In the arena of graphic design and illustration, I’ve dipped my toes into many waters. I remember back in the ancient times… back before the internet… back when I was going through high school/primary school… I dabbled in pen and ink, colored pencils, and watercolors, creating more pedestrian (i.e. traditional) pieces of art. There were still life of fruit and common objects (such as baseball gear). Landscapes. The beginnings of anatomy studies. Weird mash-ups (such as a tree-branch growing out of a pencil). That sort of thing.
In recent years I’ve refined my craft a bit. In the arena of pencil drawing I now focus on portrait or anatomy studies. I’ve moved from getting my fingers dirty with India Ink to using a MacBook Pro, which has opened wide vistas of possibilities. Book design. Font design. Digital photography and manipulation. So many new possibilities… and so little time.
Recently (back in December-January 2011/2012 timeframe) I had the opportunity to work with a fantastic author, Jake Bible. Jake is one of those rare individuals who also dips his toes into various wells… and they typically come out a little bloody. Jake is a master at ultraviolent storytelling. His tales of suspense, horror, and supernatural–all tinged with ultraviolent action scenes–are right up there with the works of Tarantino. He takes normal, average, everyday people–though sometimes with a twist–and puts them into situations you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy or your mother-in-law.
I was honored and excited when he approached me on a collaboration project, one that–as far as we know– hadn’t been done before: the world’s first fully illustrated pulp enovella.
The name of this fantastic project is ‘Stark.’
Stark, Nebraska. A town populated only by professional killers, assassins and hired guns. A town where the law is the Code and the Code only has two laws: Finish The Job You Are Paid For and Never Shit Where You Sleep.
So what happens when the two laws of the Code conflict?
Blood. Lots and lots of blood.
Though only something like 40 or 50 pages or so, we wanted to pack in as much visualization of the story as we could (without breaking Amazon or Paul Cooley‘s ‘MyWrite’ application). And what visuals they are!
The most exciting part for me was being able to explore a style and output of digital illustration that I hadn’t worked on before, but had only discovered some of its potential. I call it Photo-Realistic Digitial Surrealism. It is digital illustration built to look and feel almost real and with a large overtone of the theatrical. Using models, digital photography, massive amounts of photo-manipulation in photoshop, and then a large multilayer conversion in illustrator, I’m able to mesh many realistic and surreal elements together into a digital illustration.
As Jake and I were talking about the project, discussing the illustrations he was looking for, I realized that his project would be the perfect one to do a full-blown production test with this style. With this project, we were able to do what was essentially black and white digital ink illustrations with a targeted contrast of color to drive the scene home.
The fact that the color was red or crimson was even more visually exciting.
Though the ilustrations show various levels of violence and ultraviolence (or the fortunate/unfortunate results thereof), there is a beauty between the interplay of the stark and vibrant colors, the characters and the scenery, and the overriding theme of violence for hire gone terribly wrong in small town America.
If you haven’t done so yet, you really should check out Jake’s novella ‘Stark” and his many other works. They can be found at his author page at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and through his website: http://jakebible.com/.
WARNING: The following images depict scenes of ultraviolence that are not for the fiant of heart. Neither the artist (Scott Pond) nor the author (Jake Bible) support violence against anyone.
There were many folks who helped me out in this project, mainly by posing and/or playing dead for me as i photographed them.
The Official Stark Models
JP Harvey – (1) Unknown gunman on the cover and (2) Stan Culver in illustrations #2, 7, 12
Eric Oullette – Jamie Drudger in illustrations #2, 7, 16, and 19
Allie - Missy Crowley in illustrations #6, 17, and 19
Jerry Snyder – Max Hallow in illustrations #4 and 5
Nate Lopez – Tim Smalls in illustration #5
Logan - Brian Littleton in illustration #8 and 13
Jan Pond – Millicent Baumer’s arm in illustration #9
Crystal Pond – Unknown wounded mother trying to escape across the tow square in illustration #11
Scotty Wright – Roger LeChance in illustration #12
Delio Niro – Lane Lipton in illustration #14
Rachael - Unknown child in illustration #15
Jonathon “Stewie” Tobbe – Unknown man in illustration #15
Eddie Tappan – Reggie Chambers in illustration #16
Gavin - Colin Lipton in illustration #18
Kaitlyn Tappan and Jonathon “Stewie” Tobbe – Missy Crowley’s arms and Ty Lockard’s arms in illustration #21
Scott Tappan - The “He’s Not Country Enough” Award
Kaitlyn Tappan - The “She’s A Bit Mature To Be A Twelve Year Old” Award
Alicia Tappan – The “Cold Feet” Award
Sarah Tappan - The “OMG My Email Doesn’t Seem To Work” Award
Kali Mura – The “I wish I could pose but I only have dark clothes with me and I’ll look like a cliche assassin” Award