Friday, April 29, 2022

Paper Tears

The classic 1972 Hong Kong film, KING BOXER, was given an English dub and released the following year in North America as THE FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH.

Its enormous popularity opened the door, I should say floodgates, for a wave of kung fu quickie films of the early 1970s. It even preceded Bruce Lee’s ENTER THE DRAGON by several months. Quentin Tarantino called it one of the 10 best films of all time.

That’s high praise.

But when designing cover art you can’t let the pressure get to you. Just do the best you can. In the time you are given.

This cover project was for a large Blu-ray collection of remastered Shaw Brothers martial arts films presented within a digibook style package. So this art would be seen inside the packaging next to the disc itself, and not on the cover of the outer slipcase box. Also it was a “landscape” presentation instead of the normal vertical “portrait” format.

The first version I rendered is below.

I was caring for my ailing father at this time and he passed away while I was drawing this.

At his funeral I had a large black poster board with family photos mounted on it. A few days after the service I removed the photos, unintentionally ripping the poster board. The black paper turned out to be white on the inside. Never one to ignore an interesting texture, I scanned those rips and incorporated them into the design. Jaggedly radiating out from Lo Lieh, dividing the screen into 5 sections (the fingers) and one lower section (the hand/wrist.) 

(If I had a dime for every rusty truck tailgate and crumbling wall I’ve photographed with the hopes of later using it in some design.)

Sadly the client was less than enthused with the design. Particularly pointing out the rips and the "comic book" halftones in the background. So a second (more painterly?) version was done which they accepted. As seen below.

Many months later when I saw the final release, I realized that although I was afforded a full page for my art, many other films shared a single page in the digibook style package. Two movies on a single disc. Therefore, two cover images on a single page. 

And what was the divider between each film’s artwork?

A paper rip. 

So maybe they objected to it because they planned to use it BETWEEN the cover artwork on a page and didn’t want it used within a single film’s art. (Or maybe they got the “rip” idea from me. Ha. Who knows.) But one way or another, that rip is now tearing up 5 out of the 10 pages in the package. Instead of just mine.

Way to go Dad. 


Next time. We visit a zoo. To meet a Skinny Tiger... and a Fatty Dragon. 

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