Wednesday, August 13, 2008
As you may remember, I had to take a hiatus of sorts from Bearskinrug back in February. Despite speculations to the contrary, I did not go on a pilgrimage; and even if I did, it wouldn't have been to Furhnersville, Ohio (I'm not even sure what religion is based there, Mr. Tolleson). Also, I did not go undercover in order to reveal magicians' secrets (get your head on straight, Biggest Apple).
Nor was I abducted by aliens — well, let me rephrase that. I was abducted by aliens, but that's really not why I went on hiatus. I mean, I was back the next morning. They did some light dental work, and replaced a crown — top notch job for extraterrestrials with beaks.
No, I actually was working on a graphic novel.
If this name sounds familiar to you, it's probably because there's a movie of the same name being released in December. But, as tends to happen in film adaptations, the movie version deviates considerably from the original short story. So in December of 2007, local Philadelphia publisher Quirkbooks contacted me to see if I was interested in doing a graphic novel adaptation, intended to be as true to the original tale as possible. Seeing as it gave me a chance to draw people with large beards, mustaches, top hats, and bow ties, I summarily agreed.
As I'd hope you can gather from the amount of thumbnails pictured above, it was quite an undertaking. I needed to create approximately 115 pages of art, as well as the cover, within 5 months. And while I'd created comics before, I'd never worked on one so large in scope. What's more, being a period piece, I needed to do appropriate research on not just one single era of fashion, architecture, technology, and other social bric-a-brac, but on seven decades' worth (1860-1930). The story takes place in several prominent locations, including Baltimore, Yale, and Harvard, all of which have their own landmarks worthy of include. All of those landmarks then required proper research on how they appeared (and whether they appeared) in the appropriate time period. Throw in the usual responsibilities of properly-drafted anatomy and setting, clear storytelling, character design, and layout, and I had my hands full.
But thankfully, I was working with an excellent team. Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir scrupulously adapted the script and did the immeasurably tedious work of deciding what action and text appeared in each panel on each page. The book designer, Bryn Ashburn, handled the typesetting and design (and graciously shared the balancing act I had to perform with regards to type versus image hierarchy). Lastly, Jason Rekulak, the Editorial Director, kept the job and story on track, and added the "infectious enthusiasm" a recluse tends to need while said recluse is drawing 12 hours a day.
And that, as they say, is that. Hopefully that's an acceptable explanation for abandoning this website for several weeks. There's quite a bit of leftover concept art I hope to share, so keep your eyes peeled for that. The book itself will be released in stores come October, but for anyone interested in pre-ordering, it is listed on Amazon (though the interior samples it's displaying are the roughs).