These sketches by Barnaby Bagenda show some of the process we've gone through to create the look of High Level's protagonist, Thirteen. The concept on the above right was Barnaby's first take on Thirteen, but it was way too stiff and sci-fi for the ramshackle post-culture future-punk world we're building, and doesn't reflect Thirteen's snarky personality (it's still a cool design though so we might use it elsewhere). So we did some more revisions, looking to find a more fashion-forward style for Thirteen that still had a punk rock DIY feel to it. Barnaby had the cool idea to incorporate XIII into her clothes as a sort of insignia, and I expanded that with the idea of using it in subtle places like wrist straps and jewelry. I also wanted to incorporate some of my signature linework from Troublemaker and some NIN designs into a neck/back tattoo for Thirteen. So I sent these horrible sketches to Barnaby to give an idea of what I had in mind:
I then asked my wife Steph to put together a fashion mood board for Thirteen's style that we could send to Barnaby, and she completely nailed it:
And when Barnaby came back with the next round of sketches, we finally had our Thirteen. She's come a long way from her 90s cyberpunk roots.
Here's some concept art of Akan, someone from Thirteen's past who shows up unexpectedly and dramatically in the first issue, and will play an important role:
And here's an early concept sketch of Onida Flats, the outland community where Thirteen lives. I can't wait to show you the fort she lives in, but I'll save that for future reveals.
Working with Barnaby has been incredible (even though we've never met - he lives in Jakarta and we work over email), his style is really unique and reminds me of Moebius, which is exactly how I imagined High Level looking. Just the other day I saw some of the first penciled pages from the first issue, and they're so cool, I can't wait to get Romulo's coloring on them and show you all.
More to come! P.S. I'll be around SDCC and downtown San Diego today, I have stickers and prints - if you're at the con let me know in the comments and I'll make sure to say hello - also check my Twitter throughout the day, I'll post where I'm at!