In stores this week: Vampirella #1969, an anthology title celebrating Vampirella's long history.
I contributed a short piece, and it was painted by Brett Weldele—it's quite possibly my favorite piece of all the ones I've done on the title.
Written by: Nancy Collins, Eric Trautmann, Phil Hester, Mark Rahner, David Walker
Art by: Fritz Casas, Brett Weldele, Jethro Morales, Colton Worley, Aneke
Cover A: Robert Hack "Classic Dress"
Cover B: Jack Jadson
Vampirella first appeared on the scene in 1969 and quickly became a fixture of comics, horror and pop culture! Now, Dynamite Entertainment proudly presents a special, over-sized issue celebrating
those heady days with a who's who from their roister of all-star writers and artists! Just look at this line-up: Nancy Collins joined by artist Fritz Casas, Eric Trautmann joined by painter Brett
Weldele, Phil Hester joined by artist Jethro Morales, Mark Rahner joined by artist Colton Worley, and David Walker joined by artist Aneke! Each presents a special tale showcasing the best of the
former horror hostess from Drakulon!
Dynamite Entertainment | Color | 48 pgs. | Teen+ | $7.99US
In stores this week: Black Magick #1!
Black Magick is a crime/police procedural and occult mystery series, published by Image Comics and created by writer Greg Rucka and artist Nicola Scott.
BLACK MAGICK #01
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Nicola Scott (w Chiara Arena)
Lettering by: Jodi Wynne
Logo and Book Design: Eric Trautmann
Cover A by: Nicola Scott (w Eric Trautmann)
Cover B by: Jill Thompson
Magazine Edition Cover by: Rick Burchett
The hammer falls this Halloween! From New York Times bestselling and Eisner Award-winning writer GREG RUCKA (LAZARUS, Stumptown, Gotham Central) and superstar artist NICOLA SCOTT (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Earth 2)! Detective Rowan Black works robbery/homicide for the Portsmouth PD, but her greatest mystery is the truth about herself...both who she has been, and who she will become. Yet there are others in Rowan's world with very long memories, and the power that one person holds, another will always covet. PLUS, each issue also features an all-new work of original fiction by GREG RUCKA! A new gothic-noir ongoing series about legacy, destiny, redemption...and the price of magic.
Image Comics | Color | Mature Readers | $3.99 (regular & variant); $5.99 (magazine edition)
As with Lazarus (also by Greg Rucka), I'm the series' "designer," which seems like an atypical and somewhat uncommon role in comics (though more common at Image, thankfully).
My role is to take Nicola's cover art, for example, and add appropriate color and trade dress (which I also designed), and lay the cover out for production. I also tackle the design chores on anything that isn't a comic page—the credits, the creator bios, the letter column, and even typsetting some serialized fiction that will be running through the series as it progresses. It's a good gig.
I do a lot of that kind of work on Lazarus, too, but Black Magick is the first time I had a free hand to design the overall "look" of the book. With Lazarus, co-creator/artist Michael Lark had a strong design in mind already, and it was my task to implement it. He'd designed the logo, as well, so I more or less was batting cleanup on the first few issues, gradually tweaking the design work as the series went on.
I went through several preliminary design passes on the logo and trade dress before I even attempted submitting designs to the Black Magick team. For grins, I'm including them here.
The first attempt at the logo design is something I nicknamed the "blurted out" version. I was looking at old books on prestidigitation and sleight-of-hand, and the typeface I chose here was reminiscent of those. So, contextually wrong for the story, and it reads a little too "Magic: The Gathering," while simultaneously being stuffy and dull.
THE "ABRACADABRA" PHASE
Prelim 2 was an attempt to mine the noir, pulp-crime sensibilities of the story, so I tried an Art Deco typeface, and monkeyed around with it a bit. I like the look of it, but it still reads too much like a stage magician's poster.
Same problems as the prior versions: not quite right, in terms of tone, and the awkward perspective would likely be at odds with cover art, and other necessary trade dress, like the Image Comics logo (about which more later).
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT…
Black Magick artist Nicola Scott had sketched some preliminary ideas of her own (and you can see some of them in the bonus material in the Magazine edition of Black Magick No. 01, plug
plug hint hint) that included the use of runes as primary letter forms. Here, I attempted to blend an old 1930s poster typeface with hand-drawn "rune"-ish letters, to horrifying,
I was started to get really frustrated here.
Every design I do goes through this process. I call this "The Ugly, Desperate Phase."
I like this one a lot (and I ended up using a cleaner version of this typeface on some of the interior bits—specifically on an image of an old, tattered spellbook page), but up front on the cover, it reads too antique for a contemporary story.
Now we're getting somewhere. The older poster typeface from the "rune" design returns. The box/inverted type started to get me thinking about police forms and casebooks, and it occurred
to me that, since there's going to be supernatural stuff on the cover, the logo needed to cement the otherwordly aspects of the setting in a contemporary context.
At this point, I started looking at scans of old police manuals and crime/pulp covers, and without any further drafts, leapt immediately to the final design and structure of the covers.
THE BOFFO FINISH
I took a slightly more modern typeface—Alte Haas Grotesk Bold, which has a nice Helvetica feel to it, but with softer, slightly curved edges. It feels clean and modern, but has a touch of age to it, too.
The team seemed to like it, so that was a definite plus. Especially when it's in situin the trade dress...
Taking cues from old pulps, I decided the solid, bright color background would be featured on each of the regular covers with each issue using a different color than the prior release. Issue 1 is red, issue 2 is blue, issue 3 is purple, etc.
That color is also used in the interior design pages and back cover, too, tying everything together.
It was also important to me to incorporate the Image logo into the design; everything is on a sort of grid, with the Image logo, price and issue number forming a vertical line which acts to anchor the trade dress, and the logo and credits drawing the eye horizontally.
One of the challenges in designing the covers for Lazarus is finding the right spot for the Image logo, issue #, and so on. I wanted to really integrate that stuff into the trade dress, as it makes for a nice, consistent look without distracting from the cover art, and it simplifies the workflow when it comes time to actually get work done.
Silver Age comics legend Murphy Anderson passed away.
I've written before on some of the early influences that pulled me from comics reader into comics fanatic into comics creator and one of those influences was Anderson's work on the cover of an anthology of DC sci-fi comics, Mysteries In Space. Which is excellent.
He drew Buck Rogers in the late '40s.
He inked Curt Swan's Superman.
He co-created Zatanna.
He designed Adam Strange.
Thank you, Mr. Anderson, for inspiring kid-me.
Things have been crazy-busy behind the scenes at Fedora Monkey Studio of late. Several projects that have been incubating for a long while are finally up and running, and there's been some beneath-the-hood tinkering here, as well.
[Edit: I forgot to mention CODENAME: BITE, a project I referenced a couple updates ago, has been announced: VAMPIRELLA #1969, which includes a story I wrote, illustrated by the astonishingly talented Brett Weldele.]
So, first things first.:
NEW VECTOR ART
A while back, I set up a small digital storefront for selling vector art for personal/commercial use.
I'm happy to announce that I've added not one, not two, but three new sets to the inventory, and that necessitated an adjustment in the organization of this very website.
So, first off:
Fedora Monkey Art vector art sets FM003, FM004, and FM005 are now available. It's a three "volume" set, of "tech circles"--graduated circles suitable for use in HUDs and user interfaces, or as design elements in computer screens for print or web and so forth.
As is my custom, I've also set up a free sampler which contains a few vectors from each set, as well as five vectors not found in the "main" sets. F003: TECH CIRCLE SAMPLER can be found in the newly-minted Vector Art Store, in the Free Vector Art section.
And that brings me to the slight re-organziation here; the Downloads section has been scrapped, and the Vector Art Store has been added. The other art pieces, audio files and sample scripts are now broken out into their own sections.
Anyway: new cheap (and free) vectors! Go forth! Download! Tell your graphic designy friends!
Coming soon, Lazarus #20. The "Poison" story arc continues, and—as a sucker for good war comics—I've been enjoying watching the story unfold in my inbox week to week.
This is a good 'un.
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Michael Lark with Tyler boss
Colors by: Santi Arcas
Cover art by: Owen Freeman
Book design by: Eric Trautmann
In stores October 28, 2015
Image Comics | Mature Readers | $3.50US
BLACK MAGICK #1
I've also been hard at work finishing up my tasks for the upcoming Image Comics release, Black Magick.
It's a supernatural/occult/crime/police story, set in a fictional Pacific Northwest city. Written/co-created by Greg Rucka and illustrator Nicola Scott, it's a complete change of tone and pace from Lazarus.
I got to create not just the logo but the entire trade dress (incorporating the Image logo in way I haven't had an opportunity to yet, and the design elements are definitely much more "me." It's been a challenge (the deadline was, frankly, brutal) but we did it!
Plus, in addition to the regular sized comic (which features some cool additional material—a new letter column, the first installment of some serial prose which will continue with each issue, and some in-universe "artifacts," similar to stuff I've done for Lazarus—there's a variant cover edition (from Jill Thompson), and then there's the magazine.
The Magazine Edition is gloriously oversized, and clocks in at 64 pages, so it includes all of the aforementioned bonus material, plus a complete process chapter—from script to sketches to painting to final art—and a large character design sketchbook. An excerpt from a guide to the fictional city of Portsmouth, is included as well. It's a hell of a package for six bucks.
BLACK MAGICK #1
Created by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Nicola Scott (with Chiara Arena)
Cover A by: Nicola Scott (with Eric Trautmann)
Cover B by: Jill Thompson
Magazine Cover by: Rick Burchett
Regular and B cover: $3.99US
And finally, Rotten, the highly-acclaimed political-commentary-disguised-as-zombie-western, returns!
My friend, Mark Rahner, created and wrote/co-wrote the series (along with Robert Horton), and it ran for eleven issues through Moonstone. At some point, Mark reclaimed the rights to the book, and has re-released it, after a long absence, on ComiXology—a low-cost digital backlist of the 56+ page issue one, and two low-cost ($11.99) digital collections that comprise the entire series (plus some incidental/hard-to-find/rarities).
As part of the relaunch of Rotten, I redesigned his logo and trade dress, and did a general spiffing up of the book layout and design, which I previously mentioned as CODENAME: BRAND. Immodestly, I think it looks damn fine.
It's a terrific series. It's nasty, political, angry, passionate, and super-incisive, and well worth your time. Plus cowboys and zombies.
To find Rotten, visit ComiXology and choose pick your poison, pardner.
Created by Mark Rahner and Robert Horton
Written by: Mark Rahner and Robert Horton
Art by: Dan Dougherty
Logo and Digital trade design by: Eric Trautmann
So, yes, it has been a busy time.
In addition to all of the above, my wife's store has been busy hosting charity events and large gaming tournaments; hopefully things will be settling down for a little bit.
then it's the holidays all is doom pah-rum-pah-pah-pummmm.
I'm endeavoring to be a little more prolific here, so…UPDATES.
BLACK MAGICK issue 01 looks amazing. I can't wait until you guys see it. Nicola and Greg definitely bring their A-game to this one. And it even got written up in Entertainment Weekly!
CODENAME BITE final art just came in. The illustrator is the amazingly talented Brett Weldele (Surrogates, Pariah) and man do these pages look good. Hopefully, I'll be able to talk about it more soon.
Some new business: CODENAME GLYPH is an interesting design project that just wandered into my inbox, doing some graphic design work for a Super Sekret batch of books Dynamite is cooking up. It's minor work, but looks like it'll be fun and fast.
More new business: CODENAME GIBSON is some floor plans/schematics for a forthcoming magical cyberpunky roleplaying game supplement from Catalyst Game Labs. Something different, and it's odd to be dipping my toes back into dice-and-paper gaming work.
Even more new business, and then we're past the "TOP SECRET I CANNA TALK ABOUT IT" stuff: CODENAME BRAND. I've been quietly cleaning up a buddy's old comic (the original publisher did a terrible job with prepress on it), so he can relaunch it via ComiXology. This included a complete, ground-up revamp of the trade dress and layout, and I think it looks damn fine if I do say so myself.
Okay, so talking about the things I can't talk about: sorted.
Just got my comp copies of Lazarus #18, which means it is on final approach for stores next week.
The book has shifted tone a bit—it's still the same lovable grim meathook future dystopia, but now it's also a war comic. Michael Lark's style is so perfectly suited to this kind of story.
So, here's the details:
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Michael Lark with Tyler Boss
Colors by: Santi Arcas
Letters by: Jodi Wynne
Layout and book design: Eric Trautmann
Cover by: Owen Freeman
“POISON,” Part Two.
Hock forces have engaged Carlyle troops on the shores of Lake Superior, and to turn them back Forever must take her place on the front...where the enemy is waiting for her.
IMAGE COMICS | Color | 32pgs. | Mature Readers | $3.50US