Already Hero:9 – 5 second volume has shaped up to be a darker number, but Ian Sharman has a plan. Working through the rough story outline old school Marvel-style, he and David Gray are constructing a book which will poke fun at the gritty and violent comic book tropes.
While the guys work on balancing the ‘darkness of men’s souls’ against parody and satire, I get to wrangle colours virtually unrestricted. With little more than a general outline as a guide, imagination plays an important role. But, let’s focus on this page.
The second book concerns itself primarily with the day-to-night activities of the supporting cast from book one, so issue three is the first time we catch a glimpse of Frostica’s shiny new outfit. It’s only logical that Blue Girl, her freshly-introduced companion, be dressed in blue too. I’m very fortunate to work in a team that doesn’t stifle creativity, which means there was no one to protest if I decided to expand the blue palette into the rest of the page.
In contrast to Flame-O’s comparatively unglamorous ‘Flame mobile’ from book one, ‘Frosticar’ is an azure blue. I’m considering adding a custom ice-flame paint job, because she could afford one, given her background. Lastly, I greatly look forward to Ian’s words on these pages. Hero has shattered the wafer-thin fourth wall with regular frequency, so I do aim to tailor my colours to expand on those opportunities. Hopefully, our writer boss will take the bait and fill the page with self-referential blue jokes. An issue and a half to go before we find out!
Behold, the face of Hero: 9 – 5 volume two, with lineart by David Gray, colours by Yel Zamor and words by OUC’s own Ian Sharman. The cover teases with characters introduced in the new book, as well as the supporting cast from volume one, such as Loner, The Rocket, Thunder Woman and Mental Lady, who each get their own moment in the spotlight.
In contrast to the warmth of the preceding covers, there is a shift towards colder tones to reflect the second book’s darker and moodier themes. We have already posted a few teaser pages on the graphic novel’s official Facebook page. There, you will also find the cover lineart by David Gray.
Orang Utan Comics is pleased to announce that as your eyes skitter through this blog entry, the ink is cooling on the final page of Alpha Gods: Betrayal #4 Kickin’ up Dust. In related news, we will regretfully be bidding adieu to Yel Zamor (our colour artist on Betrayal #2 & #3), who will be flying the Alpha Gods nest to serve out her busy comic schedule on other graphic novel projects. However, as this door closes, an opportunity knocks. It knocks for you.
The OUC is now officially seeking a fresh and eager face to join the team behind the long-running graphic novel. Combining the writing talents of Ian Sharman (Hero: 9 – 5) and the art of Ezequiel Pineda, Alpha Gods is an exciting science fiction drama set in the far future. With the young extra-humans set to battle aliens, supernatural beings as well as their raging hormones, can the team keep it together long enough to conquer their enemies?
Those looking to edge their foot in the door and gain valuable experience in comics, joining the AG team is a perfect opportunity. While we cannot offer payment, the colour artist will be able to take advantage of flexible work hours to add published comic work to their portfolio.
Please check the Alpha Gods facebook page for the style and standard desired for this project. You may email no more than three samples of colours on sequential comic art (please, no pinups) to Ian Sharman at firstname.lastname@example.org, adding ‘Alpha Gods Colourist’ in the subject line.
‘Peruse – that’s a good word. Put that in your report.’ Holly Rose nudges me conspiratorially. ‘Peruse our comics,’ we coo alternatingly, scanning the milling convention crowds for another victim to be ensnared by our sales pitch. Happily for Orang Utan Comics, the event is the London Film and Comic Con and the eager and the willing comic aficionado is in rich supply. The bright and beautiful covers of our books do half the work for us.
It’s three o’clock on Saturday and the Olympia Grand Hall is heaving. A neon-green dreadlocked cyberpunk glides past a Dovahkiin. Elsewhere, a father clutches a life-size Gremlin replica, letting his bright-eyed sprog steer him towards Star Trek merchandise.
‘We only have three Hypergirl hardbacks left,’ Ian Sharman, the co-writer of the science fiction fantasy adventure, states, marking the sales book. That Hypergirl has drawn positive public response isn’t at all surprising; the art and the vivid colours are bright wrapping for a package that delivers adventure and optimistic encouragement to the reader. It’s a coming of age story, detailing how the plot’s protagonist, the teenage Charley Matthews, lost in foster care finds her inner hero and the bravery to hold her own in the bizarre world of Weirdsville.
David Wynne, the comic’s artist sharing the writing duties, would later tweet “7 year old girl just came to table (with mum, obv) & basically fell in love with Hypergirl. Which is kind of the point of all this” At this particular moment, however, he has barely time to nod an acknowledgement; he’s half-way through his three-minute speed sketch challenge. The dark knight of the OUC table is a mysterious specimen, seemingly fuelled solely by coffee. It’s a busy weekend; needs, musts.
‘What if you don’t finish it in three minutes, what happens then? Do I get my money back?’ jokes a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle enthusiast, watchful of the timer on his iPhone and the flurry of pencil and marker a few feet away.
‘It hasn’t happened yet,’ David signs a headshot of Donatello with a flourish. Another happy customer. The speed sketches are attracting a lot of interest. Mr Wynne would later reflect that challengers with a wilder, more elaborate request often get a less finished and less detailed sketch than those with simpler orders. Aside from xenomorphs, ninja turtles and Batmen (it’s always a plural for David) it was the Borg Locutus who was the trickiest to fulfil.
‘How are the commissions going so far?’ I ask him later. His answer is a satisfied pat of his coin and note laden pocket.
The OUC is doing well too, with such a variety titles on offer the Indy label manages to tick a box for every corner of geekdom. There are zombies and horror in Dead Men and superhero satire in Hero: 9 – 5 (‘political boobs’ as one recent review described it), there’s futuristic science fiction with Alpha Gods: Emergence.
This weekend another title joins the roster, as Shrapnel: Case Files issue one (brought to you by the imagination of Holly Rose, art of Katrine Rasmussen, colours by Yel Zamor and letters courtesy of Ian Sharman) leaps onto the OUC scene. The story inhabits Hypergirl’s universe, albeit with a distinctly darker and grittier twist, and introduces Shrapnel; Weirdsville’s boy vigilante and, Lalla Olivier; a bored young secretary who stumbles across more than she has bargained for.
“…you’re about to jump as gracefully as possible into the wonderful, wacky world of Weirdsville; you’re about to learn all about Shrapnel.” Writes Holly Rose in the preface. “You are also about to learn that as much as superheroes and beating thugs up is fun, people and their little lives are far more interesting and important.”
Truly, there is more than meets the eye for Shrapnel and we invite you to take your first steps into his world with Case Files #1.
It’s late afternoon on Saturday and it’s time to depart; more comic work awaits at home. But, as I cast a glance back at our OUC base, I see more than books and banners flying high above them, what I see is a group of cyberspace drifters, creatives who have gravitated towards each other through a shared passion for art and storytelling. Ask many of our comrades and they will agree that comics is a nutty place to call home, but its rewards are like nothing else.
The remaining hardback copies of Hypergirl all found their homes on Sunday.
This upcoming weekend is quite special for OUC for a number of good reasons. Firstly, we are looking forward to attending London Film and Comic Convention which is taking place in Olympia Grand Hall.
Secondly, we are proud to announce the official launch of Shrapnel: Case Files #1; our newest publication.
Lalla Olivier is bored of her life but when she stumbles across incriminating evidence in her boss’s desk her life changes forever. Enter Shrapnel, Weirdsville’s newest hero. Could this boy vigilante be the answer to her problems? Or is there more to this than meets the eye.
Shrapnel is Weirdville’s newest hero. He’s on a mission to take out the city’s gangs and track down their leader, the mysterious Titania. With the help of DC Fraser Arkwright, Shrapnel will have to learn how to take on everyone from crime lords to super powered street fighters, using just his brain and a little engineering genius. However this boy hero isn’t all that he seems.
So don’t hesitate, do come visit us at the show to pick up your copy of the comic and get it signed by its writer Holly Rose and colourist Yel Zamor. You may also find our book available to order from IndyPlanet. Rumour has it that Ian Sharman will be taking part in a number of panels throughout the weekend, so keep your eyes peeled.
Finally, a special thanks to Rebecca Hahner who provided the wonderfully moody and atmospheric cover for issue #1. Do visit her art blog for work in progress snapshots of the image.
The London Super Comic Con has been discussed in hushed tones for months with excitement hitting fever pitch as the promotion machine kicked into high gear. Updates of creator guests, listing both American and UK talent, helped spread interest but it wasn’t until organisers announced the return of Stan Lee, back in the UK for the first time in many years, that the show reached the attention of an even wider comic aficionado circle. With IDW topping off a stellar guest list, workaholic professionals too have plenty to look forward to.
The inaugural show promises to bring comics back into centre stage and hopes are high.
“OUC is excited to be taking part in such a big show that is so focused on comics.” Enthuses Orang Utan Comics’ Editor in Chief, Ian Sharman. “To be part of an event that’s attracted such an amazing guest list is truly thrilling. It gives us an opportunity to reach an audience that we know are enthusiastic about comics and we’re all very energised by the opportunities that will hopefully bring.”
Preparation for the convention has been a very busy time for OUC. Ian Sharman has created striking logos, graphics and other content that we will be proud to present to the comic fans. Be sure to look out for a special free souvenir convention booklet containing exclusive art from many of the attending guests.
We are also proud to announce the official launch of our newest book ‘Alpha Gods: Emergence’. You are invited to visit our table (B 19) to have your copy signed by the OGN’s creators. Markosia and Orang Utan Comics will be offering portfolio reviews.
Do not miss your chance. Be there on 25th – 26th at the ExCel centre in London. Markosia – booth B 18. Orang Utan Comics – booth B 19.