The blog of ART LYON! – colorist, writer, designer, illustrator, husband, dad, and rocket scientist.

Multiversal-Overdrive-logo

The latest installment of MULTIVERSAL OVERDRIVE! is up, at the DC Entertainment fan-site DC Universe.

This time around, I review Earth 2 volume 1: The Gathering.

Go read it already!

 

 

Multiversal-Overdrive-logo

I’ve started a new review column called MULTIVERSAL OVERDRIVE! over at  the DC Entertainment fan-site DC Universe.

You should go read it! All the time!

I started with a review of DC’s Justice League United #0, which I mostly liked. Check it out!

 

 

I’ve known Gene Ha and Lowell Francis for…well, let’s just say “a long time” and move on, before my lumbago starts acting up.  There was a stretch of a few years during which the three of us worked together developing ideas into presentable comic book pitches.  Many of these involved DC Comics characters,  because we all grew up reading comics, Gene had good relations at DC,  I had colored a bunch of Gene’s (and other people’s) work there, and Lowell had a lot of storytelling and editing cred.  (Eventually we all worked together on Project Superman, but that’s a story for another day.)

There were two ideas that reached a full pitch level, complete with conceptual art by Gene.  Lowell posted about Riddles: Edward Nigma, Consulting Detective (with comments and some of the illustrations) on his excellent gaming blog, Age of Ravens.  Riddles had a small cast of weird characters, and each issue was going to be an homage and send-up of traditional detective and pop-culture tropes and settings. It would have been a wild ride!  He also posted about the more recent, text-only pitch Lowell and I put together for a  revival of Warlord for DC’s “New 52″ relaunch.  Those posts by Lowell and the news about Fox’s  upcoming “Gotham” tv series got me thinking about one of our pitches that hasn’t seen the light of day…

Of all the ideas the three of us pursued in depth, Bruce Wayne: Ghosts of Gotham was by far my favorite.  It would have been part of DC’s  “Elseworlds” imprint, an alternate take on existing DC Comics characters, their connections, situations, histories, motivations, modi operandi, etc.  I kind of fell in love it, I think because of the fun and challenge of working out all those differences and new connection, because it was our own little version of the DC universe, and because of the chance to make more interesting a some characters who I normally don’t have much affinity for.

Initially it was a broad, sweeping thing that included characters from across the DC universe, including Superman, Lex Luthor, the Legion of Doom, and many more.  There was a whole alternate Teen Titans idea in there somewhere. Because of the scale it started feeling a bit like Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ DC mini-series Kingdom Come.

Eventually we wisely narrowed the focus to Batman’s usual stomping grounds, Gotham City, perhaps with the thought that we could explore the larger-scale ideas and implications in theoretical sequels.  Once we made that decision, the story really started to gel.  Lowell still loves our treatment of Edward Nigma (traditionally the real name of the classic Batman villain, The Riddler).  Once we started calling Green Arrow “Black Arrow”, I immediately thought of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses (a personal favorite of mine), and wanted to have his background and story arc mirror some of  things in that novel.

The basic premise of Ghosts of Gotham involved the ripple effects of one simple change to a seminal event in Bruce Wayne’s childhood:

Instead of the classic moment in Batman’s “origin story” when a random thug with a gun senselessly murders Bruce’s parents before his eyes – setting Bruce on a disciplined path of revenge, justice, and a war on crime – in “Ghosts of Gotham” Bruce’s mother alone was shot and killed, and his father proceeds to beat the thug to death with a brick – as Bruce watches on in horror.

But I should let the pitch speak for itself.  These are the actual full pages of the proposal we presented, so you’re seeing what the folks at DC saw.  Text by Lowell, art by Gene, layout by me.  I have no idea how I would have colored this comic at the time, had it come to that.  Looking at it now, I would approach it very, very simply, since Gene was using a lot of blacks.  The background images behind the text are taken from Gene’s rough sketches.

Click on the thumbnails below for bigger, readable versions.

GoG cover GoG p1 GoG p2 GoG p3 GoG p4

Sadly, aside from any story problems that might exist, there were two sort of editorial problems that kept this idea from going to any next stage:

1. Apparently, in an Elseworlds story about Bruce Wayne, by the end of the story someone has to put on a Bat-costume of some kind.  It’s a rule or something.  I think we just didn’t want to force the whole bat-thing, and kind of wanted to explore a Gotham that didn’t have that.  Oddly enough, our original, larger-scale idea would have not been so focused on Bruce Wayne and would have gotten around that.

2. By the time we presented the idea, DC was kind of done doing Elseworlds stories, but hadn’t made a point of it publicly.  They were trying to refocus their brand, which eventually led to The New 52 version of the DC universe.

So, there you have it.  I still have the crazy dream of using this idea – or something stemming from the same altered turning-point - as the setting  for a role-playing game with friends some day.

In Search of…COMICS!

[note: I meant to post this the day I wrote it, but time happened.]

So, I kinda like comics. I like to read them and make them and think about them. To read them, though, I generally have to buy them first.

Poking around in the Comixology app on my tablet, I found a Marvel preview thingy that included, among other upcoming titles, a few pages from the new Moon Knight #1 by writer Warren Ellis, penciler/inker Declan Shalvey, and colorist Jordie Bellaire. It looked really interesting, and that’s saying something since I haven’t been reading many new comics lately. Here’s a little something about it , courtesy of Albert Ching over at Comic Book Resources. I thought I’d give it a shot, and so I did a search in the app for the series and got…

Comixology-result

Buh? Weird. It seems to me I should be able to pre-order a digital copy of a comic from Comixology, or at least let them know I want it and get some kind of notification from them when it becomes available. I posted about this on twitter, and here’s what happened:

Comixology-tweets

It was great that I got an official response so quickly, and that the support person had actual info for me, but ultimately I’m still stuck with a comic I want to read – preferably digitally – but can’t put in an order for through Comixology. Sure, I could write myself a note or put the release date on my Google calendar or something, but what if i want a bunch of comics that aren’t out yet? That’s gonna crowd up the Google calendar, or crowd something else with yet another list or shamble of post-its.

Thinking further, I decided to “search up” (as my kids say) the title on some of the better-known websites where one can order new comics. Here’s what happened:

amazon-results

I was a little surprised by this, since Amazon generally excels at allowing you to pre-order things. Oh well. What’s next…

dcbs-results

Discount Comic Book Service was my source for new comics for a few years. I was very happy with their service, although their interface is a little clunky. But, sadly, no Moon Knight #1 there for me. Next!

mycomicshop-result

MyComicShop was the next place I thought of. Don’t get me wrong – I’m positively tickled that I can choose ” ’70s Avengers” as my personal theme for their site, but….they got nothin’. But hey – at least #1 is listed there! I’m making headway! I click on the listing for #1 and…

mycomicshop-detail

Well, I can let them know I want it. That’s something. I’ll keep that in mind, but who else can I turn to?

midtown-results

Hmm. Fact Files, eh?

Ugh. Okay. Things From Another World, you’re up at bat. I turn to TFAW regularly for names of creators on comics, because they often have more info than even the publishers’ own websites do. Soo…

tfaw-results

Ooo! I click on the listing for #1…

tfaw-detail

Yikes! Today’s my last day to order #1, at least through them. TFAW might be making some money off me today! I can’t help but notice that I can subscribe to it, “watchdog” it (whatever that is), and add it to a wishlist – all this for a title only one other site is even listing.

(Westfield Comics – who I also relied on for my comics many years ago – won’t let me see all the listings without signing in. It’s an adult content screening procedure which I appreciate in principle, but I don’t think I should have to register on their site just to see a listing.)

Comixology is missing a big opportunity here. I would have pre-ordered right then and there at the beginning of my search if the option had existed. I’m betting it would have cost me less, too. TFAW may get my money for being so thorough and so complete.

But you know what’s really weird?

marvel-results

Marvel’s own site doesn’t even list it. What the-?!

 

This week – today, even! – you can find these two lovely items at your local comic book store. I colored them, from Gene Ha’s mighty pencils and inks. Published by DC Comics.

All of DC’s “New 52″ comics this month are part of their “Villains Month” event, wherein all the comics in September feature stories focusing on villains common to each respective title – and ALL of them have 3-D covers! ALL OF THEM! This is a massive undertaking, and I commend DC on their bravery and glorious insanity!

3-D covers are quite complicated to produce, as you might imagine – both from an illustration and a production/printing viewpoint. Gene produced 3 illustrations for each cover with different dimensions and proportions than for a regular cover. I needed to assemble and color each illustration and provide DC’s production department with three separate, finished files for each cover. In a normal 2-D illustration you would not see things that are behind something closer to the viewer, but in 3-D you can sort of see behind objects, so that normally-hidden stuff has to be there as finished art.

Below you will see the three layers of line art Gene so magnificently produced. For Superman 23.2 I provided DC’s production department with two options: one with a colored background and one with a mostly white background. There was some confusion about how to execute these covers, I guess, and at one point near my completion of the Superman cover I was informed that the backgrounds needed to be white. So, I gave them both and let them work it out.

I finished the Action cover after I was informed of this white background thing, and luckily I had planned on making the background very light and minimal anyway, so I just went even further in that direction with it. I wasn’t happy with the background, but I thought it was what they wanted.

I guess there was some communication break-down or change of plans, because a different background was added. generally I’d say it looks better this way, although the color choices are too similar to the foreground and middle-ground colors, which kind of mitigates the “pop” of those colors. Of course, in 3-D getting the colors to “pop” is maybe not so big a deal.

I should stress that I don’t fault anyone at DC for any of the confusion involved. It’s a minor miracle that any comic gets into your hands without errors or mis-steps, there are so many things that can go wrong. This is why I bow before the good people in the industry’s production departments.

Go check out the covers this month – they are super-snazzy!


On July 27th, 2013, the Monroe County Public Library in Bloomington, Indiana (where I live and breath) held it’s 6th annual 12-Hour Comic Book Day. Each year, young women and men between the ages of 10 and 20 write and illustrate comics of their own creation within a time limit of twelve consecutive hours.  MCPL’s Children’s and Teen Services teamed with our local comic book store,  Vintage Phoenix Comics, and provided art supplies, food, and surprises – like me! Prizes were awarded for every three hours of comics-making. Participants can work individually or collaboratively. Many of the resultant comics can be seen at the event’s Flickr site, here.  My kids and I are in photos 2-6!  My son created “Evil Limbs” and “Punch Me“, and my daughter whipped up “Aliens Attack!” and “Party Pooper”.

Those two pictures of me are from the presentation I did for the kids about comic book coloring.  I don’t know why I never contacted anyone about the event in previous years, but this year I did – albeit with little time to spare.  I figured most kids would know about the Justice League or at least some of that teams members, so I opened up the full, working file for Justice League #20 (written by Geoff Johns and published by DC Comics) pages 4&5 and got to work.  Those 2 pages are a 2-page spread of the JL battling some toothy, ravenous, mindless minions, but it had a lot of special effects and I thought it would be a good, big, simple way to show the layers of work involved in coloring a modern, mainstream super-hero comic book. I talked through each layer of art, from the initial black-and-white line art to the last streaks of rain. The kids were adorably and goofy and awkward and smart. They had good questions, and a couple of them hung around after my presentation to ask even more smart questions.

There are articles about the event here and here and here. Thanks to Chris Hosler of MCPL’s Adult and Teen Services for being friendly, helpful, and in charge!

Here are the images I used in the presentation. Click on the first one and then just click through the slideshow!

Sean Whelan and Jim Segulin host a DC Comics fan podcast called The Raging Bullets. If you like comics, you should totally give it a try. They go on at geeky lengths to discuss comics and comics-related media, always in a positive light.

I’ve been on the show several times to talk about my work as a colorist and comics in general, and about the Smallville tv series back when it was on. We were making arrangements to talk again, and I realized our plans coincided with the release of Man of Steel, so I kind of begged to be part of their inevitable discussion about the film.

Feast your ears!

http://ragingbullets.com/2013/07/19/episode-358-is-here-epic-man-of-steel-chat-with-art-lyon/

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