Daring to Include The Full Nude

This excerpt shares behind the scenes material from NBM’s The Mercenary remastered editions, available now.  To see all posts, click HERE.

Just as a well-proportioned young horse with good musculature, a tiger, or a peacock are instinctively beautiful to us, so too is the human body. This, intensified by sensuality, acquires extraordinary dimensions and for this reason a well-constructed, nude human body has always been a point of reference in art. To me, as a painter, it is fascinating to paint female nudes.

MERC

As an illustrator I have done many covers including partial nudes. On very few occasions were they fully nude and much less on covers for the USA where censorship did not allow it. Here, in Spain, with the advent of democracy, we went from an opaque, ecclesiastic censorship of everything, to the wildest and most widespread openness.

Given these circumstances, and as I had to call attention, if I wanted my samples to have a future, I dared to include a full nude.

 

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The Penetration Power of a Projectile

This excerpt shares behind the scenes material from NBM’s The Mercenary remastered editions, available now.  To see all posts, click HERE.

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As for the warrior, in principle he was nothing specific, just a character in these circumstances, so I didn’t put too much into him: partial body armor was less work and one supposes that it is enough if he protects himself with his shield. At that time, I already had experience drawing armor and all kinds of weapons, of which I am a big fan. Years before, in 1978, I had written and illustrated a monograph about this topic called Universal History of Weapons. In these supplements you can see some of the illustrations from that book.

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For the sample, I had to do something spectacular and I inserted this scene. An arrow goes cleanly through the shield and then the warrior’s head.

This is not an exaggeration: the penetration power of a projectile, if it has sufficient velocity, mass, and tip, is massive. In fact, an arrow has more penetration power than a high caliber bullet from a pistol or revolver.

Bullets are always made of soft materials like lead to adapt to the rifling, therefore when they impact they flatten and deform. But although their penetration power is low, the impact and take down power of a bullet is very high. One shot from an old Western Colt 45 can take a rider out of his saddle and thrown him to the ground.

3Conversely, as you can see here, the sharp point of tempered steel of an arrow would give a very different result, especially if the bow were sufficiently powerful.

In the 14th century, there were some two-meter-long bows of such power that, in the battles of Crécy and Agincourt, the Welsh, English, and Flemish archers decimated the French nobility protected by shining, heavy armor.

Gerald of Wales, a clerk of the era, testified to the power of these bows during the battle of Abergavenny: one of William de Braose’s mounted soldiers was shot by one of these arrows, which punctured the soldier’s armor, chain mail, thigh, breeches, the chain mail again, the armor again on the other side, and the saddle tree wood, before sinking deeply into the horse’s flank, killing it.

There Be Dragons…

This excerpt shares behind the scenes material from NBM’s The Mercenary remastered editions, available now.  To see all posts, click HERE.

As to story I could tell in those few sample pages, it occurred to me to do an aerial combat in World War II style, but with dragons ridden by medieval warriors and the rescue of a girl who, of course, would have to be nude. The protagonist would be the knight-rescuer and the setting would be any invented building, trying my hand at my reserve of fantasy.

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In fact, this was not the first time that I did a sample to get work; a rejection was something that only affected me for a few hours. What I didn’t imagine was that this simple story would go on for so long…

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One of the issues that I had at the beginning was how to deal with saddles. In all the iconography about the topic, it was common to see dragons with four legs and two wings.

I had even painted covers with flying dragons in which I had given them this configuration. But I was never comfortable with it. It was not logical, mainly because there was an evident basic structural failure. Even accepting the wide margins allowed by fantasy and admitting that nature has done stranger things, I thought that with this solution we were creating an animal that was absurd to a certain point, because any being with wings on its back, whether reptile, human, or angel, needs very marked musculature to move them, an issue that is always avoided.

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So it seemed more logical to use the solution adopted by nature where the front feet of primitive flying reptiles were sacrificed, transforming them into the bird wings that we are all familiar with.

m6For the first flying dragon that the Mercenary rides, I was inspired by the head of a tuatara lizard, a species dating back to much earlier than dinosaurs and the only one that has survived to modern times. It is said, as well, that they can live up to 100 years.

These exceptional characteristics were what led me to use it as a flying dragon in my samples.

‘The Mercenary’: “Tebeos” No More

This excerpt shares behind the scenes material from NBM’s The Mercenary remastered editions, available now.  To see all posts, click HERE.

bottom-mercSome interesting circumstances got me into comics. In the middle of the 1970s, at the beginning of Spanish democracy, there was a repeal of many prohibitions from the dictatorship in Spain that affected culture. This prompted a kind of revolutionary movement in the comics world that led intellectuals to investigate what was behind this curious thing that now was called “comics” and used to be called “tebeos” (silly, nonsense). The media talked about them and soon this dying genre revived itself. Editors with new magazines and illustrators appeared. Competition grew which led to “full color” pages which was more marketable although at the beginning it was only a few pages out of the magazine.

mercmachineAt that time, I had switched illustrator agents and the new one, in addition to selling our work, had become an editor of comics magazines. I liked comics and, seeing that there was demand for color stories, I proposed to my agent that I do some sample pages for free, with the intention of expanding my field of work. Naturally, the agent-editor said yes. I painted covers in oil paints. This technique was completely unusual in the comic world, but it was a way of working that I felt very comfortable with and I wasn’t going to change my system. I wasn’t sure how this might be accepted, particularly due to the absence of the classic black ink lines and the novelty of the technique, but despite my doubts, I couldn’t just stop doing what I knew best.

To have some guarantee of success, it had to be something remarkable, but given the circumstances, it also had to be easy and comfortable to do and for that reason, better to do it all from my imagination. I did not want to start a period piece that would require me to research tedious documentation about clothing, buildings, furniture, and settings.

The most practical would be to pick a fantasy topic and invent everything. I have always been a big fan of the middle ages with their armor and dragons, as well as weapons, castles, aircraft, the female form, and, especially, orientalist fantasy, so I got down to it and mixed all of these ingredients.

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We’ve Got It Covered

When working on the interior pages of Pride Of The Decent Man, I’d take a day or two and work on potential covers for the book. Here are a few alternates and rejected version of the book cover for PRIDE. ( you can click the images to see them at a larger size ). It’s always a nice change of pace to concentrate on single image after working on sequential pages for so long. I’d say some were more successful than others. There were elements taken from a few of these that made it onto the final design. There are things I like about each one, and definitely some things I could’ve done better. It’s a process, like anything else. It’s not wasted time, because in the back of my mind, I think – “this could end up being a good cover for a foreign translated edition!” If that were to happen, though, I’d end up wanting to redraw it anyway.

To find out more about Pride Of The Decent Man, including ordering info, go here.

Thanks for reading!

T.J.

The Inevitable Cartoonist Process Post

Process sharing among cartoonists has become somewhat demystified in the digital age. With the advent of social media, artists can easily ask or share with others the way in which their art is created.

“What pen do you use?”

“What computer program is good for drawing?”

“What kind of ink is best with a Hunt 102 pen nib?”

Before the internet, questions like these were more difficult to figure out. Sure, you could’ve written a letter to Charles Schulz or Jack Kirby and asked what eraser they used after inking, but you may not get a response – for several months, if at all.

These days a young cartoonist can type in ‘best inking brush for comics’ into google, compile the top five, and have them delivered to their doorstep in a day or two.

It’s a different world, this age of information.

Having said all that, if there are curious people out there wondering how a page from PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN evolves, here are a few examples – and yes, I work digitally using Manga Studio 5 and Adobe Photoshop. Lettering is done in Adobe Illustrator.

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PRIDE 3

For more information on how to order PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, click here.

Thanks for reading,

T.J. Kirsch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing It Down & The Origins Of PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN.

Ideas for books come and go, but I’ve learned that if you don’t write them down, they’ll fly away out of your head pretty quickly. If you don’t write it down, it just doesn’t exist.

Every idea I’ve had for a comic, I first wrote down in a small, simple notebook.

My favorite place to exhibit ( and buy ) comics is the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. I like to have something new every time I go – to be excited about showing people your new work is a great feeling. When it came time to exhibit in 2014, I wrote and illustrated a small eight page quarter-size mini comic called TURNPIKE. It featured a nameless ‘homeless guy’ and a lonely teenager named Julie. The story evolved from those few scribbled down notes into a story.

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I received a lot of good feedback about that minicomic. One cartoonist I respect a great deal told me it was very good and ‘indicative of a larger story.’

That got my wheels turning in the weeks afterward, and in 2015 I put together a proposal for a graphic novel called NEVER FORGET TO REMEMBER.

rough cover

 

It connected the two main characters in TURNPIKE and expanded on some of the themes and visual elements. I included the first ten finished pages of the book, as well as a synopsis, character descriptions, character designs, and a cover mockup.

It all started as a few hastily-scribbled sentences in a notebook, and soon evolved into a real project. NBM responded favorably and the title was eventually changed to PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN.

 

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