Friday, July 15, 2011

Creating an "Immaculate Reality": Researching History, Applying Technique, and Creating a Fantasy

For this personal project, I'm setting the scene in Chicago circa 1921. I needed to use a grand theater to open the narrative, and my research led me to The Chicago Theatre and the movie palaces of Balaban and Katz. Like most artists today, I start with searches on the internet. My initial search was for Chicago theaters 1920.

After finding some images of The Chicago Theatre's exterior and interior from 1921, I composed a page by warping and scaling the images in Photoshop, and printing the composition in the method I discuss in my previous posts. The 1920's have always been an obsession, and it is important that the work I do be informed by an understanding of the period's history. When I began my research, I had no idea who Balaban and Katz were, and on top of that I had two low resolution images of an ornately detailed theater that I wanted to use as a backdrop.

The next phase of my research led me to the book "The Chicago Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz" by David Balaban. What I found in the book is the real research. Everything surrounding the creation of the theater and the people behind it. I also had the high quality images I needed to bring the setting to life.

Above is the page in its initial phase. The final illustration will require that the scene take place at night, and will require a change to the lighting of the reference image I started with.


  1. Nice! As always, I love the line work, and the inks but most of all? I love the lettering!

  2. Thanks, Biggs! The whole thing is going to be lettered by hand, just like I used to do. The new pages on issue 2 of your book are looking great by the way!

  3. Interesting! My family would like this from david balaban

  4. Hi David,

    I'm so glad! I'll post more when I have it. Thank you again for your work and for honoring your family's incredible legacy.