I'm writing from Cancun right now while watching Futurama in spanish. And yes: it's still funny. Before that it was Mythbusters in spanish. And yes: science and the laws of physics is an international language.
To be honest, I didn't want to come to Mexico. But my girlfriend booked a wedding and got a free flight and hotel. So basically I got roped in.
But it worked out because the hype from Joe the Barbarian's release was really distracting. The please-love-my-stuff "ego genes" that all artists have started activating in my brain, and soon I was Googling "Sean Murphy + Joe Barbarian" more than I like to admit. I'm still not sure what to make of all this. But I know that it's good news. Once my thoughts have settled I'm sure I'll be posting new journals.
Right now it's good to be by the beach on a really dark night where I can finally see the stars that Sagan told us so much about. The only lights in the Brooklyn sky (where I live) are usually the ones lined up to land at La Guardia.
But back to Joe and to everyone here: thanks so much for the support! I read a lot of the "thanks so much" DA journals and I always roll my eyes. And now look where I'm at. What a hypocrite.
What I wanted to do tonight was share a few of the behind-the-scenes DVD extras that go with the first issue. If you're into the book and you're curious, then read on. If not, then read on and memorize these factoids to throw in your friend's faces when they try and school you on shit they think you don't know. BLAM.
1. My grandmother drove a Subaru Outback Sport. I loved those cars ESPECIALLY in white. And especially with an air-scoop (which is only decoration). I suggested to Dave that it should be white, but he went with light maroon. And to be honest, I love it.
2. I drew a dream catcher on the mirror because I wanted to hint at the "dreaming" we were about to do later on in the book.
3. Joe's mom is based off of the actress Holly Hunter. To be honest, I wish I'd used someone else. I can't seem to help it, but I draw masculine looking women. And Hunter is already masculine looking in real life. So I struggled a lot with Joe's mom's face.
1. The script didn't call for any town in particular, so I chose Portland Maine for a few reasons.
A. There was an eeriness to parts of the script--like maybe something was a little off. So I thought of Stephen King and then I thought of how he always writes about New England. For some reason Portand started to feel right.
B. Portland looks like the town from two movies that I wanted to invoke from my childhood: The Neverending Story and The Goonies (even though it's not on the west coast, it's still a coastal town).
C. I'm from New England myself and know how boring/overcast life can be. Again, it seemed to be a fit for the script.
2. I based the main bully off the main character from Off Road. But the other two weren't. At least not consciously.
3. Autumn seemed appropriate to me. Autumn represents death when you consider the "symbolic circle" of the seasons.
1. Obviously the house is a major character in the book, so 3 levels of blueprints were drawn up for Grant to refer to. A lot of the stuff I tossed in ended up as part of the plot.
2. When Joe is entering the house on the splash, I purposefully drew the house to look smaller than it should. I wanted the interior to feel bigger than the exterior as a way to suggest that the house FEELS big to Joe even though it doesn't look it. But to be honest he's still way too big and I should have shrunk him down more on that splash page.
3. A lot of houses in New England are dressed up like an interior decorator's nightmare. From my experience, you see a lot of clutter from old shit that you would find at yard sales like painting of sailboats, chewed up coffee tables, mismatched furniture, and shag carpeting. For Joe's house I wanted to get all of that, including leftover 70s-style paneling on the walls. My color notes to Dave insisted that he go nuts with these reds, oranges, olives and ugly textures. I've never seen it in a comic and I know Dave has never been asked to color badly on purpose.
4. My favorite part of issue 1 is the aztec-style chair next to the front door. Dave colored it exactly as those ugly chairs look in real life. It's gloriously tacky and I love it.
5. Grant left those 5 pages silent before I'd started drawing it. When I saw that, I realized that the art had better be intricate so we don't lose people.
1. Grant had a few notes on his room. Joe lived in the attic and used a rope ladder to get there. And he had a ton of toys and a window. Grant left it open but he was very clear that this room was the defining visual of who Joe was. So to play up the tree house feel of the rope ladder, I played with height a lot. So the ceiling got taller and suddenly there was a bunk bed and skylights. All the other stuff fell into place around that.
2. Like Grant said in an interview recently, the toys were basic at first--soldiers and teddy bears. And I had just finished designing my perfect bedroom and thought, "soldiers and teddy bears? That ain't going in MY bedroom!" and then went to town on all the 70s/80s stuff. Much of it I didn't have but I figured a lot of readers would.
3. I wrote Nguyen on the license plate of the Transformer--a Bumble Bee type toy that I based off a Honda CRX that I used to drive. Dustin Nguyen and I BOTH apparently had one, so I threw him name on the plate. One day we'll both buy our cars back and race off into the sun together.
4. Two problems occurred when I turned the pages in with all the knock-off toys: DC legal freaked out. I ended up having a few phone calls with my editors based purely off DC concern that the toys were too similar. They even had a problem with the Iron Giant poster. I remember screaming at my editor, "but that's a Warner Brothers movie!" He said that I should prepare for a lot of fixes. And with all the phone calls I assumed that I might be redrawing the spread. And after all of that, what did they make me change? The Picard-rip should have one leg and the generic cowboy (the only one I thought was safe) looking too much like the Man with No Name. THAT WAS IT. Thanks for all the phone calls DC.
The second problem was that these toys had all just had their assess kicked. What is powerfully enough to defeat knock-offs of GI Joe, Transformers, DCU characters, the Master Chief and a bunch of dinosaurs? I didn't know what the bad guys were at that point, although I'd done some sketches of a Death Coat that got approved. So I told my editor that Grant might want to make the villains more intimidating and powerful if they were going to be able to beat all those toys.
So tune in next month to see what they're up against!