Category Archives: Inspiration

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 Fairy Tale: Meet the Amazing Scott Hampton

One of the great pleasures of having your art friends and family work in your book is the reaction they can have to your world.

Scott Hampton is one of our dearest friends, but he is also one of the busiest artists we know. Constantly up to his eyeballs in paint and comics, he’s currently working on the new Neil Gaiman graphic novel with P. Craig Russell.

We sent him his illustration brief hoping he could find the time to do it. Literally 2 hours later, he sends in his illustration, completed and ready for print. After reading the book, he put aside his work, jumped into the deep end of the pool, and turned in an amazing page.

It was great to see his reaction and our pleasure to post it today.

“The dragon could not harm her as long as she stayed by th­­e road.”

Scott is a diverse artist currently working in Chapel Hill. He is known for his work on Batman, Books of Magic, Simon Dark and the Upturned Stone. He also plays a mean game of pool and is amassing quite the collection of Disney shirts. Visit his website and say hello!

www.scotthamptonart.com

Guin’s reaction to the Amazing Scott Hampton. “What the WHAT?”

The Disney Effect

punchy

Durwin and Guin on our first day signing at
the Archaia Booth…

Time to catch people up on our San Diego Comic-Con experience…

Exhausting while being exhilarating! We got to sell a ton of prints (heartfelt thanks to those who supported our 2013 artistic endeavours), we introduced the con to Guin’s cousin (Ryn = Mind Blown) we got to meet a bunch of new people (hello Royden Lepp, Shane Vidaurri, Moro Rogers, Paul Morrissey and Heather Nuhfer), but most importantly we got to preview our book through signings at the Archaia Booth (thanks to Mel Ceylo, Scott Newman and Tay Taylor for putting on a smooth show) and during our Workshop (shout out to Clydene Nee and Inez Gowsill).

Our favourite celebrity sighting? Hands down, signing comics next to Alyssa Milano (and her wall of beefy security guards).

Our favourite Comic-Con moment? Following two of San Diego’s finest heading towards the Archaia Booth. The Dispatcher calls them: “Proceed to Hall A, we have a woman who is fully nude.” The Police Officer’s reaction: “FULLY nude?” The Dispatcher’s confirmation: “100 percent.”

Classic.

However, for Guin and I, the highlight of this crazy trip is always the Monday after the con, when we and the rest of our booth buddies head out to Disneyland down Anaheim way. Joining Scott Hampton, John Van Fleet and Chris Moeller on this annual event is quite the experience. For all of us, we find that leaving a convention space with 120,000 people to travel to an amusement park with considerably more people is strangely relaxing… It may be the rides, recapturing our youth, or maybe even dinner at the Blue Bayou (shout out to Mike and Liz Kennedy), but year after year, we do this ritual and are always happier for it. We even buy matching tee shirts to commemorative every year.

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The most excellent Scott Hampton models this year’s
Disney shirt! Score!

After Disney, we stayed at the beautiful casa of Amanda Visell and Michelle Valiguera (and their pack). These are two wonderful LA artists that we feel pretty fortunate to call friends. They are known for being lowbrow artists and have even been referred as the next wave of mid-century artists. However, Guin and I discovered them through their Disney work (one of these days, Guin will have to recount the Pirates of the Caribbean 40th Anniversary Shirt Tale).

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Disney art from the wonder studio of Amanda Visell
and Michelle Valigura!

A special treat was being invited for lunch at Disney Feature Animation with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying, two wonderful concept artists (and their booth in San Diego was spectacular!).

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Off to Disney’s! Thanks to Victoria Ying and Mike Yamada!

(I apologize for my serial killer mugshot photo. The Indiana DMV does not take Glamour Shots. -G) Guin and I recently visited Disney Features last year with a school group, and this time was super special as well. Seeing the amazing art on the walls, both old and new, was inspiring. Being at Disney’s (how it was referred to back in the day by Disney vets) made us wonder what is it about this place that energizes artists from all different industries, ages and walks of life.

Consistency.

For the theme park, they use the same exacting standards today as it was when I had to use tickets to ride rides in my youth. And even though 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is now Finding Nemo, and you no longer have to get comfortable with another stranger’s lap on the Matterhorn, the classics are still classic and the new stuff just fits in seamlessly. Even if Guin HATES the fact that Woody is in the Small World ride, she’ still happy her original work remains intact. And as far as the artists that work for Disney today, I feel that they are the best artists around. Splashier artists might work in other studios, but an average animated Disney feature or ride still ends up being more enjoyable than some studios/parks’ best efforts.

It’s an exacting standard that years in and years out has not changed. And as long as that’s the case, then I for one will be in line buying the tee shirt and drinking the Dole Whip.

After all, we’ll be buying a $200 Sleeping Beauty book from Stuart Ng this week. It’s from the happiest place on earth after all.

Tune in next week when we’ll have Beautiful Scars announcements! For now, we are exhausted!

D + G

After our final Archaia booth signing!

After our final Archaia booth signing!