Artist Patric Reynolds is known for his work on high profile comic books like Hellboy, Serenity, and Abe Sapien. His latest project was illustrating an online three-part digital comic series as a prequel to the upcoming “The Thing” film. I had an opportunity to interview Reynolds about his work on “The Thing: The Northman Nightmare.”
Explain how you went about capturing the cold and dark elements of Greenland in “The Thing: The Northman Nightmare.”
I really wanted to make the environment seem oppressively barren and harsh at the same time. This is difficult to do with large expanses of white and snow — it’s hard not to make the space look blank. However, once I knew what the Greenland mountains looked like, I could manipulate them in any way I wanted, and design the panel so that the characters were surrounded by their cruel jaggedness. In “Thing” universe, the unforgiving environment encases the narrative, so it was important that I make these considerations. I wanted to make the reader feel that cold and remoteness, too.
What were some of the particular challenges you faced while bringing the “Northman Nightmare” to life?
I think organizing and wrangling all the models and photo references was the most difficult thing without question. I wanted to make a believable and engaging story so I opted to use real people as reference. The challenge was that there were 10 distinctive Vikings to draw, one crazy villager, and six evil women. In addition, they were dressed in 12th century Viking clothing. In addition, they were out in the snow, it was daytime, and things were on fire. Obviously, I could only get references that were “close.” Nevertheless, that’s all I needed really.
I was forced not to become slavish to the photo reference. Thankfully, some employees at Dark Horse (Patrick Thorpe, Jim Gibbons, and Aub Driver) volunteered to put on bed sheets, wield yardsticks, be my “Viking ” brigade, and look surly while I ran around them shooting pictures at dramatic angles. I also had my incredibly patient and brave friends Clint, Christian, Nicole, Vinny, my neighbor Ben, and even writer Joshua Williamson (writer of Xenoholics for Image Comics) help me make this whole thing happen. Of course, they have lives too (unlike me), so I had to work around their availability, all while drawing the comic at the same time.
I can’t imagine what my neighbors must think of me, with strange people coming in and out of the house wearing my flannel bed sheets at all hours of the day.
What sort of creative restraints were put on you by Universal?
None really. They sent me literally hundreds of images from the film production to use as reference, and I never was asked to change anything after I finished the pages. They were very generous with the approval process and with the deadline. It was painless.
Tell us your favorite part of working on “The Thing: The Northman Nightmare.”
I think being satisfied with that last page. I really had to get that tone — the menace — and that last “beat” right. I know I could always be better and I’d always like to have some panels or pages “back,” but I liked that one. Plus, I got to be finished! That rush of satisfaction and relief that comes from being finished and having something to show for all that work is priceless.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
A Look at ‘The Thing’ in Films
John Carpenter’s Sci-Fi Thriller ‘The Thing’ Still Holds Up 29 Years Later
Steve Niles Takes ‘The Thing’ to Greenland in Comic Book Prequel to Upcoming Movie
Eric Shirey is the founder and editor of Rondo Award nominated movie and comic book news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. He also served as a news reporter for the award winning movie website GordonandtheWhale.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo! Movies, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! TV, Associated Content from Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other national entertainment websites. Besides his three decades long obsession with everything sci-fi, horror, and fantasy related in TV and movies, Eric has what some would call an unhealthy love for comic books. This has led him to interviewing and covering legendary writers and artists in the medium like Scott Snyder, Steve Niles, Tony S. Daniel, Bernie Wrightson, Geoff Johns, and Howard Chaykin. His personal website is www.ersink.com.