Blueprints for a Bastard City


This was my first drawing of Avery. Bottom right. He had come from an early idea of Dan's after the first few notes were sent and we knew what kind of book we were doing. He looked a bit too young, I thought. Like a kid playing detective. The hat was silly. Try again.

Shortly after the concept phase I found some kind of genius rambling from Dan about how we would reinvent the pulps in my yahoo inbox. It lined up pretty well with the opening blog entries. I figured he had that part basically covered, even though I wasn't quite sure how at the time, and I knew I'd have do something different with the visuals for the rest to matter. I didn't want to fall into the nostalgic rut of tracing frames out of the Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep like so many before me, and I didn't want to hit the modern grit of newer crime comics like 100 Bullets or Criminal. To be honest, from the standpoint of somebody who'd have to draw over a hundred pages of it, the idea of those routes bored me.

I can draw the "normal" things well enough, in my own estimation, but I see normal every day. I like super heroes for their hyper reality. Skyscrapers that go onto forever and shadows that swallow everything but the whites of your eyes. Gotham is red hot hell on pavement and Metropolis is as close to utopia as you're liable to get, minus the giant robots. But, this wasn't a superhero comic. I'd have to close off my need to make things bigger and slicker and weirder.

Then I remembered...why? Why confine excitement to the super heroes? Out of some need for an indie maturity? Hell, Frank Miller had already done it in Sin City. This wasn't the same thing, but the seed of the idea was there. My co-conspirator in comicking had had a similar thought, and we ran with it -- started swinging pictures and music by eachother. Punk Rock, Daft Punk and Blade Runner. Neon. A radioactive bastard city. It was enough to make everything feel new. Enough to feel like the things Dan was talking about in that e-mail.


Robert Deniro in Taxi Driver.

Dan sent me a couple photos to throw into the potpourri of our main character. I threw in some Al Pacino for flavor. Our detective would be short and tough. There would be no silly hat. He was outside stereotypical noir detective designs, and thus good enough for this thing of ours.

Once that was passed, I recalled that David Bowie would be in it. The early outline said he would be called by another name, but I knew that for all intents and purposes that that was who I'd be drawing. There was some early reference for his agents, but it didn't fit the kind of comic that features the thin white duke. An early version is up with the first picture, but he turned into something like this.

Music should be a stronger streak in the visuals of his team, I thought, and things were punked up for it. The girl shaved her head and got mascara slashes under her eyes. "A knowing grin" becomes a smile that stretches like rictus. H, the boy, is now 6'7" and handsome like an alien. He likes sweater vests and polishing his shoes. After those two the look was set and new designs and twists of the script came-a-coming...

And the proto-sketch, just to have it here.

That's probably enough for now, isn't it? I'm not much of a blogger. I draw comics, and another page of one of them is awaiting inking.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sort of unlikely friendship.