Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Release Day & Interview

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Today’s the day!

Once Upon a Time Machine vol. 2: Greek Gods & Legends is now on shelves in comic shops everywhere.*

To celebrate, enjoy this intense interview & preview at SYFY Wire with editor & writer Andrew Carl!

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Then come see Andrew & artist Dean Stuart at Mission: Comics in San Francisco this afternoon for some signing, sketching, and celebrating.

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*You won’t find Vol. 2 in regular book stores or Amazon until April 24.

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Under the Hood: “The Long Bow”

Artist Joe DellaGatta wanted to share the work that went into bringing a page of science fiction author Michael Swanwick’s first-ever (fantastic) comic script, “The Long Bow” (starring Telemachus), to life. Click on any image below to see it bigger.

Now, take it away, Joe:

So, here’s a bit of my process. It’s usually the same, project to project. After reading the script, written by Michael Swanwick, I begin to do tiny layouts. Roughly 1” x 1.5”. This allows me to focus on basic shapes, flow of panels, panel sizes, and a rough idea of lettering space needed. This is before I gather any reference, or develop any designs.

After the thumbnail stage, I’ll do a quick pass at all the lettering. I enjoy doing this myself on smaller stories, and, I like to see hand lettering on pages. It doesn’t happen too often these days.

This stage also allows me to reassess my page layouts, and see if I need more or less space in certain panels to accommodate the balloons/captions.

These are my quick passes at the character designs from the story. I asked Michael for a brief, physical description of each character, then started to come up with their looks. I tried to incorporate a little fashion sense from Ancient Greece, and a VERY simplified Kirby influence to some of the clothing.

At this point, I’ll scan in my tiny thumbnails, and enlarge them to the full size I’ll be drawing at. Then, I’ll paste in the scans of the rough lettering, leaving the balloons a solid blue color just as a placeholder. This saves me a little bit of time at the pencil stage because I’ll know where the lettering will be, and I won’t be drawing anything unnecessarily in those spots.

From here, I’ll print a “low opacity” copy of this, and start penciling the figures, backgrounds, etc. right on this layout.

Now, I’ll take my rough pencils and lightbox the essentials onto my final boards (11” x 17” bristol), along with the lettering.

This shot is pretty self explanatory. I’ll go through and ink the page with an assortment of pens, and fill in larger areas of black with a brush. I use the same pens to ink the lettering and balloons, and I’ll use white ink for any corrections or stray marks.

When it came to coloring, we hit a couple snags. Eventually I asked Andrew and Chris (editors) if I could take on coloring duties, and they were trusting enough to allow me to do it.

Everything was colored using Photoshop CS5. Flat colors usually work best with my art, so that was the initial idea. But I wanted something that made the work look a little older, and offered something slightly different. Which brought me to the “halftone/dot” pattern, like in old comic book printing. The halftone pattern also made it possible for me to unify the color palettes on each page. By lowering the opacity of the halftone layer, and making it a color that that fit in the page’s color scheme, I applied it like an overlay that made everything more cohesive.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been involved in this project. Michael wrote a great story, and Andrew and Chris did a fantastic job gathering all these different creators to put together an amazing book. We hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for reading!

-Joe DellaGatta-

You can find Joe on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and DeviantArt.

Find Once Upon a Time Machine vol. 2: Greek Gods & Legends in comic stores April 11, from Dark Horse Books.

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Back from Fabletown and the Beach

FABLETOWN AND BEYOND

Over on the Locust Moon blog, Chris Stevens provided a wonderful reaction piece to our unforgettable time in Fabletown (née Rochester), Minnesota. You really ought to read it.

The journey truly started on Tuesday night, three days before Fabletown and Beyond would be underway. Josh O’Neill in Philly and I in New York, we talked on the phone like protective parents of our partner Chris. “Make sure he has all his chargers. See if Rob can tie up that banner stand so it won’t give him too much trouble.” “I feel like I should pack him a lunch in the morning.” “Fill a bag with food that’ll stay good for a few days, in case he gets hungry on the last leg.” And so on. If you haven’t read his recap yet, you might not realize that the next morning, Chris would be boarding a train from Philadelphia to Winona, Minnesota. That spelled a 30+ hour trip each way. Josh and I had it easy. We got to fly.

Two things struck me within hours (really, the first hour) of my arrival in Fabletown, MN: how fascinating the indoor (post-apocalypse-ready) mini-metropolis of Rochester was, and how aggressively nice all of the people there were. But it wasn’t just the locals who treated us well. Something about Fabletown seemed to bring out the best in folks, and the good vibes permeated every nook and cranny of those subways and skyways and buildings that bled and fed into each other from block to block. Every last person we dealt with was kind and helpful – especially our international team of convention organizers, including Bill Willingham, Stacy Sinner, Mike Sinner, Stephanie Cooke, Brad Thomte, and all of those awesome volunteers.

Chris covered the key events and joys of the weekend pretty wonderfully, but I thought I should share some of personal favorite photos from the weekend here, as well.

Here’s our favorite character from the weekend…P1000150 Continue reading

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About the Trailer at About.com

Behind the Illustrated Book Trailer: Once Upon a Time Machine

Editor Andrew Carl chatted with the fine folks at About.com about how the wonderful animated trailer for Once Upon a Time Machine came together, as part of their series of advice on how to market one’s book online.

The OUaTM trailer was also featured and discussed briefly in this more general About.com article, Tips to Producing An Effective Online Book Trailer.

Let’s enjoy that trailer again, shall we?

Animation, of course, by the fantastic Lance Erlick.

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Beyond the Tale: Marcus Muller

Artist Marcus Muller has been one of  Once Upon a Time Machine‘s most dedicated contributors – working alongside writer David Tanh and letterer Jason Arthur, Marcus drew and colored the single longest story in the book. Their take on “The Tortoise & the Hare,” is an anime-inspired, nonstop rush of kart race craziness, The Tea Garden Park Soapbox Grand Prix. Now let’s get started…

Q: Tell us a little about your life as an artist, and how you got to where you are today.

Since I was a kid I had always been pretty obsessed with cartoons and then eventually comic books.  Around first or second grade, working in one of those fields became my dream job – replacing becoming a Ghostbuster (still time for that, though, right?).  I’m still struggling to make a living from it; I had a few “almost there” moments where I did get some work for DC Comics Creative Services department, but the editor I was working with got canned like 3 months after I started there, so all my worked dried up because I didn’t know anyone else at DC. 😦  Ever since then I’ve been taking on odds and ends until something a bit more stable comes along, all while trying to finish some creator-owned projects.

I didn’t go to college for art, so I’ve picked everything up on my own and by picking other people’s brains (not literally, that would be gross…or tasty), like how I learned Photoshop from my more computer-savvy younger brother. If I had gone to college, I’d be really screwed with having to pay off student loans right about now.  So I’m thankful for that, heh.

Q: I see three sorts of comic work under your belt: work-for-hire, collaborative, and personal. How do you compare the three?

Work-for-hire is definitely the least fulfilling of the three.  But being stuck in a room working on my own comics 12 to 15 hours a day, I’ve really come to appreciate the collaborative process and having someone I can call up or e-mail and bother about a project.  I think it’s possible to produce better work that way by, having things suggested that you may not have thought up on your own otherwise; and if you come up with something that is complete crap, it’s good to have someone tell you this before it sees print or before you put anymore work into it.  It’s always good to have someone to bounce ideas off of as well.  However, with strictly personal work, I’m left to my own devices with no one to save my ass, and forced to take some risks I might not have taken if I was working with a collaborator.  They both have their positives and negatives to them I guess, and I enjoy them both equally. Continue reading

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Under the Hood: Cinderella -Pinup-

Weshoyot Alvitre did a beautiful job bringing a Cinderella into the space age for her pinup. In fact, she may just have  given us the prettiest snapshot of future fashion in the book.

Check out Cinderella’s progression from early pencils, to a touch of inks, to the final inked page.

One of our favorite colorists (and all-round favorite guys), Lance Erlick, colored Weshoyot’s pinup…but you’re going to have to wait for the book to see the magic he brought to the page!

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Beyond the Tale: Tara Alexander

From the mind of writer Tara Alexander sprang 1001, a just-north-of-modern-day take on “Arabian Nights.” Unparalleled artist Nelson Evergreen and letterer extraordinaire Jason Arthur joined her to create this new tale of tales. Let’s hear from the charming Mrs. Alexander…

Q: How did you arrive at this new incarnation of Scheherazade and her adventures in storytelling? 

I think what keeps fairy tales and fables so relevant is the reader’s ability to relate to and admire their heroes. Scheherazade is such a great character. When I was debating what story to choose to adapt, hers kept drawing me back. For me, bringing “One Thousand and One Nights” into a future setting was about focusing on her and the many positive qualities she possesses–selflessness, bravery, intelligence, and creativity. I wanted to keep the future world of 1001 just beyond the present and make Sherri very classic in appearance so that those admirable characteristics wouldn’t be trumped by over-the-top settings and scenarios.

Q: 1001 is your first work in comics. What inspired you to pursue this medium?

I never read comics when I was growing up, so I was way late to the party. My husband was actually the first one to get me interested in them by showing me how cool they could be. I’m so grateful for that! And, really, what’s better than combining words and images? I believe the potential in this medium is so great. When used at their fullest, I don’t think anyone can argue against the power that comics employ. Continue reading

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