Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The history of Mister X began in the early 1980s: Motter was then sharing a studio with Ken Steacy and Paul Rivoche and the character went through a lengthy development process before independent publisher Vortex Comics began insisting that work the comic book needed to begin. Motter provided a story outline from which Gilbert Hernandez created a script, illustrated by Jaime Hernandez. After only four issues, the Hernandez brothers quit, citing non-payment by Vortex, and Motter wrote issues 5 through 14, which were illustrated by Seth (Gregory Gallant).
Mister X himself was an architect, the creator of Radiant City, which has been designed on the principals of psychetecture, driving its citizens mad.
Although the character continued to appear, it was in the hands of other writers and artists. Motter later used the characters in Electropolis and returned to them in the mini-series Mister X: Condemned, published in 2008-09 by Dark Horse.
Motter has earlier co-created The Sacred & the Profane with art by Ken Steacy, which he later described as being influenced by the Symbolists and the Pre-Raphaelites, aesthetics he had wanted to introduce into comics since his days as an art history student. Mister X was influenced by Art Deco, German Expressionism, film noir, Russian Constructivism, Bauhaus, mid-20th century industrial design and the futuristic artwork of SF and popular mechanics magazines of the pulp era.
Motter's influences, thanks to his upbringing in Canada, were European, especially French, when it came to comics, although for Mister X he acknowledged the heavy influence of Will Eisner and Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
Motter, born in 1958, began reading comics around the age of 8 or 9 and was also a fan of vintage horror and science fiction films. He produced comic pages for his college newspaper and freelanced for Media Five, a tabloid magazine published in London, Ontario, whilst at college. After moving to Toronto, he was a regular at the Silver Snail comic book store. The owner of Silver Snail produced the SF magazine Andromeda in 1977-79, reprinting stories by Arthur C. Clarke and A. E. Van Vogt. Mottor worked as art director and designer for the magazine.
Another acquaintence, Marty Herzog, began working as a creatove director with CBS Records Canada, which led to Motter designing album covers for numerous bands, creating the cover art for Anvil's Metal On Metal (1983 Juno Award winner), Seamless by The Nylons (1984 Juno Award winner) and Jane Silberry's No Borders Here (1985 Casby Award winner). He was awarded the Best of the 80's Album Cover award by the Toronto Art Directors Club for Honeymoon Suite in 1985.
The Sacret & the Profane was originally published as a 5-part serial in Star+Reach in 1977-78. Motter and Steacy subsequently revised and coloured the strip for Epic Illustrated in the early 1980s; the revision was then reprinted as a graphic novel by Eclipse in 1987. The story has echoes of James Blish's A Case Of Conscience as it concerns Sister Marianna, a nun aboard a spaceship of the Catholic Interstellar Crusade – in effect, a flying church – who has begun to question her faith. After attacking an alien vessel, the human crew start to fall prey to an invading alien force.
Following on from his work on Mister X, Motter was invited to produce a comic based on Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner, drawn by Mark Askwith, a former Silver Snail manager who went on to become a TV producer.
In 1990, Motter relocated to New York, working for Byron Preiss Visual Publications where he was art director and senior designer, as well as editing a series of graphic novels based on the stories of Raymond Chandler. He subsequently joined DC Comics as manager of the Creative Services Department. This latter job allowed him to freelance and, for Vertigo, he produced Terminal City, drawn by Michael Lark.
Reverting to freelance, he continued the Terminal City saga with Aerial Graffiti, also drawn by Lark. The two also teamed up for the Batman graphic novel Nine Lives, winner of the Will Eisner Award in 2003. Motter's other works have included The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (adapted for Classics Illustrated), Batman: Gotham Knights, Grendel: Red, White and Black, Hellblazer and 9-11: Artists Respond. Further stories have appeared Superman Adventures, Star Wars Tales, Will Eisner's The Spirit, and Wolverine.
Examples of Dean Motter's artwork can be found at the Illustration Art Gallery.