Friday, May 8, 2009

Entry 62: Kingbreaker final thoughts

Well, X-Men: Kingbreaker is behind me now and I've moved on to new things, but now that it's over and I can look back at it, I can really see just what I think of it. During the course of drawing it there were times when I was really enjoying myself and feeling confident, then there were times when I hated every line that I put on the page and questioned my ability to do anything of value. At times it was kind of rough. Maybe it was the pressure I felt to deliver on my first Marvel job, but Kingbreaker kind of effed with me. And only now can I look at it with a little objectivity and really determine how I feel about it. And I kind of like it, despite some real regrets. 

Obviously X-Men is a superhero genre book, but it's always had a sci-fi edge to it and it was that aspect that I wanted to emphasize. And with this story taking place in space, emphasizing it as a space sci-fi was a natural.

You might be wondering what I mean when I say that I wanted to emphasize the space sci-fi aspect of the story. Isn't the story just what it is? If the writer writes a sci-fi then it's a sci-fi? Well, yeah, but sci-fi's, especially space and futuristic sci-fi's, have a particular way of depicting things and telling story. Think of Star Wars, or Blade Runner, or Alien and think of the big moments that you are meant to pause and soak in, the big impact moments. Those moments are giant amazing space ships, flying cars zooming over expansive cities, strange ship interiors, they're settings, they're things you've never seen, they're the world. Now think of the big moments in the Superhero genre. They're one guy punching another, the villain once thought dead has returned, the hero is facing death at the hands of the villain, the big moments are characters, they're action. One genre emphasizes the world and the other emphasizes characters and not just characters, but the power and violence of characters. Not to be confused with emphasizing character, which is something the better superhero comics do a bit of. But over all, with some exceptions, the world superheroes inhabit isn't made to be very important... I wanted to make the world in Kingbreaker important, emphasize places and things... On the other hand, I also wanted to definitely have those superhero moments... It was a constant balancing act.

By the end of Kingbreake the focus was clearly on the power and violence of the characters. There was no denying it was a super hero book.

When an issue that I've drawn comes out I've always liked to keep up with the message boards and see what people think. When people like something I've done it gets me pumped and excited to hit the drawing board and produce more. For Kingbreaker issue 1 the reaction was overall favorable. But when Issue 2 came out it was a different story. It wasn't the message boards that were so bad. It was the review CBR did. It was not a good review. I read the review the morning on the day the issue came out without having seen the issue yet. It kind of killed me. I hadn't read a review like that for any of my previous work. It really knocked the wind out of my sails. At that time I was just starting issue 4 and it took me a few pages to get my confidence back. I don't really like the first few pages of that issue, but once I recovered from that I started to like drawing again.

Here are a few pages from issue 4.

I was glad when Newsarama gave a good review of Kingbreaker #4.

Over all, Kingbreaker was a lot of fun. It was exciting to do my first work in the X-Men universe, the universe that got me into reading comics. And despite my spirits getting killed and the regret of not being able to finish all of issues 3 and 4, I like it. And I like issue 2.

Here are some more sketches. Also, the piece at the top of this post was a commission I did at the Emerald City Convention last month. Thanks to Eduardo for e-mailing me a copy.


  1. sorry to hear about your review setbacks, dustin. i think staying away from message boards or press is generally a good rule to abide by when working on a series. albeit difficult. ;)
    for what its worth, i love that inked washed commission you did! it would be great to see your next comic done entirely in that style.

  2. The review only set me back a little. Actually, I'm a little proud of that bad review now. I think criticism can drive you to better yourself, so long as you can recover your confidence.
    I actually did that commission with markers. I did do a couple Star Wars Tales story with all marker rendering and it was a lot of fun. You can find both of those stories in Star Wars Tales volume 6, if your interested. Other wise, I do need to get back to at leased inking myself.

  3. Well, congratulations on finishing this series! Does this mean that we can expect you to return to Star Wars comics? I mean, they've sure lost much in a last half a year while you were away.

  4. I will be posting a cover I did for Dark Times probably tomorrow. Other than that, no new Star Wars work planned. I'm currently working on another X-Men book. I'd like to do some more Star Wars at some point. I'd actually love to come back and work on something where I get to do a bit of the writing as well as draw.