Truckus was especially challenging. Because a lot of the book is people talking.
And the rest of the book is insane car races.
Finding someone who loves drawing either one of those isn't too hard. Finding someone great who loves drawing either of those, however, is. And finding someone great who loves drawing both? That's nearly impossible.
What's more, for logistical reasons, I needed to write the entire script before locking an artist down—the first time in a long time I'd done a major project without knowing in advance who the artist is. That's a key bit of information for a comics writer to know. Because if you know who your artist is, you can write to his or her strengths and avoid the things he or she doesn't like. Your artist loves cityscapes? Set your story in the urban jungle. Your artist loves drawing horses? Write a western. Your artist loves tech? Set it in a futurish factory. Whatever. The more your artist likes what he or she needs to draw, the better your story is likely to look and the better it's going to therefore seem—and the better a writer you're going to therefore appear. Genius!
So. We had a monster script that called for two specific skills sets which are themselves a bit on the rare side in comics and which are even more rarely to be found in the same person. We know this because we looked for an artist for a long, long time. But although we considered a fair number who could do one thing well or the other thing, no one was quite able to nail both aspects perfectly.
And then one day editor Calista Brill said, hey, I think I found the guy.
Enter José García.
She'd seen his stuff at San Diego Comic-Con and was really impressed. She sent me his samples and I was really impressed. So we pulled together some material for him to try out on.
And a few days later, this stuff came in:
I believe Calista put it quite well when she said, "HOLY CATS."
That was my first look at what José could do when unleashed upon the stuff I'd written. These characters who'd lived in my head and in my script for so long were suddenly real. And they were spectacular.
So. Okay. Sure. He could design characters like no one's business. And invent one seriously badass automobile. But how was his storytelling?
A few days later, these came in:
I believe my reaction was something along the lines of "homina homina homina."
So. There was no doubt: we had our artist. And I was a very happy boy. A very happy boy indeed.
But it was many, many months later, after José was able to really start on the project in earnest, that I fully realized just how much I'd lucked out. It was the day this double-page spread arrived.
Everything about it was just right. It showed that he not only totally understood who these characters were, but was also able to convey that in just a few images, and without even the benefit of (almost) any words. The characterization is so deft. The storytelling is impeccable. The drawing is perfect. And it's simply gorgeous.
And, improbably, somehow José actually kept not only matching that amazing page, but even topping it. And, somehow, even 250 pages later, he was still talking to me. (That's how you can tell he's a keeper.)