If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.
— Émile Zola
JAMES: My notes here may become the very essence of the term “tirade”. Please excuse me for this.
First off, in 30 years of drawing comics I have been trying to get what I call the “up the chin” shot right. I’ve done it successfully a few times, but not nearly as many times as I’ve attempted it–and it still eludes me on many days. It’s easier to do with a male face and blow it and still have it accepted than it is with a female. But I still wince a bit when I look at this page.
Part of the problem is that it’s not a throw-away shot. We were obviously working toward this page as a “money shot”. As it is, well…let’s just say I don’t think I’ll supply any ammunition to shoot myself.
In my defense I had no actual reference to work from. This entire figure was constructed using my basic training in anatomy. Trying to force perspective like this and still make the character come off as having broad shoulders is a wonder in itself–but I wish that I’d known more about using photo reference and long lenses when this was drawn.
The lightning storm in the background really disappointed me. I sent the guys at Cult Press a photo of a great lightning storm taken out of some photo magazine. That photo is still taped to the back of the original page–where ever it has gotten to.
Anyway, here comes the tirade part I mentioned. One problem is that the colors were done using Adobe Illustrator, rather than Adobe Photoshop. The thinking at that time (and unfortunately still) is that Illustrator is a superior program for coloring comics pages because it uses vector graphics. The argument is that vector graphics use less file space and are infinitely scalable. Of course in the years that have passed file sizes are not as big a deal as they were then, but the argument about infinite scalability persist.
My argument is that you can’t get any sort of texture into AI files with the ease that you can PS files. I love working with textures in my color files and since I don’t plan on printing my comics pages on billboards–who cares?
At any rate, the AI camp was in control of comics coloring in those days and so it was considered unprofessional to use PS files–and so there you have it. The lightning effects that could have been so cool here come off as basically schematic lines, only partially suggesting the atmospheric effect I so wished for on this page.
MICHAEL: Well, at some point, when we get to new material, I’m going to have to write an identical page to this and allow James to nail it. (We briefly spoke of redoing this entire story, twenty years after the fact with much better artistic and writing skills and see how much we can improve it, and who knows, we may actually do that down the line.)
I think I like this page as-is more than he does, but that whole background lightning effect as he described it would be pretty sweet.
I also believe this is the only page of comics I have ever written and had published out of close to 200 that was completely silent, without a single word or caption. Letterers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief.