Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #10: Escape to Victory

Do things tend to go well in adventure stories? Not really. Are they deliberately so to impose a sense of impending peril? Yes. After Matt and Richard touch down in Peru in Evil Star, things go pretty perilous pretty fast.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings 10a

Leg it! As they don’t say.
It’s not all bad though, because soon Matt meets somebody who becomes an important character in the book, and the rest of the series:

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings 10b

Pedro! Pedro’s character design is supposed to make him look as different from Matt as possible for a boy of exactly the same age. He’s more defined by his body shape as a character than Matt, who’s defined more by his trademark clothes; hoodie, baggy jeans, trainers, and his haircut. What a spoiled Western kid, you may think. Pedro has his body and little else to call his own, as becomes clear in the story, so I wanted that to define him visually. As malnourished and dirty as it is. His clothes are hanging off so that helps. He has mixed Native South American / Latin features, which were interesting to look up. I wanted to give Pedro a kind of Peter Pan quality, he’s from another world to the main character of the book and can flit about strange landscapes – like the urban hell of run-down Lima – effortlessly, like he’s somehow fey; full of life in surroundings full of decay.

Next time:
Bent coppers!

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #9: Air Miles

The action in Evil Star now transfers to where the rest of the book will take place: Peru.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #9

Before they get there though, Matt has another strange dream… Funny that, eh? I’m going to render the dream sequences in a different style to the waking world in the finished book, as they’re important, and become more so over the course of the series. What can Matt’s dream mean though? There’s no time to find out, as they’ve touched down in-country.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #9

The book’s most important character soon appears. A little bit more than the script says, actually. I pulled a background cameo for him from the text of the Evil Star novel itself, a little aside that didn’t make it into the Graphic Novel. Yet.

Lego Judge Dredd

(Oh, and looking through the GN’s script to post this entry, I noticed a doodle on the edge of a page of… A Lego Judge Dredd. Not sure why, I must’ve been getting distracted. Here’s a scan. I reckon the amount of world-building 2000AD have done in Mega City One for Judge Dredd would really translate to a bunch of Lego sets. If it works for Batman and Spiderman, why not..?)

Next time:
impromptu exercise sessions in Lima.

Bristol Comic Expo 2012 Sketches

Hello interpixies, here’s my sketch-log of drawings I did for the good people of the Bristol Comic Expo last week…Matt from Raven's GateMatt from Raven’s Gate, with some of those pesky hellhounds in the background. This was a bit of a motif I only used once in one frame of the Raven’s Gate Graphic Novel, but I’ve come back to it a couple of times since.

Zombie SpidermanSpiderman in Marvel Zombies stylee.

BatwomanBatwoman. Stangely enough, not as good as how the great J.H. Williams III draws her. Can’t think why…

Dizzy from 100 BulletsDizzy from the Vertigo series 100 Bullets, because it was an all-girls sketchbook I was drawing in, and because I said so.

Father Dagon from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu MythosI always like to get out a bit of Lovecraft monstrosity at a sketching session if I can, his Mythos is the other shared universe that runs parallel at comic cons, a couple of rungs below the comics one.

Power GirlPower Girl. Never drawn her before. She has, er, a certain reputation. So I made her look the exact opposite; petite and with the most lovely eyes.

ChimpA monkey! Everybody loves monkeys! Well, actually it’s a chimpanzee. Everybody loves chimpanzees!

Tinkerbell‘Tinkerbell’, for somebody’s wee girl who wasn’t at the con. Draw a Disney-style Tinkerbell? Me? No sir.

Alex RiderAlex Rider and another one of his handheld gaming consoles that’s no doubt a clever gadget in disguise…

Commissioner James GordonCommissioner James Gordon. In a bit of a mash-up, because he’s the ‘Jim’ from the Batman comics about to press the button on the phone from the Adam West Batman TV series.

LokiAnd a quick stab at a John Buscema style Loki. Thinking about it, I should be drawing genuine figures from mythology, not fictional characters based on characters from mythology… Hmm. Anyway, John Buscema is clearly a genius. Here ends the lesson.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #8: Shadowy Enclaves, But in a Good Way

Helping out Matt in Evil Star are a group of sagacious sorts. If this book had a medieval setting, they would probably be a round table of high wizards with voluminous robes, but because the series has a modern setting, they’re all normal people with day jobs who meet in a converted office building in Farringdon

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While a benevolent team of thirteen advisors are a wonderful thing for a self-doubting hero to have, sometimes they’re a bit of a chore to draw. That’s thanks mostly to the ‘person-on-the-left-talks-first rule’ we have in comics. Once all the characters are in a room and sitting down in their positions, it takes some visual storytelling gymnastics to get their speech balloons falling in the right place regardless of the seating plans. Oy! It’s like being a wedding planner, I tells ya! You can see a little seating plan I scribbled (twice over) in the image above.

Next time: The meeting’s agenda sparks a bit of a relocation.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #7: Church in the Morning

The first point of greater story-arc drama in the Evil Star Graphic Novel takes place in a fictional church at Shoreditch in London. I know it’s fictional because I tried putting the name Anthony Horowitz came up with for it (‘Saint Meredith’s’) into the interweb to see if it had any reference images to show me, only to find out it was made up! Those writers!

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings

Anyway, Matt has to go on his own to a set-up meeting to pick up something that might help him and his friends over the course of the book. The stakes are very high, everyone’s out of their comfort zone, and friendly police officers are hiding around the corner to intervene if it all goes wrong, which strangely enough, it does.
This scene is important as it’s also the first time in the entire series that Matt uses a method of travel which only he and the rest of the Gatekeepers can access, and occasionally do in the rest of the books to great effect.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings

Crash! It’s all gone pear-shaped! Also hiding in these images is the villain of the piece, one Diego Salamanda. Who I’m deliberately only showing so much of at this point. He’s a bit special.

Lee is a happy doodle

Also, here’s a little something. A deliberately crappy self-portrait I doodled to be the placeholder on the last page of my old blog. This is the first entry I’m putting up on flash-git WordPress under the umbrella of my own web domain after a few-too-many years of ‘blogging’ elsewhere. Oh, you see that header banner up the top of the page? That’s not a stock one, I made that from scratch. There aren’t any Photoshop brushes used in it either, it’s all assembled from scans of painty things I’ve daubed myself.

So, here’s to the new venture!

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #6: Keep Moving

Travel becomes a theme in Evil Star, Gwenda’s got a ticket to ride in a flipping huge petrol tanker (I had a bit of a nightmare referencing that, but it came good in the end.) Matt seems somewhat shocked by something…

Evil Star

There’s a killer scene I’m skipping over here that I don’t really want to show here because I’ll spoil it. Afterwards…

Evil Star

Richard and Matt have a chat on the train on the way to somewhere. I’d just been looking at a lot of Sergio Toppi‘s work before I drew these, so I was buzzing with layout ideas. When they arrive, the get out and stretch their legs a bit.
The nice thing about this series is that it gives me chance to draw very British things that I and most of the readers over here are familiar with, like the train thundering along the top of the page. The lobby is referenced from the lobby of a hotel in Bristol I’ve stayed at a few times, when I’ve been attending the comic convention there.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #5: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

…A woman who claims she can talk to ghosts, and a Peruvian academic! Yes, once Matt gets back from school it’s a big night in at big-brother figure Richard Cole’s flat in ‘The Shambles‘ in York. (Exactly the kind of street-level detail that makes this series of books sing.)

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Here, unexpected guests drop in and offer information on potential forthcoming adventure!

Evil Star Graphic Novel workings 5

The squashed-up grid page of reference-heavy work is supposed to be a news item on television. For the grey-line frame of the flamboyant fellow in the hat, I’m going to create an engraving style frame based on old paintings of Francisco Pizarro. At the top of that block, there’s a bit of straight-up photo-ref, it’s a photograph of my ol’ PS2 console’s disc tray and my non-drawin’ mitt, standing in for Mr. Fabian putting a DVD on for the rest of the characters in the scene to watch.

Evil Star Workings #4: Matt Freeman’s Schooldays

After the supernatural hullabaloo of Raven’s Gate, main character Matt’s shadowy group of new benefactors – ‘The Nexus’ – arrange for him to attend a new, exclusive, private school. This being the world of Power of Five though, things are never plain sailing.

Evil Star Graphic Novel

After saving the world from ancient demons, Matt has to deal with trying to fit in and lippy kids wanting to bully him. Ahh, the joys the secondary school.

Evil Star Graphic Novel

I even had fun designing what the story picks out to be a tawdry, modern chandelier in the school’s canteen. Can you guess what generally happens to fragile-looking things made out of glass in comics..? Yep. That.

Evil Star Workings #3: At Home with Richard and Matt

After having the most strange of vivid, portentous dreams, it’s time to have some good hearty breakfast. Matt – the main character of The Power of Five – lives with his big brother figure / guardian Richard, one of my favourite characters in the series. Anthony Horowitz (who’s writing The New Sherlock Holmes books, chappy) wastes no adjectives in describing him as a lackadaisical, unkempt, crumpled, untidy twenty-something. His flat is a mess and there’s nothing anything in the cupboards to eat. Even if you’ve just experienced a coded visual flash-forward of the events that are going to happen in the book.

Evil Star Graphic Novel pencils

I did some pretty heavy photo-reffing of myself in relevant bits of clothing for the figures in this scene. I was trying my best to measure up to Dom‘s work on Raven’s Gate, and probably slightly self-conscious at drawing the book’s main characters for the first time…

Evil Star Graphic Novel pencils

Next: Why Matt looks like a mini-businessman in this scene…

Evil Star Workings #2: At Home with Gwenda and Brian

In Evil Star, a character who was more-or-less a cameo in Raven’s Gate reappears – Gwenda – the main character Matt’s aunt and foster-mum. Things aren’t going too well for her and her husband Brian though, and she ends up becoming somewhat twisted supporting character.

Evil Star Workings

Gwenda’s domestic situation’s gone downhill a bit…

Evil Star Workings

But she’s made a new friend… He might be ‘a bad-un’ though. Never mind how he comes around to visit. As always, I’m trying to sidestep the SPOILARZ in all the little reveals that you get to see when you read the book…