Off the Page #2: The Weird World of Oz

Off the Page

There have been a number of projects with which I’ve been involved that haven’t really panned out.  Reasons for this vary, from simple lack of enthusiasm to too many similarities to other projects.  Most of the time I can take these ideas and wrap them into the creative concepts that will pan out, but this is one that kind of dead-ended.

The premise came from my friends and frequent creative collaborative partner, Brandon Combs who is now pretty busy with Glitz and Grime.  During one of our many editing/review sessions he brought up how twisted the Wizard of Oz story really is and how much fun a darker, psychotic version would be.  We planned to use his unconventional story-telling and my artwork to create a graphic novel using the base story and producing it.  Unfortunately right after we began developing the concept “Weird Oz” hit everywhere.  McFarlane Toys began to produce it’s own line, various comics, books, and TV shows started to riff on it, and we both decided we would like like we were the soft, backing iron on the blade instead of the cutting edge.  So we dropped it.  Fortunately I still have the artwork and with the new “Oz: The Great and Powerful” film coming out I thought it was a good time to share:

My Dorothy. I gave her “farm girl” weapons and Ruby Sneakers just to mix things up. I wanted her kind of hot-girl tough.
Tin man
This is my Tin Man. In this concept the Tin Man is made up of various armor parts that he finds and collects from enemies. His REAL body can be seen underneath sections of the armor and looks like iron bands. He would replace his “armor” sections during the story. Which sounds great but would create lots of problems if I had to draw this series for an extended run…  Oh and I. Hate. Chainmail.
Scare Crow
I called him “Scar Crow.” It was in the midst of this drawing that we decided to nix the project. He was going to look like a torture victim, with that beam permanently tied to his body.

Maybe someday I can finish concepts on these just for fun, but I hope they still show that the idea was a little cutting edge when we came up with it!

Off the Page #1: Origins and Inspirations

Off the Page

Despite all my recent Adobe Illustrator work I’m still a pencil artist at heart.  It’s where I’m the most comfortable and most effective.  I’ve always seen drawing like carving.  The blank page is a stone, pencil lines cut away the excess until the finished result springs forth.  The more work I do recently the more apt that comparison is.  There’s still nothing quite like creating a character or a design in your head and watch it come to life on the page.  Though it may not be as efficient and may cause lots of graphite-stained hands and eraser dust messes on the table it’s still the most expressive way to create I know.

I have lots of designs, from projects that never got off the ground, to one-offs that were never intended to go beyond a single image.  I thought I’d share some of these to show that, while computers can do a lot, they still can’t create the same organic artwork that can be made by hand.

I thought I’d start with something familiar:

Revenant Publications Logo
The original RevPub Logo

This is the original Revenant Publications logo I designed by hand.  I knew this venture would need a brand of some kind and I had the concept early on, the fist punching through the earth, rising from the grave to reclaim creativity!  These are the lofty goals of RevPub and made for a simple logo graphic.

I eventually took this drawing through vectoring software and created a messy vector that was virtually useless.  I designed it again in Photoshop to create this:

Revenant Logo in Photoshop
Photoshop isn’t designed to do logos as well as Illustrator. The final version can be seen in our header!

Even for objects best done in software, where clean lines can be created easily, polygons can be made sharp, and objects lined up perfectly, I still start from paper to create something new.  It’s been an interesting progression to take designs from the page, through one software, then through another.


The last drawing is a bonus.  Back in 2009 I was in the midst of a creativity drought and the other half of RevPub was determined to prove that it was something I could easily overcome.  So she told me to draw anything and suggested her boot.  So that’s what I drew.  It took a little while to completely break down the creative block that stood in the way of actual production, but this began the process.  And it represents the first of many recent collaborations, the most important of which is this blog!

Raven's Boot
That’s Raven’s boot alright! She even signed it for me!