Sunday 19 December 2010

And in conclusion

Let's go back to the Outland movie before moving on…

The point of this particular part of the story one guesses is to "destroy" our hero, to put him through an ordeal that challenges his entire state of mind, that leaves him with no reason to continue his quest, in short to make him a true hero he has to loose everything dear to him

But even the movie fails to make that very clear, it's missing some scenes that could have established the family and the difficulties they was having on io, yet another one of a seemingly endless tour of inhospitable places - it wouldn't have taken much extra

So is it fair to wonder why such things are missing from the comic adaptation?

Well, let's take a step back and see everything that has been highlighted as setting the scene in the art and see what out of that is unique within these pages..

It definitely cant be use the of shadow, one could not really say that this was being used to set a mood, without immediately wondering precisely what mood or message is trying to be conveyed in every other page, equally soaked in shadow

It cant be the focus on unimportant things (the apartment) and lack of focus on what is supposed to be the focus (the tiny figure of O'neil) as there has already been inexplicable focus of pipes fixtures and fittings before this double pager..

It cant even be that o-neil is tiny, as elsewhere figures are disproportionate in relation to their actual importance

I think this double spread really probably tells you all you need to know about whats going on in the comic, basically that each double spread will be a abstract study on a particular part of the movie, drawn in a bold and evocative way, but with little actual substance underneath it, particular if it gets in the way of the stylistic depection

until the whole thing becomes almost an abstract study of art that is just kind of related to the movie itself

Is this comics? Only by including the smaller panels actually showing any sequential movement does the art actually hang onto this category, albeit with an uneven sense of time, with a second stretched out, and minutes compressed down depending on where you look

the whole adaptation basically ending up as bold statement, this is Steranko, like or leave it -- I can't get enough of this personally..

so here we go with the pages together..

A nice place to wrap up the year -as this concludes the first episode of Outland as published in Heavy Metal

Of course I will be carrying in the New year or possibly even before then, but just in case ..

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year and a special thank you to everyone reading this for doing so, I hope it's been at least marginally entertaining

Thursday 16 December 2010

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Now let's "compare the meerkat" between the Comic and the Outland movie for a moment…

This particular scene is markedly different in the movie as O'Neil and his wife are face to face but separated by her being on a video screen as a message and the movie alternates between "talking heads" shots of O'Neil and his wife

In short he goes through this emotional upheaval full on, not at anything like the same distance at all and its made all the more painful and real for doing so (or at least that's the intention)- now there is another scene in the movie, where O'neil replays the video message again (apparently to underline how much the loss means to him) and he occasionally looks at it - this time at a bit more of a distance..

But this scene is not in the comic adaptation either and there are also some other key moments missed

Find out what they are soon… and what this is all building up to...

Wednesday 15 December 2010

She just called to say...

So offsetting all the darkness and distance between o'neil and his family portrait is a video call from what can only be his wife..

(quoting from memory the movie dialog)..

"I hate these things" (referring to the video answer machine) "but I couldn't face you and say this…"

"but i'm leaving. "

Sounds very much like O'neil's being dumped…? But, wait there is more…

"it's not you" she says, "it's Paulie" (their child) who has never had a normal environment, never seen Earth

She goes on to describe Earth which in a twist from the usual science fiction story, sounds like its all in one piece as she talks about breathing real air and seeing blue skies (no dystopia here)… and pleads with o'neil to come to earth with them

and says she loves him (from the bottom of her heart?)

In the movie this scene amounts to the only real bit of character moment for o'neil as a person

Why would he stay behind in the perpetual shadow on io when his family and earth awaits him

His wife says he is stubborn but there must be more to it than that? Or is there?

And does this 2 page spread convey the feeling that should be here or say something else entirely…

Find out tomorrow

Tuesday 14 December 2010

From a distance..

As we continue our exploration of O'neil's "Bachelor pad", we pass a wardrobe / closet with drawers open, a couple of food shelfs, an unused sink and then get drawn down (by spot lighting - indicating the way to look) a increasingly narrow corridor to see o'neil for the first time as a very tiny figure, slumped in the chair reacting to something… which can only be a video call..

All the proceeding darkness and distance between o'neil and his family portrait and his tiny appearance here telling almost everything you need to know - the family has gone - but how and why…

Tune in tomorrow to find out more

Monday 13 December 2010

Family Portrait…

"In our family portrait, we look pretty happy, Let's play pretend, Let's act like it comes naturally"

So go the lyrics of the song "Family Portrait" by Pink…

She could well be singing about the Portrait you can see here, next to the bear…

As here we can see O'neil has a family who was happy, before O'neil got his current assignment (as he is not in uniform here) and when he was a bit younger (no beard or moustache though thats rather harder to see)

Here is an example of the overwhelming amount of shadow being used to actually tell the story or set the mood for the story, as O'neil's whole apartment is in almost total darkness and this is one of the few bits of light both in the apartment and in o'neil's life…

But what has happened since and where are the family now?

Next page will bring the answers…

Sunday 12 December 2010

Please, do not adjust your set

Here we go - a lot of lines on the page now…

Speaking of which, have a look at the 4 panels at the bottom, now unless you had really looked closely at Steranko's original, you probably did not notice that these panels had lines across them to represent the fact that the they are being shown on a old "computerised" monitor screen

Mostly because the lines are so small, they almost disappear - but they are uniform on each panel and completely straight as well which just about makes them visible

But I figured that not only would I make these lines a lot bigger but I would not have them in the same place from panel to panel to give it a bit more of a "rolling" look…

how well this will turn out post rollerball is anyone's guess..!

Thursday 9 December 2010

A Scotsman's Home is his Castle

In Sean Connery's case that is probably literally true.. 

but in Outland as O'Neil Steranko's text describes his apartment as being "a narrow and confined space"…

But hang on a minute it is rather clearly shown in the movie a bit later on (and even in this adaptation to a lesser degree) that all the workers have is a cage like cube (all stacked next to and on top of each other) with just about enough room for a mattress and very little privacy…

(Yes that is Steven Berkoff…)

anyways - a glance at the drawing, shows plenty of indications that this is a typical Bachelor pad:- the unmade and untidy bed, bits of paper strewn on the floor, hardly any lights on and no sign of the occupant in the main living area...

That's until you see the little corner on the left hand side, with a Teddy Bear and a family picture - so what's going on here…?

Oh you have to the next page to find that out

Wednesday 8 December 2010

The Doctor is In!

I am making good progress this week, but that's mostly down to these pages being a bit easier to do with just the main figures needing the black out or any other stage of inking other than fine line - so here is the finished page of O'neil meeting Lazarus…

And as now become traditional here is both pages combined together as Steranko intended...

Now Lazarus has joined the story - will her character continue with the DeForest Kelly or end up more like Lucy from Peanuts …?

There's only one way to find out..!

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Don't turn your back on me!

So here we go with another big cut out shadow of a figure for o'neil…

This time he has his back completely to us and remains expressionless and as before most of the actual "action" within the scene that is set by the massive 2 page spread panel - actually occurs in the tiny talking heads panels down below

But at least this time round the figures are in a more typical proportion, with Montone and Lazarus being roughly the same size and o'neil literally casting a shadow over them all

This does - at least to my eyes bring even more focus to the background remaining fine line and almost melting away into pointlessness this time not just featuring the almost ubiquitous pipes and wall features, but also some random people who remain chipers

The exact same random people who just a few pages back could have been taking up a entire page…

There are so many examples of this adaptation being a triumph of literal reinvention of the form over any substance it does enter the realm of surreality

and that's what continues to get me excited about doing each page, just what is coming next..?

Monday 6 December 2010

"It's worse than that, she's dead Jim!"

Here goes Peter Hyams again, naming yet another character after their actions in the story..

We have already had Montone (who is just black and white) and Shepherd (who rules over the "sheep"of Io)

And now, we have a lady who apparently must be gong through some kind of spiritual rebirth - a character named nothing less than Doctor Lazarus - who at least to me seems to be borrowing from a character most famously played by DeForest Kelly....

She obviously is not physically dead, so it can only be a spiritual rebirth, right?

But how profound is the rebirth and what represents the "death" state she was in before…

Well it can only be here when she is first introduced, tired, haggard and obviously just not giving much of a damn, in the traditional western this would not have been a female role at all, but these are modern times here in io, so there she is, surrounded by a ton of machinery and a lot of random arbitrary assistants just pushing buttons for no obvious reason, just not caring

Until along comes o'neil who not only profanes her sanctum with his odious presence (which I suppose was shocking enough) but basically yells at her could not care less flip attitude and promises to kick her ass, unless she pulls her thumb out

Is that it? 

Well there appears to be no other real explanation for Lazarus change of heart as the story progress

So to sum up all she needed was a rough Scotsman to yell at her and (almost, though if this was a western with John Wayne it would have been a real slap) figuratively slap her face into realising she is part of the awfulness to be revealed

Oh speaking of awfulness here's the roughshod couldn't care less pencils from me, maybe I need someone to yell at me here?

Friday 3 December 2010

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programme…

Hey, I am sure you will all remember after some great feedback from Matt Seneca, I did a super-sized degenerated panel just for him?

But, before I get too carried away, why not head over to Death to the universe if you haven't already (or maybe you should just go around in an endless loop of blog entries -- degrading forever.. right, Matt?!) and read an infinitely better blog on the same subject

This blog is of course the copied and degraded version, m'kay?

Well the panel above was not quite the end of our shenanigans, I am sure you may remember that the week following I was a bit quiet?

Well one reason was I had lost a bit of time waffling on endlessly about my "methods" the week before but there was another reason…

And as before it was all down to Matt Seneca… and the conversation we had in around the panel above..

Here's part of a letter I sent Matt..

"I guess I was still hyped from Fridays excitement and had all these thoughts and ideas floating round, Steranko degraded, straight to ink rollerball, exploding conventions, my terrible hand lettering, the pose of the figure in that Outland panel..

And then you mentioned you are getting into two-panel grids and that was it - BOOM was born in my head almost there and then, I somehow knew exactly what I wanted to do, a second panel, flipping the figure from the first completely destroying the background and filling up the panel with a huge BOOM!"

"I suppose it is the figure and his pose that does it for me, in either panel he is standing there as if he has nothing to do with the panel he is in, in no way does he look like a man who is stepping in airlock out of his clock on drugs, yet there he is blithely ignoring enough warning signs to choke a whole state of lawyers on…. I wont even ask how a man that drugged and can successfully fully sequence a airlock?!

I hated trying to letter all of that stuff so took a distinct pleasure in cutting all to shreds, so in a way "BOOM!" is my reaction to the "coldness" your talking about, what's it going to take to get this guy to notice his predicament?! Even a explosion makes no odds...

And also the size of the figure, I mean this person is supposed to be the central focus of the pages I am working on, not those anonymous three or so miners that take up the whole entire other page… man, only Steranko can do that!

And I sure as heck am no Steranko"

Does it end there?

No.. as I also suggested that Matt could "copy it then slap paint all over it, that would be cool"

And what do you know, Matt has delivered and delivered in spades…

Matt's painting on these is absolutely awesome it puts a whole entire fresh level of perspective and artistry on top of those panels breathing even more life into that still locked in figure

Starting off with a cool blue - clearly showing us how cold / neutral the first panel is, while there is still some hints of life and blood flowing through our "hero" contrasted with the bright light distorted orange caution sign overlaid - the painting on this for some reason reminding me of Dash Shaw

Flipping then straight to to full on red explosion of colour over emphasising the intensity of feeling and anger in the need to just destroy all that background and just leave the figure mostly untouched even by this level of intensity, who is now devoid of anything just stark black and white

or you could just say it rocks!

Added to this Matt has Put a black and white striped and distorted background referring back to the original locked in contrast of sterenako's original work and my careless use of the rollerball pen

In short Matt has made a work of art

I wish I could get Jaunty Jim to clap his eyes on this one, this pop art meets I don't know what, it almost defies convention or description!

But is that ALL?… ohhh that WOULD be telling now wouldn't it ;-)

Thursday 2 December 2010

A Lesson in contrast

Ah, not the type of contrast we have seen so far, where everyone seems to live in half if not 3 quarters of shadow, although there is some of that on this page…

It's the contrast of styles Steranko has chosen which make this page really interesting, all the background characters and the all the pipes and wall parts of the medical facility are all very fine line

On top of this we have the cut-out locked in black and white style we are used to but for the main characters only, here we see Monotone and part of O'Neil's arm stand out sharply and lot sharper than they would say, imposed over a huge pool of black…

The message is clear, this is what's important the foreground, the background for all its ridiculous meticulousness might as well be semi transparent

It makes for a compelling contrast from anything seen before and brings the focus back to more regular figure dynamics, with Montone ruling the whole page - even though he is not grossly oversized

Next page, we will see the rest of O'neil and --- The Lady who came back from the Dead…!

Wednesday 1 December 2010

"Let's be careful out there"

Well while we are looking at a picture of Monotone:-

How about the actor that portrayed him.. James B. Sikking?

Who is Probably best known for is portrayal of Lieutenant Howard Hunter the EAT Commander in "Hill Street Blues".. Boy that takes me back awhiles..

Hey YOU be careful out there!