Author Archives: Durwin

Super Animal Friends

Guin and I love animals. All our convention commissions center on our furry friends wearing cute knitwear. But why not capes? Four images showing work on our next book idea…

Check out our store to adopt a Super Animal Friend– http://www.storenvy.com/stores/886104-perpetual-flights-studio

Bats Supes Zatanna Cats

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

GothicMermaidSDCC

San Diego Comic-Con, International.

Five words that scare every professional that I know.

For artists, it means it’s time to get busy working. New stories, new art, new displays… It’s a madcap race to be productive so that we have something new to share every summer.

For Guin and I, it also means experimentation. From long format prints, to wooden toys, Guin and I have been busy!

If you found our site because of the convention, welcome to the show (and tell)!

Jim Alley’s WWI Planes

Our graphic novel Beautiful Scars drew it’s inspiration from many sources.

For me, Jim Alley was a wonderful inspiration. He was my professor and mentor during my undergraduate degree in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

We hit it off instantly. He taught me how to use a Macintosh Computer. We were both history nuts with a soft spot for aviation, fantasy/sci fi and jazz music. Ridley Shaw in spirit, was based on the gentleness, humour and warmth of my dear friend Jim.

Jim passed away not to long ago, having lost his battle to cancer.

As we hit the 100 year anniversary of World War I, I scoured the internet for his images of World War I planes. He started his love of early aviation with books he read about the Flying Circus and Eddie Rickenbacker. He then became an accomplished model plane maker. Finally, he wrote articles and essays as an expert on these machines.

To commemorate the Great War, and great man, here are two of his plane illustrations. Created in vector, using Macromedia (Aldus) Freehand.

Two planes of prominence in Beautiful Scars:

Alley-R.E.8

 Alley-FokDrI

To see more of his illustrations, please go to: http://www.wwi-models.org/Images/Alley/

Ridley Faces the Dragon

World War I is a complex war. A conflict whose roots are unclear to most people; the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie of Austria is the spark that plunges Great Britain, France, Russia, the United States, Germany, Austria-Hungary and almost 25 other nations into war.

But what are the causes of World War I?

Other conflicts in American history are clearly defined–the Revolutionary War was about independence from Britain, the Civil War was fought over the questions of slavery and state’s rights, World War II was fought to stop the Axis nations from invading other nations, even Vietnam was fought to stop the domino effect of Communism.

The roots of this world war range from imperialism, nationalism, mutual defense alliances and even militarism. But World War I also offered the perfect environment to escalate an arms race between nations who had technology to flex. Airships flew during this war in the shape of dirigibles, balloons and airplanes. However, these wondrous innovations gave way to air combat techniques. Keep in mind, the machine gun, tank, and chemical warfare were also developed and refined during this conflict.

In Beautiful Scars, the Great War serves as one of the backdrops to Ridley Shaw’s life. He, like many Brits, enlisted into service because it was the honourable thing to do. In a war where ideology and patriotism create volunteers, Ridley enlisted because, deep down, he feels the need to protect his family. He is a romantic who feels his sacrifices are for the good of his home.

War is not a good thing, much less great. But sometimes, it is a necessity. There is a wonderful editorial illustration created by Winsor McCay for the New York American, in February 7, 1915 urging the United States to face its fear against the concept of war, represented by a dragon. (It is worth noting, prior to entering the War in 1917, the United States remained neutral.) The illustration’s title is entitled: “We Can Be Free Only By Conquering Fear,” and for nations engulfed in this conflict, they faced the dragon they released… or were devoured by it.

Soldiers were thrown into the crucible or war regardless of station or background and fought because it was demanded of them–but if they met in peacetime, they might have become fast friends. Even though these soldiers wore different uniforms, they had similar backgrounds–they ranged from farmers and mechanics to aristocrats and artists. For 30 million soldiers (nine million killed, 21 million casualties), they stared down the dragon and fought in the trenches and in the air with bullets or poetry. There are many war poets to describe the experience of World War I: Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and John McCrae among others. “In Flanders Field” helps to clarify the plight of the soldier:

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

2014 marks the 100th year anniversary of World War I. Guin and I decided to commemorate this milestone with a new cover for Beautiful Scars. In it, Ridley Shaw fearlessly faces Nightshade the Dragon. He is alone in his reconnaissance plane, the Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8; the rear gunner is absent, evoking the missing man formation. However, to his wing, a Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker Triplane flies in tandem. War unleashes the dragon that every nation involved must face.

This Commemorative Edition Cover is available at this upcoming 2014 San Diego Comic Con. We will wrap Beautiful Scars with these new book covers. They will be free, so stop by and pick up this Comic Con exclusive! Guin and I are located in Artist’s Alley, II-21.

Thank you for helping us to honour the World War I Centennial!

Beautiful Scars: Meet the Generous Jaime Anderson!

Jaime Anderson is a quiet person. However, she speaks volumes through her work which is lyrical, precise, decorative, and provocative. She teaches this way as well.

“She broke the surface with the second of the princess’ rings.”

We assigned Jaime a moment of the fairy tale that is capture only in prose… this moment is not in the main graphic novel. However, when thinking about who would be great to illustrate the river mermaiden, Jaime was the perfect fit. The mermaiden, the water, the foliage, and the ring had to be orchestrated through a single composition. Jaime’s combination of art nouveau and the decorative creates a wonderful introduction of a major character for a later story. We couldn’t be more thrilled!

For those who don’t know, Jaime brought surface and decorative illustration to Emily Carr. And though she teaches in Minnesota (MCAD), her presence is still very much felt in Vancouver. As a freelancer, you will be hard pressed to meet anyone who can combine pattern and emotion more creative ways! Visit her website, and wear your comfortable shoes as you’ll explore pyramids, heartbreak, and even story time with future hall of famers.

www.JaimeAnderson.com

 

So normally, Guin and I try to include our reaction shots to our friends. However since the book’s release, we wanted to share reaction shots from other people reading our book. This is Mya, Sage and Guin (whose hair can be pretty epic in the morning). You’re welcome.

Launch Day and the Marvellous Mark Smylie!

It’s out. After long last, Beautiful Scars is no longer ours. It’s yours

It’s been quite the battle to get it out, but to our relief the book has at least made it to Indianapolis, Indiana and Vancouver, British Columbia. It is our hope that the book made it to all the cities in between! So over the next few days, weeks, and months, you can tell us if it made it into a comic book store, book store, or on-line purveyor of graphic novels near you.

Spotted in the wild: the Comic Carnival in Indianapolis, IN, USA

And the Comic Shop in Vancouver, BC, CAN

And we truly can’t wait to hear from you.

So it’s fitting to highlight the man most responsible for this book seeing the light of day. Mark Smylie is an amazing illustrator, writer of just-released “The Barrow,” the creator of complex “Artesia,” a skillful gamer/game designer, the CCO of Boom! Comics, and the founder of Archaia Entertainment.

“Captain Gabriel was the casualty of a lone encounter with Nightshade.”

As you can imagine, Mark is one of the most busy individuals that we know. The fact he took the time out of his schedule to create this illustration speaks volumes. He’ll move mountains for friends. But speaking to the illustration, he chose to illustrate a moment that didn’t involve the main figures in our fairy tale. As a creator, he chose a unique way to illustrate the scene—by celebrating an unknown character.

Guin and I are relative unknowns in comics. Sure, we have worked in the industry, but this is our first graphic novel—and as a collaborative venture, no less. He stood by us and he made sure that our story was never forgotten. According to our editor, the title of our book was on the planning board for quite a long time. And even as Archaia evolved into the powerhouse company it is today, we were always a part of the big picture.

Thanks is not a big enough word… we hope we were worth the effort!

Pay Mark a visit at: http://swordandbarrow.com/wp/

Also, as people have a chance to review Beautiful Scars, we’ll try to share the occasional post:

Tom Murphy, Broken Frontiers:
http://www.brokenfrontier.com/broken-frontier-staff-picks-for-april-9-2014/

Melanie Hernandez, Sonoma State Star
http://www.sonomastatestar.com/arts-entertainment/beautiful-scars-a-fairytale-adventure-1.3158741#.U0ZjH61dV40

And a fun post from Rich Johnston, Bleeding Cool:
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/04/02/37-thoughts-about-37-comics-the-movement-detective-comics-stormwatch-crossed-inhuman-green-lantern-caliban-starlight-action-comics-field-she-hulk-dead-letters-beautiful-scars-god-is-dea/

Beautiful Scars Preview Party

Saturday, March 22 is a night that Guin and I won’t soon forget. It was the date that we shared Beautiful Scars with the world (albeit, localised to Vancouver). From 8:30-10:30 at Kafka’s, we sold books and prints, had a slideshow going, and even live painted for an auction. Friends who helped illustrate the Fairy tale section of the book were on hand to sign their prints and make us look cool (thanks to Ola Volo, Robin Carpenter, Nomi Chi and especially our field generals Amanda Visell and Michelle Valigura!).

Kafka’s Coffee  and Tea was packed, noisy, chaotic and absolutely a blast. And before the end of the evening, all the books were sold out.

But this wasn’t what we will take away from the event. What made the evening special is that we got to spend time with our friends and illustration family. From current students to former students, from fellow faculty and deans from Emily Carr to our peers in life–cramming everyone who welcomed us into Vancouver and kept us going on this project was a gift for Guin and I.

We thank everyone who was on this journey with us, and especially for those who had to root from afar because they couldn’t make the festivities. We heard our cheering section all the way to Canada!

If we had this much fun at the preview, imagine how we’ll feel when this book finally launches (and stand by for our Emerald City adventures to boot!). We thank you in advance for your support and cheer!

Beautiful Scars Fairy Tale: Meet the Rockin’ Ryan Hill

This week, it is my pleasure to introduce Joseph Ryan Hill’s contribution to the fairy tale:

“Firefly hovered low enough for Scars to jump!”

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ryan for quite a while… he’s one of my oldest friends. And though he’s been in comics for a very long time (starting at Dark Horse), he’s now one of my favourite colourists working in comics today. However, he’s an amazing artist and one of the few artists who can combine action with flair.

We gave Ryan a moment full of action and he rocked it! Maybe it’s his animation influences (Zelda?) that inspired his choreography of the Nightshade the Dragon, Scars the Troll and the Woodsman on Firefly. Or maybe it’s his comics influences (Stan Sakai?) that pushes his bold linework. Or perhaps it’s the colouring influences (Macross?) that paint a scene that is both vibrant and exciting. Whatever his tools, it’s working and Ryan’s work makes the world a better place!

Sadly, he doesn’t have a website (shakes angry fist in the air). But here’s a couple wonderful writes up on his new Judge Dredd book from IDW, so go get it:

WIRED: http://www.wired.com/underwire/2014/01/judge-dredd-mega-city-two/

MULTIVERSITY: http://multiversitycomics.com/reviews/review-judge-dredd-mega-city-two/

 

Ryan Hill’s rocking illustration makes Durwin go “Oooh!”

Beautiful Scars Fairy Tale: Meet the Spectacular Steven Tabbutt

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Steven Tabbutt’s work, his work is a study of contrasts. It can be detailed, yet graphic. It can be painterly yet flat. But mostly, his work can be stunning yet provocative.

“Princess Lily was named for the beautiful flowers that flourished on the edge of a terrible wood named the Idyllwild.”

We assigned Steve the start of the fairy tale, thinking that he would create a simple portrait of Princess Lily. I don’t think we were prepared for the beautiful piece that he turned in (and on hindsight, I don’t think he does “simple”). This lead image distills some of our goals with the fairy tale. Narratively, it displays the strength and resolve of the princess. Visually, it plays with decoration and detail. It’s a fantastic way to open the fairy tale!

Steve is one of those artists that successfully balances both a fine art gallery practice as well as a busy illustration career. He exhibits in gallery shows in New York, Paris and Tokyo. But, if you can’t go to one of those openings, you can find his work for such clients such as the New York Times, the Smithsonian Art Museum, and even the Grammy Awards. And now you can find his work in comics! Visit his website, and prepare to be knocked out. Again.

www.steventabbutt.com

Edit: It wouldn’t be an artist post without a ridiculous reaction photo! Guin freaked OUT when she saw the detail of this piece. Still cannot believe how this guy is able to do what he does. He’s a magic man, I tells ya.

ridiculous face

WHAAAAAAAA

 

Beautiful Scars: Our Favourite Page of the Week

And… ACTION!

Continuing the tour of our upcoming graphic novel, we wanted to share an action sequence.

This is a fun page to show off because, amidst all of the action, we get to reintroduce Scars the Troll. In the top section, Ridley is flying high in his DIY racer, but in the bottom story, the Princess and Woodsman are being overwhelmed by the Dragon’s minions. Our goal in running concurrent storylines throughout the graphic novel was to blend Ridley’s memories with Maddie’s fantasies. When two moments line up, we illustrate the idea that one memory can directly affect an idea. We wanted to counterpoint young Ridley’s exuberance against Scars’ stoicism (in reality, the troll is happy on the inside!).

Our book made the cut for CBR’s January Flippin’ Through Previews highlights! March 11th can’t get here fast enough!

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2014/01/04/flippin-through-previews-january-2014/