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6 Literary Characters Who Should’ve Been Able to Rewind Time

[Video game still from Life is Strange, Dontnod Entertainment and Square Enix]

It’s August 31, which means that Life is Strange: Before the Storm is upon us! This prequel to one of 2015’s breakout video games, Life is Strange, tells more of Chloe Price’s story. If you played LiS, you probably remember this blue-haired rebel, whom protagonist Max Caulfield saves from a murderous prep schooler by rewinding time.

LiS is all about Max and Chloe’s exploration of Max’s new powers, which come in handy for the pair. They’re searching for Chloe’s friend Rachel, but ultimately dig up way more dirt than they intended on the small town of Arcadia Bay…which puts them in danger. Often.

As we waited for Before the Storm, we got to thinking: what other characters would’ve benefited from Max’s powers? Plenty, we realized. Here are six characters whose lives would have been much easier if they’d just been able to travel a few minutes into the past.

Posted by Elizabeth Ballou

Literary Treasures for Chloe from Uncharted

Move over Nathan Drake, there’s a new treasure hunter in town! Chloe’s got her heart set on uncovering ancient secrets, and we’re pretty sure she would also love to get her hands on some of these literary treasures.

Posted by Sandra Woolf

The Truth Is Out There (In the Backyard!)

X-Files Illustrator Kim Smith Talks with Quirk Publisher Jason Rekulak

Quirk Books Publisher Jason Rekulak collaborated with illustrator Kim Smith on her best-selling picture book adaptation of Home Alone, and he was thrilled to re-team with her on an adaptation of The X-Files. They chatted recently about how this otherworldly picture book came together.  


JR: Were you a fan of The X-Files as a kid?  


KS: Growing up, I was obsessed with everything paranormal. I loved ghosts, aliens, any sort of unsolved mysteries. But I was just seven years old when The X-Files premiered, so I wasn’t allowed to watch the early episodes (because they would have given me nightmares!). Luckily, the show was a hit, so I did catch episodes in the later seasons during their first run.  


JR: Any particular favorites?  


KS: The episode I remember most was about a virus that made your head explode [“Drive,” Season 6, Episode 2; the episode was directed by Vince Gilligan and starred Bryan Cranston, who would later team up on Breaking Bad]. It stuck with me for years, and it was fun to see it again when I watched the series as an adult (thanks, Netflix!).  


JR: How did you go about imagining/illustrating Dana Scully and Fox Mulder as children?  


KS: I wanted to make sure you could identify them as the characters from the show, but I didn’t want them to resemble bobble-heads or mini-versions of the adult Dana and Fox. I wanted them to look like real kids. Their iconic hairstyles helped a lot. I also gave Fox an alien pin to show his love of the paranormal. (I wanted to squeeze an “I Want to Believe” poster into one of the illustrations, but I could never find the right place.)  


Early character sketches of Fox Mulder (top) and Dana Scully (below).  


JR: Can you tell us a little about your process?  


KS: Once I have a final manuscript and approved character designs, I start a series of rough thumbnails. They’re small and scribbly so I can work quickly; I like to put down as many ideas as possible to find the best compositions. I try lots of variations: I move the characters around, sketch the scene from different angles, and play with lighting to find the right fit. When the thumbnails are finished, I select the best compositions for each page and then put them together into a little book to make sure everything is reading clearly.  



We made a few tweaks to these sketches and eventually decided to eliminate all the narration (because 90% of the story is Dana and Fox talking, anyway). That required me to move the dialogue into speech bubbles. My next round of sketches is a lot tighter and includes details that appear in the final artwork:  



Once these sketches are approved, it’s time for color. This is my favorite part. The story takes places in the fall, at night, in a backyard. I wanted to make sure to use some fall colors and I also wanted to use colors that would showcase any bright green aliens you might find in the scenes. What ended up working best was a yellow/blue-green palette with highlights of green in key places.  



JR: What was the greatest challenge of working on this book?  


KS: Making sure the illustrations were something fans would love, but also making sure the art worked for young readers unfamiliar with the TV series.  


JR: You created a terrific process video that documents your work on the cover. Can you tell us what we're seeing here? Also, can you explain why the image in the video starts with blue and purple trees? I just assumed you went straight from black-and-white sketches to final colors. 


KS: I use a technique called flatting – a lot of digital artists use it. You don’t see the earliest parts of the process in this video so I’ll describe it. I start by painting all the different shapes that make up the characters (face, clothing, hair, eyes, etc.) and the setting (the house, trees, and tent) on different layers in Photoshop. This makes it easier to return and paint in details while keeping the shapes of the objects intact. When you’re using this technique, the bright colors make it much easier to see the different shapes against each other, and it helps me see everything is separated. I can also work faster when I’m not thinking about color quite yet. Once all that work is done, I’ll start putting in the colors. This is where I figure out the tone and lighting for the illustration. Once I’m happy with the color, I’ll paint in the details. I love to use digital paintbrushes that mimic gouache painting (shout-out to Kyle Brush!). When everything is nearing the finish line, and most of the painting is done, I’ll add a bit of extra lighting and atmosphere to make the cover feel really spooky and mysterious. And, lastly, I hand-lettered the title with the help of a few guidelines to make sure everything was straight.


JR: One more question (I can't resist!): Is there extra-terrestrial life in the universe?  

KS: Definitely! But whether or not that life has visited Earth is another question…


Posted by Kim Smith

Literary Roles of Jason Momoa

Photo by Louis from Pexels

Rising star Jason Momoa has come a long way since his first Baywatch appearance in 1999—through several less-than-memorable action roles (and a few great ones), to his breakout role in Game of Thrones, and now on to series with more depth (such as Frontier) and even a major blockbuster franchise (in the DCEU). However, when people think of the Hawaiian actor, they tend to think of big brutes—barbarians, assassins, horselords and tattooed thugs. It’s a part that he plays well, and at over 6’3” with undeniably rippling muscles and wonderfully villainous facial hair, it’s easy to understand why Momoa generally finds himself up for this kind of part. However, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have any literary roles under his belt. In fact, many of his big scary barbarian characters are actually lifted from the pages of books and comics, proving that just because a film is a literary adaptation, that doesn’t mean that the characters have to be book-lovers themselves.

From first to last, we count down Momoa’s literary roles over the years, as well as those to come.


Posted by Rose Moore

Sharks in Pop Culture

It's almost Shark Week 2017, aka the week of sharp teeth, fins, and about fifty more rows of sharp teeth, and all the sharks you could possibly hope for. Shark Week isn't only around to terrify and frighten us out of the water for the rest of our lives. It helps to educate and bring awareness to these amazing creatures. We thought we'd take a look at some of the best—and somewhat ridiculous—sharks in pop culture to help us get in the mood. 

Posted by Stefani Sloma

Would Harrison Ford’s Iconic Characters Survive in Westeros?

[Movie still from Blade Runner 2049, Alcon Entertainment and Columbia Pictures]

In honor of Harrison Ford’s 75th birthday this past week, and Game of Thrones returning for its seventh season this weekend, today we are ranking some of Harrison Ford’s iconic characters by their likelihood to survive in the Seven Kingdoms. For the purposes of this post, we will assume that while the characters retain their personalities, they will bring none of the technology of their worlds into Westeros. Which means no blasters for Han Solo and zero ambiguity over whether Deckard is a Replicant.


Posted by Lauren Thoman