SPACE WARP: STATE OF PLAY
Thought I should give everyone a quick update of where we’re at on Space Warp. I’m working on the final draft of Hellbreaker this week, then all six stories will be ready for artists!
Two are currently assigned to artists – Xecutioners by Gareth Sleightholme (thanks to Tony Esmond for suggesting Gareth). And Jurassic Man by Simon Hodgkiss-Rogers (thanks to Chris McCauley for suggesting Simon).
So I’ve four stories still looking for an artist!
Many thanks for all the many submissions (which I really appreciate) and your enthusiasm and good wishes for the project. Some artists are getting close but no one’s there yet. So there’s still plenty of time to try out for them.
Most artists are going for SF1 – definitely the most difficult story but with the strongest element of fantasy. Several are trying for Slayer. And so far I’ve had one submission on Futant (previously Agent Impossible), which was interesting. The character was fine, the storytelling was first rate, but it didn’t have the x-factor I was looking for.
On submissions, there are some styles to avoid which I’ve mentioned before, but it bears repeating.
European ‘quiet’ styles
Traditional British comic pre-2000AD styles
Strongly outlined art, which can seem cartoon-like or stiff
Rushed or quick styles
Always go for a focal point on the page
There’s been a surprising number of submissions of what used to be called by D.C. Thomsons the ‘Front Seat of the Stalls’ style. For example, middle distance, safe layouts, good storytelling. Sure, it’s clear and it does the job.
Trouble is, it’s not very exciting and it’s definitely NOT for Space Warp.
What I’m looking for is early 2000AD style, which was dynamic and ‘in your face’: Mike McMahon on Dredd and ABC Warriors, Brian Bolland, Carlos Ezquerra, Dave Gibbons and Kevin O’Neill.
All of them have strong inking styles, over the top, larger than life ‘in your face’ characters, humour and they all have the OMG, WTF, ‘wow’ factor. They all went at least ‘one step beyond’ what was expected of them and their stories were drawn with PASSION.
And – invariably – the characters make EYE CONTACT with the readers and draw them into the drama (so important).
That PASSION can be achieved again and below are a few examples from Space Warp to prove it.
Firstly, Simon Hodgkiss-Rogers was so passionate about Slayer that he did three images for it just for fun! Even though he’s actually assigned to Jurassic Man (he’s currently on the fourth page of the dinosaur story). Don’t worry – Slayer is still available; I shall find a way to use his great images elsewhere, probably in a prologue page.
But they show his inking style and strong designs for the crusaders which are very different yet equally powerful to other artists’ work in the same genre. Warhammer, for instance.
Slayer concept art. Art copyright Simon Hodgkiss-Rogers
Secondly, dark comedy. Uniquely, Jurassic Man is set in 1977 and you’ll see some humorous 1977 touches in this scene as well as Simon’s ability to make little dinosaurs look cute and evil at the same time.
Jurassic Man concept art. Art copyright Simon Hodgkiss-Rogers
All the ideas and creatures in this picture he came up with himself. Ditto the hero’s crossbow I showed in an earlier post. Because Simon was into crossbows as a sport and a hobby (as well as wanting to be a palaeontologist as a kid). So I always encourage artists to bring their own unique talents and life experience into their art.
On a subconscious level the reader will sense that the artist really knows what he’s doing, that he cares about the story and that it’s not ‘just a job’ for the money.
That is such a killer in comics and why they’ve been in trouble since the ’90s.
Dull comics are all too often the end result when publishers buy all rights and pay pathetic royalties or none at all. Whether they admit it to themselves or not, so many artists – understandably – stop caring about their work and just knock it out for the money to pay the mortgage, hoping for something better to come along.
Thirdly, there’s Gareth’s work on Xecutioners. You’ll see from an earlier post (Space Warp Video Diaries 2) my excited reaction to his impressive and very professional designs for the characters. Combined with his equally impressive website (well worth a look) he looks like a natural for that story.
Xecutioners concept art. Art copyright Gareth Sleightholme
I hope these thoughts and examples help, and thanks again to everyone who has submitted so far and others who are pondering about doing so. Go for it!
Right – I’d better get back to Hellbreaker! For some reason, it’s taking a week or so longer than the other stories. Probably because it’s very high concept and working out the various characters and visualising Hell took some time! And because it’s particularly important to get high concept stories right. Not to rush them.
Same goes for the art – I know it’s hard, but please don’t rush your submission! And please do find your personal PASSION for the story. If the passion’s not there, it’ll show in your art. You honestly can’t fake it.
More info in my earlier posts on the stories, how to submit, FAQs, etc, can be found on the Space Warp hub page.
Look forward to seeing what you come up with!