Tag: Terry Austin

In Stores This Week

I’m going to endeavor to be a lot more regular about posting upcoming releases. Today, two books: the DC Retroactive Green Lantern 1990s issue, and the DC Comics Presents JLA: Heaven’s Ladder reprint.

I had a meeting with a DC exec this past weekend at the Baltimore Comic Con. One of the topics of conversation was what it was like writing Kyle again. The best comparison I could come up with was slipping into a comfortable, familiar sweatshirt again. It was pretty easy to slip back into the rhythms of writing Kyle in that era, especially since I was reuniting with my friends and artistic collaborators of Darryl Banks on pencils and Terry Austin on inks. The Retro GL issue includes a reprint of Green Lantern #78, which was one of my favorite issues of the run.

Heaven’s Ladder is a reprint as well, presenting the Treasury Edition-size story that began the Mark Waid and Bryan Hitch JLA run (featuring Kyle). My part of the book is a reprint of Green Lantern #1,000,000 issue, also drawn by Bryan Hitch. Crossover or tie-in chapters are not usually high on my list of favorites, but I’m fond of the way this way turned out, almost completely due to Bryan’s art.

Cheers,

Ron


The Lunch Bunch

Thursday I was able to attend a lunch that gathered a lot of the comic pros who live within an hour’s drive or so. Doing the job we do, most of spend a lot of hours at home, without the kind of social interaction that most people with, uh, real jobs take for granted. So the chance to get together and swap stories is a welcome one.

I was the relative young punk at the table, with only two decades in comics under my belt. Clockwise from bottom left in the photo: cartoonist Fred Hembeck; Fred’s wife Lynn Moss; inker Bob Wiacek; legendary Kirby/FF inker Joe Sinnott; inker Terry Austin; me; inker Dan Green (in cowboy hat and shades); that’s writer-artist Jim Starlin’s bald head peeking out; Mark Sinnott (Joe’s son); writer-artist Walter Simonson; Silver Age artist Ramona Fradon; penciler Joe Staton; and writer Todd Dezago.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to call these people friends, and especially fortunate to be able to get together with them. We don’t do it often enough. I gave Walter a copy of Magdalena #1, the Ryan Sook cover of which was inspired by Walter’s iconic Thor #337 cover. Joe Sinnott shared some (literal) war stories. Starlin and I discussed the intro I’m going to write for his art book, which will be released by Desperado later this year. Fred revealed he’s going to be throwing out the first pitch at a Class A minor-league ballgame in July, and Fred, Mark and I commiserated about the Mets (as usual).

Walter related some stories of teaching at the School of Visual Arts, and also told a tale of Jim Shooter having John Romita, Sr. redraw a Thor head on one of Walter’s covers, because Shooter deemed the original Thor head not handsome enough. Mark Gruenwald, the editor on Thor, waited until Shooter was out of the office, got Tom DeFalco to okay Walter’s original cover, and sent the book off to press. Grueny was a clever fellow.

After a few hours, the gathering split up and everybody went their separate ways, most headed to their home studios to get back to work. But the afternoon was yet another reminder of how fortunate I am to be working in this business.

Cheers,

Ron


In living color

You’ve seen Matt Smith’s pencils, you’ve seen Terry Austin’s inks, now here’s the final color for the Albany Comic Con exclusive Magdalena #1 cover. Matt’s previous Albany Con cover was a Witchblade image, with color provided by Matt’s Doctor Who colorist, Charlie Kirchoff . Charlie wasn’t available for the quick turnaround this time, so we had to look a little further afield for the color. Actually, a lot further afield.

When I did some work for Virgin Comics (now reborn as Liquid Comics) a few years ago, I worked as both editor and writer with a number of extremely talented India-based artists. The vast majority were adept at pencils, inks and color alike, and could work in a variety of art styles. So with assistance from my writer friend Saurav Mohapatra, the call went out for somebody who could leap heroically into breach and color the cover. Coming to the rescue was Saumin Patel, whom I had worked with when I edited Devi for Virgin (written by Saurav, in fact). Saumin provided interior art (but not color) on Devi, drawing in a unique style and exhibiting a sophisticated storytelling sense. He and Saurav had also collaborated on Mumbai Macguffin, which Saumin drew, inked and colored. The breadth of his talent is pretty impressive, as he’s worked in comics, animation, magazine illustration, advertising, storyboards and more. You can, and should, check out his blogs here and here.

Saumin volunteered to take a run at coloring Matt and Terry’s cover. As you can see here, he came through with a killer version that really pops forward the main figure of Magdalena, without losing the signature Albany towers and Egg in the background. The strong red of her costume highlights and inner cloak is going to be recurring color motif in the monthly series, and Saumin captured that aspect as well.

Saumin also offered up a second, slightly different version, this one with a violet overlay, giving the tones a bit flatter look. Both versions work well, but we ultimately decided to go with the brighter piece. I’m very much in Saumin’s debt for his work here.

The exclusive Magdalena #1 edition will be on sale at the Albany Comic Con on April 25. The con site is here. Hope some of you will be able to come to the show. If the cover doesn’t sell out, a few of the remaining copies might show up for sale online.

Cheers,

Ron


“Uncle Terry”

As promised, here are Terry Austin’s inks over Matthew Dow Smith’s pencils for the Albany Comic Con Magdalena #1 variant cover. (Click on the images for hi-res versions)

Matt’s pencils Terry’s inks

First time Terry has ever inked Matt. Not much for me to say about the piece; you can compare the pencils to the inks yourself and see how Terry approached it. Terry’s a pen inker, as opposed to using a brush, a tool he’s never been comfortable with, according to what he’s told me. You can also see where he utilized a razor-blade skip technique toward the base of the background buildings, actually gouging the paper to lend texture to the piece. If I’m remembering the story correctly, Terry learned the razor-blade skip from classic inker Jack Abel up in the Marvel bullpen. I met Jack during his later days, when he worked as a proofreader up at Marvel. Incredibly kind man.

Maybe that’s an inker trait, because Terry is very literally, the kindest, most gentle soul I know. He’s “Uncle Terry” to my kids, and one of my best friends in the world. All of which is, of course, in addition to being a legendary inker, one of the best to ever work in the business. His pairings with John Byrne on Uncanny X-Men and the late, great Marshall Rogers on Detective Comics are invariably mentioned among the tops runs in comics history. I’d also add his work with Paul Smith on Doctor Strange, and Rick Leonardi on Cloak & Dagger to that list. A couple of single issues that Terry inked are also among my all-time favorites: the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover (with Walter Simonson) and Daredevil #191 (with Frank Miller).

I’ve been fortunate enough to have Terry’s inks grace a number of stories I’ve written, including a good chunk of my Green Lantern run (over both Darryl Banks and Paul Pelletier), the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer crossover, and the Darth Maul vs. Darth Vader story that appeared in Star Wars Tales (over Rick Leonardi again).

As I said in an earlier post, one of the best things about working in comics is you get to work with your friends. In the case of this cover, I got to work with two of them. Thanks, guys.

Later this week, I’ll be able to show off the colors for the cover. If all goes as planned, maybe even a few different versions.

Cheers,

Ron


Sharp Pencils

Last time, I showed off Matthew Dow Smith’s roughs for the upcoming Albany Comic Con variant cover of Magdalena #1 (with Matt’s kind permission, I might add). As you see now, the consensus pick was the “perched on a cross” image, as it allowed for a large, striking figure of Magdalena, and utilized the Albany skyline in the background.


Rough Layout

Once the selection was made, Matt revised the image into a more refined rough (above), adjusting the pose and adding the Spear of Destiny in her hand. That completed and approved, Matt moved on to the actual pencils on a full size board, “full size” for comic originals being roughly 11 inches by 17 inches.


Rough Pencils

The second image shows Matt’s rough pencils, more of a work in progress. Magdalena’s pose was revised again, albeit slightly, and the Spear switched hands. The perspective for the background was also worked out, arranging the towers and uniquely-shaped Egg performing arts center.

After a quick approval, Matt completed the finished pencils, adding detail to Magdalena’s ornate costume as well as the towers. A final note from Top Cow’s Filip Sablik asked for the Spear to be a little longer, and for Magdalena’s face to be given a slightly more delicate look. Once those revisions were made, the pencils were complete and ready to go to inker Terry Austin. Since Terry lives only an hour away, I met Matt for coffee, got the cover from him, and delivered it to Terry.


Final Pencils (revised)

Since Terry had never inked Matt before, the cover was virgin territory for both of them. I know I was really anxious to see what the collaboration would look like. Next time, I’ll show you how it turned out.
Cheers,

Ron


All thumbs

You’re looking at thumbnails –“thumbs” – for a variant Magdalena #1 cover. Now, I assume most people reading this blog would know that “thumbs,” or roughs, are small sketches. But I don’t want to assume everybody knows that.

first set

These roughs are by my buddy Matthew Dow Smith. The variant will be available at the Albany Comic Con, the “hometown” convention for both me and Matt, which will take place April 25. The show site is here.

The guest list includes me and Matt, as well as a number of other Hudson Valley creators that have all been my friends for years: Terry Austin, Fred Hembeck, Todd Dezago and Joe Staton. Terry, Fred and Todd, along with Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson, were regulars are the weekly Woodstock volleyball matches I played in until our five-year Florida detour. Coming to the con from a bit farther afield are Lee Moder, my artistic partner on Dragon Prince and the work-in-progress Shinku, and Saurav Mohapatra, a writer I edited at Virgin Comics. Check out the entire guest list; it’s pretty impressive for a “local” one-day show.

I’ve always been an admirer of Matt’s artwork, including Hellboy and Starman contributions and DC’s Day of Judgment series with an up-and-coming writer named Geoff Johns. Matt was my first choice when we needed a fill-in issue of my samurai-themed comic The Path at CrossGen. I thought his use of spot blacks would make him a good fit with the kind of work Bart Sears was doing on the series. Matt turned in a great job on his issue, and when Bart left the series, Matt moved to Florida to take over the regular art duties. We produced some issues I’m quite fond of, but it was destined to be unfinished business. Not quite a year later, CrossGen blew apart and Matt moved back to the Albany vicinity. A few years later, I settled in the same vicinity.

Matt’s first Albany variant, which he penciled and inked, was the Witchblade #131 cover for last year’s autumn con. The show was held the day after Halloween, so the subject matter was a natural. This time around, the obvious choice for a variant was my Magdalena series, which will debut just prior to the con. Without a natural theme this time, we discussed utilizing a background of the Albany skyline, featuring distinctive towers and an egg-shaped performing arts center.

The towers feature in three of the four roughs from Matt’s first batch (above), including one I suggested featuring a trolley-car diner. Matt also included a shot of Magdalena perched atop a church cross, an iconic image that would also be a comfortable fit for Daredevil or maybe Spider-man.

After input from con organizer John Belskis and Top Cow’s Filip Sablik and Phil Smith, Matt produced a second set of roughs (below). The diner concept was refined to include a neon sign featuring the Top Cow logo, and a peek at a couple of patrons inside that might well be Sara Pezzini of Witchblade and Jackie Estacado of The Darkness. The towers remained a background element in two of the roughs, but the lower angle on diner concept forced a different background for that image. Matt also added a shot inspired by look of golden age comic covers.

second set

So which one did we pick? Come back tomorrow to find out, and get a look at Matt’s finished pencils, which will be delivered to legendary X-Men inker Terry Austin for his distinctive contribution.

Cheers,

Ron


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