Monday, 13 September 2010

The Red Skull Vs The Green Skull

Time for a little of what I've been up to as a diversion from tales of social outcasts and comic book characters, but now I come to think about it - not that far removed.

I was contacted by the QI team and their publisher to come up with an image or three in the style of classic comic book superheros for their QI annual cover. It was a job which I thought could be a potential mine field with at least a dozen likenesses to try and achieve but in the end the whole thing was a breeze with a really open brief and the only tweaks and twiddles required were really to ensure that the whole thing worked with the areas of type and cropping required.

So here from the top is how I did the thing.

Stage 1 Do a crappy old pencil drawing - drawn real small - so I can a). feel confident about what I'm doing and b). can see at a glance how it's working.

OK that's that bit done.

Stage 2 Scan the thing.

Stage 3 import the scan into Manga Studio (love this software!). Now comes a bit of fun as you digitally ink the thing with a selection of pens and or brushes which are the best I've come across (although I'm still on Creative Suite 3 - rather than 5 - times are hard etc, etc)

Stage 4 Add in the lettering and send the thing off to your art editor.

Stage 5 Await response - At this stage the wait was endless and I thought the thing was going belly up on me - but no they 'loved" the idea.

Stage 6 Bounce around the studio like Stimpy the Cat singing "Happy Happy Joy Joy".

Stage 7 Import the visual into Illustrator - ideal for this kind of job because it's so flexible and alteration friendly.

And then it's just a case of working all the elements in on separate layers, tweaking and twiddling and Hey Presto!.

You're done!!!

Apart from a concern about the Red Skull- i.e. will Marvel sue the shit out of QI?

Hmmmm OK be cautious and make that Skull Green.

Still prefer the Red one...

In the shops from November onwards and here's a photo of Mr Fry with a copy of the thing.

Fame at last!!!

"I've waited years for this moment Mr Smee ...."


  1. Great cover and excellent likenesses!

  2. Gee thanks Dave!

    My head is so puffed up I'm going to have to soak it in a bucket of cold water for at least a couple of hours.

    P.S. Many thanks for writing the foreword to the Wulf book, I was reading it over again last night - says it all really.

  3. Nice to see some of your actual work as it were, I like the green skull he has a touch of the Kev O'Neil's about him which is a good thing obviously.

  4. Thanks James - they've decided to go down the Green Skull route, so I'm really glad you like it.

    I still prefer the Red version tho...

  5. A first-class cover with some amazing Kirby foreshortening - though I have to agree about the red skull which makes the foreground stand out even more dramatically, whereas the green colouring tends to give it a rather recessive quality. It's a shame that Marvel have such a notoriously litigious reputation (though I'd have thought there were dozens of classic illustrators of Poe's 'Masque of the Red Death' like Harry Clarke with a prior claim to images of a sinister figure wearing a red skull mask!). How on earth do you turn out work like this while *still* managing to update your blog every single day Peter?

    Looking at the central figure I can't help but feel it would have been nice to include a short 'Captain Fry' strip inside. As I see it this would be a 'thinking-man's hero' along the lines of DC's Adam Strange, who could always be relied upon to save the day with some 'Quite Interesting' piece of information - such as the fact that baking soda and vinegar combine to form carbon dioxide gas (which, as everyone knows, is a sure-fire remedy for indestructible flame creatures from the Sun!).

  6. Bugger!

    I should have got you to come up with some copy Phil, I spent a week knocking myself out getting enough stuff written out for a possible two dps's and this idea would have been perfect!

    Ohh for a time machine!!!

  7. P.S. Phil old bean - whutt has happened to your logo???

    I want you back with your top hat and tails.