The year was 1995. I'd just driven back to school in Chicago after having my portfolio shot down by the Marvel editors at San Diego Comic Con (that story is told here). As soon as I got my drawing table set up, I funneled all of my embarrassment and anger into this new page. I wish I could find the sample I'd shown at the con, because it would make a nice contrast -- this version is sort of a watershed moment in my development as a draftsman.
It's definitely got some problems (Cap's musculature is... creative), but it was a giant leap forward in quality from what had come before. For the first time, I told myself to forget about speed and to just work on a drawing until it felt right. Until that point, I'd prided myself on my speed (you can stop laughing now), but the San Diego Smackdown forced me to reconsider my priorities. The front of that chopper is probably the noodliest thing I've ever drawn. I kind of like some of the hatching, too -- after Nonplayer is done, I think I may want to try moving away from the clean line stuff and back toward something a little more hatchy.
Other stuff I like about this page:
- On the leading edge of the canopy in panel one, the seam is serrated to reduce radar signature. This despite the insanely-reflective gun assembly only inches away. I'm not sure if this was a joke or if I was too in the zone to think about the design rationally.
- I'm pretty sure this is the first time I thought of attaching a motorcycle-style radiator to a piece of equipment (aft of the gun mount). I still use this trick (see penultimate page of Nonplayer #1).
- Cap's boot in the last panel. Feet are always challenging for me, so I get really excited when one comes out right.
Some current events:
I'm working very hard on issue 2, and progress is being made. I'm still not close enough to make a confident estimate about a release date, but I feel pretty good about how it's coming along.
Also, I got nominated for a Russ Manning award! The other nominees are amazing, and I expect that my Eisner journey begins and ends with this nomination. That said, I haven't been back to SDCC since the 1995 portfolio debacle. I can't imagine a better way to reconcile myself with mid-'90s Nate than by walking back into that building with a Russ Manning nomination.
Well, I wouldn't mind also pouring pasta sauce down that Marvel editor's pants. That might speed the reconciliation process a bit.