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SYFY WIRE Comixology Originals

Exclusive preview: Max Dunbar teases art process for cyberpunk comic Stone Star

By Ernie Estrella
Stone Star #1 Cover

The Dungeons & Dragons creative team of Jim Zub (Avengers: No Road Home) and Max Dunbar (Gears of War: Rise of RAAM, Champions) have crafted another winner in Stone Star, a newly announced five-issue, sci-fi cyberpunk adventure series for comiXology's exclusive Originals imprint.

Like the circus or a traveling rock band, Stone Star is a mobile asteroid that sets up camp from planet to planet, and is a massive entertainment complex. Gladiators clash to find fortune and fame but as the new season begins, there's a new competitor drawn in. A teenage thief named Dail finds his way to the arena and must decide if this is a lifestyle he can embrace and trust and whether he's willing to sacrifice the life he knows.

"Stone Star is a wild mix of everything that ignited my imagination growing up - strange creatures with a fantasy flare, weird worlds, and unexpected danger,” Zub said. “Max is channeling that excitement and unleashing it on every page with a level of kinetic action and detail that readers have never seen from him before."

Stone Star is a project six years in the making, and the timing was right when comiXology Originals Head of Content Chip Mosher approached Zub for ideas to submit to Originals.

“It’s exciting to surprise fans with a new series no one knew was coming,” said Mosher. “We love Stone Star – Zub and Dunbar have really delivered the goods and we know that new and existing comic fans will enjoy the heck out of this rollicking sci-fi adventure. And with digital distribution we can surprise and delight readers everywhere with new content they didn’t know was coming. It’s a blast!”

The exciting thing about Stone Star #1 is that it's already available right now as a free download for users of Amazon Prime Reading, Kindle Unlimited and comiXology Unlimited. For those who are not members of those services, it is also available for $2.99 through comiXology and Kindle. A collected version will be available through Amazon's Print-on-Demand's service later in the year.  

And as a bonus treat, SYFY WIRE has an exclusive reveal of nine pages of Max Dunbar's art process as he was developing some of the main characters' looks along with his commentary. Let us know what you think and if you plan on checking the series out. 

Stone Star Sketch 1

Dail and Durn early sketch

"One of the earliest sketches I did of DAIL and DURN.

Jim and I wanted DAIL to be scrappy and street-tough, yet still young and physically small. He’s a character that uses his wits and agility to stay alive, not his brawn. Even though DAIL is not from earth, we wanted him to essentially look human. Even though this was an early concept, I overall think it came the closest to what I wanted DAIL to look like. (Minus the tail!)

There was more work to be done on DURN, who in this case was way too tall, and too human-like in his proportions."

Stone Star Sketch 2

Durn Concept

"Another concept of DURN. In this concept, I started to get closer to the overlapping armor style that we ended up with on the final concept, but this DURN was still too tall, too upright and too human looking. The concept of his “ears” gelled a bit more here as well"

Stone Star Sketch 3

Durn and Kikanni

"Another pass at DURN, with an early sketch of KIKANNI. DURN is definitely getting more of his lumbering physicality, but KIKANNI definitely needs so more design to set her apart!"

Stone Star Sketch 4

Kikanni Concept Sketch

"Another KIKANNI concept where the feather-style hair, skin-stripes and fangs all came together to make her more of an interesting, unique looking character. The tail and pointy elf-ears had to go though."

Stone Star Sketch 5

Stone Star Group Shot

"A group shot that gets pretty close to the finalized versions, although they all needed to be given at least a couple more passes to be ready."

Stone Sketch 6

Final Concept Sketch of Dail

"A more detailed, finalized concept of DAIL helped sort out some small details, but ultimately needed to be merged with the first concept to achieve his final design. This one felt too clean and “styled” "

Stone Star Sketch 7

Finalized concept sketch of DURN

"Final concept of DURN. In this concept I achieved a look that Jim and I were happy with, and designed his armor plates to a level of detail that they could get redrawn over and over and stay consistent."

Stone Star Sketch 8

Color Guide for DAIL

"Some color combination ideas for DAIL, based off of a heavily modified re-draw of the first concept to get him to his final look. We ended up going with the 3rd from the left."

Stone Star Sketch 9

Color Guide for DURN

"Some color combination ideas for DURN. We decided that the warm color scheme in the middle was the right choice."