Several months back, I heard from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, asking if I'd like to contribute an original piece of art for a book they were producing for charity based upon the Vertigo Comics series, TRANSMETROPOLITAN, by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. I quickly jumped at the chance, even though I was ashamed to say I had never read the book. Yes, I was a huge fan of the creators from their other projects, but somehow the long running Vertigo series slipped by me. Hey, I read a ton of comics and I can't read everything, right? Right? True, but sometimes the really good stuff slips by, like TRANSMET.
I saw the list of contributors, (see list of heavy-hitters below) and knew I'd have to do something special to earn my place among them. I'm not a "comics artist" per se, I'm a photographer, so I needed to play to my strengths. I decided I'd do a Photocomic, like what I do with my CulturePOP series. But, what would be the narrative? Step one, was read at least one of the books and get a feel for the characters and story.
I quickly devoured the first collection of 6 issues and found myself hooked. How did I miss this series initially? Reminder: One can't read everything. Right. Within two weeks I read 6 volumes and decided my homage to this brilliant series shouldn't be a recreation but some sort of commentary.
The lead character, Spider Jerusalem is a Hunter S. Thompson-esq journalist in a future world rank with corruption. Ellis's commentary felt as fresh to me now as I'm sure it was when the books were first released. Spider, a champion of the truth, could be a prophet for the disenfranchised. People would want to be like Spider. I would do a piece on a guy becoming Spider.
A quick call to my bald buddy, musician and Bald Freak Music label owner Ron "Q*Ball" Scalzo, and a plan was in motion.
I ordered a pair of Spider's signature glasses from etsy.com and seeing Ron in them, it was amazing how much he resembled Spider. A wig was used for panel 1, since Ron's already bald, and thanks to Kenny at Kings County Tattoo for standing in on panel 4. The background in the final two panels come from some photos I had from last years New York Comic-Con at the Jacob Javits Center.
I should be getting my copy in the mail any day now, so I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's contribution and seeing how mine fits.
From the CBLDF site - It has been nearly ten years since the release of the final issue of TRANSMETROPOLITAN, the Eisner-nominated comics series from writer Warren Ellis and artist Darick Robertson. This art book features all new illustrations from the top talents in Comics, with the original co-creators participating, donating a brand new cover and a foreword for the book!
TRANSMETROPOLITAN combines black humor, political scandal, and moral ambiguity to look into the gonzo mind of an outlaw journalist and The City he inhabits. Aided by his embattled Editor and his two Assistants, the protagonist blazes a path through a futuristic world of skyscrapers and technological wonders, dark alleys and unspeakable depravity.
The TRANSMETROPOLITAN Art Book is a lovingly crafted and designed tribute to a seminal work. Contributors include:
Aaron Alexovich, Stephanie Buscema, Jim Calafiore, Stefano Caselli, Cliff Chiang, Richard C. Clark, Kevin Colden,Katie Cooke, Molly Crabapple, Farel Dalrmple, Camilla d'Errico, Gary Erskine, Richard Friend, Dan Goldman, Cully Hamner, Lea Hernandez, Phil Hester, Rantz Hoseley, Matt Howarth, Seth Kushner, Jonathan Luna, Milo Manara, John McCrea, Moritat, Dean Motter, Eduardo Risso, Darick Robertson, Jimmie Robinson, Stuart Sayger, Tim Seeley, Fiona Staples, Bryan Talbot, and many, many others.