Hey! It’s been two weeks since Chapter Six of The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage was finally released and I figured it might be interesting to go through some behind-the-scenes materials I have lying around. Nothing major, but I personally always like seeing cut content so I figured I could share my own for once!
To start off, here’s a selection of character posters I made way back in March 2016, which include the newest additions to the cast – Kyle, Edna and Emil. If these seem familiar, that’s because I released the posters for Hercule, Lucy and Odessa a year ago. Click any of the posters to see a full-screen version:
If you were to assemble all of these side-by-side, you’ll find it’s all one big poster. Neat, huh? Try it out sometime!
As for the titular behind-the-scenes stuff, there’s two things in particular I think might be interesting. The first is the original, unfinished first page of the Chapter (dated February 8, 2016), which I scrapped entirely and started over from scratch because… well, because I hated this first version. I even tried it in two layouts – this is version 2 I’m posting, version 1 is nearly identical with a slight change in panel layout – but it just wasn’t salvageable. Looking back, I think I made the right choice.
Compared with the final page, you can see how similar the overall layout is, but everything from the composition of the shots to the lighting is completely different – for the better, I’d say. Sometimes you just gotta go back to the start to really get something right.
And speaking of going back to the start, here’s the second thing I was talking about: a test version – or “beta”, if you will – of the first idea for the Chapter’s cover. Originally I was going for a close-up of Hercule aiming his crossbow where you could see the manhacks he was aiming at in the scope’s reflection. Take a look at my first attempt at conveying this:
Ignoring the glaring issues with the image derived from being just a test (such as the reflection’s errors in perspective), I had a couple of problems with this concept once I saw how the test looked.
Primarily, it highlights just how poor the geometry and textures of the models are. The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage intentionally uses as many of the original Half-Life 2 assets as possible to fit in completely with the game’s aesthetics, which in 2017 I think also gives it a nostalgic vibe, but the close-up still doesn’t flatter the outdated models and materials at all. The other big reason is, while I still think the idea itself is neat, it just doesn’t cool enough in practice for my taste.
Therefore, for the final cover, I went with an intentional callback to the cover for The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage: Chapter Two, only replacing the zombies with manhacks:
I think it ties in the new chapter to the old ones nicely and makes it clear that some things never change: Hercule and Lucy will always find themselves back to back against some threat. Plus it looks badass and far better than the original cover did. That said, the original cover idea still lives on in a way, as it inspired one of the panels in Page 19.
And now for something fun: in keeping with the aforementioned attempt at staying true to Half-Life 2, I always try to do things in-game instead of Photoshop. That includes grenades, which, as you might know if you’ve played the game, have a very specific light trail. What I have done there for both Chapter Five and this one, where a character throws grenades, is I actually throw one myself and take a screenshot of it. That said, it’s not easy to aim properly, so it takes a whole bunch of attempts to throw it just right and take the shot at the right moment. For kicks, I made a GIF of those attempts (you can even spot my shadow as I noclip around the map tossing them):
And here’s the kicker: I ended up changing the camera angle completely and having to do it all over again! Fortunately I got a perfect shot on my fourth try, and that’s the one you see in the comic. I could just do it the easy way and Photoshop a trail behind a grenade prop, but where’s the fun in that?
And that’s it! Not much else I can show besides the original screenshots for the comics’ panels, but with over 100 panels it’s hard to really pick which to show, so if you wanna see any of the original images or have any questions, let me know in the comments below! And as for behind-the-scenes stuff, I think I’ll have something to show from another author sooner than you think… see ya soon!