Hunting, Joe style

August 19, 2009

Issue 8 hit the stands recently, so it’s time for a much needed update to the blog.

This issue was more fun for me to work on than the previous. It wasn’t because of any problems with the script, but because  I was starting to feel more comfortable with the book as a whole. I was able to play with things more, and worry less, about matching Robert Atkins’s previous efforts. Robert was really helpful by giving me references of the locations he used for Castle Destro, and that allowed me to play with other details.

I preface the following by saying you have to keep in mind one of my prior jobs, where I was illustrating placemats for Kraft’s Cheeseasaurus Rex. Those mats were filled with games ranging from mazes to my favorite – “hidden items”, where you had to find things placed in the images where they shouldn’t be. Granted, in the Joe pages the approach is less subtle, but I still do it. Gone may be the idea of hiding salt shakers and forks in the stones of a castle wall, but tossing in random references in still in the same vein as far as I’m concerned.

On one of the Joe boards, a reader pointed out some of the Dr Who references that found their way into my pages below. Yes, I admit it, I’m a Who fan and worse of one As Time Goes By (which I love as well). He spotted the remains of a Dalek in one scene and references to Dr Who characters on books in the splash page of Destro’s library. I have to honestly say, I love that. It’s fun for me to toss that stuff in, and more fun when people catch it. Granted I’m not trying to hide them, or pull one over on people, but why make it a plain old page? Why not take the time to throw things in? Why not make people look at the art more, instead of the surface glance it often gets.

Layout 1

Layout 1

All of this really stems from my childhood and MAD magazine where guys like Mort Drucker and Harry North Esq. used to hide little details in every corner of the page… gags inside gags. This was a tradition they had carried on from the original artists on MAD, and although I’m not drawing comedy, why not do the same? Maybe it’s ego and I just want people to look at the art more, but I don’t think so. It’s fun for me to do it, and it becomes a game for the audience in the end. Sure you can read the story, and just take in the art to flesh out the concept, but how much more fun is it to come back after the read and find little treasures? The beauty of a comic is you can take it with you, you own it, and you can come back to it over and over. It’s like a film you watch again and again, and noticing things you hadn’t before, that’s the fun of it.

I grew up right around the time the Joe cartoon was hitting it big, although I was more of a Star Wars kid. Those times have a lot of good memories for me, not just of Joes and Star Wars, but of other toys I grew up loving- one of which found it’s way on this page, updated to be a piece of hi-tech hardware.

Layout 1

If you look closely you’ll also see some other things in this page, not hidden items or disguised ones, but things I threw in that I felt added to the characters. This is something I started doing after reading an interview with John Byrne, where he said he always tried to develop a character’s environment to embellish the type of person they were. For example, if they were goofy, you might throw posters of famous comedy actors on the wall, or some such thing. In the previous page I threw in some stuff that is specific to the culture the Destro family comes from, hence the Scottish rugby tee shirt and the jar of Marmite on the counter. As a comedian once said, “It’s not if people get it, but if the right people get it.”

Happy hunting.

Next time: Why I’ll never shave my pits to impress Michael Ironside