|Bottom panel from Allred's original page (X-Force #116) (courtesy of www.marvunapp.com)|
I chose this page to work on for a few reasons. The first of which is to pay homage to a comic that was really important to me. I'd read X-Force in my teens, but wasn't aware of it at all during my break from comics in the 2000's. I was visiting a friend and he had the hardback trade of Milligan/Allred's X-Force run, collecting their work up to the point the title changed to 'X-Statix'. I asked about it, and he said "oh, it's the X-Men book where everyone gets killed, you can borrow it if you want". And reading it brought me back around to comics really, the gateway drug to where I am now. What had turned me away from comics at the tail-end of the 90s was how po-faced and serious they'd gotten, feigning emotional depth and making sure that everything was 'gritty' and 'grown up'. Milligan and Allred threw all that out, and the resulting pop-culture satire was gleefully delivered while still delivering a real emotional punch with the death of a leading character at the end of the book, despite having otherwise trivialised superhero death up until that point (it's a few years on now, but you won't be getting spoilerised by me).
The other reason was more aesthetic. I loved the way the page worked, breaking down into slow motion, using only four panels, a particularly grisly death-by-attack-helicopter. It had the same sensation on me as a reader as getting on and off a non-moving escalator has, if that makes any sense -- that sudden drawing out of time followed by a jarring snap-back to normality.
In technical terms, I had to fudge it a little bit -- the Intercorstal 2 pages are being done at a different page ratio to the original, and the compositional elements I mentioned -- the helicopter in the top frame, the repeating character poses in 2&3 and the explosion of gore in Panel 4 were very roughly sketched in, and then not referred to again. It was important to me that I kept a high-contrast, unfussy page, so there aren't a great number of details and the patterning I often deploy is nowhere to be seen, which was intended to recall Allred's style -- there are a few lines in there where I've tried to recreate his inking style, but I'm not sure I'd be able to point them out, if I'm honest.
But in other matters: page 22 is done. Another 2 pages (maybe another 3, am considering dropping one of the previous pages) and I'll be looking to get an actual, printed copy done (at a printer, rather than on the office photocopier).