Friday, July 3, 2009

That's just filthy....

I really hope this blog can be a place not only to show off new work, but also to take some chances with illustration that may be difficult to do while working professionally in an industry that can be very unforgiving to artist attempting to experiment with style and technique. Every once in a long while, though, you find yourself in a position to try something a bit different and are lucky enough to have some support in this endeavor from the powers that be. Such is the case with the covers I've recently had the pleasure of doing for Vertigo's upcoming crime line. Vertigo is really the place to be. I LOVE working with the folks over there and I feel like this is a good opportunity to talk about what a fun challenge these illustrations have been.
When my long-time editor extraordinaire Will Dennis approached me about this project, he specifically asked me to try out something new. As if that wasn't already enough incentive, when he started telling me about the subject matter, it became an opportunity to sweet to pass up. Will wanted a series of covers that, 1). looked more like book covers than comic covers, and 2). had a strong graphic design feel to them. I consider myself to be fairly adept at illustrating 'moments' and freeze framing action, but really have always felt a bit average at composition. These covers would be a challenge to think outside my box and try to go in a direction where a lot of what I had learned doing comic book illustration would have to be ignored.
I did a series of sketches for each cover (I'll be posting them as well later) in color to try and nail down the look and feel that pleased everyone in Vertigo editorial. In the sketches, I was asked to play around with very rough logo placement, something normally not required of a comic cover artist, and that turned out to be quite a big key for me to get into the head space I needed to make these things a tad different. It determined where the point of interest needed to be placed and that in turn forced me to drop other unnecessary detail. The image above is the cover for Brian Azzarello and Victor Santos' Filthy Rich, one of the first books to see print in the line. Chances are, if you're reading this blog you're already familiar with Brian's work. The guy delivers marvelously every time and this is certainly no exception. I'm hoping people will really dig these books, as they really capture the grit and atmosphere of noir. It's exactly the type of risk taking I'd like to see more of in the American market.


  1. Reminds me of the some of the new artists that are doing apparel designs for metal bands these days. Very nice work with the pools of black, really pops out at you with the contrast of the hot pink background.

  2. You, and Brian's Joker was awesome. And I love you and Brian's work on Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. That whole story about the methods Luthor would go to ruin Superman shows exactly what kind of sick bastard he is. And how inhuman he can be.

    Here's to more work from you, man and especially Brian Azzarello :D

  3. I love your work, and I hope I can work to VERTIGO someday. I can´t wait to pick up a copy of this books that you´re working on.

  4. soooo hyped to follow this blog! huge fan.

  5. I really love the design elements with these pieces Lee. It's really stripped down, but still a beautiful piece of art. Sorry to be missing you at SDCC this year, but the economy is down on me this year, and choices had to be made. Have a great con, looking forward to posts of your commissions, not to mention the next Elektra cover.

  6. amazing art! It's great to have you in the blogosphere ;)
    A big Italian ciao

    from Sardinia
    smoky man :)