The idea for HERO came to me when I laid down to sleep one night back in 2011. Earlier that day, my dog Charlie and I had seen a raccoon by the dumpsters of our apartment and I had this idea brewing in my brain the whole day. After I drew the first image with HERO being surrounded by a giant snake, the kids and I started to create the story of how HERO got into that particular situation. A few years went by without anything else being done on HERO. Nothing by an idea.
Then, in June of 2014, my son Michael and I attended the first New York Comic Con Special Edition and setup a table in Artist Alley. After that two day show and selling nothing but sketches, I realized... I really need a book to sell. When we got home, we began work on HERO Book One.
The first sketch
Back in 2011, I had the initial idea for the first HERO sketch.
A small Hero with a sword who was unsuspectedly surrounded by a giant snake.
I grabbed a pencil and some paper and drew this sketch.
The Pencil Stage
The next day, I started the illustration by doing a pencil version. I used the layout from the initial sketch and added the snake and some additional detail.
Even though it's standard for me now, this pencil drawing was done on a 14x17 piece of Bristol Paper (a little larger than the standard 11x17 comic book paper I usually use).
The Inked Stage
The next step was to ink the drawing. I spent several hours adding the detail to the snake and HERO. After filling in the background in all black, I cut a template of the snake out using a separate piece of Bristol. I added the night sky by simply splattering white acrylic paint with a toothbrush (this was a technique my friends and I have been doing since high school).
This was about the time I realized I forgot something...
A Few Digital Fixes
Somehow I completely forgot to draw HERO's tail and added it digitally.
I also added a few digital highlights under the snake and around the sword.
For some reason, I thought the sword would magical and glowed so that it would create the light source for the image.
The FINAL Illustration
The last thing I did was add a rune-like design on the rock and to digitally add HERO's shadow.
This is one of my all-time favorite HERO images. HERO has come a long way since 2011.