Tag: Variant

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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