A brief addendum to the awesome Indiana Jones pages by Luke Ross I posted earlier this week. Here’s the first of those pages in glorious color, courtesy of Mike Atiyeh, whose color work has graced books from Marvel, DC and Dark Horse, as well as CrossGen.
Mike was one of the first CrossGen colorists hired. Besides being one of my best buddies there, we worked together on The Path, Mike coloring both the Bart Sears and Matthew Dow Smith issues. Mike has been a regular contributor to the Dark Horse’s Star Wars line, which is fitting since he’s one of the biggest Star Wars fans in this universe or any other. Obviously there’s a whole lot of love for Indy as well, as this page shows. Hope you like it.
I’ll be working with Mike on a future project, something that won’t debut until 2011, but we’re starting on it now. More details about that later on, maybe about the time of the San Diego convention…
I love Indiana Jones. Probably even more than Star Wars. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is my favorite movie, ever. To this day, I remember the day that “Raiders” was released in theaters – June 12, 1981. It was the same day that the original “Clash of the Titans” was released. My friends and I wanted to see both, and there was great debate over which to see on opening night. The decision, ultimately, was “Clash” because we figured Ray Harryhausen monsters were a pretty safe bet, but this “Raiders” movie was an unknown, except for starring Han Solo.
(A brief aside: Harrison Ford has a home in the same town in which I live. He’s not seen here very often, but he’s been known to fly into the local airstrip, get a cup of coffee at the diner across the street, and then head for his place. So … pretty cool.)
Anyway, on Friday night, at the Mayfair Twin theater in Kingston, NY, we went to see “Clash” and enjoyed it well enough for a movie with Harry Hamlin in a skirt. Saturday night we lined up for the early show of “Raiders” … and I was transfixed. It was all familiar, but I had never seen anything like it. It was fantastic, with a dose of the supernatural, but it was all believable because the main character – Indy – bled and sweated and strove and even failed. The pace was so break-neck that I would’ve sworn the whole thing went by in mere minutes. It was as much of a transformative experience for me as seeing the original “Star Wars” four years before. The film ended, with the Ark essentially lost again in a vast warehouse, and my friends and I left the theater. We got right back in line, and saw it again immediately.
I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to the Indiana Jones comics Marvel published. I wasn’t paying attention to comics in general at the time. A few movies later, the license passed to Dark Horse, by which time I was reading comics again. Eventually I was writing them, including some “Star Wars” comics, which led me to inquire about tackling some Indiana Jones stories. Still hasn’t happened, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
I bugged Dave Land, my editor at Dark Horse, on a regular basis about doing an Indiana Jones series, mini-series or even a one-shot. But with Indy seemingly in retirement, there was no traction to get something going, the theory being that if there wasn’t a movie to boost interest, there wouldn’t be enough of an audience for a comic to make financial sense.
Then the rumors of a fourth Indy film started to sound more real. So my Samurai: Heaven and Earth compatriot Luke Ross – also a big Indy fan – and I put together the pages you see here. I wrote this three-page sequence, and as you can plainly see, Luke did a truly amazing job on the art. The pages feature Indy in the Himalayas, relieving Nazis of a Tibetan treasure, with an Asian femme fatale as his sidekick. And, since the setting was Tibet, we simply had to include a yeti.
Page 3 (With snow fx)
The nugget of the story was inspired by something I’d seen on the National Geographic channel, detailing German expeditions into Tibet in 1938-1939, led by an SS officer and zoologist named Ernst Shafer. There’s some evidence that Shafer’s purpose, or at least one of them, was a search for the purported roots of the Aryan race. You can read more about the historical expedition here .
The sample pages were successful in that they landed Luke the gig of drawing the adaptation of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” There was an additional mini, “Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Gods,” after the adaptation (my buddy Bart Sears ended up filling in on some of the art), as well as a few animated-style “Adventures” editions. But that’s been about it in terms of new Indy material. If nothing else, we got Omnibus editions reprinting the previous Dark Horse and Marvel comics.
I hope these pages aren’t the total of my dalliance with Indiana Jones in comics. But even if they are, I’m pretty pleased with them.
First, sorry to have disappeared for a few days. The combination of a pretty nasty virus inserting itself into my laptop, and the deadlines that led to me pulling out of Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con, stalled the regular updates here. The good news: I’m already committed to Emerald City for 2011, the first time it’ll be a three-day affair; and, my laptop seems to be back in working order. So expect regular updates as well.
Despite missing the con, I was at least able to participate in the Top Cow panel on Saturday via cell phone. You can read the details here.
Every publisher saves their announcements for conventions, and this was no different, as Top Cow named my first artistic collaborator on the upcoming Artifacts series, the 13-part event intended to redefine its universe. Joining me for issues #1-#4 will be penciler Michael Broussard, who is just coming off of a pretty stellar run on The Darkness with my buddy Phil Hester. I’m absolutely looking forward to working with Michael again. I wrote one of his first published jobs, the Marvel-Top Cow crossover book Unholy Union, which featured Witchblade, the Darkness, Hulk, Ghost Rider and even a couple pages with Doctor Strange. I’ll take advantage of even the slightest opportunity to write Doctor Strange, and Michael’s Doc pages are among my favorites. Michael was even kind enough to do a Doc piece in my sketchbook. Once that sketchbook makes its way back from the West Coast, I’ll use the blog to show off some of the art within.
Michael’s work certainly has what a lot of people might call a “Top Cow style,” meaning something in the same ballpark as that of Top Cow founder Marc Silvestri. I think there’s a perception out there, at least in some people’s minds, that the Top Cow studio somehow imposes a stylistic edict on its artists. Not true. Top Cow has launched a pretty impressive collection of artistic careers, including Michael Turner, Brandon Peterson, David Finch, Mike Choi, Francis Manapul and Billy Tan. True, many of those guys share a certain sensibility, which is understandable given that all had some tutelage under Silvestri. But you also have to factor in current artists like Stjepan Sejic, Kenneth Rocafort and Nelson Blake the 2nd, who have pretty diverse styles.
Michael is one of those rare artists who emerged with a great deal of polish, even at the beginning of his career. Most guys slave away for years, getting better in little steps until they’re finally ready for professional-level work. Michael showed up at that level already, and has only gotten better since. I’m looking forward to working with him again a great deal. At one of the previous Emerald City Cons Michael and I were able to take a walk around town prior to the show opening. We ended up at a coffee shop, talking at length about art styles, influences and storytelling.
Why only issues #1-#4 of Artifacts for Michael? We’re going to be splitting up the series between four art teams, both for scheduling purposes and as a reflection of traditional three-act story structure. Crossover/event series are notoriously difficult to keep on schedule, as the shipping woes and artistic musical chairs of some Marvel and DC projects can attest. The intent is to circumvent that by having three art teams working at the same time, getting ahead so we can continue to ship on time. The art teams for issues #4-#7 and #8-#12 will be announced in due time, and we have something pretty special planned for issue #13. Artifacts #1, by me and Michael Broussard, will be out in July.