Multitalented Musician, writer, and artist, Alan Robert has a new horror comedy series titled, Killogy, which begins tomorrow, October 31st (review here). The books brings together the unlikely celebrity cast of Marky Ramone, Frank Vincent (The Sopranos), and Brea Grant (Heroes, Dexter), who band together in the face of a wild zombie apocalypse. Alan Robert partnered with BD to deliver an exclusive step-by-step look behind the scenes of his creative process. Below, Robert takes you through the 13 steps he took to create a double-page spread in an upcoming issue of “Killogy” with running commentary and artwork.
Here’s a step-by-step look at how I created a double-page spread for an upcoming issue of Killogy. It happens to be one of my favorites of the series so far.
Step 1: Rough Sketch
Whenever I start a new series, I create these branded thumbnail sheets that allow me to stay organized while laying out the books. There’s room on the left for me to include any dialogue notes or other reminders I might need to keep in mind while penciling the pages. It also helps me to visualize the flow of the books, which is very important for how I pace the story.
In this double-page spread, we see Brea Grant’s character being strangled by Frank Vincent inside a police holding cell. A mob of zombie cops look on through the bars at the action. It was important for me to make sure that the page break did not fall on any of the character’s faces while creating this. I also wanted the focus to be on the foreground action, so I deliberately kept the zombies mostly in shadow to try and create that contrast and depth.
Step 2: Foreground Pencils
I prefer to have the freedom to enlarge of reduce the main visual elements on the fly, so I create them all separately instead of drawing them all together. This way, I can bring in each completed piece into one main document (digitally), making it easier to manipulate down the line. This is helpful if you ever want to make a motion comic, for instance, because you can play around with 2d objects in 3d space. Check out the trailer for Killogy and you’ll see what I mean.
Killogy Trailer: http://youtu.be/m73-WZc7Q8c
With this particular layout, there are three main elements… the foreground character (Brea Grant), the cell bars, and the horde of zombie cops. In this step, I attack the foreground pencils.
Step 3: Foreground Partial Inks
Being that I ink my own pencils, I really don’t go too crazy creating super defined pencils, they’re kind of rough as compared to a lot of other artists I’ve seen. The inking stage is where all the fine lines come in. Here’s a progress shot of the inks for Frank Vincent’s arms. Even though I’ve drawn him like a hundred times already, I always need to double-check which hand his damn pinky ring is supposed to be on. Consistency!
Step 4: Foreground Inks
My inking style for Killogy is extremely influenced by two comics kings I grew up on… Mike Mignola and Frank Miller. Their use of heavy black shadows to create contrast in Hellboy and Sin City, specifically, is something I’m looking to achieve here with my gritty little book. Blood splatter is especially fun for me and Brea’s character is covered in it from page one, which is a plus.
Step 5: Zombie Partial Inks
Okay, now that the foreground piece is out of the way, it’s time to tackle the background elements. Here’s an in-progress shot of some zombie inking. The “X”s you see in the penciled zombie indicate where my spot blacks will eventually go.
Step 10: Full Layout Inks
Time to bring Brea in! As I mentioned earlier, by doing things this way, I have complete flexibility on proportion. I can enlarge or decrease her size as I see fit. here is the entire black and white layout for the spread.
Step 11: Background Colors
Now the fun part begins, adding color. Earlier in the series I established the color scheme for the zombie mob, so I just grab those color swatches from an earlier page and start painting them in. I want the focus to be on Brea, so the zombies sit in shadow for the most part.
Step 12: Complete Colors
Again, I have a style guide already prepared so I know which colors to choose for my foreground characters. Keep in mind that it’s a very distinct choice for me to only utilize flat, desaturated colors for the series. You’ll find that there are no gradients or airbrush type techniques going on here. The goal was to try and achieve a more grindhouse, pulpy look to the book.
So there you have it. This is pretty much how I handle each and every page of the series. Hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into my process and I hope that this might’ve inspired some young artists out there. Please remember, there are many, many ways to get from the starting gate to the finish line. This just happens to be the most effective way for me. Everybody has their own way. Do what’s best for you and your style.
For more info on Killogy, visit: http://www.killogycomic.com
About Alan Robert
Alan Robert is a popular musician, artist and author, best known for being the primary-songwriter/bassist for the hard-rock group Life of Agony for over two decades. In recent years, he’s created quite a name for himself in the world of comics due to the success of his critically acclaimed horror comics. In 2010, he released Wire Hangers, a unique horror/crime tale in which he wrote and illustrated, followed by the 2011 hit series Crawl to Me, now in development to become a feature film.
Alan’s latest series, Killogy, stars Goodfellas/The Sopranos actor Frank Vincent, legendary punk rock icon Marky Ramone, and Heroes/Dexter actress Brea Grant as its main characters. Killogy hits comic shops this Halloween through IDW Publishing. For more info on Alan Robert, visit: www.alanrobert.com and follow him on Twitter: @arobert