IMAGE COMICS: What is it you two like most about each other's work in this sequence?
JEFF LEMIRE: I knew Dustin had been looking forward to the "Gas Planet" ever since I mentioned it in the initial Bible I had sent him for the series. So, I wanted to make sure I saved it for the right moment and gave it some weight in the overall story.
I love how surreal and ethereal it is. Is this place even real, or is it some supernatural manifestation? I love the ambiguity. And it's also a setting that is a perfect fit for Dustin's organic watercolors.
DUSTIN NGUYEN: I remember this being the most emotional chapter in the series up to this point for me. I read the script on the plane going into the Emerald City Comicon last year before seeing Jeff, I was pretty overwhelmed at how Andy's past and present would finally be revealed. I became more focused on trying to get all the gestures and both young and adult Andy's faces and reactions just right to go with Jeff's moving dialogue and flashback sequence. In a way, it was a really good idea that the planet itself was so minimal and ethereal, letting us focus more on just Andy and Blugger.
IC: Can you tell us a little about designing this scene? You can really see the canvas on these pages, which only adds to the creepy translucent effect on the Spectral City and the ghosts. Did you nail this on your first try?
NGUYEN: I think I was pretty strapped for time and said if I messed up anything, maybe I can fix it in Photoshop, haha, but fortunately it worked out okay on the first pass. I just had to let each layer of the city dry naturally (rather than using a hairdryer) and let the colors soak into the paper before I layered on the next part of the city to make sure there wasn't any bleeding. I wanted to give each of the gas planet people a very light, floating feeling.
IC: Are you working in Photoshop entirely, or drawing and painting on paper or canvas and then doing post-production in Photoshop? What's your process?
NGUYEN: I'm working on 300lb watercolor paper on this series and watercoloring everything. It's a lot of fun and actually helps me to not overwork things. I pencil directly on the paper, since it's too thick to lightbox through any layouts, and then I move to washing the pages in an overall color scheme, depending on the atmosphere.
Next, I move to painting in our characters and everything else. Lastly, I go back in to do any linework needed with color pencil or finer brushes. When everything's done, I scan it into Photoshop to template them for Steve to letter. I bring back any saturation lost during the scanning, or if I didn't get the exact color I wanted. The majority of the time is spent cleaning up the dirt and stuff the scanner picks up from when I was working on the page. I try not to spend too much time in Photoshop because I tend to get lost in there and play around more than I have time for with all the brushes and color adjustments.
IC: Jeff, this is a cool way to get across some backstory for Andy while still pushing the story forward. What did the script for this sequence look like? Did you throw a lot of details Dustin's way, or just an idea of what the scene would be?
LEMIRE: I left this pretty open in terms of what the planet would look like. I knew Dustin had been looking forward to it, so I figured he already had some preconceived idea of what it would look like. So I just focused on the dialogue and tried to find a way to structure it so that it was the culmination of the issue and we linked all the flashbacks we had been seeing to this strange encounter Andy has. Again, did these sentient gas creatures trigger the memories, or is this all part of a more confusing and surreal experience Andy has on the planet?
I definitely think we haven't seen the last of this planet or the Spectral City.
DESCENDER, VOL. 2: MACHINE MOON is available now.