Not a sequel, as such, but Jason Palmer has finally completed his incredible Serenity portrait series and since I talked to him back when he was just getting started, I wanted to see how he was doing now that he’s done. Also, I got a copy of his portrait set and I had to show you guys. It’s amazing. Huge portfolio binder with the prints in acid-free sleeves so you can either take them out and hang them proudly on your wall or keep them in the binder for easy showing.
Each print has a facing page with sketches of different poses — some we’ve seen before, some we haven’t — that really help capture the personality of each character in a way that the single portrait can’t on its own (love the sleeping Jayne pic!). But more on the set later, here’s Jason talking about his work.
You’re in the home stretch! Tired of Serenity yet?
Not tired of Serenity, but I’m glad the portrait set is done, and very anxious to get to the next couple of projects, which are based on Serenity universe.
How many times have you watched the DVDs, by this point?
I have no idea… for instance, I looked at at the scenes of Book on Haven repeatedly as I was designing the Book print. So there are lots of bits and pieces, however, I’m always impressed anew at how good the series and the movie is, when I just sit down and watch it.
You’re a little past your due date. What prompted the delays in finishing?
I’m a LOT past my due date. The first year I was delayed by a big Star Wars project, and the second year was Indiana Jones. So feel free to blame George Lucas.
I always do. We talked previously about which weapon to depict with Inara, and I’m glad you chose the original bow. How tough was the choice? And was there any problem with Universal since it wasn’t (officially) seen on screen?
Ultimately, I went with the bow, because – well, it’s cooler, and it’s what Joss intended. The digital Rhythm and Hues bolt thrower thingie has been addressed in the set – it’s kind of an easter egg.
You’ve mentioned the problems in capturing Jayne the way you wanted him. Will you ever show anybody the first tries?
Actually, I did show some of the earlier tries of Jayne at the Backup Bash – I’m sure many Browncoats are familiar with that event. The reaction agreed with my own – it looked like him, but didn’t really capture him. The reaction I get to the final one – ‘Now, That’s Jayne’.
While we’re talking about the characters… Last time I named each character and asked you to tell me what you thought, as an artist, about each one. I’d like to go back a few of those, now that you’ve actually completed those portraits.
Well, everyone loves Wash. I actually gave him more of a Firefly expression because he was so serious in all of the Serenity scenes, but we don’t think of him that way. We think of him more with the grin. And if you look at the Wash and Zoe portraits, you’ll realize that they are looking at each other.
Simon is a character who I completely re-did after drawing him the first time. He looked fine the first time, but didn’t say much about Simon. In the second drawing, he is moving. We tend to think of Simon just sitting in the medical bay, waiting around for someone to get hurt. I wanted to show that he is a man of action.
Inara would have been easy to show as a glamour puss, but I show her in action – in my mind, Inara and Simon’s portraits are happening in the same moment. Morena was very pleased with it.
The ship. How did you choose the pose?
There is no one angle that shows Serenity to my compete satisfaction – only in motion do you see how cool she is. The typical shot you see is from overhead, looking down at her, so you get the sense of the whole ship – but I did not want to look down on the ship, I wanted her to soar. I was a little nervous about this one, but it came out better than I hoped.
The Operative is a thinking man’s badass. I hope I got that across.
And, the “mystery portrait”?
Well, the cat’s out of the bag at this point. I had at first intended to have a Reavers print or Mr Universe or a montage of all the supporting characters. Then one day I just thought, “No… Joss!” Joss is in every line, every shot, and of course, permeates the verse. Which gave me the idea of adding the verse as the background. I somewhat recreated Geof Mandel’s artwork of the verse – Geof was kind enough to give me his blessing on that. I wanted people to recognize that it wasn’t just some galactic painting but “The Verse”.
When we talked before you said you were hoping to get some sort of metal book-type sleeve to hold them all, and now you’ve gone and done it with the Comic-Con artbook. Did it turn out the way you wanted?
The Aluminum Album sets are still being manufactured, but the cost turned out to be too much, so these are the highest end of the line. The Comic Con album and tote sets were designed and fabricated specifically for the portrait set with cost-effectiveness in mind. There are several unique features in these, and we are very happy with how these came out. Nathan got one at the show, and since then, when I show the set to others involved with the show, the reaction is: “Coool, Yeah, Nathan showed this to me”. I couldn’t ask for a better endorsement than that.
What else is in the book besides the portraits?
Each portrait has a facing page of character sketches with a quote from the film and a comment by me.
So what’s coming up?
A River vs Reavers print, and then another set that I’m starting on now. I’m putting together a presentation that I’ll be showing at the Serenity convention in Burbank later this month. After that, I’ll fill you in on that set.
Damn, the Creation con people get all the good stuff…
Remember, the Joss and Operative prints are only available if you buy the complete set, but individual prints of the other 10 portraits are available in a variety of ways. There are nine portraits of the crew and one of the ship. You can order the individual 13″x19″ prints as either limited edition Giclee prints (heavy stock paper) or on canvas, gallery-wrapped on museum stretcher bars. There are also some of the original paintings available. And he still has some Book portrait prints autographed by Ron Glass.
But to get the Operative and Joss you’ll need to order the set. It can be ordered by itself or with a handsome silver polyethylene album with acid free page inserts and a matching carrier with shoulder strap, both featuring the Serenity logo. (Prints can be removed from the album if you’d rather frame ’em, and why wouldn’t you). You also get character description pages with production sketches and quotes by Jason. Sets are available in Giclee prints or canvas.
Then there’s the Collector’s Album, which has everything listed above except the album is brushed aluminum with the Serenity logo on the cover, laser etched and hand painted and it comes with a matching aluminum box. You also get a one of a kind, original art pencil drawing by Jason Palmer of one of the characters (varying sizes 11×17 to 13×19).
I really can’t say enough about these portraits. Even if you’re not a fan, they work as standalone pieces of art and they look amazing matted and framed. But for now mine will stay in the binder and the carrying case so I can take them to cons and get each one signed by a BDH. Go check out these prints and the rest of his stuff – in case you like other, lesser shows and movies like Harry Potter, Heroes, Indiana Jones, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, that sort of thing.