Saturday, September 22, 2007

Remainders of the Day

It's painful and even a bit humiliating but it's finally happened: I've been remaindered. Specifically the three trade paperback collections of my Dr. Radium comic book work are being offered by the publisher at a "Buy One (at a discount!), Get Two Free" deal. My shame is your boon as that's some 350 pages of fair-to-middlin' comic book entertainment for under 9 bucks. Ignoring this generous offer will only hurt me more so order your copies today.

SHOPPER'S TIP: Scroll down the column on the right to "My Graphic Novels" list. The links will take you to each book's page where you can use the "search inside" feature.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Welcome, Foolish Mortals Pt.3

[The first two parts of this series can be found here and here.]

When Disney decided to publish the mass audience trade paperback collection of material from the first six issues of SLG's Haunted Mansion comic book Dan (Vado, Head Monkey at SLG) saw an opportunity to go the opposite route and produce a more targeted high-end hardcover collection. What Dan wanted me to do was create a book that looked like something you'd find in the manse itself. The only real directive (if you could even call it that) that I recall was he wanted me to use gold embossing on the book cover.

No problem. I then spent a good deal of time doing research to get myself into a Haunted Mansion frame of mind. It had been a few years since I've visited the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland (you may call it Disneyland Resort if you like, I will not) but the Internet Tubes can be a friend to all who seek knowledge. There are a number of terrific websites by Mansion fans and googling "Disney Haunted Mansion" will call them up quick enough. My wife and I also have a heaping handful of Victorian and turn-of-the-century publications and ephemera that I poured over as well.

In my research I noticed that Disney artists mixed Victorian and modern sensibilities in their Mansion work. I decided to go that route since it suited my general approach to design anyway. I also wanted to include as many elements from the mansion itself as I could (I was immeasurably aided in this by the Haunted Mansion blueprints freely available online).

This is my first attempt at the design for the book's gold embossing:

Scary, right? As in, "that is so awful it's scary." I just so didn't nail this one on the first try (those are supposed to be spider-webs in the corners, by the way -- apparently I've never seen real ones before). Long time Mansion fans may recognize the art surrounding the titles -- it's pulled from the design of the wallpaper in the "corridor of doors." Here I've used dingbats from the Ravenscroft font but ultimately would replace the art with my own version based on photos found on the Interweb.

In total I tried about 8-10 different looks including the three below (it occurred to me that a book in the Haunted Mansion wouldn't be titled The Haunted Mansion so I removed that part of the design early on and just left the subtitle) :

The bat in the design above was based on the weather vane found at the Walt Disney World mansion and the flags in the design just above that were inspired by the draping under the coffin (you know, the one with the bony hand trying to get out) found in the ride at Disneyland. Unfortunately, none of these designs were working.

Then it hit me, the best way to link the book to the mansion was to link it to the "owners" (in the ride's storyline) of the mansion, the Gracey family. What I needed was a family crest.

Next: "What's that supposed to be?" Also: Fun with Latin!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Links For You!

Oh, the Humanity! An incredible, beautiful poster by the talented Mr. Turner.

Marvelous! Merveilleux! One of my all-time favorite cartoonists, Bernie Mireault, has a new website. (via The Comics Reporter)

Eh! My Comic Book Heaven blog makes a temporary return.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Welcome, Foolish Mortals Pt. 2

[The first part of this series can be found here.]

The cover to the first issue of SLG's Haunted Mansion comic book series (see image above) was created by Roman Dirge of Lenore fame. I "contributed" to the cover by adding the "Series Inspired by..." tagline and SLG logo and pricing info (I don't know why I didn't line up the top of the logo with the top of the tagline -- that was a mistake).

I think from the beginning SLG intended to publish a collection of the comic series as soon as enough material was created. In preparation, Dan (Vado, publisher of SLG) wanted me to create a finished cover design to show the folks at Disney who needed to sign off on our proposed softcover trade paperback collection. As much as we both liked Roman's cover to the first issue it seemed to be a cheat to simply reuse it for the reprint collection. We wanted to show Disney we had a bit more imagination than that. Using existing art, Dan sent me a couple of concept "sketches" one of which can be seen on the left side of image below:

Dan and I don't often work this way -- usually we fling emails back and forth or go over the ideas over the phone (or in person if I happen to be in the office). My first attempt (above image, right) featured a rather nice unpublished drawing of the hatbox ghost by D.W. Frydendall. I added spooky ghost heads and an image of the mansion based on an official photo heavily tweaked in Photoshop. This one didn't really work for me (I don't recall a specific reason -- simply a gut reaction I guess). The next cover attempt (below, left) almost nailed it but Dan wanted the mansion on the cover and I obliged (below, right).

By the way, I'd show any sketches I produced while trying to come up with the cover design but this time I did it all in my head (I don't recommend this as a technique, it's just how I sometimes work -- in me brainpan).

Anyway, I kept fooling around with the various elements to see if I could come up with something that we would like even better. I must have had about 10 different interations (including the two seen below) but nothing else clicked.

We had our trade paperback collection design.

Next: We Don't Get to Do the Trade Paperback Collection!