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Side-By-Side: Brian Stelfreeze’s ‘Day Men’ #3 Line Art and Finished Colors

On sale March 5, Day Men #3 will be the first issue of the BOOM! Studios vampire noir to be released since December. The reason for the delay is of course the uncommonly intricate nature of Brian Stelfreeze’s artwork, which is rarely seen in serial projects at all, much less in an ongoing series. Co-writer and BOOM! Editor in Chief Matt Gagnon has referenced the “insane amount of effort” Stelfreeze brings to each issue, some of which is certainly apparent in these Day Men #3 images you’re seeing here for the very first time.

 

'Day Men' #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)
‘Day Men’ #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)

 

Day Men is an urban fantasy that imagines vampires as the crime lords who secretly control the world and follows the adventures of specially trained human agents — the titular Day Men — who carry out their dark deeds. The book is notable for being the first serialized work by Stelfreeze in many years. The artist, known for his contributions to Wednesday Comics, Batman: Shadow of the Bat and numerous, memorable illustrations of most of American comics’ most famous characters, “…is reaching for (and achieving) career-best work,” wrote Gagnon in a letter to comics retailers last year. The BOOM! editorial chief and Day Men co-creator was addressing the four-month delay between the first two issues of the series he co-writes with Michael Alan Nelson. “This is a physically and emotionally draining process. [Brian] hasn’t taken on a project of this scope and volume in a very long time, maybe ever. He’s truly going for broke.”

I’ve previously likened Stelfreeze to a musician who records take after take of a performance before moving to the mix phase. In comics terms, Stelfreeze’s process is designed to capture the most effective presentation possible from panel to panel, so he spends most of his time on layouts and staging before moving on to full pencils and inks. Which is not to say the drawing and rendering stages aren’t similarly challenging. For example, the cinematic lighting cast over the figures and rooms in the Day Men pages here could easily be achieved by colorist Darrin Moore in Photoshop, but as you can see they were actually drawn in black and white by Stelfreeze, a master of high contrast and mood.

 

'Day Men' #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)
‘Day Men’ #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)

 

In an interview we conducted with Stelfreeze in advance of Day Men’s launch in 2013, the artist elaborated on his process of envisioning a world for his characters beyond what’s simply drawn on the page.

Characters can’t exist in a vacuum, but rather they need an entire world which compensates for their extremes. I like it when I’m watching a movie which has a harmonious feeling to it. It’s as if the environment puts you in the mood for the characters and story you experience. Movies like The Matrix and Gattaca are great examples of this. Every image you see fortifies the experience. I try my best to create that feeling of harmony.

Day Men provides a magnificent challenge in that it deals with a secret society within a secret society. On top of that, there are strange curveballs like our main character, David. He is the bridge between our world and the vampire families. Matt and Michael did a great job in that you can immediately identify with the character, but at the same time he is completely different. This whole thing is a visual buffet, and I’m staying for seconds and thirds.

 

'Day Men' #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)
‘Day Men’ #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)
'Day Men' #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)
‘Day Men’ #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)
'Day Men' #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)
‘Day Men’ #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)
'Day Men' #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)
‘Day Men’ #3 line art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore (click to enlarge)

 

BOOM! obviously agrees that Stelfreeze is kicking out some serious jams with Day Men, so the publisher is rolling out a new publishing model called Day Men: Pen & Ink. The first issue will reprint Stelfreeze’s uncolored and unlettered work from Day Men issues 1-2 alongside writer commentary in an oversized 11” x 17” format.  Retailers can get an early look at the Pen & Ink presentation by ordering Day Men #3 today. More details in the press release below:

February  10,  2014  (Los  Angeles,  CA)  BOOM!  Studios  is  pleased  to  announce  a  special retailer  promotion  tied  to  the  March  5th release of  DAY MEN #3,  the breakout series by  Matt Gagnon,  Michael  Alan  Nelson,  and  Brian  Stelfreeze about humans who act as protectors for vampires. The top 50 retailers who order DAY MEN #3 will receive 1 free signed copy each of the upcoming DAY MEN: PEN & INK #1, the first in a new, limited line of publications designed to spotlight  some  of  the  comic  book  industry’s  best  creators  and  their  work  on  BOOM!  titles.

Retailers  who  qualify  for  this  promotion  will  be  the  first individuals to get an advance look  at BOOM!’s PEN & INK program.

DAY MEN: PEN & INK #1 will feature uncolored line work from issues #1 and #2 of DAY MEN by artist Stelfreeze (Wednesday Comics, Batman: Shadow of the Bat), along with annotations from he and writers Gagnon (FREELANCERS) and Nelson (Supergirl, PROTOCOL: ORPHANS) in an oversized 11” x 17”, saddle­stitched, prestige presentation. Retailers have until the end of the day on Monday, February 10th to finalize their orders for DAY MEN #3.

“In our ongoing campaign to thank our top retail partners who continue to support DAY MEN, we are happy to send them advance copies of DAY MEN: PEN & INK #1 to show our gratitude,” said BOOM! Studios Editor ­i n­Chief and DAY MEN  creator Matt Gagnon. “We’re blown away by all the support we’ve seen from the retail community and our readers. It’s important to me to make sure that support goes both ways.”

In DAY MEN #3, war continues to rage throughout the vampire underground, as David’s role for the Virgo family comes into question. And a game­changing secret is uncovered that could turn the tide of the war, but in whose favor? David Reid will have to survive the day to find out.

DAY MEN #3 arrives in comic shops on March 5th with a cover price of $3.99 under Diamond order  code  JUL130927.

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