At Comic-Con International: San Diego, Print checked in with artists working in the Exhibit Hall all weekend. Print’s series “One Page,” which you can find in our magazine, features an artist describing one page they designed––whether it’s a cover or an interior.
Flying in his heroes and villains from New York City, comics writer and illustrator Taylor Sterling welcomed Print to his table in the Artists’ Alley of Comic-Con. Once an intern at Marvel Comics, Sterling has a number of superheroic illustrations and concepts in comics and beyond. At present, he is developing a four-issue miniseries titled Okemus, set in a far-distant future rattled by cybernetics and explosions. Sterling described one of his favorite two-page spreads from issue #0, released through his company Red Arcis Entertainment.
How do you come up with Okemus?
Sterling: Okemus is a story that I came up with when I was in high school. It was very much inspired by Japanese animation–the “sentai” genre, which is basically people in costumes running around and fighting monsters. When I was writing this story, I wanted a superhero that I could relate to and would be a kickass character. I came up with this concept, and it took me about five-six years to finally get to a point to where I was OK with the story as well as OK with the characters. After that, I started crafting the first issue, and what you see here is a snippet of that.
What’s happening on this two-page spread?
Sterling: Cale, the main character, is fighting Barnabas, who is the main villain of the story. Barnabas is a cybernetic overlord of part of the earth, and Cale is unleashing a pure-energy sword that is actually part of his soul. When he and Barnabas clash, it causes a dramatic, energy explosion everywhere. This is almost the turning point, because Cale is getting his butt kicked throughout the issue while he is fighting. In this part of the issue, he starts to win the fight.
How did you illustrate the spread?
Sterling: I started with a sketch, then some digital inking, and then coloring on top. People love two-page spreads because there is more art and it’s a lot of fun to draw. Instead of going really tiny, you get to draw a large piece. I was thinking about a super battle, and the first thing that came to mind was Ivan Reis, who was an artist for Green Lantern. He has this incredible two-page spread in the Blackest Night comic book series from DC Comics; these two characters are clashing and there is energy everywhere. I said I wanted to do something like that.
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Do you work by hand or go all digital?
Sterling: I’m traditionally trained by hand, but lately I’ve been drawing more digital. It’s much easier and it’s faster. If I need to tweak something, like a hand, face or nose, it’s much easier to tweak that in the computer.
How about the act of turning the pages so we can see Cale and Barnabas fighting? The comic reads left to right, but this asks us turn the issue vertically.
Sterling: It would look a little bit weird if it were squished–because then the characters have to be a little bit smaller and a little less focused. Plus, I like the idea of turning the page. It’s a little outside the box of other two-page spreads.
If you’re interested in comic books, chances are you’ve heard the names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. After all, their partnership paved the way for the Golden Age of comics beginning in the 1940s. With The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio by Mark Evanier, learn more about the duo who invented noteworthy characters like Captain America and Sandman, conceived the idea of romance comics, and created a new standard for the genres of crime, western, and horror comic books. Take a look inside the various aspects of their career, and see some of the works that defined them.