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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vicious Circle Therapy Group

My Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies short story comes out this Wednesday, and my editor, Michel Fiffe, suggested that I do a post to explain the process I used this time around.

Savage Dragon came on to the comics scene about the same time that my family moved neighborhoods, causing me to lose my paper route, and thus, my comics buying income.  So when Fiffe asked me if I'd like to do a short story, my knowledge was severely limited to a couple of the Cartoon Express Savage Dragon shows I'd watched back in the 90s.  Under the guise of "research", I went out and got some trade paperbacks and started reading. (I love my job!)

One of the great things about Savage Dragon is that its creator, Erik Larsen, has been writing and drawing it from the very beginning.  What jumped out at me right away was that Larsen would introduce a fantastic character with a complete personae, only to kill him off two pages later.  It seemed that every couple of pages, someone would come bursting through a wall and the tale would take another turn.  I decided to slow things down a bit and explore some of these villains -- I wanted to show them tearing down metaphorical walls... in a therapy group.

I mean, how can you see characters like Brainiape and NOT want to draw them or put words in their mouths? He's a gorilla with the brain of Hitler!

Since the project started with a pitch, I wrote out a full script detailing layout, dialogue, and character descriptions.

Page 1

Panel 1 - Top 3rd across the whole page
We join members of the Vicious Circle as they meet in the local church rectory for their weekly therapy group.  The taped sign on the door reads "Vicious Circle Therapy Group" and through the door, we see the villains sit in a circle on folding chairs holding small styrofoam coffee cups and eating stale donuts.  Nancy, the recent psychology graduate, leads the group in discussing the trials and tribulations of being a villain. Brainiape is sharing...

…And then the guy called me a "stupid gorilla" and I didn't even respond… I mean, do you know how many times I've heard that? 

Panel 2 - Middle 3rd, left
We see a close up of Brainiape's gesturing hands as he continues.

There was a time I'd have a good comeback and then smash the guy's face in, but now?… nothing.
Accompanying the script was this drawing of a pontificating Brainiape.

I drew the pencils at 10" x 15" so that I could letter by hand directly on the artwork.

However, this size was still too small to do a dry brush ink style, so I took each panel and blew it up to twice the size and printed it out.  Using a lightbox, I approached each panel as a separate ink drawing which felt like producing 22 separate works of art -- a very satisfying feeling!

I then scanned in the inks, shrunk them down, and added the inked lettering and borders.  The last step was to add color.  I experimented with watercolor, but the dry brush ink style made it all look too busy, so I just did a few soft tones on the computer.

Skullface eating a donut.  Am I the only one who thinks Skullface looks like Dave Mustaine?
Savage Dragon #165 published by Image Comics will be out this Wednesday, October 27 so head to your local comic book store and pick it up.  Look out for this cover:

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