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My recent process:

  1. sketch a panel in non-photo blue pencil

  2. scan it digitally

  3. adjust the blue tone

  4. adjust the black and white level to deepen the blue further

  5. convert the blue to black and white

  6. adjust the black and white levels again

  7. fill areas with variations of 50% grey

The pencils that give me the feel and line I prefer are Staedtler non-photo blue pencils. I have tried others but every brand feels different when pressed against paper. These Staedtler pencil aren't too hard or too soft...but lean, for sure, on the soft side. Currently, the cost about $2.25 a piece.

A bit of a peek at how a two-page spread evolved: pencils to digital scan to Photoshop.

There is no text on these two panels. It is a transition from a conversation between Maurice and Father Carrillo in Venezuela to Maurice taking Father Carrillo (and us) across the room to a newspaper.

Maurice's finger point not only communicates we are going across the room but also is a nudge for the reader to turn the page--we are moving here--our eyes move and the reader feels a smooth transition from one topic to the next as we turn the page.

In the final image you can see the book spine seam cut through the image of the chair.

I imagine I have been working on this book, in one form or another, when I first saw the photograph on the left--2017 or thereabouts.

My grandfather (r) stands beside a billboard advertising Maurice Tillet, the French Angel, as The Wonder Man of Wrestling.

The photo was likely taken in 1940 outside of Hunts Auditorium in Wildwood, NJ.

For a while I have been going back and forth on whether to call it Searching for Tillet...Looking for Maurice...or some combination therein. For a moment, I had it titled The Ugliest Man in the World but really disliked it...although it gets to a bit of the core of Tillet's story--using his disfiguring looks to his advantage in marketing himself as a wrestler.

Many headlines in the '40s used that concept to their advantage--sensationalizing his appearance, to which it seems feel right into the plan to make as much money as possible while his body could endure the physical toll both his affliction, acromegaly, and professional wrestling took on him.

But, this morning, the label on the billboard next to my grandfather jumped out at me: Wonder Man. It evokes the superhero, other worldly element, but it also includes to sense of what I am doing here...looking for him, the real him...not the marketed giant of the wrestling ring.

The person, I am finding, is far more fascinating than the wrestler's persona.

And so the title stands (for now): Wonder Man: an illustrated search for Maurice Tillet.

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