I’ve always been awful with dates, but I’ve been drawing since I was very young. I can’t remember when I started exactly, but my mother can perfectly recall one time that I had to scrub crayon off the floors of the small apartment we used to live in, because I’d drawn a little something on every tile (oops!), and I haven’t stopped since.
Sadly–or gladly, I still don’t know which–I made the decision to study fashion design, which led to constant frowning at a sewing machine, hating runway shows, etc.
But, the one thing that I kept doing was drawing; I won some figurine contests in college, and I was happy with that, but it still wasn’t enough–I wanted to make comics, something my parents, admittedly, weren’t very keen for me to do.
That’s when I met Ben Abernathy! I was doing some translation work for him at DC Comics at the time, and one day I gathered enough courage to completely embarrass myself and show him some of the art that I had worked on in a personal project.
I think I might’ve done something right back then, because sometime later, after he left DC, he emailed me, and we talked about The Heroes Club project!
Never, ever in my wildest dreams had I thought I would end up actually doing something like this, making a debut in the industry, and in such an awesome environment as Madefire!
The project proved to be quite a ride since the beginning–it would be the first all-ages title Madefire would publish, the first time I tried my hand at something like this (including the coloring!), and the first time that Ben would write a script! So, I think I can say that we were both very excited and kind of scared about the project.
It was all new and unexplored, but the kids (Little Captain, Charlie and Mono) just have a way to get into your heart, so, in the end it was surprisingly easy and fun to draw them as the story unfolds.
I hope you all have as much fun reading this motion book as we did creating it!
It was around 1983, and I was at school in Eastbourne – a very traditional private school in England that wasn’t dissimilar to Hogwarts. I was there on an art scholarship, and I was growing out of comics – well, ‘super-hero’ comics. By then I was into the delectable adult comics coming out of Europe and the American underground, and published in Heavy Metal magazine. The capes were for kids back then – but that was all about to change.
I was browsing the shelves of the local newsagents, seeing if there was a new issue of Heavy Metal in, and there – nestled amongst all the non-descript pamphlets – was this massive burst of energy. It was clearly an orphan, a waif from a spilling-over box. It wasn’t meant to be there, because clearly it came from another dimension, another planet. You have to understand – you don’t find stuff like that in Eastbourne.
It was a copy of Moon Knight, featuring an explosive story called ‘Hit It’ drawn by somebody called Bill Sienkiewicz. It was the best comic I had ever seen, and it literally changed my life.
A few years later ‘Electra Assassin’ changed my life again, then ‘Stray Toasters’, and on—
Comics really COULD be art.
Bill’s legacy is traceable through a large tract of my generation of comic artists – from myself, to Simon Bisley, Ash Wood to Dave McKean. He had THAT much impact.
So here I am, 30 years later, and who did I just get to work with? Only Bill effin Sienkiewicz. Only one of the greatest, most innovative comic artists ever born.
Bill is who you want by your side when you are pushing boundaries. He’s never stopped. I finally met him at San Diego a few years ago and we struck up an instant accord. It wasn’t long before we were talking Madefire, and very shortly after that he became one of our advisors, a founding father.
Inevitably there would be work, but the question was always – what? What was big enough? What was grand enough for an artist who had tackled Moby Dick? What would be worthy?
We had been looking at classics to adapt, and Ben Abernathy and I both had a fondness for the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The cogs whirred, the fates turned their beady eyes our way, the planets aligned.
My god. Bill Sienkiewicz. Sherlock. It was perfect!
So Bill came to the Madefire studio, and for a week we toiled as brothers, fired by the enthusiasm of the whole studio, and joined by Ben Wolstenholme working on his latest MONO installment. It was a perfect storm of creativity. We hit a vein and tapped it dry. The paper flew, the music blared, the ink spattered the walls and floor. We traced our trajectories, shared war stories and love stories.
I’ve had easily one of the best, most intense and special times artistically that I’ve ever had. I still feel re-energized, inspired, fresh. I feel like that 15 year old kid again.
Thank you Bill.
The latest episode of Haden Blackman and Gary Erskine’s The Irons: Hybrids was released Wednesday and we immediately pick up where #3 ended: Leto in hot pursuit of Multon with all manner of questions firing through her (and the reader’s) mind—Who is he? What’s his connection to The Hijacker? Can she save his latest victims? Detective Leto is ready for this whole nightmare to be over. It’s amazing how far this title has come in a mere four episodes!
And speaking of amazing, next month is Madefire’s one year anniversary on iPad and it’s been remarkable to watch the evolution of the “grammar” of Motion Book storytelling in that short span of time. Some artists have worked in Tool and many haven’t—but they’ve all adapted to this new medium.
Gary’s work on The Irons is a terrific example.
Gary Erskine has been a name synonymous with print for over 20 years and when he began working on The Irons there wasn’t a large number of polished Motion Books to reference as the medium was literally evolving from day-to-day. Since Episode 1, Gary has been producing art to deliver the best Motion Book possible, but only over the last episode or two has he begun providing serious direction on the “camera” work to best execute the story flow. In the beginning he would turn in the final pages (as colored by the extraordinary Yel Zamor) in a traditional fashion like so:
After getting several episodes under his belt and seeing how the stories were being constructed, Gary’s thinking evolved into more complex guides of how he would like the story to go:
This is a shot of Ingress taken from episode 4. It is the station that processes new immigrants to The Irons. Between all the people, graffiti, robots, and police kiosks, soaking in all of the information on a stationary screen is almost impossible. Gary took great pains to provide notes and arrows to convey exactly where to zoom and pan.
BONUS: Can you spot the hidden Madefire logo in the image?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that with Gary taking a step in this direction that the best episode yet of The Irons was delivered. And it’s not just Gary getting in on the art direction—other artists are starting to do the same…we’ll show Jimmy Broxton’s process in an upcoming blog post and others have found more elaborate ways to get their vision across.
And the day we release the Motion Book Tool to the public is coming—so give some thought to how you’d like your motion book to work someday. How will you communicate your ideas and dreams into this next generation platform? Are you the kind of person who wants to add notations on the images like Gary or a will you create your own style? The future of storytelling is literally up to you!
Hey guys! I’m Susie, and I’m the new marketing intern here at Madefire. I’m excited to be here, and I have loved every minute I have spent in our South Berkeley studio so far. I have been reading Madefire motion books for a long time–in fact, the first book I read was Treatment: Tokyo before it was even released! It was an emotional full circle, then, that the series came to its conclusion on Wednesday.
When one door closes, another one opens, right?
So, as I was saying, I’m Susie the Intern and I live here in the Bay Area. I relocated here from Nebraska about five years ago, and I have zero desire to move back–I went “California” very quickly. I no longer mix well with snow or humidity! I’m a pretty average 24 year-old-girl who loves to shop, get my nails done, play video games and have an obsession with mermaids. And I also love comic books.
For the last few years, I have worked at Flying Colors Comics, a legendary comic shop in Concord—and that’s how I got into both comics AND Madefire. You see, when I moved here, I had never read a comic in my life. Friendless and living in a foreign city, I happened to be driving one day and spotted Flying Colors. Immediately pulling my car over to investigate, nearly causing an accident, I’m sure. I stopped into the shop and walked out with Fables v.1 and WE3. I haven’t stopped loving comics since that day. And by a terrific twist of fortune, I met Joe ‘Otis’ Costello, the production manager at Madefire (and 20+ year patron of Flying Colors), and Liam Sharp through the store.
Again, I’m so thrilled to be a part of Madefire. I love that I get to work within a medium that I care so much about and I joined the team at a great time. What with all the amazing things that are happening with deviantART and all of the titles that are on the way (including more Treatment titles!), I am so lucky to be here. I reread all of Treatment: Tokyo on Wednesday, and though I’m sad to see it go, I can’t wait to see what the future will hold for the series and the main character, Kaidan.
One last thing: Wednesday was Kinman Chan’s birthday! Kinman is the artistic genius behind Treatment: Tokyo, so as a birthday gift to him and a “Welcome to the Studio” gift to me, you really should download Treatment: Tokyo 3. Trust me, I think you’ll like it.
If you see me around at the studio, Story Night, San Diego Comic Con or even Flying Colors, say hi!