Monday, December 29, 2014

Entry 260: Edge of Spider-Verse #3 COMMENTARY

Hello, my friends-

In this blog entry I'll be doing a kind of commentary on my Edge of Spider-Verse issue. I promise to not make it too long. After this you'll know everything there is to know about this issue. 

So, grab your copy of the issue to read along and I'll get right to it, starting with the cover.

Actually I want to first point out that I did a podcast where I talked exclusively about this issue. The podcast is called Pages and Panels. Here is the link:

The cover for this comic is purposefully a little sketchy. Usually covers have more attention given to them than the interior art. The reasons for that I think are obvious. For this comic I wanted to do just the opposite. Perhaps because I was doing so much work on what would be in this comic, I wanted to subconsciously say that it's what's inside that counts. 

- I like this cover. I like that it serves as a clear presentation of the character while also implying story. The villain's eyes are looking down on him, there's a glowing mysterious doorway set into the city, the glow of the eyes match the glow of the doorway, and Spider-Man isn't looking at you, he's look elsewhere  His concerns are elusive. All of these things imply a story, and I think they accurately imply the story that is actually in the comic. This may seem like it's not that big a deal, but notice how few comic covers do this. 

-About that doorway. The title of this story isn't printed anywhere in the comic. It was called Through the Door in the Dark. I pushed to have it on the cover but I think they needed some uniformity across each book in this mini series.

Page 1
-The opening caption is a direct reference to the opening of Osamu Tezuka's Ode to Kirihito. Tezuka was a big influence while I was working on this. 

-What you see here is my concept design for Aaron Aikman. His look was also partly inspired by Yosuke Mikura from Osamu Tezuka's book Barbara. Here's a page from that book.

-His look and the general look of the designs in this story were inspired by 60's and 70's mod. Here's a shot of John Lennon that kind of looks like Aaron Aikman.

-Aaron Aikman's name literally just came from me repeating the word arachnid in my mind until it started resembling a name like Aaron Aknid. I made it Aaron Aikman. It still sort of sounds like arachnid. Sort of. The alliteration is inspired by Stan Lee, but I like how the sounds of the name Aaron Aikman kind of undermine the punch of a Stan Lee-esque alliterated name. Names like Peter Parker, J. Jonah Jameson and Otto Octavius all have a kind of strength. The hard consonant sounds give them some punch. The name Aaron on the other hand is airy and soft, and the name Aikman, sounding like “ache-man,” suggests weakness. I like how it seems to undermine the power of an alliterated name. It kind of points to a philosophy that I think is an undercurrent in this story.

-The look of my Spider-Man suit took some inspiration from Mega Man. I like Mega Man. I like the look of the big boots, big gloves, and the helmet. Here's a Hitoshi Ariga drawn Mega Man. Ariga has done some cool and super fun Mega Man comics.

Page 2
Panel 1-The idea of doing this suit labeling thing with the cross-sectioning came from the actual first appearance of Spider-Man, Amazing Fantasy #15 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Here's what they did.

Panel 2- The idea of using the Marvel trading cards was an idea that evolved. Originally I wanted to include three villain trading cards on their own page at the end of the issue. As if they were extra and not necessary to the story. 

Then I had the idea of using the 90's Marvel card designs. I have very few nostalgic buttons related to super hero comics. I have a little nostalgia for Wolverine, WildC.A.T.S... maybe some other things, but the series 1 &2 Marvel cards are certainly on that list.

Then I thought it would be much more fun to integrate the cards into the narrative. I'm always looking out for fun things to do with the form of comics. This was something I hadn't seen before and that got me very excited about the idea. 

I would have been excited to do this training card idea even if I couldn't use the old card designs. That said, it was really fun to recreate the look of those cards.

-The idea for Redeye came from something my daughter, Lucy, said about being born in the storm of Jupiter. I don't know what she was talking about but it sounded intense. Here is my concept drawing.

Page 3 --Pictured above
Panel 1- First mention of coming through the door in the dark.

Panel 2- The thing about everyone having the same nightmare whenever Naamurah attacks is my favorite detail on the cards.

Panel 3- The overhead shot of the car is something I've seen in a few old 70's mangas.

Panel 5- Aaron's car is a 1960's Corvette... I think it's the only real car in the comic.

-The name Ikegami is a reference to Ryoichi Ikegami who did the Japanese Manga Spider Man comics. 

Panel 6- I did some research into how spider webs are formed and how it could be synthesized to create the science jargon in the last panel on this page.

Page 4
-Pictured above is my concept art for Dr. Kaori Ikegami. Her look was inspired by Akiko Nakamura, who was a popular actress and singer in Japan in the 60’s and 70’s. Here's a picture of Akiko followed by a kind of music video.

-Panel 3- The car speeding towards Hannah is somewhat reminiscent of the car that Tobio was driving in Astro Boy when he had his deadly accident and was rebuilt as Astro. 
The way that Hannah is in a car accident then "rebuilt" by her scientist parent has obvious parallels to Astro Boy.

-Panel 5- The cloths Aaron and Kaori are wearing were modeled after these outfits from the movie Godzilla Vs. Gigan (1972)
I have a soft spot for this particular Godzilla movie because it’s lead character is a struggling manga artist. In this scene his girlfriend is telling him about a job opportunity being a concept artist for Godzilla themed theme park… He’s not too excited about the prospect.

Page 5
Panel 1-Aaron'a apartment is designed to be really clean and 1960's modern.

Panel 2- His work space is meant to feel like a car garage. I wanted it to feel like this is where he would be spending most of his time. 

-In his work space, on the right, you can see the mechanical vest Aaron wore to give him his spider powers on page 1. It's possible Aaron needs to periodically recharge his powers.

Page 6
-This sequence was somewhat inspired by this scene in the Ikegami Spider-Man Manga, though I think the Spider-Man manga scene is a lot cooler.

-The design on the carpet was a reference to this carpet design in the ShiningThe 60's mod influence in this story comes from my being a big fan of both Tezuka and Kubrick.

Page 7
Panel 1 & 2- It's fun anytime I can get a reader to read a page in a different direction than left to right.

Panel 4- I think this is the most important panel in the comic. Aaron is useless when it comes to having a personal relationship. He's done everything to appear to be a "good guy" but really he's kind of a jerk, in my opinion.

Page 8-9
-Throughout this story the design of the city is a mix of New York and Tokyo. Sometimes it looks like NY and sometimes Tokyo. In this big shot I'd say it's more NY.

-Aaron Aikman has almost all the same powers as Peter Parker. He has the strength, the agility and the ability to crawl on walls. He’s also smart like Peter. Smart enough to have created web shooters. I figured, why would his scientific inventiveness stop there? Why not other technological elements? That’s where the idea for the jumping boots comes from.
For me, the boots help compensate for the fact that web-shooters, if you are thinking of them as a technology in even a remotely realistic way, would probably be a demanding and not always reliable piece of machinery. I imagine Aaron’s web-shooters require constant maintenance and often fail. Also, he only has a limited amount of webbing solution. So, shifting his reliance from the web-shooters to the boots as a mode of conveyance, made sense to me. Though the boots are also an advanced piece of technology, they are certainly more simple and probably more reliable.

-The only power Aaron doesn't have is Spidey-sense. I don't think I really like Spidey-sense. I guess because I don't understand it. What does he sense and what doesn't he sense and how? It seems to me to just be a convenient storytelling device you can use and not use when it's convenient for you as a writer. So I got rid of it and replaced it with Aaron's heads-up molti-camera display.

Page 10
-About my creative process in this issue-- There are no inks. Pictured above is my original art for this page. This is all just pencil.  After I scanned the pages I digitally filled in the blacks. I also didn't fuss over accuracy with my perspectives and my line work. I often drew lines without a ruler. I did it this way because I knew I would be coloring it and that whatever was off I could compensate for it in the colors.

-On this page and the next I did some sound effects. I wish I had had more time for ding more with sound effects.

Page 11 --pictured above
-I kind of like how the webbing in panel 2 tangents with the fire escape in panel 3 and how the edge of the building in panel 3 tangents with the building in panel 4. The conventional wisdom is to avoid tangents in comic art, but tangents can create an effect and sometimes you can use it.

Page 12
-This moment of seeing something in the distance and then boom, it's on top of you was inspired by a moment in Tsutomu Nihei's Biomega.

-Speaking of Nihei, the heads-up display in Spidey's helmet was kind of inspired by Biomega too.

Page 13
-I listened to Electric Light Orchestra's album Time a lot while I was coloring this whole comic. For me, this particular track became like the theme music for this story. Some song titles from this album made it into the backgrounds of this page.

-Speaking of music, another big musical influence is the a band called The Protomen. Their abum Act 1 is a concept album. It is also a kind of adaptation of Mega Man. It's also pretty god damn good.

Here is the whole album.
I really love the amped  up melodrama of this album. Ever since I heard it I've thought "superhero comics should feel like this album."

Coming into this story this album was in the back of my mind. There was an earlier draft that was more melodramatic. I ended up toning a lot of it down, but it survives in a lot of Daaroh's dialogue. In fact, a lot of what Daaroh says is inspired by this album.

-All of the cars are made up. I was kind of thinking of concept car designs from the 60's

Page 14 --pictured above
-Daaroh's design is a little modeled after my pall, D.J. Bryant's character Johnny, who you can see here 
D.J. uses Johnny again and again in his stories, as if Johnny is an actor that he can cast in these different roles. Me using Johnny is a little homage to D.J.

Check out D.J's comics here:

-The Doctor that Aaron is talking to in this scene first appears on page 4. I think of her as having been Kaori's second in command at the institute and now she is running things.

Page 15
Nothing to really say here.

Page 16-17
-These pages were the last thing I colored. I actually lost a lot of work on this, due to a failed file transfer. I had to really cram to meet the deadline. I ended up coloring this whole spread in a very short amount of time. I had been up all night. It was after noon when I started this spread and I needed to have it all done by 3pm. I was moving so fast I thought I was going to have a heart attack. For as fast as I did these pages, they really doesn't look that bad, I think. I wish I could have taken my time with it. There is a lot I could have done better. I was lucky that this was a flashback sequence. It makes sence that it look different than the rest of the book.

-In the tall panel on page 17 you can see Naamurah's eyes reflected in Hannah's eyes.

Page 18
-The idea of Naamurah being a person strapped into a machine is an idea inspired, in part, by Junji Ito's Gyo. I named my character Kaori as a nod to this source of insperation.
(read right to left)

Here is my Naamurah concept art.
Page 19 & 20
-I like how this sequence came out. I'm glad this wasn't the last thing I colored. It would have been bad to end on some super rushed coloring.

-As far as I'm concerned Aaron Aikman is killed at the end of this story.

I do really recommend listening to that podcast I mentioned at the top of this entry. In it I talk about how this story evolved and I offer my own criticisms of it.

Thanks for reading.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow. Lots of information. The article was really interesting, especially for the details reagarding the works that inspired you.