I thought I’d take a minute to introduce you to the lovely Illustrations that debut at Ninja-con 2014 for the badge artwork. Eugene and I wanted to freshen the characters for the new start. We couldn’t have been happier with the way that they turned out. After so long we get to see the characters in all of their different personalities and glory. I’m sure that you’ve seen some of these photos lurking about the site in various posts, I thought that I would stop teasing you and show them in all in one post.
So without further wait, here they are!
The lovely Angel of Stone in her human form. ( I personally love her freckles!) This is the first time that we’ve ever drawn her in her human form, and I’m so glad that we did! It really captures her sweet vibrant personality. Now imagine her nestled deep into Vida’s adolescent subconscious.
Here’s the Angel of Creed in his human form. For years I wrote him under the description of a strange young man that follows the characters from a distance in a business suit and a suitcase. I like the fresh young look that we gave him, and that Wiley hair makes him look slightly out of place. If you hadn’t noticed the trend, the Angel’s have tips on their hair. In their ethereal form we go with the color blue. This is because in various cultures the color blue is considered a sacred scerene color.
Finally! Dr. Olivia Gentry in all of her wonder. We wanted a woman worn with age, but strengthened with determination. I love that distant look on her face, it shows a secret story that she has to tell with her actions. Imagine the fantastic stories she could tell over a coffee meet up about all her immortal clients and her dances with death.
The handsome devious Julius Kros. It’s safe to say that out of all our characters, this was the one that has kept a timeless unaltered look. How could we not? His features are what gives us a face that can express so much! From that twisted smile to the knit eyebrows, devious is written all over our villain.
Now we have a good look of Sparrow (real alias Sylvia Bishop) the caretaker of Vida before reuniting with Josh. Page may be an endearing character, but be warned that she packs a punch! I can’t wait to write the beautiful scenes with her in it. Because she’s the voice of reason for the mortal aspect of the story.
Joshua Ayala(the Black Shade) with a beautiful distant look. I know he’s one if the more commonly drawn characters out of the cast, but this illustration draws out all of his features.
I put more research into this version of Vida. My struggle was keeping her youthful looks without something rosy and bubbly. It’s a bit cliche, but I almost gave her the features you would find described in a victorian classic female. She’s not as delicate, but she carries those piercing focused eyes that speak multitudes for the character. A big inspiration for her is Jane Eyre, for the very essence that she carries herself and the ones that she love. “Clever little Vida… You can get into trouble that way”
As a bonus, I wanted to show you Michel whom we used to represent the staff badges. Michel doesn’t show up in the story until after Project Italy. I used him for the staff as almost a ‘hidden character’. If I had to chose a favorite character Michel would have to be it. He’s saved by Angel of Stone and later becomes Vida’s scribe. I’ll save him for another post.
This concludes our current set of illustrations. We hope that you enjoy them! Thank you for your continual support,
Once upon a time, I was young. I was in high school, and I was bored. The Matrix came out for the first time, and I was doodling, as I used to always doodle – in class, hardly hearing the teacher lecture, and hardly taking notes. I hardly believe I passed the test the week after that day, but I at least remember this: slim dark sunglasses, a long khaki trench coat, and an asymmetrical blonde haircut, swaying by the wind – standing straight towards the artist (in this case, me).
The sketch was done in a number two pencil. It was filled with wrinkles and shading, his expression was stoic, and while the rest of the page was blank white, the solemn character gave an atmosphere of anticipation. It was as if he was waiting for someone, it could’ve been God or Godot, it didn’t matter – he was waiting. And as I continue to stare at my creation, it was as if he was speaking to me somehow. It felt a little delusional and narcistic, but I wanted to use him as my self portrait, an anthropomorphic spirit of my angst. It wouldn’t have been the first time I had done this, I mean, when I was in my junior high years, I had a cartoon Shaolin Monk to be my deamon, and when I was a child, I would make Dark Wing Duck my superhero name. So it felt too natural to continue this habit.
I wish I could say he was my imaginary friend. I personally think it would’ve been awesome to have my own Chuck Norris to help me climb a rope during P.E. But alas, he was just it. So, I named it Black Shade.
I began to draw Black Shade as an Action hero, jumping buildings, doing gun ballets, and blowing things up, like a good American badass should. I began reading comic books and trying out different styles of art, attempting Miller’s Daredevil and manga toning. Without a computer, I tried it all by hand and blade – purchasing sticker tones from downtown, while inking with my 1.0 ballpoint pen. It was old school. At the time, only half of the U.S. population owned a computer, and even less had internet. I personally had a 56k modem, using a backdoor hack code through my landline phone service to connect to the web. It wasn’t the easiest thing to work with, but what I had was what I had. While my friends were gaming FPS style on their T3 modems, I was creating half my tones on MS Paint – digitizing my pages with my cousin’s scanner. God, it was tedious. I envy the children of today. An iPad could finish ten of the pages in a day that I would’ve labored over in a week or two. And without a job, my funds ran out quick, and sadly, my project dwindled into mere sketches.
It wasn’t long until I removed myself from the dream of becoming a comic book artist, and began to try my hand at writing a novel. Needless to say, I could never get past page 18, and I jumped quickly into screenwriting, thanks to the popularity of Sundance. The pages piled, and old folders got fatter with my portfolio, and soon I reserved an old backpack to be my vault. Black Shade had a better yearbook than me, when high school ended.
And since, the character has been with me for about twenty years. From surreal short stories, to the dark fantasies of Project Italy, Black Shade has been my own personal hero. The immortal of Fate Pendulum.
Writing the story was always fun with Stef. It was an escape for us both, wishing that we could be in that world sometimes – though dark and dangerous, the ability to become something supernaturally gifted, resolving the episode with some extravagant battle was so exciting, enticing, amazing! We were kids growing up together through college. Rather than a car, we started Plays. It was great working in California – experimental theatre was all around us. From black box to fringe in NoHo, sex and ethnic swapping roles in traditional Shakespeare Plays at Santa Monica, to lovely masquerades on the rooftops of Koreatown – we never ran out of inspiration. Being an Artist never felt so good…and expensive. We were friends with amazing art agents who hopped couches, producers who lived and traveled in their car, and couples who got engaged and bunked in the dorms (stretching their years in college loans by switching majors from an associates to masters degrees) – all working hard to someday get their break in the business. We were all dreamers, and we fought for it all.
While Project Italy was still being written, Stef and I would draw the characters and our favorite scenes. Sometimes we would create scenes we wish could’ve fit into the story a few chapters back, and would revel in ideas of “what if’s” during afternoon tea. We would say that someday this dreaming might end, but we always flailed our hands, and said that day might come, but the future has yet to come. “Que cera!” we would mutter, as we toast to a cup of Pu-erh sipping its hot leaves between our lipsticks, at a cafe, in the Holiday Inn, during Anime Expo, Cosplayed as characters I no longer recognize, among other Jack Sparrows and Escaflowne cat girls.
It was college. It was weird, but we were artists. And we dreamed all the way through.