Surely one of the most talented illustrators it has ever been my pleasure to meet is Rob Granito, of Painted Jester Studio.  Rob does astounding artwork, especially with figure drawing and superhero style art.  He’s been a frequent guest at UberCon, where he draws beautiful commissions on the spot, in minutes.

For the last 2 or 3 UberCons, he and I had talked about him doing guest art.  At UberCon VI in February, we finally made that happen.  I told him all I needed was “two or more figures in conversation” and other than that, to let his imagination run.

Well, you can see the result, and it’s gorgeous.  It took me some time to get around to tackling it and giving it the thought it deserved.

I first set for myself a challenge to break this swarthy-looking guy out of his stereotype and make him sympathetic.  Couldn’t figure a way to crack that, so I put him back into the obvious role of Evil Rich Villain.

The pose was what was so challenging about this.  When a character is looking straight at the reader, it makes it harder to write in a simple discussion.  I end up either having the character addressing the reader or no-one in particular, or I invent an unseen character who may speak in narrative boxes, but not to the drawn character.  Confusing?  Trust me, it rarely works otherwise.

So having these two with the masks indicated to me that they were at a party.  Given that I was making him a villain and probably her, I needed a good pole of tension for the unseen person they were addressing.  That could have been a rival gangster or something, but I went with a police inspector (or private eye) and the rest flowed pretty well until I was stuck for a punchline.  Searching for the right word for a totally different kind of ending, I stumbled on the word “ancillary” and re-wrote the strip backward from that.

That’s more than you needed to know, isn’t it?