From Pale Witness, © 2007 Steve Murphy/Me
I'm currently working on a one-shot called Pale Witness, written by Steve Murphy, who wrote the Tales Of The TMNT issue I drew a couple of years ago. It's an unusual job for me, as I'm working "Marvel method" - so instead of working from a detailed script, I get a document describing the action. Though Steve does break the thing down by page and panel, there's no dialogue or explanation of anything but action, so aside from knowing that it's about a female cosmonaut on a joint US/Russian mission to the moon, I can't actually tell you what the story is - in fact, I'm looking forward to reading it myself!
I must say, it makes a nice change drawing rockety stuff again; Victoriana is all very well and good, but as a child of the space age, there's something about spaceships that I find very satisfying. It's a different thing from drawing The Great Game, though; there I was following the classic 50's rocket designs, here I'm designing stuff based on real NASA and Soviet spacecraft.
I'm drawing Pale Witness in a composite of my old greyscale technique and the more textural Stickleback technique (see top illustration). I always try to find a fresh approach for each new project, but it's funny how some habits assert themselves, almost without my meaning to. To explain: when I drew the Tales Of The TMNT story for Steve back in 2004, it was set in New York, and I wanted to give it a slightly gritty feel, so I added much more hatching than usual. Because Pale Witness is by the same writer, working "Marvel method," it feels similar to the Tales Of The TMNT story, though the content of the story is very different. The result? More hatching is creeping in, almost without me realising.
The same thing happened back in 2000 when I drew the extra story for Lazarus Churchyard: The Final Cut. Though I'd not drawn a Lazarus strip for more than eight years, I fell straight back into the drawing habits from the earlier work, almost without deciding to.
Something else I notice creeping in is a bit of influence from Shane Oakley. I've been doing some lettering for him on his adaptation of Fall Of The House Of Usher for Nevermore, some of his chiaroscuro work is a revelation; it's prompting me to keep things simple and try and make my compositions stronger.