Cover illustration for the third issue of Finnegan’s Brink. Unfortunately, the miniseries hasn’t seen print. I finished illustrating the first issue and got about two thirds of the way through the second when we decided to pull the plug. The comic book market was shrinking again and small publishers had a lot more to risk if a title didn’t sell. The publisher worked his way out of comics. Nizzibet and I went on to try other creative ventures.
I expect that some version of Finnegan will see print eventually. I like the story. I just can’t pick up and start working on those pages from 1994. I’d have to start over. I don’t draw like that anymore.
Cover illustration for the second issue of Finnegan’s Brink.
It’s only in recent years that I’ve felt comfortable doing color illustrations. Being able to make changes in Photoshop helps a lot with that. Back in 1994 I wasn’t very comfortable with my abilities so the publisher hired Julia Lacquement to color the cover of the first issue of Finnegan’s Brink. I think she did fine job. I don’t know anything about her process. The publisher got her a copy of my illustration and I only knew she colored it when he showed me the final painting.
This was the second illustration I came up with for the cover of the first issue of Finnegan’s Brink. We (the publisher, Nizzibet and I) all agreed that this image worked better than the previous one.
This could have been the cover illustration for the third issue of Finnegan’s Brink. It’s not a bad drawing. Unfortunately, neither this, nor the previous two illustrations quite worked. Not as covers anyway. The saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, exists because we do judge books (and people – but I’m really talking about reading material here) by their outer wrappings. If that cover doesn’t grab your eye you’re not going to pick up the book.
The publisher knew the illustrations weren’t working but wasn’t sure why. A friend of his suggested that the format of the illustrations (small illustration inset within a large piece) wasn’t something I felt comfortable working with. I agreed with him. The format seemed like a good idea and I was happy to see what I could do with it but I was having trouble making either of images dynamic enough to grab attention. The middle image was limited by its size and the surrounding image was limited by having another image sitting in the middle of it.
I know I could come up with something more engaging now but in 1994 I didn’t have enough design experience. So we went back to the drawing board.
Finnegan’s Brink was to be a three issue miniseries. For publicity purposes, Finnegan’s publisher wanted to have the covers for all three issues done before he solicited the comic. In 1994, when I was drawing the book, the comic market was still mostly a superhero ghetto. A number of publishers were, and had been, trying to introduce new and different types of comics, but the marketplace was still mostly restricted to comic book specialty stores. The biggest selling books in those comic stores were about superheroes.
The publisher wanted a design for the covers that would make them stand out from other titles on the shelves. He had an idea to use an couple of contrasting images, one inset within the other, in order to give a better idea to the scope of the story. It seemed like a good idea. I worked up some sketches and then executed illustrations for all three covers. Yesterday’s image was for the first issue. Today’s is for the second. Tomorrow’s image will be for the final issue.
The first project Nizzibet and I worked on together was Finnegan’s Brink. The tagline for the project was “A Jules Verne Western”. While that probably evokes the right images in the heads of potential readers it’s not really accurate. At least, it’s not accurate in my experience. I saw some pretty exciting movies as a kid that claimed to be adaptations of Verne’s novels. When I read the novels I discovered that the adaptations were not particularly faithful ones. Mysterious Island, in particular, was a great disappointment. The 1961 movie version, the one I saw as a kid, had monsters. The original novel had … a crazy castaway and an orangutan.
Jules Verne’s novels are, for the most part, short on monsters. He does have a couple of prehistoric sea reptiles fight to the death in Journey to the Center of the Earth. As I’ve read more about him, I’ve found out that he added the scene with the mushroom forest and the giant cave man to a later edition of the book. The first edition only had the sea creatures. The discovery of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life was a new one when he wrote Journey. Verne was a working writer and he tried to make his books exciting and current for his readers. It’s possible that he would have put more monsters in his books if he thought they would sell.
But that’s kind of beside the point. “Jules Verne Western” sounds cool. It flows better than, say, “An Arthur Conan Doyle Western”. Finnegan’s Brink is story of a community of castaways who have created a peaceful civilization on a Lost World of remnant dinosaurs. The humans are doing fine. They farm. They maintain their traditions. They rescue the survivors of any ships that blunder into their waters and help those survivors assimilate. Leaving isn’t an option.
Until an airship crashes. Things get complicated from there.