Friday, June 24, 2011

The Un-Glamorous Way Things Begin

I have been aching to just get this properly started.
I have precious little I want to show just yet, but I figured we'd start out slow and I could tease some of the preliminary work. So here are the thumbnails of some of the first pages I used to pitch my story 'The Hollow Men' to the guys at Flight.

In 4 days' time it will be published alongside the much-better stories of more seasoned comickers in Flight Volume 8. I couldn't be more honored and terrified. :)

I am hard-pressed to find a time in my life when I have felt more impatient. But soon enough it will be out there to read and I can relax and get on with the business of loathing it like any proper artist loathes all his old art.

So, admittedly, these are rough. And even the basic building blocks that you see here shifted around a bit before settling on the final design. But as sketchy and crude as these are, this is where the real work happens.
My greatest teacher taught me this about comics (admittedly plagiarized, if I remember correctly, from someone who'd told him): "The final work is the shit of your thumbnails."

And it's true. These aren't even really my crudest thumbnails, if I'm honest. I'll go and dig up the story pages I did for myself before I decided on this direction...they get smaller and cruder. If you can believe it, these were actually made to show people :p
In reality, what you're looking at is at least step 4 of the process.
After all the scribbling down written notes, gathering plot ideas and casting them off...I even wrote an actual script and then barely looked at it. Then I sketched characters, moved into a little moleskine which I covered with sticky notes, rearranging panels and deciding on dialogue. Panicking, making a mess. In fact, these are the result of a LOT more work than it looks like. As far as I'm concerned, these are the comic...the rest is just polish.

You know what? As I think about it, I think those first, sketchiest, illegible scribbles (before these) were the high point...the most honest version of the comic. Even these represent the beginning of a rollercoastering downhill trend.
Everything after the initial ecstasy of the first idea seems like a paler and paler attempt to recapture that seminal spark; to pin it down and show it to people.
It's a struggle, and a fascinating one, to try as hard as you can to preserve the life of the story through all the phases of creation. Over the duration of this project I felt like I found it, lost it, and found it again.
I'll need some distance from this to know whether I succeeded at all in the end. But this is the sloppy start.

And you get to read it without the dialogue, lucky you!

I really hope you guys stick around and check out the final product when it hits shelves. Not just my story, but the whole book. SOOOooOooon. 4 days. Just 4. I can wait 4 days. I mean, how many 4 day chunks have I lived through so far? A lot. It was easier then. I can do it again!