A showdown, and a Flashback from the Sheriff- gives the reveal that Elijah Holman was a preacher before (now a skilled gunslinger), and we learn that Jessica Belmont doesn’t care- and in her words “Elijah Holman can meet Jesus!”- the last few pages lead to an explosive finish as we continue to raise the stakes!
From a layout standpoint, this page was HARD- look at the changes from pencil to final inks- added panels, extreme changes etc. etc. but dammit- it works! Thank god I get some great advice from people to make changes to make my work better. The flash back middle panel serves as a stark contrast to the top and bottom. One of the tougher pages I have done so far.
From a technical standpoint, I used alot of solid blacks – this is for the mood of this page going bad as it moves forward and to switch up the style a bit to not get too predictable- a touch of Frank Miller in the bottom panel? It really highlights the detail work in the middle panel on both sides and acts as a solid frame for the wonderful inks in the background of Jessica at the bottom with Elijah’s dark frame all around her. I loved the contours of the hand at the top, and the religious banned in the middle and Elijah’s hair in the foreground at the bottom.
For me this page was like a wall to get past when I pencilled it and was a barrier in the inks- It was hard, like the wall you hit creatively to get to the finish- I’m sniffing the end of the project now! I’ve included the pencils, line work and final inked rendered page for review and analysis below.
Elijah- our hero- is now out of bullets, out of friends, injured and on the ropes with an enraged and armed Jessica Belmont with the Sheriff in tow. The two plotters having just dispatched “El Alacran” with a shotgun blast to the back, aren’t in a forgiving mood after telling Elijah Holman to leave town, advice he told them he couldn’t follow… murderin’s still a sin….
From a layout standpoint, this page was my pinup for Jessica and Sheriff- I wanted to give them that one nice (almost) full page to really show them off. Also to establish that Jessica was the “Gangster Bitch” and in charge of the relationship as the dominant one, and the Sheriff was the passive one following her orders as she pulls the strings over all of San Quentin. This is also in keeping with the reveal of her as the top villain of the story- you were never quite sure until now if it was her or the Sheriff in charge. Also, Im keeping up the theme of Elijah’s eyes being hidden, he’s building up to something that’s been bottled up- a secret perhaps?
From a technical standpoint, I had alot of fun layering and texturing Elijah in panel #1- especially the texture on the beard and gun. The main pinup had some fun shadowing effects with the ruined building and El Alacran’s body. I used stipling to really build out Jessica’s dress, and had fun with the skin tones on her arms, the hair texturing, and her facial features which were a struggle to get that combo of “hot” and “psycho” on a slightly off profile point of view. Finally I was really pleased with the Sheriff- from his hands, to folds of fat on his face to the wood and metal on his double barrel shotgun.
For me this page worked from a story telling standpoint, character establishment and as a technical piece- I’ve included the pencils, line work and final inked rendered page for review and analysis below.
Page 16 leads us to the third and final act of “The Painted Ladies of San Quentin”. An explosive re-introduction to the Sheriff and Jessica Belmont who we last saw in flashback form on page 5. Now this page establishes how violent they are, last time their “evil acts” were shown as an aftermath- three women burning- discussion of them burning the whore house- now I wanted to show them literally cutting a hole through El Alacran by shooting him in the back, and we see it as a POV shot. As my good friend Brian Berg said about this project this week….
“Quentin Tarantino will be envious of the bloodshed”
… Indeed, we can only hope so!
And on the artistic notes from the pencilled page to the inked page- not much changed on page 16. Of note is the highly stylized old time look of the gore, I’ve found with this particular inking style my inks make blood and guys look like an old medical drawing- which is a fun way to make a hold in a man’s gut look- so enjoy this piece as we race towards our bloody showdown and conclusion over the next 6 pages!
Page 15 could be described as … “LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR” from Drowning Pool! Four Dead Bandits laid out for you to see the bodies, and Chinaman finally gets the big send off with a shot in the back from “El Alacran”, showing his true villain’s nature. The story is moving towards the third act and finale as the second act comes to a close.
Technique wise- I loved the geography of the bodies and characters in the long panning shot in panel #1 and it was fun to do the detail on the dead bodies panning back towards the horizon line, and of note is the small blades of grass I added to the ground elements- arms, dropped gun, shoes etc.
Correction-wise, Elijah’s hat got lowered which corrected an error and made him seem more “angry” so that was a big improvement, and I tweaked El Alacran in panels 2 & 3 from the pencils a tad.
Confession- I was happy to kill off Chinaman, I was SO TIRED of drawing that damn outfit I designed last summer- R.I.P Xi Chou Long, it’s been a great 9 months together!
The two page fight sequence spread- from thumbnail – to pencils, to final inks.
This is the “behind the scenes” anatomy of how I made this complex two page gun and sword battle. It really is fun to see some of the small doodles get fully rendered now after all of these months!
The second half of my madcap 2 page full out action gun sword fight ends with two more fatalities, and some really fun camera angles and crazy inking.
The major changes from start to finish are Chinaman’s hand holding his sword- it ended up from the side to straight on (anatomy!) and the foot placement of rifle killer guy in the bottom right panel- the twisted up feet got changed in favor of a straight right leg and more of a falling with energy motion pose as opposed to the stutter step that I had initially tried to get.
The inking on the long hair on the top panel and blood/gunshot in the last panel are my inking highlights for me as a reader- I was really pleased how they turned out.
Page #14 is dedicated to Russ Nicholson, a childhood favorite artist of mine that I just discovered is alive and well on facebook- and he even ”liked” my art page! This guy is a pen and ink god, and I think he has influenced me more than I realized now that I’ve been going back and looking at his work from the FIGHTING FANTASY GAMEBOOK series I first picked up when I was about 6 years old! Thanks Russ, you still rock man, this page wouldnt be what it is without your inspiration to me as a young lad!
Page 13- Action, Style, Motion, Camera Angles and Fluid Motion.
This page is something I am really proud of in the original execution, and I am really happy with the inks which took the pencils to a new level. In particular the head shot panel – keeping track of a shattered skull is not easy! The final panel with the blood arc from the face is also a highlight for me in finding motion in still life.
I also really kept the camera moving from an odd yet complicated overhead establishing shot- to the smoking bandit’s “chest up shot” to Elijah’s dive under a hail of bullets- to the Chinaman really getting his run on in the top center panel.
Story wise-’ this page is maybe 5 seconds of action, but it’s a great quick run to page 14…..
Page 12- Changes Changes Changes- from the Chinaman in panel #2 being almost totally changed to Elijan next to him being signifigantly altered… At least the decapitated Injun is still in the front row! This page was a tough one- part of using odd angles (like panel two- ugh!) to have unique visuals makes getting it all right that much tougher, but this page turned out well all the same when the inks dried! And I used a large black area in panel two on the bottom of El Alacran’s sombrero- which for me is uncharacteristic on a character, but this worked for some unknown reason. I just love the showdown in panel 3 being foreshadowed- now this was also a nod to page #2, panel 1 (see single panel below final inked page)- where Chinaman’s shadow is alone 10 pages earlier, now he is teamed up with his former enemy, Elijah Holman- thus two shadows, and a different (armed!) hand in the top foreground of Elijah shows that the new unlikely partners are ready for some deadly action with El Alacran’s band of killers!
Page 11- 50% of Painted Ladies of San Quentin- in the bag… The page has three action packed panels- the biggest challenge- getting INJUN done just right- I changed his body, I changed his face, and I changed his head- and it all worked. Dude looks intense, just like the hand to hand killer I wanted him to be, and Chinaman, dude is a stone cold killer with a sword- I love how we just see him motionless after the quick decapitation in panel two. For me this page just worked- and the tweaks on the face in panel one with the change in torso layout and waist height made it work, and panel two had a few tweaks to get that scream being “cut off” just right -no pun intended! The final panel’s silent recognition of the two former enemies while INJUN just takes that kinetic energy falling off the page sets the stage for the next act with El Alacran’s Men….
Pencils, progress inks, corrections on inks and final inks included below.
This page had several challenges to bring it to inked completion.
#1- getting the space right- where is INJUN in realtionship to El Alacran, to Elijah to the Chinaman- the top panel lays that out well and then shows us El Alacran coming into the scene.
#2- Getting the El Alacran Gang done right- there are a slew of small changes from pencils to final inks, but it looks solid and kep tthe character designs and overall menacing look good witht he larger pinup panel at bottom.
#3- Inks- Lots of overlaying textures and shapes in the bottom panel- it was a tough row to hoe, but the overlapping elements work to build a 3-D space while not having any visual issues- primarily eliminating tangents- what is a tangent- well Ryan Pancoast gives a great explanation here.
Overall- I felt the inks worked with the pencils to keep the style theme and mood together, and the page also kept the story moving ahead-