Draconian Process №3

In my last installment I discussed the power of the “money shot” and paying homage to the widescreen approach to sequential storytelling. Well nothing should be defined in terms of absolutes. No sooner than establishing a widescreen approach on page two, I discard it for a vertical page layout on page three.

The “money shot” as it were, is a detailed establishing shot of the futuristic cityscape of New Shanghai. I felt utilizing a large vertical panel would help with the expanse of the city and give it the gravitas it needed. The New Draconians is very much a love letter to so many genres, so many creators. My husband once asked me about my distinctive style when it comes to drawing futuristic architecture. My influences are many, but one particular creator stands out. Katsuhiro Otomo, the genius behind AKIRA.

My good friend and fellow artist Martin King introduced me to AKIRA years before Marvel Comics would eventually translate it. The books were a revelation, especially the backgrounds and the architecture in specific. One look at AKIRA and I was HOOKED. There is a secondary influence that should also be mentioned. Arguably the greatest overall visual stylist shaping the look of the Legion of Super-Heroes was Keith Giffen. He himself is an acolyte to the king, which pretty much cements the fact that all roads lead to the late great Jack Kirby. But I digress, with both Otomo and Giffen leading the way, I had my creative foundation. The influence is ever present to this day.

With the first panel so visually dense, I felt it wise to simplify and let the remainder panels breathe. Here we’re introduced to child prodigy Jeremiah Stone and his adopted father Mr. Xiang Xiao. Visually for both characters I’m straddling the line between American comics and Japanese manga and anime. I’m a stylist first and foremost. I’m less affected by artistic “realism” and more concerned with establishing a pleasing aesthetic that tells the story. The trick is to continually reinforce and refine the creative aesthetic and immerse the reader into your world.

So in short, the drapery of that suit ain’t wrong… I MEANT to do that.

Overall, at it’s core I think this a perfunctory page. It moves the story easy enough. However beyond that, it’s the color that brings it to life. I’m going to come clean, computer-coloring pages is a relative new endeavor and it’s been an arduous process. I spent three days on that establishing cityscape panel alone. It was well worth it. Utilizing a color hold and manipulating several layers to give depth to the tallest buildings in the background makes the panel pop. I wasn’t consciously channeling a TRON palette but in the end that’s what came through. With the heavy lifting completed the establishing shot served as a color anchor of sorts for the remaining panels. Personally, colorists who employ a palette consistency throughout the page really get my attention. I do my best to replicate this discipline whenever possible.

In closing, I’d like to delve even deeper about the color process. From the onset I referred to Laura Martin, Dave Stewart, and Marte Garcia as my color heroes. However by page three my own personal bright style is starting to come through. Apparently refining a creative aesthetic extends to color as well. A color language if you will is still defining itself and I’m enjoying the path.

You can actually read and see how the story is progressing, by visiting the official NEW DRACONIANS Tumblr website

http://newdraconians.tumblr.com/

And if you can, please support my efforts on Patreon, I’d greatly appreciate it!

Writer, Illustrator, graphic designer. AKA AlphaCMT.

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