Mars: Space Barbarian Sat, 26 Nov 2016 19:02:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Myth (aka Prologue) – Page 4 Sun, 20 Sep 2015 00:34:37 +0000 MARS-myth_04-web


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The Myth (aka Prologue) – Page 3 Sun, 20 Sep 2015 00:32:31 +0000 MARS-myth-grey_03


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The Myth (aka Prologue) – Page 2 Sun, 20 Sep 2015 00:31:05 +0000 MARS_02-web


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The Myth (aka Prologue) – Page 1 Sun, 20 Sep 2015 00:28:01 +0000 MARS-myth_01-web

New Mars! A prologue short story based on an initial script I wrote in 2012. Heavily inspired by the prologue Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord did on their Conan run. And please welcome new artist Francesco Chiappara (@prenzyx) and letterer[…]↓ Read the rest of this entry...]]>

New Mars! A prologue short story based on an initial script I wrote in 2012. Heavily inspired by the prologue Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord did on their Conan run. And please welcome new artist Francesco Chiappara (@prenzyx) and letterer Adam Pruett (@adamopruett) to the fold! Colors by the always amazing Ryan Hill (@josephryanhill)!

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More Mars: Space Barbarian is coming soon… Tue, 14 Jul 2015 19:23:45 +0000 Here’s a quick tease! Art by Francesco Chiappara.


Orphean Trek Mon, 13 Apr 2015 20:26:35 +0000 mars-orphean trek-final-web

Told you we’d have a new page up soon! Thanks for your patience, folks! Big thanks to Adam O. Pruett, who’s responsible for this strip showing up in Savage Dragon #202!]]>
mars-orphean trek-final-web

Told you we’d have a new page up soon! Thanks for your patience, folks!

Big thanks to Adam O. Pruett, who’s responsible for this strip showing up in Savage Dragon #202!

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“Been a long time, we shouldn’ta left you…” Fri, 10 Apr 2015 19:20:25 +0000 ↓ Read the rest of this entry...]]> I’ll be posting the newest page of Mars soon. Apologies for the delay. We’ve been BUSY! [Update: Just posted that new strip. It’s called “Orphean Trek.” Read it here.]

Andrew just wrapped his original graphic novel, ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times, which I had the pleasure of editing for Dark Horse Comics. It’s out this May and looks gorgeous! I’m biased, but I’d say it’s a MUST READ!

Here’s me marveling at it…


Preview the book here and then preorder a copy for only $9! Really proud of Andrew on this one—his finest work to date, I think!

Andrew also has a TON more comics available via Comixology and his store since our last update. Make sure to check out Head Lopper! It’s super dope and, if you like Mars, you’ll LOVE it!

Colorist Ryan Hill is BLOWING UP right now and I couldn’t be prouder of my longtime buddy! Check out his work on Effigy, Rick and Morty, Stumptown, and Terrible Lizard over at Comixology!

Here’s Ryan at a recent Rick and Morty signing…


Ryan’s got a few other things in the hopper that, well… I’ll be saying “I knew him when” very soon! Watch out for this cat!

Lastly and leastly, I’ve written a few other things in the last year. Head to Comixology or Gumroad and grab yourself a copy of Birch Squatch: The Last Bigfoot #1, with art and lettering and design by my good buddy Caleb Goellner. And check out the free-to-read Young Shaq in the Bad Future over at Comics Alliance or my blog featuring art and lettering by the amazingly talented and gracious Ethan Young!


More soon, folks! Thanks for your patience!

Our Hero: Take 3—The Final Take! Wed, 26 Feb 2014 05:31:57 +0000 ↓ Read the rest of this entry...]]> After a bunch of discussion about the pros and cons of Mr. Andrew MacLean’s first design, he took another stab and, fortuitously and amazingly (and maybe because he’s a rad character designer and, possibly, a mind reader), got us all the way there. It looks like there’s no such thing as talking too much in character design!




Here’re my initial reactions…

Wow, dude… I love so damn much about this! The boots are AMAZING! I LOVE the sword and I think that bubble helmet-producing collar looks great!

I’m all about the full on skirt, but I like that between these two illustrations, you’ve already given him costume changes. I think we can find uses for both these looks.

The only thing that I think this design has working against it is that it feels less nautically inspired. It looks great and is very barbarian, but doesn’t have the same ocean flair as the last one.

That said… costume changes! So we don’t always have to see that.

Are those wristbands?

And while there was a lot of talk about possible distinguishing birthmarks and a bunch more discussion about the helmet before this version came to life, the second take from Andrew became the final design for Mars.

Then it was off to Mr. Ryan Hill.

Here was my initial guidance/notes for Ryan…

Bright, nautical-themed colors. Turquoises, salmon, bright blue, yellows… Did you know that ancient greek ruins as we see them today, stark and white, used to be painted in bright gaudy colors? That is kind of the idea here. Use that kind of palette, which may not look ancient to most people, but it actually will be… plus, it will look futuristic and sci-fi-like, so… wham, bam!

That make sense?

Mars should probably have an olive colored skin, as the book’s world uses space as a metaphor for the Mediterranean, he should probably look that way.

And his first stab…

1-MARS Test copy

…which was a bit too alien. Which reminded me: Take nothing for granted when you send someone something to work on. Ryan’s a good buddy who I’d explained Mars to a bunch. And yet, I forgot to mention this guy flying around space was human. Olive skin on an alien versus olive skin on a human, yeah… not necessarily the same note. Live and learn!

My response way back then…

First and foremost, this looks cool as hell, man! Regardless of the fact some things are not what I was picturing, this looks really cool!

I should have maybe specified this more, but Mars is human and should have olive skin (think Mediterranean: Greeks and Romans).

I like the sword a lot! And like the salmony color used on the skirt and boots… The orange might be a bit much, but mostly ’cause it detracts from the orange of the boot flames…

Once the olive skin tone is taken care of, maybe see if you can find a greener or turquoise type color that works in place of all the orange on Mars? Or maybe orange will look great after that…

Then Andrew, who wanted a little less neon, did a few takes to give it a more subdued coloring. Flat colors and one with a gradient…

3-MARS2 normal color-small

4-MARS2 pink purple-small

Ryan took these, worked his magic, and did what he described as a combo of Andrew’s two takes with some touches he wanted to retain rendering-wise and we were nearly there. Gaudy and mediterranean without being too neon or over the top.

5-MARS WRK2 copy

A bit of fine tuning on some minor details and we were there!
8-MARS WRK5 copy

And so, a hero was BORN!

Our Hero: Take 2 Tue, 07 Jan 2014 05:46:21 +0000 ↓ Read the rest of this entry...]]> There was an initial Mars design that I’ll get into one day, but after dozens of emails and a few hours on Skype chatting about this comic, here’s where Andrew and I began work on our titular hero.

1-Mars pencils photo
Working with all my crazy notes about how this mash-up idea was influenced by Conan, Star Wars, Ancient Rome, the Mediterranean in Ancient Greece, what I wish Aquaman comics were, and my love of the classics, here’s the email from Andrew (he’s the italics) that accompanied the pencils with my responses to it intermixed and bolded. [Certain details redacted due to SPOILERS]

ANDREW MACLEAN: Hey Jim, probably not what you had in mind but here’s an idea for Mars. Some thoughts:

•The “crown” around his eye is a birthmark that the entire [redacted] family has. They are born with it.

JIM GIBBONS: I LOVE the inclination here, but I’m worried this will make him look a bit too much like the main character from the God of War games, who has a tattoo over his left eye. Maybe you can come up with something similar but different…? (Thought of something below…)

• He’d fight with his shirt off. Stomach area is wrapped in cloth.

I dig it. I dig his nautical-looking sailor shirt here, as well.

• I want to draw a parallel between sea and space. I think this will give the whole thing a tone no one has seen before. Subtle, but an influence.

Agreed. I think this would be ideal. That’s essentially what the world of the comic is, so… seeing that visually would be great.

• His haircut is inspired by the “barbarians” he trained and lived with. Black mohawk ponytail tied back with squid tentacle inspired “ropes.”

Hmm… I kinda love this and I’m kinda not sure about it… Possible to see a side view of it? Is his hair all long, or close-cropped on top and then a long pony in the back? If the hair is all long, I dig it more. Then he could kinda have full on barbarian hair if the moment is needed. Also, I want us to lock down a pretty solid look for Mars that isn’t dependent on head or facial hair as, odds are, I’ll call for him to be bearded at some point, or have short hair, etc etc.

• His spacesuit will be a nifty little piece of tech, probably a ball he turns on, throws, it opens midair, he jumps towards it and it wraps him up, sealing itself into a sightly clunky looking space suit.

So, the one thing I think is absolutely essential or me visually, is that when he is out in space, he just wears a classic ’50s or ’60s-inspired bubble helmet. It can still be a nifty bit of tech and maybe has some shoulder pads or something, but I want to retain the gig of a bare-chested barbarian in space with just a helmet on. I don’t want to limit you or get in the way of a good idea, but I just don’t see a full on space suit for this, I mean… It’s sci-fi, but it’s fantasy in many ways too, so… we can fudge the science.

• I think those bands on his forearms are tattoos that the barbarians all have.

Dig it! Though, thinking about that birthmark… What if he has like a shoulder birthmark. Almost something like The Rock’s giant shoulder tattoo, but that is the [redacted] birthmark? Or maybe a neck birthmark? But yeah, some tattoos that tie him to the [redacted] would be cool. Plus, an easy way for people to know he’s a barbarian, thus leading to lots of people calling him one!

• Curvy sword mimics water, but the handle looks [redacted].

I dig it, but would love to work some weird futuristic elements into it. Not quite a light saber, but I think it should be more than steel. But yeah, love this design so much!

Anyway, I’m gonna ink it and throw on a little color. Let me know what you think, but give it a minute to set in because I am sure it hits you a little awkwardly versus the old design. I’d love to take a route closer to this because it’s not so on the nose, and it’s familiar enough to feel “barbarian” yet foreign enough to feel “alien.”

Overall, I agree and I like this take on Mars a lot. Very much along the lines I was thinking as I realized how much space being a metaphor to the Mediterranean was key to the world (something I came up with after those initial designs). Keep the nautical elements coming, absolutely. Just want to make sure some of the space stuff looks a little goofy. Don’t know if you saw this… I think I sent a link to the covert Mars tumblr… but this Frazetta drawing is a great place to draw some inspiration from. Looks like a dude wandering the outback, but also a spaceman. I think the bubble helmet is kinda the main “He’s a barbarian, but also… SPACE!” nod. Ya know?

2-Mars inks photo

3-mars inks

4-mars color test

Andrew then inked and colored this version and we were a little closer to nailing down the look of our main protagonist. Crazily enough, the next take ended up—with a few tweaks—being the final look of Mars. I’ll get into that in the next post. Till then!


Bonus: Here’s a look at the hair/ponytail Andrew created for Mars that I was initially so-so on…
for blog-mars hair 1
And some of my comments…

This look is really growing on me! You know what… I think this will work really well for the first stories, where he’s just out into the civilized world after his time with the barbarians… I dig the idea of a different hairstyle being one of the ways we can show him in flashback stories, this building towards the impactful moment where he goes back to that hairstyle in the future.

Double Bonus: Not sure who did this (comment below if you’re the culprit), but someone colored these inks when Andrew posted them on tumblr. TGIF!

mars fan colors

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Only the Strong – Cover/Chapter Break Fri, 22 Nov 2013 17:22:41 +0000 Mars-OTS Cover-websized

At a certain point, Andrew and I realized—even with this short story—we needed some sort of cover/promo image. We gotta have some main image to link around, right? So, Andrew (who colored this piece, as well) came up with this[…]↓ Read the rest of this entry...]]>
Mars-OTS Cover-websized

At a certain point, Andrew and I realized—even with this short story—we needed some sort of cover/promo image. We gotta have some main image to link around, right? So, Andrew (who colored this piece, as well) came up with this wraparound banner idea that, within the web format, works very nicely on top of looking bad ass. So, let’s call it a chapter break image officially, but a promo image and/or a first cover, as well. It’s the most multi-purpose image in the history of Mars: Space Barbarian!

…so far, that is!

A little business, as well…

The response to Only the Strong, our first 5-page story, was HUGE! Thank you so much to everyone who linked it around and spread the word, as well as anyone who offered us kind words, compliments, and encouragement! It’s greatly, greatly appreciated. Amidst the kind words, many people also asked us when there’d be more Mars. The short answer: We’re working on more now. The longer answer: This is a passion project and doesn’t pay the bills (Though, one day, maybe…). We all have to do other work for that, so we’ll be working on Mars as fast as the rest of all our other work allows. But, in our randomly updating format, we’ll aim to keep a steady flow of content here in the form of sketches and process posts when we don’t have new pages to post. Thanks for your patience on this front, folks. We’ll pay you back for it in awesome comic pages currency just as soon as we can!

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