but were also destroying my body in the process. It was the name Vinblastine that really sparked the idea. Vinblastine just sounded like the gun toting bad ass supper heroes that were becoming so popular in comics at that time. From there, each drug took on a character and I had my mercenary super hero team. I plotted out a story that mirrored what was happening in my body. It took place in a massive space ship constantly fighting of intruding aliens. But the ships defenses are completely unaware that one of it's own citizens has mutated and infects the ship from within. When they finally become aware of the threat they are forced to let in a team of people who can kill this Cancer. As the death tole rises and the bodies defenses weaken, the question is will ABVD kill cancer before it kills the whole ship. 
 I sketched layouts for the whole first issue at comic book size, which is still how I start an issue today. Then I penciled the pages on the 11 by 17 Image Comics art  board that Jim Lee gave me. Until then I didn't know comics were drawn at that size. I even inked the pages with what ever pins I could find. It was pretty ambitious. I only finished 8 pages. I just didn't have the work ethic then.
  Just over a year ago I started revamping this old idea. I've re-envisioned the story into a far more sophisticated sci-fi that's still true to the original intent. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can really get it into production.
 A note about this spread: You probably can't read the dialog but it was actually written by my good buddy DJ Bryant of Snar-Fled fame. DJ and I have been collaborating on ideas since 7th grade. He only ended up scripting the first three pages, but he also plotted an ABVD prequel and even started drawing it, and he's completely involved with the creation of the new revised version of the story.


  1. WOW! Quite the Dustin history lesson! thanks for posting this. It's neat to hear how other artists got into creating comics.

  2. Yeah. Like I said in my first post, this is about my career from trying to break in and up to the moment. To me this is where it all began.

  3. This is really sweet seeing this again. I think these pages actually hold up really well. Despite many of the "beginner" eccentricities, this is fairly solid and even this early on your sensibility can be seen. This is something to be proud of.
    BTW, I remember actually writing a script for the whole first issue based on your lay-out. For the air battle sequence I actually lifted some terminology from a novel about jet fighters that my Dad had. I have no memory of the word bubbles being added to this thing, but they must have only been added to the first three pages.

  4. Yeah, it's interesting how my sensibilities are very present in these yearly pages. I think this is truly the beginning of how I would tell stories. My sensibilities aren't as evident in earlier sequential pages.
    You scripted the whole issue? Wow, I think I have a vague memory of that. I wonder if I have any of that script in my box of old stuff. It would be funny to read the whole script.