May 21, 2006
For the 52nd cover to Fables, I was told to depict a conflicted Pinocchio and Gepetto in a forest. Also, there was going to be a backup story featuring Rapunzel and one of the Crow brothers, so I was asked to incoporate that somehow into the image. Unfortunately, Vertigo didn't send me a script to read for this issue, but I tried to expand upon the concise information I was given.

> graphite on bond, 5.5 x 8.5" NFS.

My first sketch depicted father and son gathering wood while Rapunzel's hair cascades down the background. I liked this sketch, so I was disappointed to hear that Bill Willingham envisioned something quite different and wanted to feature Pinocchio more prominently. My natural inclination was to avoid melodrama and focus on the interaction between characters -- the feeling and composition created by the position of limbs, the direction of a gaze. In this case, the drama of the piece is diminished by its indirectness, ie the way the gaze is pointed into the picture plane rather than outward, the characters gathering/chopping wood rather than expressing explicit emotion, and the surreality of the hair.

> graphite on bond, 5.5 x 8.5" SOLD.

The second sketch was far more direct, but unfortunately it didn't leave room conceptually and compositionally for Rapunzel's hair, which was something I hated to lose in the first sketch. But it was approved, and I blew up the sketch by printing it onto 4 letter size sheets, measuring 14 x 21".

> acrylic on grey Rives BFK, 15 x 22" NFS'

I transferred the drawing onto a sheet of paper, drew the figure in blue pencil, fixed and coated the drawing with acrylic gloss medium, and proceeded to paint. At this point, I had figured out that I would incoporate the Rapunzel element in the logo and decided to paint it in rather than make another drawing and paste it in Photoshop. The colors were mostly ivory black, white liquitex gesso, and titanium white. I wish I had used some reference for the wrinkles in the clothing, but I was pressed for time, and finished the painting in a day.

> Photoshop, 7 x 10.5" @ 500dpi

After some quick color balance and level adjustments in Photoshop, I was done. I actually prefer the pre-manipulated version, but it wouldn't work very well in print. "Not enough contrast," as the cover police at Vertigo would say.

> Close-up on Pinocchio's face.

There's not much paint on the face, and a fair bit of the paper (coated with some transparent ochre for texture) shows through. Actually, this could act as an underpainting for a much more rendered and fully realized painting. I've always liked the directness and simple means of underpaintings, (Mark Tansey's work comes to mind), and sometimes the beginnings of paintings are more fresh and full of life than the finished product.