Wednesday, April 25, 2012
TEUTON Vol.2, pages 58-59
Pages 58 & 59
Blood and fire fill the cold Lithuanian air as the Komtur's undead forces rush the fractured French soldiers! Does this outnumbered band of knights stand a chance?
Meanwhile, not content with watching the mayhem from afar, Ziburnis decides to enter the melee incognito by taking the garb from an unsuspecting undead warrior. What is this assassin's angle?
These last few pages were some of the most fun and challenging I've yet drawn for TEUTON. Pages 58 & 59 in particular have been my Everest for the last week.
Fred wanted this segment to raise the bar for our story. One of his strengths as a writer on this book is his knowledge of medieval warfare. He carefully laid out for me what was to unfold, and while listening to him it was clear how cinematic it was in his mind. In Fred's imagination, TEUTON is the greatest swords and sorcery B-Movie ever made, and would star Karl Urban as Andrus. He even drew me maps of the bridge and the troops and wagon train to show me how the action would take place. I'm sorry I can't find it otherwise I'd post it.
Feeling the importance of this story beat, I saw it as a worthwhile challenge to up my own ante as an artist. So far in Volume 2 there's been much action and violence with Trolls and Gods, but neither of those had the scale of open war. So what you see below is a collage of roughs, thumbs, sketches, and scrapped drafts.
With almost every page in this segment I added more panels. Fred intentionally wrote fewer panels for me to be able to jam more details and action into each frame. What I found after reading the scripts and drawing my thumbs was that would require me to draw super elaborate details wideshots while trying to establish new characters. Take page 52 for example, where we establish a new setting and introduce the Komtur into the book. I was worried that not giving him a close up would be jarring when readers reach that page, so I opted for smaller panels garnishing the main establishing shots.
Another interesting challenge was researching what tools and practices back then to do things like dig a trench or make catapults from logs. I've never done any of those things before and had no frame of reference for them. So when Fred's script simply says Skeleton warriors are digging and fortifying trenches as others assemble siege weapons, I knew it was time to do some homework.
Page 54 was my next hurtle. After showing my thumbs to Fred, we discussed over the phone the idea of a blizzard suddenly moving in. The rationale being a blizzard would provide convenient cover for the Komtur's forces, as well as disorient the French wagon train when attacked. However, when I was midway into the page I felt I wasn't properly rendering the scene with my inks. The wispy, wavy lines and oblong snowflakes were a bitch to do and ultimately looked messy. I re-drafted that page several times inking it this way and that. Finally I gave all the figures heavy black and splattered the whole damned thing with white acrylic paint.
Finally, the double-page spread you see above was actually scripted as two separate pages. Below are my thumbs for both.
One thing Fred insisted was the whole thing needs to feel big. He wanted the armies to feel large and full. Rightly so. When I first flitted through the pages of the last trade, I couldn't help but see things I drew that needed beefing up. Even now I look at the Troll battle and feel a nagging itch to draw and replace things here and there. Those feelings in mind, I didn't want reflect on these particular pages later on and feel I skimped. With that I examined my thumbs for 58 & 59 and immediately said to myself, "no boxes." In our very first issue, virtually every page contained vertical boxes. While that was completely intentional, I've grown to regret my decision to do that, and I don't want to fall into that lazy trap again.
This was by far the most rewarding page to work on, although it took me longer than either Fred or myself would have liked. There are much grander battles coming, so I had to start building muscle here.