Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Bubble of Solace

 In 1999, I took a left turn in my art career and left DC Comics to pursue a career in animation. This Summer, I made my return to the world of comics. Well, sorta. My actor friend Melissa Roth told me that she was going to be in Piper McKenzie's new play in the Comic Book Theater Festival titled "The Bubble of Solace", and that they were looking for artists for some comic book segments. First of all, I am a big big fan of Piper McKenzie. Their plays strike a very specific chord with the nerd in me. So already I was excited about the idea of working with them. Secondly, I'd get to draw comic book stuff again, which I'd been itching to do. So I contacted writer/director Jeff Lewonczk, sent him some rough character sketches, and I was in. I was super-excited about the "Bertie" segment, an Archie comics parody. I'd get to draw my version of Josie and the Pussycats? Um, yes please! I think mainly because of my enthusiasm for that alone, Jeff decided that "Bertie" would be the segment I'd work on. Here's one of my favorite panels, brilliantly colored by Jeff to look like old 4-color comic book printing.

 I saw the play last week, and let me tell ya, seeing my work up on a huge screen with the cast doing voices (backstage) in lieu of word balloons, and actor Roger Nasser hilariously interacting with the panels, I loved every second of it! Because of the interactive nature of it, I treated the panels a lot like an animatic. When it's all put together on screen, some panels are almost animated, like when Professor Finkleblatt is lecturing (Roger's character) AJ and telling him that he has the power to change the story. With colors again by Jeff.

 Or when AJ confronts Melvin about his plans to kiss Bertie.

And here's a photo of AJ interacting with Finkleblatt. The panels obviously got flopped for staging. (photo courtesy of Jim R. Moore):

 The following end sequence is possibly my most favorite of anything I've done in my career so far. In this scene, AJ is rejected by Bertie and chastised by Melvin. AJ loses it and starts tearing up the pages of the comic book, effectively massacring the entire Bertie crew. (I'm posting these panels without the 4-color f/x.)
 And in the end, Professor Finkleblatt transforms into The Nightmarer, a ghoulish character similar to EC Comics' Cryptkeeper. In the final panel where we close up on The Nightmarer, I got to switch gears and did a dark, gritty dry-brush horror comics style. So much fun!

Jeff even made a mock comic book cover, the one AJ picks up for the audience to see before we get transported inside the pages. Have I mentioned the man is brilliant?

Humongous thanks to Jeff and Melissa, Piper McKenzie and to the entire cast & crew of "The Bubble of Solace". It was an absolute pleasure to work with all of you!