At Comic Con, Charles Vess showed me a sneak preview of new paintings that he and Michael Kaluta collaborated on for Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, due from DC Comics/Vertigo in October. I love both Charles’ and Michael’s work...seeing these collaborations was twice the pleasure. While the work was certainly recognizable as their’s, it still, somehow, felt like discovering a new, great artist. This will be one sweet book.
I asked Charles to explain the process:
About two years ago I was approached to draw the art for the framing sequences of the graphic novel which will consist of a number of individual stories all written by Bill Willingham and painted by various artists. As the deadline moved closer I realized that I would be unable to meet it without some assistance so I turned to long time friend and art buddy Michael Kaluta to help out. Kaluta has drawn some spectacular art set in the world of the Arabian Nights before and I also knew that we were both on the same wave length when it comes to how we 'think' illustration. I blessed my lucky stars as his drawing came in. Who wouldn't be excited by those images. It was quite easy to ink and paint over whatever his Rococo imagination had envisioned. It was so much fun that I kinda didn't want it to end but deadlines are deadlines.
In this particular instance I had already drawn a crude sketch (image #1 below) of the image that Michael then refined and brought to life (image #2 below). I would then take his penciled page and ink over the lines with a black/brown mixture of FW ink (image #3 below), leaving off outlines that I thought needed to be more subtle (the princesses suitor, etc.). Over those inked outlines I layered a solution of the FW inks and water by first soaking the image with a yellow/orange mixture, applied with a sponge to give it that Middle Eastern glow. Then I applied multiple layers of various colors to add depth and individual details (image above).