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"Crisis on Independent Earths" by Mitch Ballard

posted Apr 26, 2012, 5:17 PM by Vu Nguyen
4/26/2012 15:24:27
Kevin writes

I hope things are going good with you.  I don't know if you're still listing homages to George's work but Mitch Ballard recently finished a hugemungous re-imagining for me that I thought might be worth adding.  Mitch did a version of that large Crisis trade cover that George and Alex Ross did.  Some very cool work from Mitch from a beautiful piece of work from George.

Crisis on Independent Earths - Artists: Mitch Ballard

And there came a day unlike any other ...

Looking back it seems that my discovery of comic books shops seems to have been perfectly timed with the small press explosion of the early 80's. I don't know if I found Archie's 80's relaunch of the Mighty Crusaders on my first visit but if it wasn't my first then it was second or third. The only problem was, at the time I didn't realize that all these various series starred characters who weren't well known, or would be soon forgotten. To me the Crusaders and the Thunder Agents were on the same level as the JLA or the Avengers. And finding a copy of Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes gave me access to a whole other bunch of lesser known characters from years before. The comics I bought from First, Comico, Pacific and on and on seemed endless. From new series to the beloved 8-for-a-dollar box it seemed I was never at a loss for something to read from these folks. Admittedly, after the 80's ended my love the of the small press diminished but I've always been able to find some great stuff out there.

When I started the whole commission thing I kept finding myself drawn back to these obscure characters. If you look around my page here you'll've seen the Crusaders, Thunder Agents, Fazers and Dr. Spektor stuff. The thing was, in a number of cases, I just couldn't figure out what to do with many of the characters. Couldn't think of what kind of scene to put them in. I've got such a love of these characters, especially the ones from the 80's, that I wanted to do something special with each of them. Then I saw the painted Crisis cover from George Perez and Alex Ross. It took me a while to convince myself that I could do something with it, somehow use it to tie all these obscure characters together. Luckily, I know Mitch Ballard, who'd already done a few Perez-styled pieces for me. I approached him with the idea of doing a re-imagining of the cover and we hashed it out. I decided not to do the complete 3 panel piece like Perez'd done but only limit it to a double page spread. I set out to dig up the character references and Mitch set out doing the initial layout. In the end I actually worked up a whole document with tons of links and lots of annoying details about where I wanted everyone to be. As you can see, Mitch did a totally amazing job at putting it all together.

I don't remember exactly when the idea of adding to the 2 center pieces came up but I do remember that it wasn't my idea. I'd been talking with someone about it, and maybe even showing some early sketches from Mitch, when they asked what else I was going to do with it. As if it was a given that this wasn't the whole piece. It was a slow build after that to the idea of attempting another two pieces. The biggest thing was whether or not I had enough characters left that I really wanted to use. There's tons of obscure / forgotten heroes out there but, as I'd said, I wanted this to focus on the ones that I've always loved. After getting the okay from Mitch that he'd be willing to give it a shot and an inordinate amount of rummaging through my comic boxes (and the aforementioned Super-Hero Encyclopedia) I decided that I had enough folks and set about trying to figure out what the other bits would be. And I'll say at this point that I am now even more in awe of George Perez and his ability to so effortlessly lay out a page. I went through whole forests of sketches until I hit on the idea that I finally gave Mitch( in the form of a messy slapped together collage). And, as you can see, Mitch did another fantastic job.

I first contacted Mitch about this on March 12th last year and it was February 28th when I got the completed art. One helluva year long project. A _huge_ thank you to Mitch for taking this on and being willing to work with me to make sure it came out just right. He deserves lots of props for his talent and his patience. Thanks Mitch. It's weird to see a situation where some of these characters look better here in a lone head shot (Huntress, I'm looking at you) than in all their original appearances combined. And the detail here is truly amazing - check out Dynamo Joe who's in the center just above Dynamo.

And, yes, there actually is a story here. The main villains of the piece, Baron Karza, Eterno, the Brain Emperor and Saker were able to detect each other across the alternate universes and, in typical villain fashion, they decided to team up to take over ~everything~. Only it all goes wrong and all of time / space begins to collapse in upon itself. Heroes and heroines from all across space and time have to team up to keep all of existence from coming to an end.

If you wanna know who everyone is check out the other pieces in this folder (Crisis on Independent Earths). I've got smaller pieces with everyone ID'd.

Original size 45x20

and, yes, I'm now taking bids for coloring this behemoth :)