Breaking Bad
posted: October 3, 2013

I was wasting time on Facebook last week and saw that Entertainment Weekly art director Kory Kennedy was looking for illustrators who were Breaking Bad fans to drop him a line. So I did, and this foot on the gas job came from it. In his Facebook post Kory mentioned a Monday night sketch with a Tuesday afternoon final. Gulp. Much to my relief, the way things worked out I could get him a sketch on Friday and have until Tuesday to finish. In the not too distant past ending up with this assignment would have entailed several postcard mailings, a couple of multi-thousand dollar sourcebook ads and maybe an artist’s rep. Thank you, Winkelvi.
It was fun to work on this in the midst of all the Breaking Bad series finale hype. It was little like being safe in the middle of a raging storm, being exposed to the elements but somehow benefitting from the energy it all brought.
I’m a big fan of the show and Bryan Cranston’s performance and transformation as an actor and his character in particular. If you’re a fan of the show you know how things got away from Walter White, how a well defined goal became an obsession that ate everything in it’s path. I’m familiar with that impulse. In fact it’s something I do rather well as long as I’m pointed in the right direction.

I usually only do a few thumbnails, but the series finalehadn't aired yet and we didn't know what was going to happen in the story so I tried to keep to general themes in the series.
After settling on an idea I did a (little) tighter sketch, got the thumbs up and spent a good part of the weekend finishing this piece while watching the Breaking Bad marathon out of the corner of my eye.

I tried to touch on some of the familiar themes in the show while keeping the image simple. The blue background refers to the huge Southwestern sky, which along with the landscape is a major character in the show. The cracks and textures in the blue refer to the Heisenberg meth that Walt created. The skull is a tip of the hat to Gus as well as the many peole who died because of Walt. Wow, that is some serious fanboy thinking right there.
Thanks again to Kory Kennedy at Entertainment Weekly for the fun assignment.
Wacksman October 3, 2013
That's a knockout, Dale. I saw that post from KK and thought to answer,but the deadline was too tight for me. Glad to see you managed to squeeze some more time out of the deadline; it was worth it, obvs. I really dig some of those sketches, too- esp the 'sunset' and 'semi submerged'. Top shelf, old bean!
Ellen Weinstein October 3, 2013
Great job, Dale!
Chris Buzelli October 3, 2013
Just incredible Dale! The detail, drawing and lighting captures WW so perfectly. I've seen many homages to Breaking Bad and this is really one of my favorites.
Adam McCauley October 3, 2013
Kick ass, Dale!
Julia Breckenreid October 4, 2013
Saw this on FB yesterday and my only thought was WOW. Really fantastic - my new favourite of yours.
Randy Pollak October 4, 2013
Beautiful job as always! Thanks for giving us such an intimate look at your process. Bravo!
Scott Bakal October 4, 2013
Nice work, bro! Really intense on the details for this one. You really got in there.
Victor Juhasz October 4, 2013
Mad chops- fun assignment. So solid and masterful.
Jody Hewgill October 4, 2013
Great piece Dale, terrific likeness of Cranston. I like how the eye socket in the skull becomes like a vortex.
Douglas Fraser October 4, 2013
Big fan of the show myself. In memory of Gus, Mike....., and any woman Jessie cared for. As the last bits poured out to the lyrics of "Baby Blue", I felt the passing of a milestone.
drawger October 4, 2013
Excellent painting, Dale. I'm not a fan of the Facebook cattle call, though - the A.D. should have just contacted you directly to see if you were available. In any case, you nailed it.
Dale Stephanos October 4, 2013
Thanks everybody, I appreciate all the kind words.
Mark Fisher October 6, 2013
Wicked pissa!
Richard Borge October 7, 2013
So good Dale. Dig the blue cracks in the background too... amazing you did it that quickly.
Flag October 8, 2013
Love this show, really well done. Your thought process makes it even more concrete.
john cuneo October 9, 2013
Wow, this is terrific Dale. The best of the BB tribute illos I've seen.
Roberto Parada October 13, 2013
This turned out awesome Dale.
Harry October 14, 2013
This is such a great piece Dale, one of those career pieces I would say. Thanks for a peek at the process, great sketches but I think the final was the right choice, simple, direct, uncomplicated-and the subtle clues you've included. Well done!
Tom LaBaff October 18, 2013
Janel December 23, 2013
Hi Dale, you are so spot on with Walt! Was just introduced to BB by my oldest - Jimmy a couple of months ago. Am now on the fast track to try to keep up and probably need a 12 step program just so I can break away to wrap Christmas presents. Always amazed by your work! Janel