Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Spotlight on Legends of the Guard contributor Jackson Sze:

David Petersen: You are not normally a comic-guy, tell the readers about your work and background.

Jackson Sze: Thanks for chatting with me, and also, thank you so much for allowing me to spend some time in the world of MouseGuard. I am truly grateful for the opportunity! I am a Concept Artist based in Los Angeles. Right now I’m working in movies, but I’ve been fortunate enough to work in other areas such as videogames, television, advertising… and now, a little bit of Comics! Environment Design is what I concentrated on in school, but lately I’ve been trying to do more storytelling with my illustrations. Working on MouseGuard has been a great way for me to explore visual storytelling.

David: I am very pleased that Legends of the Guard is your comic debut! Had you wanted to do comics before? or did I just twist your arm enough?

Jackson: Comics has always seem an intimidating medium for me. I don’t have comic experience, and to be responsible for everything at once was a terrific challenge. Thanks to the support both you and Paul gave me, I think I managed to tell a coherent short story. Thanks for asking me to do it. I am so glad I did. 

David: I really admire your paintings of settings and locations. So, while I try and stay as hands-off as possible with these Legends stories, I did encourage you to do a story based on the theme of visiting several locations. Tell the readers about the process you went through to shape that push of mine into a narrative and give us a tease of what it’s about.

Jackson: Thanks for the suggestions! Environment design is what I am most comfortable with, so that is a great starting point for me to think about the story. In order to showcase the locations, we needed a tour guide of sorts to bring the readers along. Things will hopefully feel fresher if our characters are experiencing these areas for the first time as well. A cartographer mouse seems an ideal character to be our guide on this journey. With this short story, our characters will travel to foreign lands beyond the known mouse territories. Hopefully there will be some character growth as well as actual journeying accomplished by the end. 

David: Since you normally are doing single images or a series of images meant to shape the viewers’ understanding of an environment’s atmosphere and design, did you find telling a story in pictures a great departure? or did it come naturally?

Jackson:  I had to find a balance between character driven storytelling, and showcasing the locations. In the end I treated the comic like an animated film, imagining the shots I’d like to see, while working in the panel structure of comics. 

David: What artists inspire you and your work?

Jackson: Hayao Miyazaki’s Laputa is why I am an artist today. His movies inspired me greatly as a child. Otherwise, impressionist painters, California Impressionism and the many excellent contemporary digital painters continue to inspire my love of painting. 

David: How about telling readers the process of making your artwork. It’s all digital, but walk us through your process and tell us about your set-up.

Jackson: My process is pretty typical, and yes this comic was done digitally. After writing the script, I’d imagine the shots I’d like to see and loosely lay them out on the page. These will be rough sketches. Often I’ll have to adjust what I had in mind to what is actually working on the page. Mostly I hope to communicate clearly what is happening in each shot, while maintaining some sense of continuity. A change in the camera’s perspective here and there helps add contrast to the visuals. The panels were often regarded as a series rather than a single image. What came before, what’s interesting after… that kind of thing. After the lay in, I’d do a color pass on the entire comic, adjust and refine till it’s done! Setup wise I have a dual monitor setup with a PC. I went back to using a Wacom tablet after a few years of using the Cintiq… it’s all about screen real estate! 

David: Lighting & atmosphere is very strong in your work. How early in image making are you thinking about the color palette and it’s lighting? Do you have a clear image in your mind before you start painting? or does it develop through early sketching and blocking in shapes?

Jackson: I knew I wanted a color scheme that makes sense throughout the story. So as I do the first color pass, I’m thinking about the mood I want to achieve, time of day, weather conditions, seasons, things like that. The rough pass acts as a mini color script and I adjust for continuity and variety. The plan was to start with an overcast morning, vary the colors of their journey, and end with a sunset. 

 David: Thanks Jackson. Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Jackson: Thanks again David, for letting me do this. It has been educational and rewarding. My website is www.jacksonsze.com and my blog is at www.jacksonsze.blogspot.com

Jackson's Story Back and Forth will appear in Legends of the Guard
volume 2 # 4 along with stories by Bill Willingham & Justin Gerard

Upcoming Appearances:
New York Comic Con: October 10-13

1 comment:

Conrad said...

Very cool

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