Saturday, 31 December 2011

Kalifornia by Duncan Fegredo & Chuck Dixon

Above: Duncan Fegredo's preliminary sketch for the cover.

To celebrate New Year's Eve, this evening, I've another unseen "blast from the past" treat for you. This time it's DC Comics' adaptation of the 1993 movie, Kalifornia, starring Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes. According to IMDB, Duchovny "...Played a journalist who goes on a cross-country tour of famous murder sites with his girlfriend (Forbes) as research for a book he is writing about serial killers. He takes Pitt's character along to help pay the bills, unaware that Pitt's character is in fact a serial killer himself. Although it did not do much business at the box office, it is still a great film and has become somewhat of a cult favorite among fans." The comic was adapted from the film by me old mate Duncan Fegredo. Here's what he has to say about the project: 
"I'd not long finished Enigma when I got a call from DC Comics Special Projects about an adaptation of Kalifornia, a new flick from Gramercy Pictures. I remember DC running the poster on the flip side of their monthlies, sepia tinted, moody shots of a bearded Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis in a flimsy dress [Below].
"That was all I knew, that and comic book adaptations of movies came in two flavours, mostly inedible. A few exceptions to that rule of course, Alien by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson, Outland by Jim Steranko and Dune by Ralph Macchio and Bill Sienkiewicz.... Okay now I'm I'm remembering a few others, Al Williamson Star Wars sequels, Bladerunner, but look, the point is with the exception of Alien, most comic book adaptations were at best pretty pictures with barely functioning storylines.

"Kalifornia would change all that! We had fan favourite Peter David handling the adaptation of the script! We had glorious cinematography to be transcribed by an artist who'd just recently learned to draw coherently! We had... What? We didn't have Peter David? Apparently not, Mr David was replaced by Chuck Dixon and having watched the movie I think Mr Dixon did a bang up job, particularly considering the other thing we had,  32 pages in which to compress the entire movie! 

"As I remember it the script was broken down into panels leaving me to choose my own page breaks, it was cramped but seemed to come together pretty well. I probably could have given myself a lot more room elsewhere in the book but I wanted to squander precious space on a few extra panels here and there, making a moody opening for the opening splash for example.

"The rest is a blur of me trying to capture likenesses of the characters without resorting to poorly copied photos and oh yes, I had to squeeze in likeness of a competition prize winner. I was provided with a cheesy fake baseball card featuring prize winner Tom, told to fit him into a scene somewhere. He's not hard to spot, not because of my perfect portrait but rather because I put him in a vest emblazoned with his name, just to make sure! [Ed's note: Page 13, Panel 5]

"I think the book was at least partly coloured by Danny Vozzo, but I didn't get to see it. Well, no one did, obviously. I believe the book was intended to be a pack incentive with the video release but it never happened. Various editors have enquired over the years about releasing the book but with the demise of Gramercy Pictures ownership was mired in confusion. 
"The biggest mystery remaining of course is why Kalifornia? I have no idea. 

"Enjoy the book and please don't tell me you prefer my old stuff :)

"Duncan Fegredo, 5am, 19th December 2011"

So for the first time in public, anywhere, after 18 years in the "One that got away" files, I present to you the 32-page comic adaptation of Kalifornia by Duncan Fegredo & Chuck Dixon (not Peter David)...
Above: A more detailed montage cover sketch.
Above: Fegredo's finished cover painting. Funnily enough, I think his line work capture's the actors' likenesses better than the painting.

Below: Here are the finished pages of the entire comic adaptation of Kalifornia, minus Danny Vozzo's colours:

Hope you enjoyed that! I hope you all have a Very Happy, Prosperous and Wonderful 2012! There'll be a lot more postings from me in the next 12 months! 

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Rites of Alchemy: Epilogue

Paul Johnson always worked from photographs (just like Dan Bereton, Alex Ross and many other comic creators) and The Rites of Alchemy was no exception. Often he'd use friends who would pose for many characters, so in the style of Dad's Army...

Richard Barker
Dick Hansom
Giovanni Tarquini
Jackson Kirk didn't appear in the first four issues.
Tim Pilcher
Above: The Comte de St. Germain only appeared in the first issue, page 5, panels 3-4. 
Above: Sanders never appeared in the first four issues.
Woodrow Phoenix

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this peek behind the curtain at a 20-year-old Vertigo project that never saw the light of day.

Merry Christmas to you all, and "Gawd bless us, everyone!"
— Not So Tiny Tim.

Friday, 23 December 2011

The Rites of Alchemy: In The Garden of The Philosophers (Part 4)

This is the final part of the artwork for The Rites of Alchemy. Although the series was supposed to run to 12 issues, only eight of them were scripted by Dick Foreman and four were drawn by Paul Johnson before Vertigo pulled the plug on the project. But even then, the last episode Paul drew was incomplete and he only managed to draw 11 pages (1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 22) and these weren't lettered by Ellie DeVille. 

Hopefully, by now, you'll recognise most of the characters. In this episode Trismosin recruits another alchemist to his side and he takes Wesley Cale on a journey to the other dimension known as The Garden of the Philosophers'...

Next: We'll look at some more of the preliminary character sketches that Paul did and discuss the cast members.