FABLES #122 & 123, by Bill Willingham, Gene Ha, Andrew Pepoy, Art Lyon, and Todd Klein. CoverS by Joao Ruas. Edited by Shelly Bond. Published by DC Comics, release dates October 24th and November 22nd, 2012.
Working on two or more issues in a row is nice: every new project is a whole new ball game, but by the end of the first issue I’ve worked out how I want things to look. The second issue becomes a new ball game within the game, where I deal in refinement, nuance, gloss over a few things that I’ve established or try to approach them in a new light, changing things up or upping the stakes here and there, throwing in some surprises and new takes on established stuff, and setting new challenges for my self.
Fab;es called for very clear setting and tonal shifts, and colorists love that, because it means you know where to shift gears and slap a new palette or approach to any given page or panel. Keeping things fresh is important to my sanity, and essential to storytelling.
I started something new for me on this project. There’s a very old practice in painting and other color illustration, of doing preliminary work in black-and-white, and then working in color on top of that, or with the b&w as a reference. This allows the artist to focus on fundamental issues of contrast and composition first, freeing them up to worry about hues and other subtleties later. I don’t multi-task well, and I had played with this approach some on The Shade, but I did every Fables page this way. Most of my decisions about what would be light or dark, including most of my rendering of highlights and shadows, was done in grayscale. Afterwards, in a different “layer” of the page’s file on my computer, I added what are essentially see-through colors on top of that gray stuff. I am super-happy with this process. I can focus on fundamental composition and details first, and then adding colors is (relatively speaking) a breeze. It’s really nice to have that second stage be easier than the first.