Tuesday, January 24, 2012

April 2012 Solicits

Whoah, cool! No sooner do I finally wrap up my retrospective on Archie Babies than the solicits for April come out and it looks like one or two of the stories from it are gonna' be reprinted in the World of Archie digest. Neat!

Here's a look at s'more books I got work in coming out in April!

"Spiritus ex Machina" Part One: Mega Man joins Dr. Light at the Advanced Robotics Trade Show to address the future of thinking machines. New faces abound – who are Drs. Cossack and Lalinde? What sinister forces lurk behind the scenes? Meanwhile, Dr. Wily searches for something to give him the edge deep in the forbidden Lanfront Ruins. All this plus the debut of RUSH!
Script: Ian Flynn
Art: Jonathan Hill, Gary Martin, John Workman and Matt Herms
Cover: Patrick "SPAZ" Spaziante & Matt Herms
Villain Sketch Variant Cover: Jonathan Hill
Shipping Date: 4/25
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 5/9
32-page, full color comic
$2.99 US. 

"Cry Freedom!": The Freedom Fighters are no more. Dr. Eggman moves on to terrorize a Mobius unopposed. King Naugus rules through a campaign of fear. But Sonic isn’t about to let all that stop him! A new era is about to begin as two new teams burst onto the scene to save the world! The future begins today in this great jumping-on-point issue!
Script: Ian Flynn
Art: Tracy Yardley!, Terry Austin, John Workman and Matt Herms
Cover: Tracy Yardley!
Shipping Date: 4/18
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 5/2
32-page, full color comic
$2.99 US.
SONIC SUPER SPECIAL MAGAZINE is back and better than ever! The first Sonic comic magazine in Archie history, already packed with over 100 pages of comics, news, and features, will also feature a BRAND-NEW Sonic Video-Game story! Sega's hottest new game is getting the comic book treatment, and it’s ONLY available in this deluxe, magazine-sized, quarterly collection! Also featured is the dramatic return of Dr. Eggman, the birth of New Mobotropolis and the new SONIC TIME LINE, which features more new art from fan-favorite artists Jamal Peppers and Tracy Yardley!
Script: Various
Art: Various
All New Foil-enhanced Cover by Ben Bates
Shipping Date: 4/11
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 4/25
128-page, full color magazine
$9.99 US.

Long before they roamed the halls of Riverdale High, the Archie Babies were searching for hidden treasure in nursery school! Join the toddlers on one of their earliest adventures in "The Hunt for Treasure X”, a story from the best-selling Archie Babies graphic novel,
On Sale now!
Script: Mike Kunkel
Art: Art Mawhinney, Rich Koslowski
Cover: Art Mawhinney
Shipping Date: 4/25
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 5/9
160-page, full color comic
$3.99 US.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Archie Babies (Part 4)

Holy. Crap. Are you guys seeing just how friggin' adorable this is??

At around the end of 2010, the decision had finally been made that the content produced for the Archie Babies stories would be published as Archie Comics' first 100% all-original graphic novel. Very exciting stuff! So to round out the page-count for that format, a fifth and final story was commissioned - a tad shorter than the rest at only 17 pages - and written by Sonic-and-MegaMan scribe Ian Flynn.

The twist? It was going to read like a children's picture book!

We changed up the character rendering style a bit to fit this new direction and this is where I got to really punch up a softer, more animated background. To really play up the difference between the real world and "imagination pages," everything is really soft and color held on the former while the latter keeps alot more of the black ink on the page for a little heavier, darker "trudging through the jungle" feel. It's so radically different from everything else we've done, it's probably my favorite of the Archie Babies stuff!

And, that's a wrap! Shortly after this I began work full-time on the Mega Man monthly comic book which was quickly approaching its launch back in Spring of 2011. This project definitely holds a special place in my heart and is one of my favorites!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mega Man 09

Wow! It feels like it's been forever since I last posted up a preview of an upcoming Mega Man ish! So, here at last is the preview to this month's Mega Man #9, kicking off our adaptation of the Mega Man 2 video game! I was so excited when these pages popped up in my workload... This is some of the best art in the book yet and penciler Ben Bates really gets the Mega Man characters and their world. This book is out in comic book stores now. Enjoy!

MEGA MAN #9"Dr. Wily Returns" Part One: With the villainous Dr. Wily gone and no Robot Masters for him to steal, the world seems safe! Mega Man prepares to return to the quiet life of Rock the Helper Robot – until the lightning-fast Quick Man attacks Light Labs! Dr. Wily is back, and this time he's brought his own Robot Masters in his new bid to conquer the world!
Script: Ian Flynn
Art: Ben Bates, Gary Martin, John Workman, Matt Herms
Cover by Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante
Sketch Variant Cover by Ben Bates
Shipping Date: 12/28/2011
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 1/11/2011
On Sale on Newsstands: 1/17/2012
32-page, full color comic
$2.99 US

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Archie Babies (Part 3)

This was technically the last issue of this mini-series, as it was originally planned. When the decision to publish this in graphic novel format was made, a fifth and shorter story was required to round out the page count. But this is another great stand-alone chapter in the book. Not enough single issue stories in comics these days, I think...

Another of the Muppet Babies style imagination sequences which I love so hard - my favorite of them, in fact. You may also notice that in this and the previous chapter that everything is almost always full-bleed now, as opposed to having those nice, cushy white margins along the sides. I kinda' miss 'em, but my guess is that it was a necessary change given the number of panels-per-page this series had.

Another great sequence in this book. These characters really are an ensemble cast and everyone gets a chance to really stand-out in just these 22 page stories! I think my favorites of the gang are Archie himself, Moose, and Jughead.

So, as this was originally conceived as a mini-series that would run in singles, each book featured these really cool activity pages in the back called "Recess Time." They were either just zippy jokes or connect-the-dots, mazes, crosswords, etc. I freakin' loved these parts. It was just something very different to have in a comic! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Archie Babies (Part 2)

Woah! So, back in October, I'd meant to post up some of my favorite pages from The Archie Babies, Archie Comics' first 100% original graphic novel... Alas, life got in the way and I didn't post much of anything for the rest of 2011! So, to start off 2012 right, how 'bout we fix that?

The "Stubby-Toot" Teacher storyline from the second issue is probably my favorite! It's like something right out of Muppet Babies, complete with hilarious runaway-imagination sequences.

This technically wasn't my first Archie related work - in summer of '09, I cleaned-'n'-colored up alot of character art that's been used on the company website, convention displays, etc. During that, I was given a spreadsheet that actually has every hair, eye, skin, etc. color mixture for every Archie character mapped-out! Came in very handy for this book.

Love this rainy-day scene! This book is hyper-colorful, so it was great to create this kinda' dark-and-dreary scene. The real challenge was to capture that mood and still be colorful enough to fit with the rest of the book, and I think we managed it pretty well.

The rendering in Archie Babies is pretty simple. Kinda' cel-shaded but not quite, since we really don't get very dynamic with the light source. They're either lit from the side or lit from behind, no matter where the source actually is. It was a creative choice at the very start and I think it looks good on the Archie-characters. In the Archie-verse, color has traditionally been much more of a story-telling tool than a place to show off rendering skills. 

The one thing I probably would do differently now would've been to color-hold more of the background elements - really punch up the animated look to the characters. Alas, it would be a creative vision realized much, much later in the book and to much better effect there...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sonic Universe 38 Cover

Woah! So this one managed to slip by during my last Sonic the Hedgehog cover gallery post... Whoops! So here is the raw artwork to Sonic Universe #38's cover, penciled by Jamal Peppers with inks by Jim Amash.
As you can see, this one was MST3000 themed. I love these themed covers - they're just so much fun to do!

This will actually be my last cover colors for the Sonic Universe series. As of #39, interior colorist Steve Downer will take over the cover's color chores. And rightfully so - he's been doing some awesome stuff in SU. The recent Babylon Rogues arc is one of his finest! I like having someone madly skilled on the sister-book... It makes me wanna' step up my own game with every new issue!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Look Back: Mega Man 01

I've been meaning to share with you guys some of my favorite pages from Mega Man for, like, forever at this point... This has been an amazing series to work on and I'm so grateful for the opportunity. I just about peed myself when they offered me this gig! You’d think after so many issues of Sonic that I’d be sick of the color blue at this point, but every issue is exciting to work on!

So, how about a little retrospective on issue one?
While Mega Man #1 is a straight-up origin story, we jump right into the action and get this great tease of how awesome the Blue Bomber is gonna’ look (penciled – and digitally inked for this ish – by fan favorite Patrick “Spaz” Spaziante).
Uh oh… My laziness is showing! So Patrick puts in tons of “Easter Eggs” into his artwork – nods to other characters in the Mega Man franchise and even other Capcom properties! This panel on the bottom left features characters from Zero, Legends, and even Battle & Chase! So much of this was going to be totally obscured by word balloons, so I left it pretty much flat…

There really are SO many references, though – I did my best to keep up! You’ll see in later issues where backgrounds were totally referenced from games like Power Battle/Fighters and I had no idea. Whoops!
Of all the video game nods to make it in, I am overjoyed and absolutely tickled that we managed to put the stage selection screen into comic book form. It’s been years since I played Mega Man 1 – did we get the positioning on the Robot Masters right??
This first issue is the stand-out in the first arc, I think. Way more decompressed, everything has room to breath. (Felt like the Robot Master fights were too short? You will be pleased-as-punch with some of the fisticuffs coming up in the Mega Man 2 adaptation arc!) I am pumped that this ish is being reprinted as this year's Mega Man FCBD offering. It's such a great intro to the action and heart that this series has!

The transformation sequence is my favorite piece of storytelling in this entire first arc… This is the Mega Man origin in comic book form and it is awesome! As we walk with Rock, Roll, and Dr. Light down that hallway the colors – usually very white and bright in the lab – take on this very dark mood. We’re goin’ down a violent path that there may be no comin’ back from, but it’s the only path we have left to choose. I think everyone really came together to make this scene rock!

Hey, hey! Did you know there was actually a motion-comic “trailer” for this issue? How rad is that?? I had no idea they were putting this together to promote the new series, and it is awesome to see Mega Man get the motion-comic treatment. I really wish they would do more of these!