Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Entry 245: Blast From The Past- Part 16

Towards the end of my internship at Wildstorm in 2003 Jim Lee told me he had a friend who needed some illustrations for a novel they were writing and he asked if I wanted to do it. He had no other information about it. As far as I could tell it didn't sound like a comic book job, which was what I wanted to be doing. And the fact that he was offering it to me, the intern, made it seem to me that it wasn't a very desirable job. Also, who was this "friend" writing a novel? I guess I was skeptical of this being a good job and the right step to take in my career. But, it was Jim Lee asking me if I would do it. I said yes perhaps with the hope that it would earn me some points with him and perhaps lead to him getting me some work.

It turned out that the "friend" was Jodi Picoult, who in 2003 was already quite a successful writer. Apparently, Jim and Jodi had known each other in Princeton. When Jodi needed some art for her next novel she got in contact with Jim. And the job turned out to be comic book pages, 36 of them, where I would have to do everything on them - inking, lettering, sound effects. On top of that, at that time, Jodi's most recent book had made the New York Times Best Seller list which pretty much meant that this book was going to sell really well and be seen by a lot of people. For an intern with very little professional experience it was a lot of responsibility and pressure.

(These pages were scanned directly from the novel. Not the best scans but they were the easiest to scan)

As I worked on it I would bring pages by the studio at Wildstorm to show to Jim and the other guys there. I could have been imagining it, but I got the sense that Jim was surprised by how extensive the job was. In my mind, I think that he probably wouldn't have given me the job if he knew how big it would be.

The book was called The Tenth Circle.

The main plot of the novel is a family drama focusing on a relationship between a father and daughter, but there is a secondary story in the form of the father's comic book which we see pages of between each chapter. The father is a professional comic writer/artist, who in his super hero comic, "WildClaw", is writing a story that parallels the drama in his life.

The super hero, WildClaw, journeys into hell to rescue his daughter from the devil in a Dante's Inferno inspired tale. Along the way he is forced to face the darkness within himself.

I was very aware that this was not just a typical comic book, it was also an illustrated novel and I decided to take a more illustrative approach to the art.  Running with the Dante's Inferno inspiration I tried for an art style reminiscent of the engraved art of Gustave Dore.

I also chose a layout stile where one panel would serve as a kind of anchor illustration To me this style of layout creates a sense of each page being "a piece" onto itself. It's a style that I think isn't usually preferable in comics. In comics you mostly want to keep the reader moving through the story. In this I wanted to create illustrative pages that kept you looking at them.

I worked on this book from 2003 into 2004. The book came out in 2006 and debuted at #2 on the New York Times best seller list and was ranked #1 on the Wall Street Journal and Publisher's Weekly bestseller lists. I got to accompany Jodi on the west coast leg of her book tour. It was super fun. I drew a piece at each of her readings and at the end we gave the piece away.

Ultimately this work was probably seen by many times more people than ever see my comics work, but despite the exposure to such a large audience it didn't lead to me getting any comic work. It did, however, lead to Jodi writing a run on Wonder Woman.  Rightly so though. I think the WildClaw comic on it's own IS a pretty good concept and execution for a superhero comic.

I'll leave you with all of the rest of my pages for The Tenth Circle.

Next time I'll talk about my return to Assassins Guild with Assassins Guild #4 and #0.

Blogged and blogged.

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