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March 02 2008

Have Any Questions for Adam Hughes? Serenity: Better Days and Those Left Behind cover artist (not to mention, "Once More, With Feeling" poster artist) Adam Hughes has agreed to answer any questions that you have about his 'verse related work. Post your questions in the comments for this thread and Adam will be stopping in to answer.

Thanks to Adam for offering to do this. Now, let's see some questions.

Hello Adam, and thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions!

Something I've long wondered about your art is, it captures the features of the actors so well...do you work closely from photographs, or do you just have the innate ability to translate how you see them from memory onto the page without using a lot of reference material?
Hi Adam, I have seen a few of your custom figures around the net that you have done and I was wondering if you have created anyone from Serenity yet? I think the AH! shirt that Jayne is wearing in the Better Days cover is awesome any chance of making some shirts with that logo on it?

[ edited by pj3077 on 2008-03-02 17:18 ]
Gosh, I wish could capture likenesses without having to look at images of the actors, but that takes years of pratcice drawing the same person, over and over again. I think the only actors I can do that with are Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, lol. For the BETTER DAYS covers, I wanted a more painterly look to the art (as opposed to less cartoony or interpretive), so I had to labor over the hideous images of Morena Baccarin, Gina Torres, and all the other gargoyles that comprise the cast of SERENITY. They sure are a good-looking bunch, hunh?

Some likenesses are easy to capture, some are so inscrutable, you want to thumb your own eyes out. Zoe, Book, and Simon - I nailed them (I think, anyways) on the very first pass. Mal took some work, as did River and Kaylee. Wash, Jayne, and Inara STILL look terrible to me; if I ever revisit this Serenity Valley of an assignment, I wanna fix them.

So, on this one, just like many likeness-related assignments, I worked from life, i.e. from images of the actors.
I really love your Anya and Giles pieces. The movie poster, the cd, and the individual portraits are gorgeous. How did you get involved with 'Once More With Feeling'?
I'm working on a custom 1/6 scale Mal and Zoe set of figures... if they ever get done, I'll post them, you bet! Toys is fun.

Was it overly vain for me to put my signature on Jayne's wardrobe? I hate signing stuff, I always feel it distractsthe viewer. It would be cool to have some Jayne t-shirts from BETTER DAYS #2.... I'm too swamped with work, but anyone else is more than wlecome to try!
How did I get involced with "Once More With Feeling"? When there was talk of doing a BUFFY animated series, comic-book and TV writer Jeph Loeb (Smallville, Lost, Heroes) was in charge. Apparently, Almighty Joss spoke to Jeph on the road to Damascus from a burning ficus tree, and commanded him to find someone in the comic-booky world who might be able to pull off a decent 1950's MGM musical-style poster. Jeph panicked, unable to come with any better candidates, and mentioned me. 2 weeks later, the soup, she is done. I would've KILLED for a whole month to work on the darn thing, but such is television, I guess. I will part with one of my own legs before letting go of my Joss-signed copy of the "Once More With Feeling" poster.
Heya Adam.

Did the cast approve your renderings (Oooh, gosh, that sounds...gross. Like...fat.) of them?

And...any chance folks could purchase an individual, like, oh say....ASH? I mean...an individual drawing, not the man himself.

Did Joss tell you how he wanted each of them to look, or did he leave that entirely up to you?
>>>Did the cast approve your renderings (Oooh, gosh, that sounds...gross. Like...fat.) of them?

Not while I was working, but according to Nathan Fillion's MySpace page, he doesn't seemt to hate it.


>>>And...any chance folks could purchase an individual, like, oh say....ASH? I mean...an individual drawing, not the man himself.

I do drawings at conventions, so check my website for con appearances, and take a shot! Wear your running shoes. Seriously. I don't many fans, but the ones I got? FAST.


>>>Did Joss tell you how he wanted each of them to look, or did he leave that entirely up to you?

Probably my greatest 'Nerd Joy Moment' was getting a 2-paragraph e-mail form Joss describing what he wanted for the BETTER DAYS cover. I sat looking at it going "I'm getting FIREFLY/SERENITY direction from Joss Whedon...."

The idea to do all 3 covers as one image, to have the whole crew posing for the covers like it's a postcard, all of it - Joss' idea. Even down to the placement of which character on which cover, all Joss. My big contribution: River playing with origami Alliance loot. I WAS gonna have her looking at a bug, like she's so ADD she can't sit still even for a photo-op, but the money idea hit me and I thought it cute. In retrospect, a daisy-chain is cute, but knowing River, it shoulda been an origami DNA helix or something....
Hello Adam, I have your beautiful OMWF poster on the wall in my home office. It is absolutely my favorite piece of framed art that I own.

I'm curious as to what other sources influenced your color choices for the poster. I think you chose perfectly and can't even imagine taking another direction.
... it shoulda been an origami DNA helix or something....

Or a Klein bottle or hypercube in paper ;).

I will part with one of my own legs before letting go of my Joss-signed copy of the "Once More With Feeling" poster.

So does this mean the poster's worth a leg to you Adam ? Cos I have one sort of spare (I can hop most places) so if ever you want to "sell" it ...

Aside from personal approbation, does the cast actually have the right to sign off (or not) on their likenesseses ?

Did you find the "photo" effect on 'Better Days' harder to achieve than a more stylised "comicy" drawing or maybe more restrictive regarding facial expressions (I ask because, much as I like the 'Better Days' covers, your Mal on the 'Those Left Behind' hardback actually feels more "Mal-ish" IMO even though it's a technically less accurate drawing - if that makes even vague sense ;) ?

And would you consider designing a statue of Zoe doing Wash's laundry or is life too short ? ;-)

(thanks very much for doing this Adam)
Did you miss doing a Serenity exterior for Better Days, the spaceship has such a 'personality' itself?
Amazing work. Do you know if prints of the Better Days cover will be available?
<
>>Did you find the "photo" effect on 'Better Days' harder to achieve than a more stylised "comicy" drawing or maybe more restrictive regarding facial expressions (I ask because, much as I like the 'Better Days' covers, your Mal on the 'Those Left Behind' hardback actually feels more "Mal-ish" IMO even though it's a technically less accurate drawing - if that makes even vague sense ;) ?

The more naturalistic look is always harder. You can totally miss a likeness on the technical sense, but really make it work of you nail the character. The softcover THOSE LEFT BEHIND cover really had the melancholic feel of Mal & Inara's star-crossed attraction; I could've drawn Jim Carrey and it's still 'feel' like Mal Reynolds.

I did a STAR TREK graphic novel ages ago, and a peer commented that I didn't really draw William Shatner very well, but I NAILED Captain Kirk. It's very much the same example.
>>>Did you miss doing a Serenity exterior for Better Days, the spaceship has such a 'personality' itself?

Yeah, because the exterior would've been WAAAAAAY easier than drawing Serenity's belly, all symmetrical and architecturally plumb & perfect. The outside of the old girl is all sensuous curves and buxom extenders.... the stuff I usually get paid to draw.

But I got to draw Serenity on the two THOSE LEFT BEHIND covers; I consider myself very fortunate! I don't think Serenity made it onto any of the actual 9 covers.... am I the ONLY cover artist who's gotten to draw her? Gorram it, that's weird...
>>Amazing work. Do you know if prints of the Better Days cover will be available?

Thank you, that is really awfully kind. I sure do hope that we can get posters or prints of the BETTER DAYS triptych out there.... there seems no point in doing one giant uber-image otherwise.

Who can say..... Joss works in mysterious ways.
Sean Phillips did one with Serenity before they decided to go with the nine character covers; it's now on the back of the paperback collection.

The only other official Serenity pics are from yr bud Jason Palmer, far as I know.
I did a STAR TREK graphic novel ages ago, and a peer commented that I didn't really draw William Shatner very well, but I NAILED Captain Kirk. It's very much the same example.

That's very interesting. It's what I like about Georges Jeanty's Buffy work-- I think he draws the characters very well. But with his style, they mostly don't look so much like the actors. And I like it better that way, myself. I like Jo Chen's covers, but sometimes I think they portray actor likenesses better than characters, and I like that less. But many people here feel the exact opposite about both artists' work on the comic. So is there a kind of choice you make as an artist-- how faithful to be to the characters versus the actors portraying them? Do those two things sometimes conflict? If so, how do you negotiate that kind of thing?

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-03-02 22:58 ]
Hi Adam. Is Joss really working on a third comic series dealing with Book?
>>>So is there a kind of choice you make as an artist-- how faithful to be to the characters versus the actors portraying them? Do those two things sometimes conflict? If so, how do you negotiate that kind of thing?

That is the EXACT problem I face. What is the best way to service the comic with a cover? What is the best way to portray these characters? When you have several options open to you, life can get pretty interesting, in the "Jayne's been bribed to murder us all in our sleep" way. When you have many different paths available to you, you have to pick on. And you have to stick to it. And if you realize that you took the WRONG path (or at least, the path that isn't the best), what do you do? Do you have the time to start over? Is it something you can fix on the cover you're doing? Or do you have to bite the bulletm, and stick with the path you've chosen, and make the best of it?

Maybe the next time I get to draw these characters (if I'm lucky), I'll go more interpretive, mor abstract. Sometimes you find the Right Way by doing the Wrong Thing 100 times, and by process of elimination all you have left is the proper way.
<
I have no idea. One of the Joss Mysterious Ways is his inability to keep me appraised of his daily activities. I had to find out about DOLLHOUSE from TV Guide. Can you beleive that? ;-)

It sure would be great to find out more about Book. One of the MANY tragedies of FIREFLY's cancellation is the unresolved Book story arc, his mysterious past and all.

I ran into Ron Glass outside of a hotel in Atlanta last summer, during DRAGON*CON. He was smoking an end-of-con cigaretter, and waiting for his ride to the airport. I interrupted him in mid-drag, telling him that I was going to be drawing him soon, on the BETTER DAYS covers, and that I'd like to get him a print of the final art as a thank-you.

He shook my hand, laughing that unstoppable Ron Glass that we all see in the DVD documentaries, and suddenly stopped, pulling my in close and going all scary Shepherd Book, says "GET IT RIGHT." Then he instantly went back to laughing. I laughed, as well, but only out of courtesy. In my heart, I was blubbing "Shep-shepherd Book is muh-MEAN--! **buh-huh-huhhhhh**

May the great Buddha smile upon thee, Ron Glass. You scary bastard.
Is Joss really working on a third comic series dealing with Book?

Yes. It's called A Shepherd's Tale.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-03-02 23:42 ]
AtomHues Did he put the hair away?

I probably should've been a bit more clear in my earlier post - I've only seen your OMWF work. (Sorry - not a comics fan) So that's what I was commenting on. And I think you captured both the actors & their characters in those illustrations.

Someday when I win the lottery I'm gonna track me down a OMWF poster. And it'll go on the wall with my Serenity theater poster and "battle-damaged" Cameron (Summer Glau) Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles poster.
He shook my hand, laughing that unstoppable Ron Glass that we all see in the DVD documentaries, and suddenly stopped, pulling my in close and going all scary Shepherd Book, says "GET IT RIGHT."

That would freak me out! And I mean the first part, not the "GET IT RIGHT." :D . It was hard for me to get through the commentaries with him laughing like that. No offense Mr. Glass. You're amazing.

Thanks for taking everyone's questions Mr. Hughes. It means a lot. Even more so to all of the obsessive dorks.

Buffysmglover: *raises hand*
Other guy: "Where?!"
Shadowquest - The link for this post is to a page that shows Adam's Serenity and other comic work. You could always click on that ;)
<
Here's a tip: they made two versions. The first version, they only printed about 2000 of them, meant to be souvenirs for the people working on the show and for plastering all over LA like theater billets. Then, they sneakily made a bunch of posters for retail (which they said they weren't gonna do.... sneaky!)

They two runs have greatly different quality. If you can get the retail one, it looks nice, unless you see the original run, which is some of the nicest printing I've EVER gotten on an assignment.

Try to get one of the original run versions. Unfortunately, there's nothing to tell the two apart other than quality, but i THINK the original run was larger.
I have one that was sent out only if you pre-ordered the CD. I'm guessing that is the second run? It looks great to me!
Adam,
I can't believe I have the chance to even "converse" with someone who's been an artistic inspiration for over a decade. I can't form an adequate phrase-of-praise, so I'll just get on with the question.

Naturally, I love your Serenity related work. I saw a print of the "Those Left Behind" (original paper back) cover at your booth at a convention in Pittsburgh last year, and was prepared to purchase it at whatever cost. Until I saw the "not for sale" label. Any chance framable prints or posters of your "Those Left Behind" or the new panoramic "Better Days" to become available soon? Whoever would get the money is sitting on a goldmine, by the way. Whedonesquers will buy almost anything. Thanks!

Edit: I see this was semi-answered above. So, I'd also like to get a brief update on the progress of "All Star Wonder Woman." And as the artist of teaser image when Joss was announced on the movie adaptation, how bummed were you (as a fan of his work) when he dropped out? Come to think of it, do you have any "Buffy" comics covers down the line? You seem to do an awful lot of Whedon-related projects.

[ edited by CaptainB on 2008-03-03 03:26 ]
-Thanks for taking everyone's questions Mr. Hughes. It means a lot. Even more so to all of the obsessive dorks.

As an obsessive dork myself, I will take that as the highest of compliments!
But you get PAID to be an obsessive dork, which grants you major dork cred.
zeitgeist Thanks. Did so. All I can say is...wow.

Adam Dude, you rock!

Alas I'm unable to attend cons, and will never be able to afford a OMWF poster, so...I'll just dream a little dream. Maybe I'll get creative - scan the pics inside my CD liner and make up my own...well, no. That would be wrong.

BTW - Love Inara fanning away the cigar smoke.
Cheers, ShadowQuest, glad you dug it. AH! has long been one of my faves as well.
Adam, my question went unanswered, but here I hope is some clarification.

Your beautiful OMWF poster is close to my heart in some small measure because it immediately called this to my mind:

http://www.art.com/asp/sp-asp/_/PD--10229281/SP--A/IGID--789585/Star_Wars.htm?sOrig=CAT&sOrigID=10374&ui=778F172BC07849C594367A625876A17E

My question on your color choice was partly because of this gorgeous piece. It was my favorite (of the myriad and countless) back in that day, and I wondered if maybe you had gotten some creative influence from this
( or are you too young?).

The various (percentage) purples and the red-outlined text especially stood out. As well as the rounded and golden-lit facial features.

Say nay if I'm wrong, I'm just so curious...
You know, I wasn't consciously thinking of that poster, the famous STAR WARS 'circus poster' by Drew Struzan and Charles White, but I guess it must have been somewhere in the back of my mind. It has all my personal favorite color theories going on! Unfortunately, I had to get the BUFFY poster done so fast that I had absolutely no time to do any of my usual research or find some classic bits of inspiration; I just had to git 'er dun.

LOL, and I AM old enough to have gotten ALL of the SW posters injected into my brain during their first release!
Good to know, and thanks! :)
Thanks to Adam for taken time out to do this and thanks to everyone who had great questions for him! We hope you enjoyed this little Q & A. Th-th-th-th-thats all, folks! :)
Thanks for your answers, Adam. Looking forward to the comics.

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