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Exclusive: DARK SHADOWS #1 Artist Commentary

Get a closer look at the first issue and what went into the art.

Dark Shadows makes its debut today at Dynamite Enertainment. Dark Shadows was a gothic soap opera that aired from 1966 to 1971. Focusing on Barnabas Collins and his vampire curse, the series is easily accessible to all readers.

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Dynamite has given us artist Aaron Campbell's commentary on the first issue. If you've been wondering if this is something for you, check it out below.

== TEASER ==

Page 1

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The craggy wind swept shore of Collinsport, Maine. In 1991 I was about 14 years old and I have a vague memory of a show called Dark Shadows. I remember that there was vampire, a creepy old house, and some time traveling, oh and that kid from 3 Rock from the Sun. What’s his name? Joseph Gordon something? I didn’t know anything at the time about the original show but that one always stuck with me. So when Dynamite told me about the project I was totally excited.

So here we are at the beginning or the end depending on how you see it. This story is based on the original show from the late 60’s and in fact we’re picking up where the series left off. Everything is based directly off the tv show right down the sets and actors. We have some good establishing shots of the Seaview mansion and a set up for Dr. Julia Hoffman.

Page 2

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This is a big establishing shot of the Collinwood Foyer. Typically for reoccurring locations I’ll build a 3D model in Google Sketchup. For Dark Shadows, since we’re being so faithful to the show, I’ve made models for all the locations that have appeared in the show. The models allow me to approach every panel the way a cinematographer would on a movie set. I can move around a physical space and find angles and perspectives that would otherwise elude me.

Page 3

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Here we see Elizabeth for the first time as well as the Collinwood Drawing Room. My 3D models tend to get pretty detailed so one thing I do to help with my workflow is selectively construct them. What this means is I that I will only building those parts of the models that I need for the moment. As I require different vantage points I will slowly add to the model piece by piece, area by area.

Page 4

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Not much to say here, except to ponder what Elizabeth might be needle pointing here. All will be revealed.

Page 5

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So here we get to wonder about Collinwood and see what the other are up to. Looks like Roger, enjoying a snifter of brandy had received a letter. Carolyn is getting ready for the night in her bedroom. A cock-sure Quentin reads by his gramophone, and young David is obsessively scribbling something on sheet after sheet of paper.

All the characters need to look like the actors who portrayed them. Needless to say I’m watching lots of Dark Shadows episodes now.

Page 6

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Here we see the Old House for the first time. I find it funny that the “Old House” is a neo-classical style mansion while the newer Collinwood is an older style Tudor mansion. Just sayin’. Oh there’s Barnabas in his coffin the basement.

Page 7-9

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Now we’ve entered into a nightmare dreamscape that is tormenting Barnabas’ sleep. I’ve done a few things to set the dream world apart from the real world. For one, I’ve given the panels a loose, brushy border to heighten the sense of anxiety. I’m also distorting the figures, skewing and warping them. A lot of my visual effects are first drawn in Photoshop. For instance, the patterns that dissolve in and out of the spectral female figures were created using a brush form I made in Photoshop. I build these aspects of the image up digitally, working back and forth until I get it where I like it. Figures are usually drawn in pencil that I scan and add to the background elements. I then print the pages in non-repro blue and ink over them for the finish.

Pages 10-22

I don’t have a whole to add for the rest of the pages. I will talk briefly about a technique I’ve been developing that shows up on page 18. If you’ll look, there’s an interesting texture I’m getting in the smoke circling around the page. I do this with rubber cement. I carefully brush the cement onto the page before I begin inking using it as a resist. When I’m done inking I rub it off and I’ve got this really cool texture.

Well that’s pretty much it. Hope you enjoyed a little view into my process!