Sunday, September 11, 2011

Star Wars Art Book: the 'put-put' page

I was fortunate enough to be contact by Jonathan Rinzler and George Lucas, who asked if I'd like to do a commission for this big-ass Star Wars Art book. They did a cool one on Star Wars Illustrators,  and this one had tons of comic-book original art.

The book mostly reprints of old star was comic pages, but they approached something like 20 artists George specifically commissioned for new pieces. 

They told us it could be a pin-up, or a story page.  The only rule was.. try to only use 'sound-effect' words if possible.  In other words, try to let the pictures tell the story.  Plus we we're sought out to do it in our own style. it was pretty cool to just be asked.

Then, after the art came in, they choose 5 artists, me, Dave Dorman, Frank Quietly, Mike Mignola, Ryan Sook, to do signed and numbered prints too. Not to seem immodest, but considering the skills of these other dudes, I'm surprised I was asked.

Here's some behind the scene pics I took as I drew my piece, signed some prints of it and got the finished book in the mail last week.

When Jonathan asked me, I'd done some star wars work-for-hire art before.  Tons of artists have. But Jonathan assured me his was different, and promised me George did want my weird-ass style - and freedom to explore any star wars character I wanted to draw. Not just a hired hand to do licensed art. I asked if I could do two page spread, and they said sure, whatever I wanted.

I wasn't sure if George even knew my Maxx stuff, so I sent alone some sample art, to make sure he was cool with it. I dug up this, because I knew he liked Al Williamson Frazetta EC stuff, so I thought he might be okay with my fluid organic brush work.

So I sent one of my weird Maxx creatures, actually this one..

I also sent alone this pencil 'rough', I did.. I wanted to do a Williamson Frazetta style too, but I think it came off a little stiff, some because of stage fright George would be seeing it, also because... well, I'm no Williamson or Frazetta. But he approved it anyhoo...  

So Jon told me George also liked the Maxx piece too.  So they asked if I'd do a THIRD piece for the book,  in the style of my goofy Maxx creatures? Yeah. Like I'd gonna say "forget it'.  I was thrilled to do it.

Now the funny part is, this piece, (one Jon eventually called 'put-put' page), was the one that was the most fun. because i wasn't trying to be classic old school art, like in the double page spread.  I'd passed inspection from George on the two pager, so i just relaxed here, dug up some camel shaped Star Wars creature I could pour my 'outback' style into...

It all came together really perfectly, effortlessly. Only trouble was it was just one panel. I wanted  to do a little story stuff. using a sound effect. Maybe a string of small panels along the top?

 Jonathan mentioned how George loved another one pager another artists, Ian Gibson did (where a little R2D2 robot was going 'put put') - and the sound effect was the only dialogue on the page.

Jon said George's favorite part was that there were no words, just little sound effect giving 'motion' to the page. The funny thing is I never saw this page, Jon just described it to me over the phone. And Jon somehow remembered the sound effect Gibson drew as 'put-pit', so that's what I drew, 'put-put' -

So I decided to (shamelessly) suck up to George and do my own little robot that made the same sound.. 'putting' along in some tall grass, then bump into the chest of this four legged big-ass creature.

But it wasn't until after I drew mine, that Jon realized he told me wrong, and Ian Gibson's sound effect was 'tup-tup', NOT 'put-put'.  If your brain numb from all the tedious minutia yet? It's all moot now, but now... in a way, I'm glad it's put-put.

Also one other thing I cringe over..

I should have fixed the fourth panel balloon, so it didn't cramp up the vertical 'sight' dotted line.

I could have digitally,  but somehow, i felt trapped by wanting the printed page to match the original art. Looking back, i also could have pasted in a replacement panel too, but whatever... It's kinda cool to work without a digital 'net', working by hand, flaws and all.

I also just liked the idea of something so silly and light. Just a goofy little robot... and a weird little yellow orange monster sandwiched in such an big classy important Star Wars book.

Jon liked it the finished 'put-put' page, and (amazingly).. do did I.

And another amazing thing is..

that I'm finally out of...


Next post,  PART TWO: where I'll show the other piece I did for it, the double-page spread... how that came into being!


the danman can said...

I really can't stand anything to do with Star Wars or George Lucas any more, but I'm glad that you got to bring your style to this book.

I'm also glad that you mostly leave your work alone when it's done, warts and all.

I am a big admirer of ALL of your different types of art, but I'll always have a soft spot for Maxx.

champloo said...

Finally we can make comments here!! I think it's cool to tell you that the first time i've seen your work was The Maxx when i had like 9 or 10 years old and it had totally blow my eyes and mind.
Thanks for sharing this stuff, man, not many artists do these kind of things, and not many artists have the ability to make the people feel like they understand what where you thinking while you where making those drawing/comics/paintings. it's like you are noyt just drawing, but you are telling the people something that is beyond words... beautiful, man, so fucking beautiful!

Thanks again, and greetings from your greatest friend in Argentina!

cody said...

Rad, as a little kid the only art I was exposed to was comic art your art was the first I saw that showed me a whole another extreme to art and got me in to drawing and painting not comic art just art in general, love the new stuff cant wait for the art books

James Boulton said...

always an inspiration Sam, thank you!

D. Wood said...

This is amazing! Am I mistaken or are those pictures of you drawing left-handed?

Anonymous said...

Man, you're amazing. Really, really, really amazing. Love all your stuff. Your comics are a great source of inspiration.

Frank Patriot said...

yeah, thanks for allowing comments, Sam. I've admired your stuff since 'blood hungry' and am probably just one of a billion Sam Kieth wanna be clones when it comes to drawing. i used to feel bad about that, but then I look at how some of your work reminds me so much of Bernie Wrightson and Frazetta, and I remember that everybody's work is influenced by somebody else.

november 17th said...

I'm very happy that Lucas let you do your own thing. You do amazing work Mr. Kieth.

Thank you for not using the computer as much as other artists do.

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