Greg Manchess

Finally got a chance to work with Matthew Kalamidas over at The Science Fiction Book Club. This one’s wild: alien vampires attacking earth, with a Road Warrior vibe, across a post-apocalyptic Iowa landscape. Gas station and/or grain elevators in background. ‘Can you work-in some attacking ships?’ 

Thumbnails first. Here’s the first set. Two pages exploring possible compositions, elements, lighting conditions. Composition always comes first for me. You name the elements, I can place them. But nothing interesting happens until the composition is built.

Starting with the figure silhouette, I then toyed with a jerry-rigged car as a middle-ground element, developing the body language of the main, semi-paramilitary, leathered-up hero. Worked on just the right movement. But should he be standing confident or middle of action? Burning gas station? Need the alien ships, so I gave that a shot as well.

I showed these to Matthew so I could find out if I was on the right trail. With a few suggestions to follow one of the thumbs and give the figure more movement, I proceeded to show him two more developed, larger sketches.

They decided to go with A above, the more reserved-but-ready pose, as there would be a set of three books and we’d ramp up the action on the cover as the series continued. Matthew also specified more accurate costuming for the main character: longer hair, no balaclava, no headset, add duster, more military clothing. Don’t forget: add ships in the background.

I piled on some clothing and shot reference to work from to get the layers right and gave Matthew this final sketch. Dang… I forgot the ships.

Got the go-ahead, with a request for the ships in the sky. No problem. Started painting. Elapsed time: 10 hours. Finished late at night…and forgot the freakin’ ships anyway.

Next morning, I showed Matthew and he loved it, but had a request: please put in the ships. One forehead slap and a little more time, and the ships were in…..and fun to paint. Looking forward to Book 2!

(Main photograph at top: Gamma One, NYC….those guys are dead. on.)