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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Keeping Afloat

In response to a question from “The Masked Retriever” on “How do I Keep this Ship from Sinking” (in relation to making a graphic novel). I decided to make this a post to give other people a place to chime in and add to the topic.

There are so many different ways to tell a story in comic form, but I can only speak for myself and what works for me. Personally, I hate doing a ton of pre-production. It just sucks the spark out of the work for me. I’d rather develop the comic on paper, page by page designing what is needed at the time. It keeps it fresh for me and every new page is a new challenge as well as a surprise. I know people like Craig Thompson who draw every page in a very (almost finished) detailed rough and work out the whole project before hand, and more power to him because his stuff kicks ass.

That being said, I can’t do anything without knowing my story (at least in broad terms). I’d place myself in box #3 “The Idiom” from Scott McClouds Understanding Comics for my approach to comics. I start with an idea & the idea dictates the style and tone of the work.

I don’t write out the story, mostly because the story lives and develops in my head, fleshing out over time as new ideas and twists crop up. Originally Chiaroscuro was a serial, so I would pen out some rough dialogue and the ideas I wanted to convey in a comic of 20 odd pages. I kept that approach mentality even after I stopped publishing the individual issues, kind of like chapters in a novel. I’m not sure if/how that will change for Book 2, which will not be published in segments.

Above all I know where my story is going, it has an end and I know the ideas I want to play with and explore in between. The great thing about the graphic novel though is the room you have to play with tangents and digressions that allow the story to breath.

As for the art, I decided right off the bat to allow that to develop on it’s own as well. I knew that page five was not going to look like page 230; the overall feel of the story would dictate the look. A comfortable and “right” look would emerge that would suit the story. I figured it’s better to draw page one and get on with it than to plan my life away. It’s probably also a reaction to working in animation for so many years, the idea of “On Model” drives be around the bend and is probably the reason I’ll never get work at Marvel (Not that I’d necessarily want to, I’m just saying).

So for me, the idea and the story are the most important. If the art can compliment the tone of the story then in my mind we have a winner and something you can really bite into. If you can’t wait to draw issue #4 when you’re only half way through issue #1 then I wouldn’t worry to much about things going stale, because if you’re excited about the work it will come through.

I hope that was helpful, anyone else?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Finished the graphic novel!

Oh man, it's taken me over 6 years and many many late nights but the bastard is finished.... Well, the first of three books is finished anyway. It's very satisfying to see the work in print as a whole.

I did a 100 copy POD run to shop it around to various publishers and reviewers and I'm very impressed with the quality of the print. Back when the book was in serial form I was getting the printing done at Quebecor, but for a small run like this POD made more sense. I contacted Dream Weaver Press first but found their response time to my emails left much to be desired so I decided to work with ComiXpress. They did a great job; sharp clean print on bright white paper with little bleed through. I'd defiantly use them again.

Now I'm taking a break from this series to work on something a little more loose and portable to fit into my current situation (3 1/2 month old twin girls), but finding the time is a real challenge! Lots of coffee in my world.