Thursday, December 29, 2016

NILES NEMO visits the Consumer Electronics Show-Back cover house ad

From the Summer 1991 issue of Sega Visions Magazine.  For whatever reason there was no Niles adventure that issue, so we ran this promo on the back cover.  Not sure if all the anatomy is spot-on in that drawing, but ya gotta love those shoelaces!  They're as loopy as Spider-Man's webbing!  Oh, and there's my buddy Dave LeBlanc again, last seen in the "Columns" episode...

Next: The final episode of "Niles Nemo In Segaland!!"

NILES NEMO IN SEGALAND-Episode 5 "Niles & The Ninjas In The City Of Fear"

From the Fall 1991 issue of Sega Visions Magazine.  This was a pretty straight-forward Ninja game, as far as I can tell from this adventure, with the possible exception of some robots and a big green floating head being part of the fray.  There are lots of fun action poses here, and the layout had some nice twists.  Cool Asian-influenced lettering on the logo, too.  Maybe a little too much purple...  FUN FACT: I'd long been unhappy with the color registration on these comic pages.  As I detailed in my Episode 2 "Columns" blog post, I very laboriously and meticulously applied the color to a separate overlay, which I carefully registered to the line art (using those old peel-off registration marks of yore), and yet the registration was always off on the printed art.  After seeing the mediocre printing on this episode, I inquired of Creative Director John Sprague to look into what was going on in the pre-press process.  He discovered that the pre-press people were shooting the line art on a photostat camera, and scanning the color art on a rotary scanner (state of the art in those days).  Well, anyone who's ever used a stat camera knows they are operated by cranks, gears, and pulleys and have more in common with medieval torture devices than digital technology.  You bump into it or even breathe on it, and you change the calibration.  Trying to duplicate the exact size on a separate device is a fool's errand.  Apparently, it was cheaper than a scan, but for the next issue, we finally arranged for both the color overlay and the line art to be scanned.  Little did we know that Episode 6 of Niles Nemo In Segaland would be the last!

This issue also featured the house ad announcing the "Draw a Sonic the Hedgehog comic strip and win an appearance in the next Niles Nemo in Segaland adventure" contest.  Lots of hand-lettering in that word balloon...


From the April-May 1991 issue of Sega Visions Magazine featuring "Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse™".  Bringing this Niles adventure to life was in some ways a wilder ride than that of Disneyland's Mister Toad!  When I was told I'd be illustrating a story featuring Niles encountering Mickey Mouse™, I was excited at the prospect of drawing my own version of one of the world's most iconic characters.  I assumed that the good folks at Disney would send me some model sheets, and I'd take it from there.  Not quite, as it turned out.  Early in negotiations we were informed that Mickey could only appear on the game box, and everywhere else where he "appeared" in the comic, he would have to be unseen, speaking off-panel!  Disney Corp. retains stringent control over the use of its characters, and no one outside of their auspices could be allowed to draw Mickey, nor could he be shown interacting with characters outside of the Disney oeuvre.  So much for that!  Ultimately, I came up with the pencil art, and that was submitted for approval.  All was okay, except on Page 1, I had depicted Niles wearing mouse ears (like hundreds of millions of theme park visitors have done over the last 60 years).  Nope!  The ears had to go.  I'd originally had Niles discarding his hat in the last panel on Page one.  Now he's juggling a jewel from the game.  So, here comes the FUN FACT: When I laid out the page, I worked out a way that Mickey could subliminally appear!  Only after the final art was done did I share this fact with the Creative Director, John Sprague.  I drew a quick tissue overlay outlining the hidden Mickey.  John's astounded response: "Dave, you are CRAZY!"  Well, it all went to press, and no one ever spotted the little trick I played on the good folks at Disney.  See the progression I created to demonstrate the gag below:

Many years later, in 2006, I very nice young chap named Ken Horowitz approached me out of nowhere to interview me about my experience drawing Niles, and over the course of said interview, I revealed my secret.  The interview can be found here on Ken's Sega-16 appreciation website.  It was conducted via email, and I think it went pretty well, except I said "cookie," where I really meant "Easter egg," which coincidentally is a term coined by Niles co-creator Bill Kunkel, according to at least one Internet source.  Mr. Horowitz also conducted an interview with Bill, which can be found here.  This Niles Nemo adventure may be the most surreal of them all, with wild layouts, painful puns, and crazy characters such as a witch, a clown, several animated toys, and strange creatures of the forest.  Click on the thumbnails and enjoy!

Next time: Ninjas!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

NILES NEMO IN SEGALAND-Episode 3 "Golden Axe"

Moving right along...!  From the Winter 1990/91 issue of Sega Visions.  This third episode of Niles features a cast of barbarians, elves, warrior skeletons, Huns, dragons, a couple of female warriors, and a cameo appearance by me, as I more or less looked at the time, disguised as a one-eyed Norseman (Page 2, Panel 4).  Another complex story brimming with characters and as much plot as Bill could cram into  two-pages while simultaneously demonstrating the basics of the game.  FUN FACT: I originally drew the game controller as the Sega-16 model, it being the current version, but before publication (and luckily before inked art), someone discovered that the game was not available yet for Sega-16, so I changed Niles' "weapon" to the Master System controller.

Next up: Dave Digs Disney, or my complex encounter with the Mouse Factory!