To help me along, I hit upon the idea of re-purposing pages and layouts from the narrative comics that I love, and it's an approach that's worked pretty well so far. To this date, I've stolen layouts from Kevin O'Neill's 'The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen', Sean Phillips and Duncan Fegredo's work in 'New Statesmen', Will Simpson's 'Tyranny Rex', Chris Weston in 'Indigo Prime: Killing Time' and Sean Phillips again with two pages from 'Still Life' (those paying attention, and in the right know, will notice that a lot of those comics were written by John Smith for 2000AD, and that's not really surprising knowing my tastes, although it actually wasn't intentional).
The amount actually 'stolen' from each of those artists is debatable, I guess. Mostly it's just layouts. I doubt that unless I pointed it out every now and again anybody would be any the wiser. But it's interesting, and I felt like sharing. In particular, I wanted to show off a particular page, for a few reasons:
1. It's an accidental collaboration with my 4yr old son. I love making stuff with him - he's not got any kind of patience for completing an image, but he does have the best ideas. For instance who else would suggest a Fiat 500, Lego Mr Freeze and C3-PO as decorations for the birthday card of an 82yr old granny?
2. I wanted to draw some attention to the comic it's worked from. I wasn't really aware of 'Still Life' by John Smith and Sean Phillips -- it was in the Revolver Romance Special in 1990, when I was 10, so it passed me by when it first came out) (Revolver being a short-lived 'mature' offshoot from 2000AD). I only found out about it from Tom Whiteley's superior blog "Suggested For Mature Readers" where he wrote a perfect review of it, and also made it available for download. It ruined me when I first read it, and continues to haunt me now, months later.
3. I wanted to show off a bit of process again, for my own gratification. And I also wanted to maybe highlight this particular page, because I think what's great about it might get lost with only casual observation.
So, here's the page I bit from, by Sean Phillips:
It's an intensely, and genuinely, intimate page, which is so rare in any media, let alone comics. So I felt that if I was stealing and re-purposing pages, this is one I had to use. I started by sketching out the rough shapes, getting the perspective approximately right, giving the right feeling of weight. And then... well, then I got scared. It felt like too much to take on, and I left it to one side while I worked on other stuff.
And then Bill came along while I was drawing, and wanted to help. I balked at him 'helping' on any pages I'd already started inking, so let him at my pencils of this, and he attacked the page, ruining one of my pens and leaving this behind: (this scan was taken after I'd already started working back on it - you can see where I started by working into the edges of the bath):
And then I liked it enough that I started working further and further into it, until finally I had this:
Which I then did this to, getting the final image:
And...yeah, that's it. But hopefully it's clear now (why I feel it needs to be clear, I don't know) why I'm working in the way I am. The latest page I've started is based on one of the classic Ditko Spider-Man pages, although whether anyone will know by the time I'm done with it... well, I guess that'll be up to whether they've read this, I suppose.