Tag: Luke Ross

Liquid Refreshment

Blog posts are apt to be in short supply this week, unfortunately, in the run-up to the San Diego Comic Con and the release of Artifacts #1. I’ll be posting my signing and panel schedule for the con, but most of the other words this week will be in the service of stockpiling scripts.

So in the meantime, here’s a couple links to keep you entertained. Both are from the Heavy.com site, which seems to be a something of an online lad magazine, with bikinis, mixed martial arts … and Liquid Comics. Not really sure how that came about, but the site is offering up a couple of my projects for Liquid (then Virgin) for free.

The first is issue #1 of Beyond, the four-issue mini I adapted, along with artist Edison George, from a Deepak Chopra screenplay. The print version of Beyond #1 was among the last Virgin books to be released, and I’m not sure how much distribution it received. It’s a story of other dimensions and alternate universes, with some dense, beautiful art by Edison. Here’s the link for the The second is actually a collection of material that doesn’t exist in a single-issue print version. In addition to serving as editor for Ramayan 3392 A.D. , I wrote a series of five short stories meant as origin pieces for the main characters. Each story was only three pages, and I came up with the idea of using one of those three pages as an alternate cover for the respective issues, necessitating that one of the pages be a splash. So the stories were a slightly tricky exercise in short-form storytelling and formatting. But I was in a position to hire my own artists, and I went with some of the best. In order:

  1. Michael Avon Oeming on Rama
  2. Jim Starlin on Ravan
  3. Luke Ross on Seeta
  4. David Petersen on Hanuman
  5. Bart Sears on Lakshman

I tried to pair characters with matching artistic sensibilities (frankly, something writers and/or editors should be doing all the time). Mike’s affection for heroic mythology made him a natural fit for Rama … and his rep for turning around pages fast didn’t hurt either. Jim’s career is obviously filled with memorable villains, his creation Thanos chief among them, so the villainous Ravan was an obvious choice. Luke’s beautiful, flowing lines and attention to detail were a nice match for Seeta. Luke did some gorgeous, full-color covers for Virgin’s Devi, a title featuring a female lead. That’s also Luke’s cover you’ll see on Beyond #1.

I was a little hesitant to typecast David, who is best known for his terrific Mouse Guard series. But pairing David with the monkey-god Hanuman was too perfect to pass up. And finally, Bart’s penchant for muscled warriors and bloody battles made the Lakshman assignment an easy one.

All five of the origin stories are collected here.




Admiring the “Sunset”

Yesterday I showed off the planned cover for issue #1 of Russian Sunset by Bart Sears and Mike Atiyeh. Today, it’s the cover for issue #2, by Luke Ross, my artistic partner on Samurai: Heaven and Earth.

After we kicked around the concept, Luke produced the three roughs you see above. We ended up picking the one with more of an iconic/propaganda composition, reflecting Russian proletarian art. Luke rendered the cover in his tonal pencil style, the same style he employs for Samurai: Heaven and Earth. The tonal style is more painstaking and time-consuming than simply penciling to be inked, but I think the results speak for themselves.

Colorist pal Rob Schwager then dropped in the flat red background.

The other planned covers for Russian Sunset were to have been by Cully Hamner, Brian Stelfreeze and Darryl Banks. And at some point, maybe they still will be.



“Russian” Translation

A few years ago, a creator-owned project of mine called Russian Sunset was announced at Desperado Press. It was a five-issue crime/espionage story about an enforcer for the Russian Mob, drawn by a talented Serbian artist named Mirko Colak. Short version, we completed the entire first issue, but the project didn’t come out due to a number of factors that I won’t go into. It just didn’t work out. I’m still friends with Joe Pruett of Desperado, and I’m sure in the future we’ll work together on something (in addition to the foreword I’m writing for the Jim Starlin art book that Joe is publishing). Mirko is presently drawing albums for French publishers, and hopefully we’ll get to collaborate again.

Russian Sunset itself landed at Top Cow, with a different artist attached, but not too long before we were going to begin anew on the series, the artist accepted a DC exclusive. No hard feelings at all, it was the right thing for him to do. But it put the series back into limbo, where it presently resides. At some point, though, I fully intend to get it up and running again. I’m thoroughly enjoying all the work-for-hire gigs I’m doing – Witchblade, Magdalena, Angelus, Velocity, Artifacts and a few other things that are still under wraps. But there’s nothing like working on creator-owned projects. You’ll be seeing a few more of them from me in the future.

In the meantime, here’s the original cover to Russian Sunset #1, pencils and inks by Bart Sears, color by Mike Atiyeh. Come back tomorrow for a look at two versions of the Luke Ross cover to issue #2.


Samurai: Update

I’ve received a number of questions about the fate of Samurai: Heaven and Earth, more specifically the planned third volume of the series, by me and Luke Ross. The most recent question came from Mike Steinberg, so for Mike and everybody else who asked, here’s the deal:

Luke and I would love to get back to Volume 3, and at this point, it’s a matter of our schedules matching up. The first issue of Volume 3 is written and waiting, and Luke has completed all the covers for the five issues. You see two of the covers here, both colored by Dan Jackson. As the covers make pretty obvious, the next series moves the setting to the Caribbean, placing Shiro in the midst of a cutthroat pirate crew that features characters both historical and literary.

Luke is presently under exclusive contract to Marvel, which led to Luke’s work on Captain America and Amazing Spider-man, among other assignments. But we both intend to get back to “our baby” as soon as Luke’s schedule allows. Luke and I even have a couple of other projects – one a creator-owned story about a Brazilian folk hero, the other featuring a favorite superhero – that we plan to get to at some point.

In the meantime, we appreciate your interest, and we appreciate your patience. The story of Shiro and Yoshiko is not yet over.



Colorful Indy

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…



A Jones for Indiana

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 1

Page 2

Page 3

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.



Above and “Beyond”

Beyond 1One of my graphic novels is going to be a movie! Except it’s not really my graphic novel. It’s Deepak Chopra’s. And as with any movie deal, it’s only real when the cameras start rolling. So I guess there’s not much cause for excitement, at least on my part. But still … kinda cool.

In the waning days of the late, lamented Virgin Comics, I was asked to adapt a Deepak Chopra screenplay called “Beyond” into a four-issue series. Deepak’s son, Gotham Chopra, was the one who originally recruited me to do some work for Virgin, so I was flattered that he wanted to entrust his father’s screenplay to me. I was paired with artist Edison George, one of Virgin’s studio artists based in Bangalore. I had to do a little judicious trimming here and there, but I think I preserved the important aspects of “Beyond” in the screenplay-to-comics translation. I recruited my buddy Luke Ross for the cover to issue #1, an image that needed to somehow convey the cross-dimensional, metaphysical aspect of the story. On the interiors, Edison turned out some beautiful work on what were consistently dense pages in terms of panel count. And Gotham told me his dad was pleased with the comic, which to me was the most important aspect.

Today’s Hollywood Reporter carried the news that “Beyond” had been picked up for film production, with director Suri Krishnamma attached. The full story is here.

“Beyond” was described as “a supernatural thriller about an American businessman, Michael Morton, who arrives in India with his wife Anna and son Ty on a vacation. Wandering through a teeming bazaar, Ty watches as his mother wanders into a small store but never comes out, leading to a frenzied search for her whereabouts.” That’s it in a nutshell, though the story is much richer, much more complex, than that brief summation. I enjoyed working on it, even though adapting someone else’s original work is a wholly different challenge than creating your own.

The first three issues of Beyond made it out before Virgin’s publishing ceased. The fourth issue was written and drawn, but never hit the stands. When Virgin folded, the company’s properties were purchased by the founders, now under the banner of Liquid Comics. Issue #4 is now complete, including colors and letters, and awaits release both digitally, and as a collected print edition along with the first three issues. Hopefully that’ll happen sooner rather than later; it’d be nice to have the completed story out there. Issue #4 also contains Edison George’s best work, I think, including some truly spectacular, large-scale battle scenes. Turns out I’m working with Edison on another project, but that’s fodder for a future post.

If you’d like to sample Beyond, the first two issues are up for free online at Issuu.com.



You wanna read something for free?

If you happened to be checking out my Twitter stream earlier today, there was yet another discussion of pirating and illegally downloading comics. I won’t belabor the point here. Suffice to say that I’m wholly against downloading, and I’ve yet to see an argument for it that holds any water. If you want a comic, support the industry and pay for it. Or, if you’re just looking to read something for free, there are plenty of choices available. Even some by me. Last time I looked, Top Cow has various complete issues of my Witchblade run online, as well as the First Born #1 and number of other offerings. You can peruse them here.

Samurai Vol 1 on AmazonYou can also check out an 8-page Samurai: Heaven and Earth story that appeared as part of the first Dark Horse Presents “issue” on MySpace. Dark Horse was looking for something a little more visceral to run with Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon’s Sugarshock, and Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s Umbrella Academy (not to mention a short Rick Geary story). A guy with a sword fit the bill, so artist Luke Ross, and I put together a brief, violent tale of our displaced samurai, Asukai Shiro.

Samurai: Heaven and Earth is a creator-owned series by Luke and myself from Dark Horse, with two volumes in print thus far. It’s also absolutely my favorite project ever. The story follows a lone samurai who crosses the globe from East to West, following his kidnapped love, the lady Yoshiko. His travels bring him all the way to the halls of Versailles in Volume 1, where he meets some very familiar swordsmen. Volume 2 takes him to the sands of Egypt.Samurai Vol 1 on Amazon

I think the DHP short story, “The Forest,” stands on its own well enough. But chronologically it takes place between issues #2 and #3 of Volume 1, when Shiro begins his journey westward from China. At one point, I had toyed with the idea of a series of short stories, drawn by various artists, which would fill in the “untold tales” of Shiro’s journey. Luke is the artistic heart and soul of Samurai, but I’ve always liked “themed” anthologies, like Gaiman’s Sandman: Endless Nights or the Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall volume. Maybe that project will still happen at some point. But for now, “The Forest” is what you get, with beautiful art by Luke and colorist Dan Jackson.

For anybody that’s already read Volumes 1 and 2, thanks. Yes, there’s a Volume 3 planned, taking place in the Caribbean, but we’re waiting for Luke to find time amidst his Marvel schedule to draw it. For anybody that hasn’t read the first two volumes, I know they’ve been pirated and offered up online. But please, if you’re interested, do right thing and buy ’em:

Samurai : Heaven and Earth vol 1 Amazon Listing

Samurai : Heaven and Earth vol 2 Amazon Listing

Read “The Forest” at Dark Horse Presents / MySpace

Thanks. In the future, I’ll be running some of the pin-ups that have appeared in the collected editions, pieces by buddies of Luke and mine, like Jim Starlin, Greg Land, Mike Deodato Jr., Cully Hamner, Lee Moder and plenty more.




For some reason the link to “The Forest” doesn’t take you directly to the story (it’s supposed to). You can read the story by scrolling down and selecting Issue 1 / Story 3 at the bottom of the page

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