You are in for a treat! Filip Sablik and John Mahoney, the minds behind Last Mortal, offered BD exclusive in-depth commentary, bringing you behind the scenes of their series. The co-writers take you through the entire creative process from plotting to layouts to finished inked pages. Below you will find their annotations plus Thomas Nachlik’s stellar artwork from Last Mortal issue #4.
Last Mortal follows the story of Alec, a low life thief who is fed up with his crappy existence. After an attempt to take his own life, he discovers that he cannot die. With his new power, his life takes an unexpected turn. The Last Mortal hardcover collected edition drops today, March 14th, in comic shops everywhere, don’t miss it! Read on for the skinny…
Beginning with issue #2, we decided to use start each issue with a striking splash page image of Alec from a key moment later in the issue and then flashback to the present. For issue #2 and #3, this focused on Alec seemingly in deep, deep trouble, but with issue 4 we wanted to highlight him in a position (for once) of power.
Alec’s t-shirt reads “The Passion of Lovers”, a reference to the 70’s goth punk bank, Bauhaus’s song, “The Passion of Lovers is for Death”. We peppered the entire series with references to bands and music, we thought Alec would listen to and also had some poetic relevance to the story itself.
Artist Thomas Nachlik did a great job with the layout and really captured the iconic image we were looking for with the gun pointed directly at the viewer. Thomas works largely digitally, so he goes from a layout directly to inking on his tablet in the computer. His first pass of the page turned out great, but after considering it for some time, we all decided that Alec’s posture and expression was a bit too cocky for our hero. Fortunately, Thomas was more than willing to redraw the figure to more effectively communicate the moment. Alec ended up more serious, but also a bit beaten down.
This was a particularly tricky page, because we needed to communicate a lot of critical information in relatively few pages. It’s a flashback scene, so as he did throughout the series, Thomas depicted it using a different “pencil” rendering style. We thought this was an incredibly clever way to illustrate something was happening in the past in a black and white book, where typically that would be indicated through use of (or lack of) color.
Thomas also built and used models for backgrounds and scenes that he constructed in Google Sketchup, a tool that has become increasingly popular with comic artists. You can see some of the early versions of the layout. Thomas is also responsible for the Placebo “Without You I’m Nothing” poster in the dorm, which sums up Brian and Alec’s relationship perfectly.
In the final version, Thomas changed the Dean’s position, so that the effect was that the Dean was speaking to us, the reader. This scene was meant to show off Alec’s poor decision making skills and how even with the best of intentions he sabotages himself repeatedly.