Sunday, August 23, 2009

Entry 73: X-Men Legacy Annotated-Part 1

In this post I'm showing you all the penciled pages for X-Men Legacy #226. And I'll be talking about just what went into each page. It will be like a dvd commentary. So here we go!

Coming into this issue I decided that I wanted to do a very clean layout style. In X-Men Kingbreaker, the series I did just before this, on almost all the pages the panels bled off the page. It was kind of an experiment. I had never done a comic like that and I just wanted to try it. Some how it felt appropriate for Kingbreaker, but with this, I wanted a layout style that didn't call attention to it's self.
 When I laid this scene out I had Rogue wearing her costume with the jacket. When the editor told me it needed to be the green cloak look I was a little disappointed. I much prefer the jacket.
 If you compare Pixie's expression in the pencils to the actual comic you'll notice her face is less smiley in the comic. I had to change it because the situation needed to seem more serious.

I was really excited to draw San Francisco in this comic. Having done a lot of stories that take place in space or in a historical period, getting to do something that takes place in the real world of today was a nice change of pace. It gave me an opportunity to do something that I've wanted to do for a while, be as accurate to a real place as I possibly can. I wanted all of it to ring true to anyone who lives in SF. A great resource for being completely accurate is Google maps street view. You can see everything! In this scene I actually used Google Earth to find a good rooftop to suit the story telling needs with just the right view. The actual roof top that they are on is at 20 Grant Ave. All of the buildings are almost exactly where they would be in real life.

I liked using the 0 point perspective for panel 3. They removed the Macy's sign from the building in the printed comic.

In the script this splash seemed to describe the running crowed as being the real focus. So there was a layout version of this page that showed more of what was going on around the fight. It seemed more relevant to the story, but the editor felt that this should focus on the fight it's self. It really doesn't have much relevance to the story in this comic but it looks cool, I guess.  I tried to give a lot of background to help keep it in context. Forcing the perspective helped get more in there. This scene takes place in the intersection of Powell and Sutter facing the NW corner

Just before starting this comic I drew The Adventures of Thing-Thing, a 2 page homage to Tintin. In the Tintin comics Herge does a lot of little panels where the figures aren't that big in the frame. It's a style that works great for telling a lot of story clearly. That style was still lingering in my mind when I laid this issue out and to me it's most apparent on this page.
I added panel 5 to break up the action and keep the story telling clear. I often add panels that weren't in the script. There are a few  different reasons I do this. In this case it was because I wanted to be more explicit about the action. When you do this it can add a kind of slow motion effect to the pacing.
This scene takes place at 262 Geary St. facing Union Square. And slipped in is an UP billboard into the background of panel 5.

This is one of the few scenes that isn't based on a real place. It's just some alley.
When I start a comic I like to think of the look and feel that I want it to have and then I think of what artists achieve what I'm looking for. Then I try to focus my inspiration to those few artists and use them like ingredients. With Kingbreaker the ingredients I wanted to use were Jim Lee and Moebius. With this they were Otomo and Brian Hitch. Now of course, a lot of other influences get into the mix. There are some influences that always crop up in my art in little ways. 
You can see that I used a lot of action lines in this comic.  That's that Otomo Manga influence. Again I broke up panel 4 into panels 4 and 5.

On this page I added panels 1 and 2 to create a smoother transition from the previous page.
I did a major change in Ariel's costume here. Before she had this ridiculous 80's pseudo glam look that I don't think looked very good. So I wanted to change it but I also wanted to keep her looking like the same character with the same sensibilities. I ended up basing almost this entire costume on something Victoria Beckham once wore. It just seemed to work.

This is my take on an X-Men safe house in San Fran. It's been a little trashed.

In Panel 1 you can see the name Barlow on the side of the gun. It's a little shout out to my friend Jeremy Barlow, writer of They'll Bury You Where You Stand.
 Barlow firearms is the supplier of all of H.A.M.M.E.R.'s weaponry. "Barlow Firearms"- When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.

The inset panel frame was something I picked up from Georges Bess in his work in Son Of The Gun and in White Lama. If you haven't read those books, I highly recommend them. Jodorowsky and Bess are geniuses.

This was an interesting fight to try to choreograph because one character can go intangible. In the script Mike Carry described Moonstone's fighting stile to be a martial art specialized to her power of "phasing."
Most of the time when it comes to fights I have to create it all on my own. I think this page came out being 3 panels longer than how it was scripted.
I think the close up of the feet was something I picked up from Shiro.

Here we go. My most blatant homage (not rip off) to Otomo. The shot I use in panel 1 is almost exactly like the shot in Akira when Kaneda is in the school, running from the Colonel, and he jumps out the window. When I tried to imagine this scene that shot in Akira was all I could see. So why the hell not just use it.
Another thing of note on this page: Rogue's bra. For some reason one of the things I see on message boards talked about the most from this issue and the next is Rogue's bra. Super heroins get their costumes ripped all the time but you never see that they're wearing a bra underneath. To me, the bra makes it sexier.

This scene is set at 418 Castro St in front of the Castro Theater.
I was disappointed with how this scene came out in the colors. I make it a point on this journal to never talk bad about the work done by the inkers, colorists, and writers that I work with, but in this case I know that the colorist was really crunched for time, which was partly my fault. I know he could have done better if given more time.

Panel 2 on this page was an add.
In the script it was supposed to be a wall that falls on Aries here,  but in using a real location there are no walls that are just there for the falling. So I decided to use the US Bank facade. It's a Bank crumbling on top of the god of war. It's seemed kind of funny to me.

On this page I kind of like how the figures in panels 1 and 2 form up like a chain leading you through the page.

On the marquee of the Castro Theater I have a Jodorowsky film festival with El Topo and Holy Mountain... I just like Jodorowsky that's all.
Also in Panel 1 the positions of Rogue and Aries with the energy vortex kind of thing between them is a reference to Michelangelo's  God and Adam.

The script called for them to be taking a Humvee but I thought that was just too boring. So I made up this big tank/truck thing for them to take. I just wanted something more visually interesting. Plus it's fun to design new things.

On this page I added panel 2. I just wanted the close up of Aries pissed and probably wondering what just happened.
I actually thought Aries would be coming back in the next issue because of the cover for the next issue that was solicited with him on it fighting Rogue.
Just to illustrate that this tank thing is better than a Humvee I have it just flipping one out of the way.

And there you have it, X-Men Legacy #226. Next time X-Men Legacy #227


  1. Man, what a fun walk-through. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I'm glad you like it. I haven't been sure if what I had to say about this stuff was really all that interesting. So I do appreciate the comment.

  3. I can't believe only ONE other person commented. I think that if you posted some of these stuff on the comic communities here you would get a lot more love. linked to one of your entries. But I think a lot of his readers probably are more into " indie comics" and look down on the superhero stuff. Me? I might not read this stuff any more but I still love the craft of it.
    So how long did you get to take on these pages? Because I notice that you don't seem to do super tight drawings like you would for a cover. Anyway I loved this entry and will be looking at more...but now sleep.

  4. Thanks for commenting on this. I know that I could probably get more attention if I posted on some comic communities but I always feel strange promoting myself. Plus, I'M not a big fan of superhero comics. I have nothing against the genre, I love superheros. I'm just not a fan of the way most of the mainstream industry is. I actually feel like I identify more with indie comics fans.
    I don't know how long I took on these pages compared to a cover but it is less. Naturally, a cover should get more attention than an interior. Another difference between these pages and the covers I've done is that I ink my covers. When I'm inking myself I tend to go into more detail.

  5. I can guess how you feel about the super heros. But don't let the fanboys hear you say that!
    I myself feel like I'm in a weird spot with comics because I like stuff where the creator just does what he wants but I'm not into a lot of the post crumb navel gazing stuff. Honestly it bores me. Some of that stuff is cool like Dave Coopers stuff or Love and Rockets. I really love stuff like Starslammers, A lot of Richard Corben and most of Tim Trumans work. But I do enjoy looking at good pages no matter what the story.

  6. Incredible pages...!!

    greetings from Argentina.

    1. Thank you, Alberto!
      Hello to you and Argentina from Portland Or. US:)