Wednesday, May 14, 2014

John Dies at the End, Part 1: Meat Monster with Process shots

“Prepare to meat your doom!”

Meat. Dozens of the wrapped and now partially-unwrapped hunks from the freezer, laying neatly on the floor next to the bed in an almost ceremonial fashion, the objects arranged in the rough shape of a man.

I moved the light toward the head area, where I found a frozen turkey still in the Butterball wrapper. Under it, wedged between turkey and torso, was the disembodied deer tongue, flapping around on its own accord.

Hmmmm. That was different.

Excerpt from John Dies at the End, by David Wong.

Initial greyscale sketch
John Dies at the End is a novel later made into a movie written by David Wong, the pen-name of Jason Pargin (shhh, don't tell anyone!) who is the executive editor of humor website At it's core, JDatE is a chilling horror story coated with the perfect amount of hilarity resulting in a very deliciously entertaining meal.

Final color sketch
My first experience with JDatE was watching it on Netflix (it's still available for streaming) and I really loved what I saw. Being a big fan of, when I learned that the guy who wrote the book it was based on was an editor for the site, I became very interested in reading the book, so I hunted it down and devoured it with much pleasure. If you like horror and you like witty and immature humor you might really like this book/movie.

The book and movie are both very different from each other, yet both great, each showcasing the different strengths of each medium. One of my favorite parts of the movie was the scene depicting the monster made of  meat, the costume that they made was really beautiful and had an appropriate edge of silliness to it which was perfect for the film. However, the way the book describes that scene is a bit different, and the description of the monster is different as well. Feeling the urge to paint something JDatE related, I decided to tackle the book description of this scene.

If you want to know exactly what it says, pick up the book (you'll only regret not reading it, trust me). But for my painting I wanted it to be as close to the text as possible. I spent a lot of time skimming over the text to make sure I had all the details, from the bedroom setting to the Butterball-turkey head. It was a very tough challenge for me. I wanted the unsettling mood to be just right, the pose needed to convey what I wanted it to and despite the monster's lack of eyes, I wanted it to stare into the viewer, as if it was ready to step forward.

I really pushed this piece further than any other piece I've done so far. I called it "finished" about 4 or 5 times before finally posting it online. It got pretty tiresome at times, but in the end, I think it really paid off, and I'm very happy with how the piece turned out. Thanks to Stephen Najarian, and Alex Gustafson, for giving me advice on the piece, and extra special awesome thank-yous to JDatE connoisseurs Liz Goss and Heather Hudson, for their very helpful suggestions to help me nail the piece as close to the book as possible.

Heather in particular offered me some really great insight to the piece and pointed out something really important about the piece as a whole. In the end, the piece as it was was doomed to fail as a fully fleshed out illustration for a general audience. It lacks the storytelling elements necessary to convey a clear story to the viewer and winds up just being a meat monster in a bedroom without any context. I spent so much time trying to nail the details and rendering everything as best I could, but because I didn't plan it out better, there will always be something missing.

It was very frustrating to hear this advice, not because I felt put down, but because I knew I could have an even better piece if I hadn't missed the opportunity. It's the kind of comment that's going to rattle around in my brain come time to tackle the next piece, and it'll be all the better for it. So a sincere thank you to Heather for that push.

Still, that's not to downplay my excitement for the piece. Despite the fact that most people won't know what they're looking at, I think any JDatE fan would be able to instantly recognize this scene, as I feel like I've succeeded in depicting the description in the text. In the end I'm still left with a piece I'm very proud of.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing the new piece as well as seeing the process shots throughout this post. This won't be the last JDatE piece I make, but I don't want to give too much away. I will say that it's monster related, and that's all. Lastly, speaking of, I'm hoping to announce some news regarding a project I worked on for them soon which I'm very excited about sharing. If you're interested in purchasing a print of the Meat Monster piece, click this link to my InPrnt shop. Alright, that's all you're getting out of me from now, go read and watch John Dies at the End!
Click the above image to go to my InPrnt shop!

1 comment:

  1. Better Meat Monster than the one in the movie that's for sure.