Friday, December 09, 2011

This making-of Defective comic turned autobiographical

One of my life's goals is complete!

Ever since I studied Interpretive Illustration in Sheridan college and leafing through the conceptual art books for sale from this traveling comic art vendor on campus, I always wanted to do something as big as Star Wars. But looking at my craft then, I knew I didn't have what it would take to make it look professionally done. So that dream was shelved.
A year later, I had cancer and immediately conquered it. That was when I started to approach life with a "life's too short" attitude. Whatever comic project I worked on, I wanted to see it through to the end. From then on, I still give myself self-imposed tight deadlines to draw as much as I can because who knows when there could be a time I might lose my drawing hand (knock on wood), go blind (knock on wood), or anything else that would stop me from making a comic (knock on wood).
A couple years later, a friend of mine got me connected with GIJoe icon, former Marvel editor, and comic legend Larry Hama to be a mentor-type figure for me. That was a milestone for me because he gave me the most harsh critiques and honest opinions about my work that made me break down only for me to build myself up again. It was a definite eye opener. He taught me a lot about storytelling, compositions, and art techniques. It gave me a new goal to work towards: approaching comics at a professional level. Each comic project I was involved in was another opportunity for me to grow. And in between projects, I'd sketch some sci-fi characters and vehicles on the flip side of my sketchbook. Here's a couple pages from 2008 (character designs were inspired by the animated Droids cartoon, that's why they all look wacky):

2011, I felt it was time to revisit that dream since college: to work on a Star Wars comic. Sure, it wouldn't be under the official license through Lucasfilms but I'd do it out of a labor of love. I always found the art in Star Wars comics carried a high caliber in sci-fi imagination. Artists like Doug Wheatley, Cam Kennedy, Al Williamson were just few of the names I aspired to! Outside of Star Wars, I admired European artists like Philippe Buchet (Sillage) and Romain Hugault (Le Grand Duc). I studied these artists carefully (most especially Buchet and Hugault) with their books opened around me during my creative process.

As my high school Writer's Craft teacher and my college Art Directing instructor both taught me: it's best to keep writing all your ideas down and don't worry about making any mistakes that would stop you from writing. Just keep going until all the ideas are jotted down. Worry about correcting the mistakes later when the first draft is done. I always plotted the stories with this approach to all my comics. My sketchbook would look like a mad man's diary.

And I drew thumbnails that only I could understand.

I focused on a story that felt a bit personal to me. Channeling moments I felt treated like a second-class citizen to the many times I never measured up to certain standards was enough material for me to use in the Defective story. Seeing there's a Clone pilot action figure carrying a close resemblance to me made my decision for my protagonist.

Since the start of September, I would spend hours on top of my regular full-time job working on Defective. On each of my days off, I'd use the entire day to do twice the amount of work, leaving me with little-to-no time for socializing with my friends or family (unless it was Thanksgiving). For the first week, I spent a lot of time on roughs just to hammer down the details of ships, environments, and characters.

I gave myself 2-3 weeks to complete each stage such as penciling, inking, and coloring.

I was living the life of Sam from the film Moon. I've been all alone in my condo drawing something I felt so driven and passionate about. The people on the Forcecast were the only ones that kept me company. Listening to their podcasts play in the background felt like inviting friends over who bring casual, entertaining, and insightful conversations about the Wars. And I didn't have to worry about getting off my drawing chair to treat them as guests since they weren't physically there! Thank you, Jimmy Mac, Jason Swank, Paul Bateman, and Kyle Newman for keeping me company.
From one Star Wars fan to many others, I hope you all enjoy my fan contribution to the Star Wars fan community. Even though it's not licensed or considered canon in anyway, I had fun doing it my way from start to finish. Also, thank you to Dustin Roberts of TheForcedotNet for plugging my work! It's a great thrill to see my name and work mentioned on a site I visit everyday.
Also, thank you to my friend Tamara (Stojakovic!) for fixing my grammatical errors in the comic (I know I could have used your editing skills for this blog).

Your pal,


Paul Bateman said...

Great work Jason, hope we see much more of this stuff. It's more pro than a lot of the "pros".

Jason Loo said...

Wow! Thank you so much for the kind words, Paul!
Yes, expect more (at least one in the Star Wars realm) early this year! I'll keep you updated on the blog.