This week marks the release of PRIMORDIAL #1 the first issue in my new creator-owned series with my Gideon Falls co-creator, Andrea Sorrentino.
Andrea wrote a few words about his own creative process on Primordial, but first I wanted to talk a little bit about where Primordial came from and our goals with the book.
After finishing Gideon Falls we wanted to try something a bit different. With Gideon Falls we tried to stretch the boundaries of what horror could be and with Primordial we are trying to do the same with science-fiction. The book can best be described as We3 meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. It tells the story of the first animals sent to space during the Cold War and what really happened to them.
Taking the actual historical events of these first animals in space as our jumping off point, Andrea and I then grafted a big sci-fi idea onto it…what if these animals had been abducted by some vast, mysterious alien power and both the US and USSR covered it up? The book follows the mind-bending journey of the animals themselves, but it will also combine this with a Cold War thriller set on Earth, as Russian and American scientists work to uncover the truth, in what feels like a 70’s conspiracy film or a lost X-Files episode.
It definitely becomes easier to collaborate with Andrea as we go. Primordial is our fifth project together and we just know each other better than we did when we started. We’ve become creatively attuned on a personal level, we can be more honest about our storytelling decisions, share things we don’t like and the things we want to work on, but also understand each other creatively that we can play off each other’s strengths. I learned very early that whatever I give him, Andrea will take and expand upon and go off in wild tangents I never could have anticipated and I need to be ready to react and adjust in turn. So you really need to shut down your ego and just be really open to the story evolving and changing. This is true collaboration, and it is actually very rare that this sort of back and forth happens in comics.
Long story short, we are really excited to take readers on a pretty incredible journey with the amazing animals in Primordial. I truly think we have created something that is both heartfelt and unlike anything else you will have read before. Thanks for all the support with Gideon Falls and our other collaborative projects over the years. We hope you enjoy reading our work as much as we enjoyed creating it together.
And now a few words from Andrea about his own process while working with me on Primordial…
BEHIND THE SCENES – PRIMORDIAL #1
The book is out this week, and Jeff and I thought it would be cool to give you an insight of my work and how I usually approach it when it's up to some more creative double spreads.
First thing I have to say, and that you will probably notice in the columns I write regarding my future work, is that the core of my process probably happens far from the drawing board.
Sometimes I achieve illustrating double spreads on the first try, while other times it takes me days to get the final design for these pages done. I start putting together some elements, then I let them cool down while I work on the next pages and get back at it with fresh eyes until it feels right .
Once I get the design I like, filling the holes is generally the easiest part.
SO! This is how a script from Jeff looks like (yes, 'weird shit' is part of a technical language used only among top tier creators):
You'll notice it's two separate pages in the script, but generally, especially when something crazy is happening, I take the occasion to merge two (or more) pages into one single double spread where I can try something unusual and (hopefully) cool.
Ok, now, into the brainstorming.
Generally speaking, when there's some scenes that will represent a tense and chaotic situation, my first thought is to fill the page with many little panels.
To me, thinking of it like a movie, it's the equivalent of a frantic sequence of short images that enhance the sense of anxiety and trouble.
The guy frantically typing on the keyboard, the general shouting, the monkeys screaming, the glass of the capsule breaking..
So this is the very first thing I put on paper:
I started filling the panels with images but few after I realized that, while the scene looked indeed frantic and anxious, I was losing a lot in terms of the 'weird shit' Jeff was talking about in the script.
This is a key moment in the book, the first one when we see something.. not totally normal is happening to the monkeys, and I felt like I was missing the opportunity to show it the proper way.
With this in mind, I kept the 'small panels' model, but I rearranged it so I have room for something weird to happen in the background:
Ok, at that point I had the room to experiment on something crazy.
If you've read Gideon Falls (and if not, what are you waiting for??), you may have noticed that, with time, I tried to develop some kind of visual language for that specific book. Circles and specularity has a specific meaning into the narration, indicating the weirdness related to the Black Barn or to the time/dimensional shifts.
With Primordial, we'll have the same kind of visual coherency, aimed at squared and rectangular shapes.
If you look carefully in the pages of Primordial, you'll notice all the page designs are told through these kinds of shapes, and I think it helps give the book a visual consistency that is fundamental to me for my works.
So.. squares! Here's what I came out with:
Now, this was quite intriguing to me. I definitely liked the idea.
I had my dose of weirdness, but, at the same time, I felt like it wasn't still the thing I was looking for.
I felt I was close, but not there yet.
So, before finalizing it, I stopped, and let it rest for a couple of days while I was working on the next pages.
Couple of days later, while I kept thinking about it, I realized that, while the design was indeed cool, I was missing a lot of the emotional and impactful side that a scene like this would require.
Eventually, I thought nothing would be stronger than a huge, page-sized, Able screaming in pain and fear.
His scream in the background and cables through his head would also enhance the whole scene.
And here you can see it pushed to 11 by the glorious pop colors of the great Dave Stewart:
As for the weird-squares I initially used as background, I decided they had to be part of the sequence as well, so I concurred with Jeff the idea of adding 2 more pages to issue #1 and to finalize it and use it for the next page.
Eventually it all made for an organic and smooth sequence that is both emotional and crazy.
You'll be able to see it finalized and colored in Primordial #1 out right now!
As an extra bonus to subscribers, I wanted to offer a process montage of creating the retailer incentive variant for issue 1. These variant editions will be available at your favorite local comic book store, enjoy and happy hunting! -Jeff
PAID SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE
Hardcover copies of Gideon Falls Deluxe Edition Volume 1 will be available for purchase on my Secret Store ONLY for paid subscribers soon. And yes, each of these limited copies will be signed and sketched! There will be other exclusive signed books to hit the Secret Store in the future, so be sure to subscribe to not miss out on those drops!
Can’t wait for more!!!
I was already really looking forward to Primordial. Now x2.