Warriors: Skyclan & The Stranger – After the Flood

The last book in the Skyclan trilogy is out today!  Will Skyclan recover from the flood and will Leafstar finally recognize Sol’s true nature?

When Tokyopop went under last year, I was a was in the middle of illustrating the second book in this trilogy.  I was a little worried about the conclusion of this trilogy but thankfully Harper Collins took over publication of the Warriors manga.  Very glad to have worked on the series and thanks to Lillian Diaz-Przybyl at Tokyopop and Erica Sussman at Harper for being such great editors!

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Warriors: Skyclan and the Stranger

In addition to the short comic in  Crookedstar’s Promise, a whole new manga has also been released today called Skyclan and the Stranger. This graphic novel follows the cats of Skyclan and the fierce warrior Leafstar, as she struggles to balance motherhood with her leadership duties.  I had a blast developing these new characters, the rocky gorge they call home and their exciting story.  Hope you’ll all check it out!

Skyclan and the Stranger: The Rescue

Crookedstar’s Promise

The newest Warriors novel, Crookedstar’s Promise will be released next Tuesday, July 5th and it features an exclusive manga that I illustrated. This was a fun project that gave me a short break from working on the Skyclan trilogy. It was cool to design the look of Crookedstar as well as revisit some old characters like Graystripe and Silverstream. Portraits of Crookedstar have already appeared in Cats of the Clans and on the cover of the upcoming novel, both illustrated by the amazing Wayne McLoughlin so I was able to use those as a starting point when designing the character. However, for the comic, my version of the Warrior cats must be a little more expressive than a real feline and slightly anthropomorphic.  Below are the paintings by McLoughlin as well as my first take on the leader of Riverclan.

Inset from Crookedstar's Promise, painted by Wayne McLouglin.

Crookedstar as he appears in Cats of the Clans.

Crookedstar, first design.

After submitting this version of Crookedstar to my editor, I was asked to emphasize his deformed jaw even more. Sometimes, it’s easier to show the “grotesque” in a cartoon than in a more realistic painting. Below is the final character design. As you see, I kept the same markings as in the portraits but added the protruding tooth and a more “fatherly” expression. I wasn’t sure how everyone would feel about the tooth but the editors at Harper liked the addition!

Revised character designs for Crookedstar.

Crookedstar, as he appears in the manga.

It takes a while to get a character “right” but I think Crookedstar ended up with a lot of personality. Here are a few panels from the comic (minus the text) that show the process from thumbnail sketch, to tighter pencils, to hand inked and digitally toned illustration.

Thumbnail sketch

Pencil drawing

Hand inked and digitally toned.