Monday, October 22, 2012

Lowlife: Saudade Part 2: 21st Century Foss

So, last time I talked about the delights of drawing stuff I remembered from the 2000AD’s of my childhood (in particular, Luna-1). But that was nothing… because this episode I got to draw…

Kleggs copyright Rebellion Developments Ltd/2000AD.
Kleggs created by John Wagner and Brian Bolland(?)


Kleggs love to sing and dance
These crocodile-headed mercinaries first appeared during the long-running Judge Dredd saga The Day The Law Died (aka Judge Caligula). They combine the utterly menacing (reptilian giants with huge jaws full of razor sharp teeth) with the faintly ridiculous (thick as bricks, tiny little legs, like to sing) and as a result, were fondly remembered by 2000AD readers and have made a number of appearances in the Prog and the Megazine since. 
Though the art chores for The Day the Law Died were shared among four regular artists, Brian Bolland seemed to do the bulk of the epsiodes involving the Kleggs, so keeping up with his incredibly precise drawing style was going to be a big challenge. I made sure to do lots of boning up on the facial structure of crocodiles, especially that odd zig-zag jawline they have, which makes them look so very nasty.

Dirty Frank meets his first Klegg in Lowlife: Saudade
Lowlife Saudade copyright Rebellion Developments Ltd/2000AD.
Lowlife created by Rob Williams and Henry Flint 

In the end I was quite pleased with how my Kleggs turned out, though I did fluff some of the behind-the-head shots a bit.


Designing the giant transporter ship on page one gave me the chance to pay tribute to one of the great names of SF illustration - Chris Foss. Famed for his “big yellow spaceship” school of design, Foss burst onto the scene in the early 1970’s, and was in the vanguard of a new wave of artists who SF design away from the sleek, polished metal designs of the 30’s towards the gritty, industrial look that became so fashionable following Star Wars in 1977. Besides dominating the UK paperback market for more than a decade, Foss also produced the early concept designs for the classic Eagle Transporter in Gerry Anderson’s seminal 2001-influenced TV gloom-fest Space:1999, and was a contributing concept designer on Ridley Scott’s SF-horror game-changer Alien (1979).

Left: the transporter chip from page one

Left: the Io shuttle from the movie Outland
Right: An Eagle transporter from the TV series Space: 1999

  My transporter ship design borrows elements from the Eagle Transporter and the Io shuttle from the movie Outland; both models constructed by British modelling whizz Martin Bower (who also oversaw the building of the starship Nostromo for Alien).

Martin Bower with the large model of the starship Nostromo from Alien.

For the landing scene, I borrowed the agressive backlighting employed by Ridley Scott for the Nostromo’s planetfall in Alien

Top: The landing of the starship Nostromo in the movie Alien.
Bottom left: The transporter ship touches down on the moon on page four of Lowlife: Saudade part two.
Bottom right: the 3D model I made to establish perspective and shadows for the ship and landing pad.
I built a simple model of the ship in 3D so I could get the shadows right. The rendering for the final image, with its careful use of spatter and tone effects, was inspired by memories of Gary Leach’s outstanding work in the early 80’s on The VC’s for 2000AD and Warpsmiths for Warrior

A rare view of the first, yellow-painted incarnation of the Nostromo from Alien.
Finally, while I was researching this post, I came upon some pictures of something I’d only heard rumours of previously; that during the early stages of the production of Alien, the model of the Nostromo had been painted up in a bulldozer-yellow Chris Foss-style paint scheme before being resprayed a dull battleship grey for the final film. This post on tells the full story, including what happened to the huge model after shooting had been completed.

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