Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Watch Kelly Williams bring Viola Proctor to Life

For a year and half, we have been searching for an artist to help bring our characters to life. The biggest problem was when we did see our characters come to life, they didn't look the way we pictured them in our minds. Thankfully, we met Kelly Williams on Twitter.  Let us tell you, this man is a blessing. 

As we mentioned, we want the fanboys to see and participate in the creation of "Shepherd". This post focuses on Kelly's creation of Viola Proctor. 

If you love Kelly's art, check out his website.

In our email, we described to Kelly our idea for the Viola promo: This promo will feature Viola Proctor. She is standing in the middle of the page, split right down the middle between two very different scenes. On the left half, Viola is standing on the football field in her cheerleader outfit. She is happy, enjoying the life of a 17 year old. Behind her the other cheerleaders are posed in mid-cheer. The bleachers are in view behind them, empty. The right side is entirely different. She is in a padded cell. Her hair is black and scraggly and her face is ghostly white. She is in a straitjacket as she stares directly forward, looking maniacal.

Review: HAPPY #1

HAPPY #1: Written by Grant Morrison, Art by Darick Robertson

Published by Image Comics.
On Sale: September 26th
Price: $2.99

Every Christmas, you and your family unwrap presents, drink eggnog, and sit comfortably on the couch and enjoy A Christmas Story. Let me inform you now, Happy #1 does not read as a warm Christmas story. Instead, Grant Morrison tells us a story that usually winds up on your local newspaper’s front cover. Happy is Grant Morrison’s newest and most twisted creative owned book.

In most comic books, there is a mix of characters: the good and the evil. In Happy #1, that certainly isn’t the case. Besides Happy, every character is either corrupt, evil, or simply a dirt bag. The main character is Nick Sax. All we know is that he was once the best cop in his department, and now he is a drugged out dirt bag and a pretty decent hit-man.

After Nick kills four scumbags, has a heartache, gets arrested, wakes up in the hospital, he meets his new partner (Happy, the blue horse). By the way, Happy mentions that he is Haley’s imaginary friend and they need to save her. By the end of the issue, Nick Sax is cornered in his hospital room while a group of people dressed up as doctors go after him and plan to torture him because he holds a secret that killed everyone else that knew it.

Every time I read a Grant Morrison book, I am either impressed or bored. I am always impressed by Batman Incorporated and I am often bored by Final Crisis. With this book, I was intrigued. I like the premise, and Roberston’s art gets two thumbs up. As we are all aware, comic books do not tend to be realistic. Besides Morrison’s creation of Happy, this story is pretty realistic: everyone’s seen their very own drunken Santa Claus, there is always a creepy pervert fucking a prostitute, and once in a while, there is a good cop gone bad story.

My only problem is that this issue was too fast of a read. A bunch of people were shot and then the rest of the issue takes place in the hospital. Morrison did do a great job introducing Nick Sax, Happy, and the rest of the supporting cast. However, this issue was full of gun shots, death, and a long hospital scene. Even though this issue was successful in making me want to buy the next one, issue 2 needs more story and less “bang bang”.

Nerdi Rating: 8.5/10

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Winner is.... Greg Kimmett!

In case you forgot, Greg Kimmett won the second ever Artist Deathmatch! Although Greg won the contest back in July, we're finally posting this insight into Greg two months later. Congratulations again Greg and thanks for being so patient! (Greg is the gentleman on the right).

Who is Greg Kimmett?

Toughest question and actually the last one I answered on your list - even though it’s the first. I’m a guy who has been doing something creative from day one, whether it’s my comic book art or being born in the back seat of a moving car (true story – almost didn’t make it into this world, came close to being shot out of my dad’s speeding station wagon en route to the hospital as he careened through a busy intersection) I was the last of five kids so by that point Mom was spittin’ em out like a Pez dispenser. Anyway, I digress. I can remember writing and illustrating a couple of what I called comic books for show and tell in Kindergarten. One was about this kingdom fighting a dragon onslaught and the other one was about a little kid who lost his hearing when a snow flake fell in his ear. Okay, so I wasn’t too bright, snowflakes melt but hey, I was five – cut me some slack. Many years have passed and dozens upon dozens of creative projects have come and gone and now I currently pay the bills designing packaging in the retail food industry, all the while plugging away at my art with the intention of landing enough gigs so that I might do that for a living. Sort of like a waiter moonlighting as an actor. My wife and son keep me well grounded and provide a bottomless well of inspiration, love, support and encouragement, that without - I could not even function.

Which artists have inspired you?

Wow, where to begin?
Jack Kirby, Walt Simenson, Frank Frazetta, Todd McFarlene, Alex Ross, John Romita (Sr. and Jr.), Steve “Sash” Scott, Greg Cappullo, Steve McNiven, J. Scott Campbell, Sajad Shah, Craig Gilliland, Kris Carroll, Derek Wilkerson, Harvey Cahn, Tya Keith, Bobby Foster – I could go on all day. There’s a few in that list that you may not be real familiar with but they are hard working artists making a name for themselves much like me, who relentlessly inspire me with their work. I take my inspiration from many places, not just visual artists, music inspires me, everyday people and events as well. That’s the beauty (and the curse) of being an artist. Sometimes something will happen in the world or a spark ignites in your mind because of a song playing on the radio or something someone close to me has said - and that sets me off on a path of creativity whether it’s two in the afternoon or in a dream at two in the morning. You have to jump on it and get it on paper before you lose the moment and that’s what I like to capture in my art, moments in time that speak to me and hopefully others as well.

If you had the chance to draw for any character who would it be and why?

There are so many but if I had to narrow it down to one, it would be….okay I can’t pick just one, I have to go with two - SpiderMan and Batman respectively. These two have been my favorites since I can remember and I’d love to take a professional crack at both for different reasons.

SpiderMan because I just love the freedom as an artist that this character offers. He’s fluid, dynamic, energetic, expressive in his movement and personality. When I draw this character it’s like I’ve had the handcuffs removed and I can just go to town, twisting his body in the air to achieve new angles as he zips through the city streets without any restrictions. Anybody who knows me or follows my work will tell you, I try to do something different with every pic, push myself to try something new. A new angle, perspective, take an established character and put my own spin on it.

With Batman for me, it’s the richness and depth of the character even more so than his appearance (although he’s wickedly cool to draw). I’d love to have the chance to render that tortured mind in print, there is so much going on in that Bat head.

When I’m drawing these characters (or any character for that matter) I put myself in his/her shoes and I know it sounds crazy – but you become that character while you’re drawing it and that enthusiasm just translates to the paper or whatever medium you’re working with (guess it’s an artist thing). And as much as I put myself into my work I don’t let the reader off easy either. If Darkseid’s raining hellspores on Metropolis the reader is one of the Teen Titans watching it happen at street level or SpiderMan and Doc Oc falling in a dizzying fight to the streets below. I try to make the reader part of the action whether they want to or not. I think it engages them more in the story.

Whose death would you most like to draw?

Deadpool. Just to get rid of him. Just kidding….I think.

Seriously, it would have to be Alfred (Batman’s tirelessly devoted butler). That relationship has been so long, so devoted and so rich with compassion I think it would be a deep, dark day in comics. Lots of superheroes have been killed off in the comics and then resurrected - but I think depicting Alfred’s death with respect and elegance, would be a powerful, moving story that would change the Batman and his readers for a long time.

What projects are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on a number of projects. Two of them are with the same writer - who has penned a new character he is developing called Nightmare: Angel of Darkness. It’s the story of a tragic hero fighting to discover the truth behind deaths in his life and discovering who “he” is in the process. A rich story that I hope I’m doing justice.

Speaking of Justice, I’m also working with the same writer on a more light hearted story arc called Justice High. If you happen to stumble onto facebook, check them both out – along with my art page of course – Art by Greg Kimmett – shameless plug there, couldn’t resist. I’ve got a couple to 300 pics you can check out ranging from (honestly “really bad” stuff in my opinion) back in the day - to more recent work that I must say I’m pretty proud of.

I leave the older work in there to remind me where I came from should my head get too far in the clouds. What can I tell ya, I’m Canadian = Humble.

Also as a result of the first Illumi-nerdi contest and Steve “Sash” Scott, I was introduced to the Wonderfunders group, so I do work for them and continue to learn from that vast well of knowledge.

Then there’s my own characters that I’m always dropping in on between projects to try and complete. First there’s a rag tag group of misfit superheroes called “The Unmentionables” who no else wants to work with and have to forge their own way in the world….to the reluctant hero named “Mech Mac”, a mechanic stranded on an alien moon trying to outlive the alien menace absorbing everything and everyone around him. He just wants to get off that rock and back to his family, unfortunately circumstances ultimately turn him more mechanical than man through an unfortunate “bonding” accident with a flight suit. Fun and challenging stuff.

Why do you believe in comic books?

When I was a kid and my family went on vacation our big trip was camping, all over Ontario (Canada). My parents would pack us five kids and the dog in the family station wagon and we’d head off to a nearby camp ground and we’d spend a week or so under the stars with the mosquitoes and various other forms of wildlife.

My brothers and sisters would take fishing poles, swim suits and other assorted camping related things and then there was me…with my stack of comics. I can still remember reading the tales of Superman, Sub Mariner, The Fantastic Four and countless other characters in the leaky family tent - because it always seemed to be raining when we camped.

I got hooked on the wonder and escapism of the medium at an early age and I think I picked up a pencil and started drawing before I started walking. I paint wildlife and write as well but it’s the excitement and the undying kid in me that takes me back to comics every time. Whenever I pick up a pencil to draw another comic book character I’m right back in that leaky tent as a kid being swept away by another adventure.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Have you heard the joke about a Nazi, a Witch and 3 American Soldiers?

On February 17, 2011, we began writing a simple comic. The inception of this comic spawned four rough drafts, a year and half of writing, and… no results. But that all changes today. After four rough drafts of our full comic, we decided to go back to the drawing board and revamp our writing. We always knew we wanted to begin our comic with a flashback to where it all started. Originally, we started with the ancestors of our two main characters escaping from a Nazi lab in war-torn Poland in 1945. We decided to move that action to Venezuela during the Cold War, as a former Nazi scientist attempts to continue his magnum opus.

Continuing with our growing theme of "Behind the Writing", the Illumi-Nerdi wishes to present to you the (very preliminary) first four pages of Shepherd.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Behind the Writing: Viola Proctor

Once again, we have a gorgeous promo for Shepherd featuring the brilliant art of the one and only Kelly Williams. Check his stuff out because it's absolutely phenomenal. We plan on doing this for about 8-12 of our main/supporting characters, so there will be a lot more coming. Let us know what you think!

Viola Proctor (Likeness of Emmy Rossum)

Age: 16

Height: 5’4

Weight: 105 pounds

Powers: Wiccan. She learns her craft from the book, The Necronomicon, that she finds in her attic. This book has been passed down from mother to daughter for generations. 

Weaknesses: Overuse of the book. The inherit darkness of her power. The familial trait of schizophrenia drives her mad (particularly in the flashforward), as it did to her grandmother. 

Personality: She seems to have the bitchy won’t-give-you-the-time-of-day cheerleader attitude. But deep down (deep, deep down) she has a heart of gold. Half the girls want to be her and the other half wish she would break her neck. As the witch, she has a much harder skin and is sometimes prone to overuse the book (as she has overused her power as the most popular girl in school). When she is in her Wiccan state, her voice is demonic.

Secret: Her schizophrenia occasionally causes an inability to differentiate between reality and her hallucinations. 
Favorite T.V. Shows: Dancing with the Stars, Vampire Diaries, 16 and Pregnant, Jersey Shore, Pretty Little Liars. 
Favorite Music: Ke$ha, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj

Relationships: Boyfriend: Matt Dunham. In our story, Viola is a junior in high school and Matt is a senior. Like most love stories in high school, Viola is popular and the head cheerleader and Matt is the captain of the Football team. Unbeknownst to Viola, Matt has abilities (don’t worry, you will learn more about him soon). As Matt gains his abilities, he doesn’t make his relationship with Viola his number one priority. This causes Viola to be much more insecure about herself, which leads her to desperation and very open to accepting her Wiccan abilities. 

As most of the Extras are outcasts before they gain their powers, Viola is something of an outcast when she joins the group. Since she is so popular, this group is very new to her. Most of the rest of the group are dealing with similar levels of unpopularity before they all discover this surrogate family. 
Yes, she might be the bitchy cheerleader but there is so much more to her than just the pom-poms. She is an only child, she has no idea who her father is and her mom works at two jobs: a waitress and a Stop and Shop cashier. 

Future: While attending College, Viola becomes pregnant (with one of our male character’s children) and decides to drop out of school. During the pregnancy and after the birth of her child, she stops taking her medication and succumbs to the book even more and her mind slowly deteriorates. At one point, she stops using the Necronomican believing the voices are coming from the book. Mary Carter (another Extra/Psychiatrist in the flashforward) and her fiancĂ© (an as yet unintroduced Extra) intervene, commit her to an asylum and adopt Viola’s son.

This is all subject to change. Mostly from our input and how the story changes, but also (as this is kind of our mission statement now) from the fan's opinion. So, what do you hate about Viola? What do you like? Do you need reasons/explanations for any of her characteristics? Leave us a comment or email us at extras2124@gmail.com