Cartoon and Illustration

Switching Horses in Mid-Stream

So the past couple of days have been “transitional”.  That is, I had to switch from one client to another–still drawing comics (or sequential art, or graphic novels–whatever you want to call it), but changing from one story to another.

The reasons for this are complicated in one sense and simple in another.

The second client was in a hurry and was willing to pay more, so the first client was kind enough to allow me to take a hiatus on their project and let me move on the second.

Of course I realize this is all sounding very “legal”–that is I might as well be describing them as “The Party of the First Part”, and the “Party of the Second Part.”

The particulars of my working relationship with each of them causes some of the confusion.  The first client wants me to keep a lid on what I’m doing for him until it’s complete.  The second client, Vernon Johnson (a.k.a. Nick Vernon) from Resilient Comics wants me to shout things from the rooftops.

So, “YAAHHHH!”  (That should satisfy Vernon).

My mind, however, is taking a while to adjust.

What this meant in practical terms is that two weekends ago I was penciling the last 6 pages of the first chapter of the book (the one I have to keep quiet about) at Marble City Comic Con.  I was keeping the pages hidden from the view of the crowd in that they were behind the table out of clear view of anyone there–and unlike some convention centers the Knoxville CC didn’t have a bunch of catwalks or glass galleries that someone could look down on me from–say with a high powered camera lens.

Not that I think that anyone is that interested in the comic book pages I’m drawing, but I’d have been more cautious if the situation had warranted. 

Anyway, came home to the studio scanned all the pages, then got notes from the client and made changes to the pages as needed.

Meantime I was working on some character designs for Vernon for his book, “Mob of Zion”–which he described to me as “X-Men meets Dick Tracy”.  A pretty good summation of the idea and I’m trying to roll with that.

I also had to do thumbnail sketches of all 24 pages of this first issue–as well as an illustration for a Domino Lady book I’m working on (4 illustrations down, 8 to go), and a book cover for a publisher in England.  Believe me, it sounds more glamorous than it is.  Mostly it’s just pushing a pencil or pixels around.  I get excited about it, but if you were sitting here watching me do it you’d be BOOORRREEDD.

Unless you were another artist.  Then you’d probably get inspired and go over in a corner and do your own drawings.  That’s how we artist are.  We watch what one another do then go do our own thing after a while.  It’s like conversing, only quieter.

Anyway, the trick is I’ve had to wrap my mind around changing from one project to another. (With a few bumps in between).  Since both projects are set in settings that look historical I’ve had to do a lot of research on each of these.  If either book had been similar to the other in setting I would have had to turn the second one down (this actually did happen about the time I signed on to the first book someone came to me with a similar setting and I had to take a pass).  Fortunately for the clients the books are distinct periods of time.  Fortunately for me they both pay money.  UN-fortunately for me, my brain can only handle so much research at a given time.

Anyway, Mob of Zion is set in a world very much like the late 1920s early 1930s.  So there’s flappers, gangsters, etc.  But there’s also a lot of meta-human stuff going on.  Which is all very exciting.  I get to draw all sorts of goofy stuff.  Funky art deco cityscapes, railroads, mutant hillbillies…what’s not to love?

But as I’m just penciling page one panel one today and need to get the whole job turned around in about two months (so that I can get back to client number one) I’d better not post any of it yet.  Just trying to create some buzz.

So remember that title, “Mob of Zion”.  I did do a preliminary piece 5 years ago, I guess I can post that.

Mob of Zion (Saint Mafia and all related images) copyright © Vernon Johnson.Image.


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