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Buck Rogers – Alex Ross has given him a whole new look

Posted by LiveFor on April 22, 2009


Buck Rogers – sci-fi pulp hero. He’s been around for years in comics, radio play and TV shows featuring the lovely Wilma Deering. Now he is back with a new look in Dynamite Entertainment’s new comic book. Creator of Buck’s new wardrobe (which I feel is very Adam Strange in design, but then Adam Strange was very much inspired by Buck Rogers) and technology is artist extraordinaire, Alex Ross (Marvels, Justice, Project Superpowers etc). Comic Book Resources have a great interview with the artist along with some cool artwork. I’ve included part of the interview along with some pictures by Alex Ross and cover artist John Cassaday (Planetary).

If one theme pervades the entirety of Ross’ vision for the world of Buck Rogers, it’s the idea of a “neo retro” take to the hero and his world, taking the Depression-era designs that remain the visual cornerstones of space opera and marrying them with artistic techniques garnered from decades of science fiction art and movie special effects.

Ross dove deep into his reference library to pull together the new Buck’s motifs. “Looking at that suit exhaustively and thinking, ‘Is there anyway I could justify that original version so completely?’ and wishing that I could paint a new version of the exact thing they had done 70 years ago, I realized there were only so many things people were going to swallow,” the artist explained. “So I backed away from a lot of what had been and replaced it with this kind of ‘Tron’ effect. That was a big influential film from my childhood.

“With that same concept, part of my approach to this universe is that it uses that holographic hard light effect as part of their technology and their guns. The spaceships have a contour that gives the overwhelming effect of being the ships that were designed in the 1920s but with this projected, hard light effect that makes them look immaterial.”

The most divergent piece of Alex Ross’ Buck Rogers design from the origin source material – the hero’s propulsive jetpack – was inspired by a piece of art from the same era, the December 1932 “Wonder Stories” pulp cover by artist Frank R. Paul. “The jetpack was me riffing a completely different source from the 1930s – an old pulp cover – a design that wasn’t so much a jetpack as it a disc on the back of a flying man with three blades. But these weren’t moving propeller blades. They were almost something that would seem to be causing the person to be weightless. The glowing effect applied by my painting gives a hint to a phenomenal level of power that we don’t have which is somehow breaking the boundaries of gravity. I was bringing that one other element in because I think that the regular jetpack from Buck Rogers was pretty traditional. I don’t think it was entirely original in its design.”

Taking Ross’ designs from concept to penciled pages is interior artist Carlos Rafael, who teams with writer Scott Beatty on the Dynamite series, and the artist brought his own history with the character to bear in how he approached drawing the series. “Well, I already knew Buck Rogers from the ’70s TV show, which still runs on cable,” Rafael told CBR. “But through my interest in comics, I came across his older version, the comic strips one, several times. So I didn’t start to work on this story without knowing the character, but I was amazed by the new concept. It’s a modernized version of the retro visual. As a challenge, I think that in terms of design, the costume is a single piece, well balanced in light and shadow. Maybe the greatest challenge is the completely black uniform in certain environments. But it’s worked out studying the masses of light and shadow in the environment. I think that, overall, the aspect of the uniform is great and seeing it on paper is very exciting.”

Buck Rogers #0 will be available for $0.25 on Free Comic Book Day (May 2) with the ongoing series launch following in June.

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