When editor Shelly Bond called me and asked me if I was up for doing the art on FABLES 99, I think I answered so fast that I betrayed the laws of time, the sound that exited my mouth came out in quantum mode and bit its own tail. It sounded more like a “wow” followed by an “oh-wow”… like in way-beyond-Mach10-speed, and everything around me blurred and I started hearing Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” from The Big Lebowski. … “lalalala… ooooh, what a wonderful feeeeeeling…”
I hung up the phone, forgot about the page I was drawing before the call, and sketched a turn-around study for Mister Dark’s head. That’s how excited and inspired I was about it.
To me, Mister Dark is Darth Vader meets Hamlet meets Norman Bates. Those were the visual elements that guided me when trying to put life in his body language throughout the issue. Of course, I simply had to follow the aesthetical path already created by amazing Mark Buckingham for the character, it was as easy (as hard) as that. This is what is so fantastic about FABLES, it all seems as if it has been there since the beginning of times; like if every character created by Bill Willingham, every dialogue and situation written by him, had always been there before he even created it. That’s how much life this series has.
Needless to say, as the title [Dark City] reads, this issue is “dark.” My partner in crime, colorist, Eva de la Cruz, did such a wonderful job making the city look just as dark and moody as the script demanded. The first page takes us near Bullfinch Street (I tried to give NY a retro touch, a slight Taxi Driver atmosphere--this had to be a dirty atmospheric Manhattan) and shows us a mid finished Mister Dark’s Castle in the background. When I opened Mark Buckingham’s design of Castle Dark in my computer “The Man in Me” started playing once more in my head. I hope they print those designs in some future Tpb, because they are simply amazing.
Again, working on this series was a wonderful experience. It’s all there; it feels like having half of the work done before starting! I really hope you FABLES fans enjoy this issue as much as I enjoyed drawing it.
OH… and here’s a VERY small detail in page 12, so small that I very much doubt anybody will be able to see it on the printed page (but it’s there!)… a “Bucky coffee.”