“The Homeland Directive” Coloring Outside the Box

If You Like…

  • Government conspiracies
  • Unique comic design
  • Action movies with Bruce Willis
  • Pretty colors!

Then You’ll Like…

The Homeland Directive by Robert Venditti

Art by Mike Huddleston

sillyFrom the time that we’re children, we’re always told to think “outside the box” and look at things from a different angle. It’s how we develop cognitive thinking and it’s what defines progress for the future.

But enough of the tech talk. I want to talk about The Homeland Directive.IMG_1285

This graphic novel by author Robert Venditti and illustrated by Mike Huddleston is one of the
best examples of thinking outside the box that I’ve ever seen. That’s both in the figurative and literal sense. What blew my mind the most about The Homeland Directive was Huddleston’s use of color and shading to set the stage, set the mood, or define the characters. I’ve included some photos of different pages to give you a better idea of the differences.

Taking “Outside the Box” to a Literal Sense

Huddleston’s illustrations are an unexpectedly perfect pairing to Venditti’s storytelling. The Homeland Directive is the tale of Dr. Laura Regan, head of the National Center for Infectious Diseases, who gets swept up into false accusations after her research partner is murdered and she’s blamed for the crime. She’s picked up by three federal agents, and the story dives into the dark underbelly of government conspiracy as they are pursued by enemies from all sides.

IMG_1284The story is extremely fast-paced and very cinematic, and with such a theatrical story it’s only fitting that an illustrator like Huddleston can barely keep the colors and backgrounds in their boxes. And I love it.

It was a little jarring for the first few pages, but I thoroughly enjoyed the novel as a whole with contrasting designs, sometimes on pages right next to each other. One moment it’s a quiet scene with the characters in a softly colored hotel room, and next it’s a hospital setting with grid-lined backgrounds, like that grid paper we used for math class in school. I particularly liked how one of the central “villains” was a woman with bright (dare I say it) blood-orange hair. No matter what scene she was in, you could tell she was there. Also, her hair was shaded as though a child had colored her hair with a colored pencil – not quite in the lines, but close enough. An odd technique, but I liked it.

Show, Don’t Tell with Texture

IMG_1283In all, I found the following textures in the novel as a whole:

  • watercolor
  • pencil blurring
  • gridlines
  • color contrast
  • color blocking

Much like a Michael Bay film, the explosions of color barely stay on the page. My theory is that many of the pages had the backgrounds done first, and then Huddleston drew the panels and scenes on top of it. It’s a fantastic way to show, don’t tell, the mood of a scene.

I highly recommend that you consider The Homeland Directive for your list of books to read next. It’s a quick read, much like a great movie, and will draw you in with both the story and the artistic style.


Will Make You Feel: Like watching “Die Hard”

Music to Listen to While Reading: Rock music

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions


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