I’ve been working in the comics business for a long time; I’ve attended many conventions and met countless fans. I found them all to be great people and I certainly have appreciated their support and fondness for my work. Only three times though have I met a fan with whom I felt possessed an affinity for creating and the temperament for collaboration, in other words, someone I could work with. Jim was one of those guys. Our first project was a short film which made sense as I had a background in acting and Jim’s background was in film making. It was a humble project but successful in its own way.
Some time went by and we talked of doing something else but nothing was coming to mind at least not for me. Then Jim proposed Dust and Blood. At first I was a bit taken aback by the scale of the project; all I could see was me slaving over panel after panel, page after page of hundreds of figures in expansive battle scenarios. Crowd scenes have never been my forte. But as we discussed the story, I realized that like any other graphic novel or comic this story was multi-faceted and would be working from various perspectives so there would be a great deal of variation in what needed to be illustrated.
I also had to come to terms with this being a “Western” and how I was going (if I could) to expand on that motif. As a kid I read very few western or cowboy comics. I never read the ones that were original titles such as Kid Colt and others of that type. I mostly read comic book adaptations of existing TV westerns such as Laramie. Bonanza or Gunsmoke. I don’t remember much about them and don’t know as I particularly enjoyed them other than seeing if the artist captured the likeness of the TV actor.
Many years later when I got into the business I discovered a lot of the better European and Latin American artist who illustrated some outstanding wild west stories. There was the French artist Giroux (later to be known as Mobius) and his work on Lieutenant Blueberry and the American artist Doug Wildey and his Rio series. I was pretty confident that I could deliver a book of that quality with the art and I knew Jim had already risen to the occasion with the story content.
I already had a large repertoire of drawing reference in my head of horses and weapons of the Old West so I had confidence in that area. Some scant research on Custer’s uniform and the landscapes in and around the Little Big Horn and I would be ready to go. I just hoped I could add a dimension of patina or a bit of antiquing of style that would give a bit of depth to the final art. I still don’t know if I succeeded in doing that.