Between the team, led by John Hemry, we carefully worked out even the smallest detail of scenes for future reference when an item of equipment was used again

Creating Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet – Corsair comic: some unseen designs and behind the scenes reveals

Early designs for Lost Fleet Corsair by Andre M. Siregar
Early designs for Lost Fleet Corsair by Andre M. Siregar

Titan Comics are giving the collected Lost Fleet – Corsair a bit of a “back catalogue” push right now, so as the series editor, I thought I’d share some of the early design work that went into creating the series, based on Jack Campbell‘s best selling SF novels.

The series had been on the books at Titan for some time before I took over the title and I knew both author Jack Campbell (John Hemry) and artist Andre M. Siregar were champing at the bit to get it moving. The first issue had already been drawn, but some fine tuning was made to the first issue before moving on to the rest of the series, which included selecting variant cover artists and a colourist – Sebastian Cheng, the latter after looking at a wide range of possibilities, chosen after seeing some of his incredible work on IDW’s Transformers.

We secured several great artists, but changes behind the scenes sadly meant that some I’d hoped to use on every issue had to be dropped, much to everyone’s chagrin. Despite this, Alex Ronald, Marc Laming, Gary Erskine and others did some amazing work, and I was delighted when Titan publishers Vivian Cheung and Nick Landau approved my suggestion to use David Demaret‘s work, originally featured on the French editions of the Lost Fleet novels, particularly as David kindly re-worked some of the covers for this new use.

Early designs for Lost Fleet Corsair by Andre Airegar
Some of these early designs, but not all survived into the final look of Lost Fleet – Corsair

Also behind the scenes, we had the series letterer, Jim Campbell, create emblems for the rival Alliance and Syndic factions who uneasily rubbed shoulder aboard the Corsair, the vessel stolen to escape the totalitarian Syndic’s prison.

Alliance Emblem Design by Jim CampbellSyndic Emblem Design by Jim Campbell

As an editor, I’m a strong believer in working hard on the script stage of any project as it’s my belief that it can save a lot of heartache later. John was new to comics but took to the project fast and was thankfully amenable to most of my nips and tucks to his script. He supplied breakdowns for every issue, gave feedback and suggestion on the resulting script and provided valuable guidance and ideas on the look of the book.

Between the team, led by John Hemry, we carefully worked out even the smallest detail of scenes for future reference when an item of equipment was used again
Between the team, led by John Hemry, we carefully worked out even the smallest detail of scenes for future reference when an item of equipment was used again
The designs of the Syndic troops were changed at inking stage on #1 so as not to look similar to similar space armour. A helmet "fin" was added in consultation with author John Hemry
The designs of the Syndic troops were changed at inking stage on #1 so as not to look similar to similar space armour. A helmet “fin” was added in consultation with author John Hemry
John Hemry's breakdown for Lost Fleet #2, Page 8
John Hemry’s breakdown for Lost Fleet #2, Page 8
The script for Lost Fleet #2, Page 8
The script for Lost Fleet #2, Page 8
Lost Fleet #2 - Page 8 Final
The final page

Andre was also on had to make amends as required, often working fast at a late stage when some scene or other hadn’t quite worked as planned or we hit an unexpected snag on John’s site of the inks.

On Issue 4, for example, John gave some detailed and helpful steers on how to present the battle simulations, which Andre revised at the ink stage. The aim behind all this work was to successfully blend comics storytelling, which is by nature highly visual, with John’s careful and considered plotting and narrative that has made his Lost Fleet novels such a success, but are of course a distinct medium from comics.

Lost Fleet #4 Page 7 - First Pass. First inks for a page featuring a battle simulation that wasn't quite in keeping with he Lost Fleet novels
First inks for a page featuring a battle simulation that wasn’t quite in keeping with he Lost Fleet novels

 

The page from Lost Fleet #4 with a revised look thanks to John Hemry's input
The page from Lost Fleet #4 with a revised look thanks to John Hemry’s input

Lost Fleet #4 Page 9 Colour

Lost Fleet #4 Page 9 Final

Looking back, the work we did on Lost Fleet – Corsair – including some great input on the feature pages from the Titan Comics team in London and Andrew James and Editorial Director Christ Teather’s steady steering of every other element of such a project – turned out well, I think. The project successfully ran that fine line between being as close to the novelist’s vision while still delivering strong visuals, an all-out action comic with space battles, hand to hand combat and, above all else, intriguing and relatable characters.

Let’s hope it’s not too long to now before we set out on another adventure with the Corsair team. There’s plenty of stories to tell and John Hemry is brimming with ideas!

The Lost Fleet - Corsair Cover• The collected Titan Comics Lost Fleet – Corsair is available from all good books shops, comic shops and online retailers including Amazon, along with the Lost Fleet novels

• Jack Campbell – jack-campbell.com

 

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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