I haven’t looked back to acknowledge a source for the inspiration that lead to Trekker for a while. I realized that while I dropped Alex Raymond’s name when I talked about Flash Gordon in an erlier post, I really passed over him in favor of Al Williamson, who was my personal entryway into the character. Al did some stellar, signature work on Flash, no question. But he had been inspired by Raymond, who created the strip back in the ’30′s and in doing so helped give birth to the whole adventure strip phenomena and turned artists like himself, Al Capp, Milton Caniff and Hal Foster into cartoonist superstars– virtually household names. Raymond achieved this by creating characters, situations and worlds that were iconic and yet also vivid and immediate to the reader. Some of that was taken care of by his breathtaking figure drawing and inking techniques, his over-all peerless draughtsmanship, and his eye for the dramatic image. But nice visuals will only take you so far if your task is to tell a story. For a reader to embrace a series and stick with it through a long, twisting tale, you need a world that lives, and characters that feel true. And for his time and era, Alex Raymond created those as well as any of his peers.Trekker is my shot at doing the same, in my own way and given the times I swim in as a comics creator. A lot has changed in the culture since the pre-WWII days of Flash Gordon. But while the trappings might have undergone some minor updates, the impulse to create a solid story that entertains with each twist and engages the reader through strong characters that they connect with remains the formula that I believe in and strive for on each page.
Posts Tagged ‘ron randall’
I’ve just completed these 3 pages of inks, and I’m taking the unusual step of posting them all here early because working on them brought something clearly to mind that I wanted to share directly with you– the kind people who have found and decided to follow the adventures of Mercy.
I did most of this inking over the last couple of days, when I had the chance to focus on Trekker more than I have for some time. It felt great. I’d like MORE times like these. Because those chunks of time when I don’t have to keep stealing time away from other, paying jobs allow me get the work done both the best and the quickest.
Some of you may not know that no one is paying me to produce Trekker. You may not know how much time I put into writing and drawing the stories with all the craft and passion I can muster on each page. And you may not know that in addition to producing the stories, the task of promoting them and getting the word out about them falls on my shoulders alone. Frankly, it’s a full-time job and then some.
And, since no one is paying me to do any of that, what makes those chunks of time possible is support directly from the readers of the series. Those links just to the right of this week’s page lead to various ways you can contribute to Mercy’s cause, whether that’s through Patreon, or by buying the books, or with a direct, one-time donation. If you have the wherewithal, I hope you’ll check them out. Either way, enjoy this glimpse of an upcoming sequence, and thanks for following Mercy’s continuing stories. I’m still having the time of my life producing them, and the best remains yet to come!
Excited for NEXT WEEKEND, March 27-29 when ECCC takes over downtown Seattle! I will be there as always. My table will be part of the large Periscope Studio Island of tables, Booth 1214. On hand will be various Trekker goodies, original art, commissions upon request, and also the snazzy new Ron Randall Sketchbook, making its convention premiere!
I hope many of you can make the trip! Other convention appearances later in the year will include the Baltimore Comic-Con and Rose City Comic-Con. More about those and other appearances as the dates get closer.
Meanwhile, here’s the floor map for ECCC, with the vital Periscope Studio location appropriately highlighted:
Following last week’s long post where I did an overview of the creation of the current Jekka story, here is a four-step sequence of the stages this week’s page went through, accompanied by some more detailed thoughts on some of the work behind making this specific page. For me, 90% of my primary job as an artist is the Storyteller, and that work happens at the thumbnail stage, which is barely more that scribbles of circles and gestures to block in the elements of each panel. But behind the scribbles is all the thinking and planning: the act of selection which makes a story work visually and dramatically, or not work. Choosing the shot– the angle of the “camera”, the distance from the subject, the specific elements shown in each shot and their relationship to one another. The choices are all dictated by a combination of my instinct for what will make a particular moment clear and compelling (the two essential considerations as a visual storyteller) along with what makes sense within the context of the panels surrounding each other, the page, and the over-all story. A couple of the panels on this page are simple illustrations of this process.
The thumbnail for panel one above shows Mercy’s full head with a suggestion of neck and shoulder. I tilted the angel of the figure and came up with a fairly solid composition that looked good to my eye and kept the story moving along. But, the previous page ends on a tight, cropped shot of Jekka, and to pull back here, in the middle of an intense exchange between the two characters, would feel like a release of dramatic pressure, just at the time when it should be dialed to a climax. So, in the pencils, I pulled in closer to Mercy’s face and kept the focus on her emotion. Also, I knew that following this beat, I would be pulling back to longer shots of the two characters and continuing to include details of the room in the background both for visual interest and to create for the reader a believable environment for the story to unfold within. So, a dramatic close-up in panel one also suggested itself for variety of scale on the page.
I also made the choice to change panel three from a two-shot of the characters to an exterior shot of the ship. Within the context of the dialog, this made sense, as Mercy is here saying to Jekka that she wouldn’t survive the trip without Mercy’s protection. And pulling back to a shot of the cold, impersonal “world outside” seems to reinforce the point. Also, I had not yet shown the ship underway, having stayed with the characters making their way to their rooms as the ship left the station. So I wanted to establish that here without getting in the way of the dramatic exchange between the characters. I knew I would show the ship again in space in the last panel of the page, but that shot is intended to convey a certain tone as counterpoint to Mercy’s decision. And I didn’t want to distract from that by having the panel also serve as the first image of the ship under way.
Lots of these small, critical choices are made on each page. (The downshot in panel two, which both clearly shows Mercy’s gesture of pointing to the door and also, being drawn from a somewhat detached, over-head angle, serves to touch that tone of the implacable, impersonal forces that wait for our heroes beyond that door. Or shooting panel four from behind Mercy’s muscular arm and shoulder-holstered pistol, framing the vulnerable and over-matched young girl so that Jekka’s eventual resolve in standing up to the pressure of Mercy’s interrogation feels like a real act of courage.) Choices which, I hope all work to serve the story well.
It’s a puzzle-solving process, over and over again. One I find completely engaging and rewarding when I strike upon a solution that really works. That’s what keeps me coming back to the board with enthusiasm to do the best I can in chronicling Mercy’s journey.