Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pierre Speaks: Exil

Exil MagazineI mentioned how I got my first short story published in a magazine (or should it be called a fanzine??) called "Exil".

Around 1989, I started putting together my own world/universe.

Being a huge D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) fan, what I had in mind was to essentially make something not unlike D&D in comic form. But I wanted to be able to use that world to make any kind of story if I wished to. So I had my kind of D&D world set in some far post apocalyptic future, but I could make some super-heroes stories set in the "past", or even some sci-fi stories also in that far future.

Heck sometimes I think I was trying to make Battlechasers years before Madureira. ;)

Although seeing setting like Eberron, Arcanum, etc, it seems that it is a pretty common idea after all.

After a lot of head scratching, I decided to call it "Heroes". It would allow me to do stories in any time period I wanted to.

But then I got sidetracked into making a LRPG (Live Role-Playing Game). So I took my "Heroes" setting and used it as the basis/backstory for our LRPG.

We decided to call it "Les Plaines du Dragon" (Plains of the Dragon).

I had a great time while our LRPG lasted.

But when we started to make our LRPG, there was 14 of us.

Then after 1 year, there was only 4 of us left. Once we realized how much work it required to make such a game, most decided to simply participate as NPCs (Non-Player Characters) or something like that.

Then after a few more months, there was only 2 of us left. Because as I said, it was a lot of work, and only 2 of us were crazy enough to spend all our free time and week-ends working on the LRPG.

But after about 5 years, we had to take a break from our LRPG which was a lot of work just for the 2 of us.

But at some point, I started working in animation and pretty much left my LRPG days behind me.

While I was working on Bob Morane, I met a guy called Simon Dupuis. After some time, he told me that he was one of the guys making this magazine called "Exil". When I and another guy asked him when the next issue would come out, he told us that that was it.

No more "Exil".

But somehow, we were able to sell him to the idea of making a new issue of "Exil".

So I got back to working on my world/universe that by then was called "Les Plaines du Dragon".

So I made 2 short stories.

The first one was a silent story called "the Hunter".

Why silent??

I was under no delusion. I was not a writer. I was a guy drawing who wanted to tell stories.

So I came up first with a silent story.

Then with the contribution of some of my LRPG partners, we came up with another short story based on something that actually happened in one of our LRPG session.

Sadly, that story was not published.

I was under no illusion that the people behind "Exil" were not too crazy with what I was doing. So I was not too surprised when they told me that they were rejecting one of my stories.

"Exil" also published the work of Yannick Paquette and Michel Lacombe. Both who worked for DC and are currently working for Marvel.

So what after "Exil"??

I reworked my silent story and it was no longer a silent story. I guess I was becoming more confident in my skills as a writer.

I added two short stories to it so that I would have a comic book of about 24 pages with all 3 stories.

I wanted to bring back my original name for it, "Heroes", but everyone kept on telling me that "Heroes" could not work as a name. "Too generic" or "not distinctive enough" or some such comments that I was getting.

Strangely, now there is a popular TV series called just that.... "Heroes".

So I foolishly tried to listen to people, and I tried to call it "Zhen Dil Oloth's Heroes" to make it more distinctive.

Also since I was doing everything myself, I was looking for ways to simplify the creative process. For example, I tried to simply scan the penciled artwork and manipulate it with photoshop instead of taking the time of inking it traditionally.

I was hoping to save some time by doing that.

But at the time, I barely knew how to somewhat use photoshop. So it took me forever to ink the comic that way.

Then I experimented on how I could color the book without spending too much time. So I used some of my experience in animation to try to come up with a simple way to color the artwork.

Essentially, since I was doing everything myself, I was looking for a way to be able to make more than one comic every 10 years.

Although it took me forever making that one comic, it was great in teaching me how to use Photoshop.

I would not call myself an expert yet (I know how to use Photoshop..... but not enough to start making the equivalent of an oil painting or something like that...... yet ;) ), but I am comfortable working with Photoshop now which is light years ahead from when I made that "Zhen Dil Oloth's Heroes" comics.

Although pretty much everyone rejected "Zhen Dil Oloth's Heroes" (it was published in some form.... but I am keeping that for another Blog ;)), it was a great tool in learning how to pitch a comic to a publisher.

Before that, like many others, I had sent some blind submissions to various publishers, but it was usually some penciled or inked samples. This was the first time that I was actually pitching a complete project.

I guess I will have to share in a future Blog all that I have learned from submitting my proposal. ;)

Did I waste my time doing a full comic only to end up being rejected??


Not only did it help me learn how to use Photoshop, but it also gave me some comic book samples for people to see in my online portfolio.

And that is where Jim saw my color sample and asked me to co-create the Flashback Universe using that style.

So although making that comic did not give me the result I was aiming for.... it still was usefull in the end. ;)

Until next time.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mister Crimson Episode 19

Mister Crimson Episode 19
In which our hero sneaks up on some robots...

Read it here .:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Free Comics Monday: Smash Comics

Today I present two more issues of Smash Comics, featuring among other characters, Bozo the Robot and The Ray.

[ Smash Comics 15 ]

[ Smash Comics 16 ]


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Unused Saturn Knight Christmas Covers

Thank you to everyone who has written us or commented on about Saturn Knight: The Knight Before Christmas! Based on the outstanding feedback, it has been quite a success!

I thought I would show you some of the covers we DIDN'T go with today...

NOTE: There will be no post Friday as I will be traveling for the holidays.
I hope everyone has a Happy Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mister Crimson Episode 18

Mister Crimson Episode 18
In which our hero discovers a pattern...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Free Comic Monday: A FBU Holiday Comic!

Saturn Knight - Knight Before Christmas Today's Free Comic is an original Flashback Universe comic written by Chris Sims and illustrated by Pierre Villeneuve!

Saturn Knight: The Knight Before Christmas

In this special Holiday issue Lady Nemo attacks the North Pole and kidnaps Santa Claus! It will take the combined might of Saturn Knight, The Vanguard AND Fantom Force to stop her evil plot.

Download it here!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Meet Jay West!

I'd like to introduce everyone to Jay West, a great artist who has been working on Once Mighty! A Kondorr story written by Chris Sims.

The page to the left here is an example of some of the great work Jay is turning in on this issue!

I got the chance to ask Jay a few questions and here's what he said:

What Flashback Universe comic are you currently working on, or are you hoping to work on?

Currently I am working on Kondorr the Killer with the one and only Chris Sims. I want to finish up the parts of that before I start looking too far ahead but there are quite a few Flashback characters I am interested in taking out for a spin, notably Amanita, Butterfly and Wildcard.

Do you have a link to a blog/portfolio?

Sure! is my home on the web and through that there's options for my myspace and other contact info if people would like to contact me. The amount of content currently available is fairly sparse, since you and Chris nabbed me a little after I put up the site, but hopefully there will be some other content available by the end of the year.

What comics from the 70's or 80's did you like when you were growing up?

E-Man, Howard the Duck, Simonson's Thor, X-men circa the (original) JRJR run, the various licensed toy-comics like GIJOE, and I think the main one that I read religiously and the first distinct comic I can recall buying was the Marvel Tales reprints of the early spider-man issues.

What writers/artists do you think you are most influenced by?

Aside from the classic usuals (Kirby, Ditko, Buscema, Simonson, Colon, etc), I've always been big on Arthur Adams, Christopher Golden, Jason Pearson, Adam Hughes, Frank Cho, Kevin Nowlan, PusHead, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Robt. Williams, Mark Ryden, Shag!, Tim Biskup and Bruce Timm. Writing wise I've long been a fan of Steve Gerber, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Rob Schrab.

Current trend in comics you hate now?

Writers subbing in their own dialogue for whatever character they choose despite the fact the character doesn't act or speak that way. There's admittably some characters that are fairly bland and have minimal speech and behaviorial patterns attributed to them, ok, fine.

But that doesn't mean you should use very established characters as a means to sell a joke because it fits the scene. Not everyone should call themselves "Auntie".

Current trend in comics you like now?

I like the fact that certain comic's variant covers are a great way to show someone the difference in what's hot and what's actually good. It's like watching someone playing Guitar Hero's "Hangar 18" vs watching Dave Mustaine play "Hangar 18". If you follow the path of one you'll only be scraping the surface of how to do it versus the latter. It's not so much a matter of detail or difficulty either, I think if you look at Eduardo Risso's art you'll see something that is simple yet amazingly complex at the same time.

But I think though with a few exceptions the mid-90s trend of aping the hot style without knowing the *how* is fading out, and it seems to me at least the more unique artists are flourishing and given ample time to shine. Maybe one of the few pluses of a smaller marketplace is the remaining fanbase aren't the spectators who are just riding out a fad?

Thank you Jay!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pierre Speaks - Fantomette... the day after

I mentioned how after seeing the first few episodes of Fantomette, our bosses were worried that we might quit right there and then.

But we did not.

Although, I did not stay on Fantomette until the end.

I also mentioned how Bob Morane changed my carreer.

Thanks to Bob, I would get about a job offer a month. Many people tried to work on Bob, and having worked on Bob was seen as quite an achievement at the time.

So by the time I reached the end of working on the Fantomette series, I would would no longer get about a job offer a month.

I would get one or two job offers each week.

So as I was reaching the end of my contract on Fantomette, I went to meet with the main producer of the studio (by then I had had enough meetings in my carreer with various producers/directors/company presidents that I was confortable enough to schedule a meeting not only with the director or producer of a given project, but even with some producers or higher ups in the studio or even in some cases the president of the company) and asked her what her plans were concerning me after Fantomette.

I was told that they did not have anything to offer me at the time.

Since I started working in animation, I no longer saw what I did as a job, but as a career. So I was a busy bee building up my career, and the idea of being out of work did not fit with my career plans of the time.

I had taken a month or two off waiting for Heavy Metal because I really wanted to work on it. Because it seemed like a good career move at the time.

But by the time I got to the end of Fantomette, not working was not an option in my book.

So before the end of the project, I started meeting some of the people who were offering me some work at the time. I had over half a dozen meetings, and I was in a place that made some people green with envy.

I had reached a point where I could pick and choose on which project I wanted work on. And thanks to having Bob Morane in my CV (and Heavy Metal too to some extent) I no longer needed to make a test to convince people to hire me.

So after many meetings, I went to see my boss on Fantomette to let her know that I was offered work elsewhere after Fantomette.

I was surprised by the panic I saw in her eyes, and right there, she called one of the producers telling her that I was quitting. I was surprised by how quickly the producer ran (literally) to my bosse's office also with a look of panic on her face.

I learned then that they were planning to have me work on another project after Fantomette called Marsupilami.

But somehow, for some reason, no one told me that before. And I guess they had not shared their plan with the producer I had met earlier.

I suspect that I was actually their number two choice, and they may have been waiting for an answer from their number one choice. But when I told them that I had other work elsewhere after Fantomette, I forced their hand and they could wait no longer and had to offer me the job right there and then.

But I will never really know if that is correct, or if I just need to take some medication to treat my delusions. ;)

A funny story about the producer.

Remember how I mentioned that people often have a "preconceived notions of who they think I am" in an earlier Blog?

Well she was another example of that.

She had in mind that I was some sort of very macho/pervert guy, and she also was very intimidated by me. So when she needed to tell me something, she could not come and tell me. She would tell it to my boss, and my boss who knew me since I had worked with her before on Bob would come and tell me.

ExilBut all that changed when I did a short story called Hunter for a magazine called "Exil" (I actually did the story while I was still working on Bob, but it took all that time for the magazine to actually see print).We did some sort of "soiree" to launch the magazine and mostly everyone from the studio showed up. I went to the "soiree" with my girlfriend of the time, and introduced her to everyone, including the producer who was intimidated by me.

When she saw my girlfriend, it was all it took to completely change her opinions about me.

She somehow thought that I was some sort of macho/pervert, and that I was going out with some sort of very superficial Bimbo/Barbie.

The pervert part was because in most studios, there is always a guy, heck sometimes even a few guys, who would draw some sketches of very sexy women, if not hardcore porno stuff.

HunterPage1We had one such guy in the studio, and he would put his drawings on the wall in the area where we were working. Somehow, she had assumed that I was the one making those drawings. And some of them were..... very hardcore.

So when she met my girlfriend, she was very surprised and very relieved to see that my girlfriend was a very sweet and sincere person. So that was where she realized that she was completely wrong about me.

Also later she found out that I was not the one making those hardcore drawings.

Later in another office party, she told me that and admitted to having misjudged me.

Although while Fantomette did not turn out quite like we expected, I was fairly happy working at that studio.

So I decided to stay and work on Marsupilami, and turned down the other job offer I was planning to take. Remember, I had reached a point where I could choose.

So I chose to work on Marsupilami.

But that meant that I could not stay on Fantomette until the end since production on Marsupilami had already started.

So I finished the episode I was working on, and that was it with Fantomette for me.

Which was OK with me since I did not like the final result anyway.

That's it for now.

More soon. ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mister Crimson Episode 17

Mister Crimson Episode 17
In which our hero prepares for action! Read it here .:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Free Comics Monday: More Daredevil

Today I present two more issues of Lev Gleason's great Golden Age Daredevil. Pierre loves the Golden Age heroes and has been champing at the bit to use them in a Flashback Universe story, but until recently, I just couldn't think of a way that was new and different. I just came up with a really nice idea last week, so expect to see them appearing in the FBU this year.

Our use of the character will actually be the THIRD time he's been revived unless I'm mistaken...

From Wikipedia:

In the late 1980s, AC Comics revived Daredevil as part of that publisher's superhero universe. Renamed Reddevil, he appeared as a guest character in Femforce #45 & #50 before starring in the one-shot title Reddevil #1 (1991).

Unexplored Worlds 05

[ Download Daredevil 18 ]

More from Wikipedia:

Daredevil is one of several public domain Golden Age characters set to appear in Image Comics' Next Issue Project spearheaded by Image's publisher Erik Larsen. Daredevil will be returning once again to Silver Streak Comics, the book which introduced him to the public. A variation on Daredevil appeared in the comic-book series Project Superpowers, by writer Jim Krueger and artist Alex Ross. In this series, he's billed as The Death-Defying 'Devil.

Unexplored Worlds 09

[ Download Daredevil 30 ]


Friday, December 12, 2008

Paper Comic Death Watch: Digital Delivery by the numbers

PCDW Logo by Sean KleefeldToday, Caine provides with an excellent suggestion on Digital Comics!

With this weeks PCDW post we will bury our heads in the sand and not discuss the [probable? eventual? soon to come?] drastic finality of the comic book industry as a whole which has been the topic of discussion all over the Internet of late here, here, here, and here.

Instead, this weeks Paper Comics Death Watch is about Digital Comics. Now, let me be specific, when I'm talking about digital comic books, I'm talking about digital comic books sanctioned and offered by the publishing company that publishes them, who have set up a digital content delivery system to provide those comics to their fans/readers. Marvel has them, and recently lowered the price to subscribe to their comics. In addition, Marvel has begun sending out three free digital comics each week by way of a email newsletter of sorts.

How about other comic book publishers? lets look at a few.


Yes. As of right now Image seems to have only put #1 issues of a large number of their comic books online but they are free, easily accessible from the main menu on the left side of the page, and are offered in a clean interface that is easy to use.


No. At least not off of their main page [I didn't take a look at their myspace page].


No not off of their main page.


No. DC Comics do not have any digital comic books on their web site. This is a shame. The "other" comic book company that is known as part of "The Big Two" should have a digital delivery system for Digital Comics don't you think? Its true that Marvel has had billions of dollars of success from their properties over the past decade, but come on DC has SUPERMAN, BATMAN, and WONDER WOMAN. These characters, as Jim Lee has stated, are "rocks" and no matter where you go people know of and love them.

While I'm sure DC is working on a digital comic delivery system, I can't help offer my advice on digital comics they could offer right now to help increase sales and please the fans. Now, much like Marvel, DC could offer back issues of existing comics that were originally published on paper as well as all original tales. Those that have been pre-published we'll call second run. Those created specifically for the digital delivery system we'll call first run.

2nd Run [collected issues and reprints for sale by subscription or download]

1.) "Batman" related books that focus on his sidekicks: Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, Oracle and the like. This second run title could be filled with the best "bits and pieces" of several sidekick tales put together in a sort of collected edition. This book could be used to help the wing-nuts of the world get their fix as well as act as a lead in to the future "Post-RIP" plans for DC and the bat characters and beyond.

2.) The Green Lantern CORE. Instead of collecting actual CORE stories though, DC could collect the books so that in each issue the fan/reader will get a story focusing on Hal, Kyle, John, and Guy. In this book, there would literally be something for everyone.

3.) Elseworlds stories. These would be "portions" of the entire elseworld stories designed to sell the reader the idea of going out and purchasing the graphic novel. New elseworld stories could debut this way as well.

4.) Comics aimed at attracting girls. I don't mean "attracting girls for the comic book dummy", but rather comic books that female readers, possibly the demographic with the lowest fan base, would be attracted to and want to buy/read.

1st Run [original content that's created specifically for digital delivery]

1.) Batman Beyond. Quite possibly one of the most unique and fun takes on Batman in a long time was canceled long before its time. The "Beyond" universe has lots of potential for countless stories that could easily spread out to other characters such as the Flash, Superman, and the Green Lantern. I'd pay to see Inque go up against Kate's Manhunter or Donna Troy. The same goes for Shriek up against Bart Allen as the Flash.

2.) Milestone. Forget reprints [which will happen I'm sure]; Icon, Static, Hardware, and the Shadow Cabinet should have montly titles right now. I'm sure Dwayne McDuffie & Denys Cowan have un-published stories for each to run right now.

3.) Titans United. Did you know that the XMen were created specifically to compete in sales with the gathering of the DC Sidekick hero books? What started in the Brave & The Bold grew into the Teen Titans. At one point in time, the Titans were one of the biggest selling comics on the market. Since then, there has been at least one Titans title being published ever since. This book would be broad in scope, almost as if the Titans were a separate universe in the DCU, and encompass all of the different Titans teams and characters month in and month out.

4.) DC/Wildstorm. Why not promote both universes at the same time and give the fans what they want, Wildstorm characters in the DCU. This book could be a permanent elseworlds title where the writers would be free to do as they wanted since none of it would effect the dcu continuity.

5.) Licensed properties. DC used to compete in the arena of licensed properties with Marvel. While Darkhorse and Wildstorm seem to carry the torch these days. I'd like to see DC use the digital delivery system for more licensed properties such as the Tom Cruise Valkyrie movie and more.

Happy Holidays


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pierre Speaks: Fantomette

You can never go back home again.

I never fully really understood that until I worked on Fantomette.

Remember when I mentioned that when me and my 2 friends left Heavy Metal for Fantomette, we felt that the "good times" were back?

That was partly true.

But not really.

We had a great time working on Bob Morane, not that it was not challenging, but it was a fun challenge, and we had a great group dynamic while working on Bob, and now that we were back at the studio where we made Bob, we thought that we would be having a great time once more.

Sadly it does not work like that.

We had some good time.... some fun parties.... a better atmosphere in the studio.... but we had some production problems that we did not have on Bob.

To begin with.... we were sold the idea that we would be making even more money then when we were working on Bob because we would be reusing a lot of artwork.

That did not really work like that.

There are 2 kinds of reuses.

"Partial reuse" and "Full reuse".

"Partial reuse" is a scene where we reuse some already existing artwork, and where we still need to produce some new artwork. For example we reuse the BG (background) and a few poses, but still need to draw some more new poses.

"Full reuse" is when the whole scene is reused as it is needing no aditional artwork.

We were still paid full price for a scene that was a "partial reuse". But for a "full reuse" scene, we would not get one red cent.

So essentially, the studio were the ones making more money (or at least saving money) from most of the reuses.

But also... the first few episodes of Fantomette had A LOT of crowd scenes. And even worse, a lot of crowd scenes with multiple poses.

Writing the word "crowd" takes about 1.3 second.

Drawing a crowd takes a lot more then 1.3 second.

And drawing a crowd once is already time consuming. Imagine now having to draw the same crowd twice because the scene needs 2 poses of that crowd. Now imagine with 3 poses. 4 poses. Etc.... I'm sure you get the idea.

I specifically remember a scene where there were 13 characters and all of them were moving. And there was 9 poses.

So that meant drawing 117 characters for ONE scene.

And the first few episodes had a truckload of such scenes.

Only after much complaining from our part did they start planning the storyboard stage differently so that there would not be that many crowd scenes or that many scenes with something like 15 poses.

This is something we did not encounter on Bob. Not that Bob was an easy show to work on.... it was not.... but Norm LeBlanc, the director on Bob, made a lot of smart choices.

There were some tough scenes on Bob Morane, but Norm would make sure that there would be some easy scenes as well to balance out with the tought scenes. So yes you could get a crowd scene with 6 poses, but you would get a few extreme closes-ups with very minimal BG (like just a blue sky for example).

But such planning was not done for Fantomette.

An experienced storyboard artist or director would have planned the storyboard step so that there would have been not so many crowd scenes or so many poses per scene.

Not sure if it was because of some poor planning, or the Fantomette director just did not care to begin with. I don't have the answers to that.

For Bob Morane, although it was a co-production, the lion's share of the production was done here in Montreal. So the director was right here in the studio. So I could discuss with him about some of the smart choices, and some of the not so smart choices that he made or that were imposed on him during the production.

But for Fantomette, it was the opposite. The Lion's share of the production was done in France, and we were doing just a few things like the layout & posing or the coloring/BG painting.

So unlike on Bob Morane, I never got the chance to work with/have lunch with the Fantomette director. So I have no idea what were his decisions or what were things that he had no choice to do. That he was stuck with.

So after lots of hard work on Fantomette, we finally got the chance to see the first few episodes once they were finished.


We could not believe what we were seeing.

It was crappy beyond belief.

We could not believe how we had worked so hard just to end up with such a crappy show. That we had spent the last 8 months of our lives to produce THAT??


The animation, color, voice acting, and other stuff I can't recall were bad on so many levels.... we could not believe it.

We were still doing the layout posing of the last few shows. And seeing our reaction, our bosses were worried that we would quit right there and then.

We did not quit.

But damn were we dissapointed.

Espescially when it came to the coloring/BG painting.

The coloring/BG painting was done by the same team that did the coloring on Bob Maorane. So even though we were not sure about how stuff like the animation or the voice acting would be, we were confident that visually it would look sharp since it was colored by the same team that worked on Bob. We figured that at worse, it would be as good, or almost as good as Bob when it came to the coloring.

How wrong we were.

So what did we learn from this??

Even if you use the same people that did a great job on Bob. Using those same people on a show like Fantomette does not guarantee that it will be as good as Bob.

If you take the coloring team from Bob and ask them to use a crappy color palette like the one used for Fantomette, although you are using the same people who did a great job on Bob, you will still end up with a crappy result thanks to the crappy color palette that was chosen.

And to make it worse... the early color samples done while developping the style of the series which I included a few samples in this blog) weren't bad. So it makes it even more strange about what went wrong along the way.

Whenever I see the animated "The Batman" TV show with some strange color choices sometimes, like some burgendy or neon green sky, I can't help but think about the poor color choices on Fantomette.

Anyway... untimately.... we ended up with one crappy show which as far as I can tell played on TV for about half a season and was never seen again. Thank God.

It happens.

So Fantomette was a bumpy ride.

It started with a few episodes that were a nightmare to work on. Then it was better with later episodes. But in the end, we were very disapointed with the final result.

So what after Fantomette??

Did I leave after the layout & posing was done??

Be here next time as I explain what happened towards the end of Fantomette.

Until then. ;)


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