Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It's Like Starting Over...

I began Cartooning quite some time ago: the Earth had long cooled, life thrived in the oceans, looked up, and moved out onto the land to try crawling and walking. Sometime after that I took crayon to paper, floor and wall to search for meaning in line and circle. You would think, in all that time, I'd know what I was doing by now!

Let's look at my recent storyline, The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake, featuring The Inquiring Minds. You know... my Big Summer Adventure? (looks at calendar, and out window where snow is falling, and shrugs what can I say?) Anyways, I feel strongly that my art has improvbed since then, and I have grown as a person. Sure, you say, it HAS been awhile since you started that. Hush, I say. I'm doing my best.

Anyways, with all the forethought of a teenage boy on his first date,I started Ghost PIrates as a comic strip, and like 3 Knights in India before it, it evolved rapidly into a comic book. You know... tall art, not wide like a comic strip. Different format and hard to reconcile. Okay, so The Inquiring Minds started out as a comic strip, and I still dream of being a comic stripper (watch it!) so it was natural to begin that way. However, it seems that a nice long storyline needs a comic book format to tell it right, and besides, you have a lot more room for art and dialogue.

So, what to do? I learned my lesson with 3 Knights in India... you can't just take some comic strips, cut them up, and rearrange them in comic book format. Well, you CAN, but you have to be really careful not to get too cocky, and to pay attention to page order and how the book will come out. One little mistake, and a reviewer like Johanna Draper Carlson will let you have it between the teeth! (Those who read her first review of the 3 Knights comic book will know what I'm talking about). Anyway, thanks to fine reviewers like Johanna (see link at right for comics worth reading), people like me get the feedback we need to become better craftspeople.

The result, I will have to go back to the early pages of the comic that you see in my free download of the first part of the story, and redraw, reformat, and sometimes rewrite to make this a top notch comic book.

After all, it's the end product that counts, right? And besides, as I've blogged earlier, I always leave the end of a story slightly open to account for evolution of the storyline. This way, by going back, I can fit the beginning to match the ending even better, if necessary.

So here is the first strip, remade into the first page. More to come, as well as brand new material.

Cheers, JOHN ":0)

PS The above page isn't finished yet, actually. I am thinking of creating my own font for all my comics, and I might tweak the top Logo a bit when I can.


Sujatha said...

All this is so new to me and so fascinating, but still there are elements of the work that are identical to other forms of writing too - like hard work! :)

John said...

Hi Sujatha!

Yes, indeed! There is so much that goes on behind the scenes of any artform, that hopefully doesn't come across in the final product. We have to make it look easy at the expense of making the job appear easy, if you know what I mean. :0)

Still, going the extra mile is what makes a good product even better. I'm sure redrawing 6 or 7 pages will eventually give me a better story over all... it's just such a daunting task to face when you're just starting!

Cheers, JOHN ":0)

Brian Hughes said...

"I always leave the end of a story slightly open to account for evolution of the storyline."

Ah...you mean you haven't got an ending yet and you've written yourself into a corner?

John said...

Ha, ha, ha.. *ahem*

Well, thanks for pointing THAT out, Brian. :0)

Actually, I had three different endings, but I guess that's not too far from writing myself into a corner. We'll just all have to be surprised to see how it turns out. ";0)

JOHN ":0)

Sujatha said...

Perhaps you already know about this, but I thought it may be of interest - http://barbarawallraff.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/02/the_elements_of_comics_style.php

John said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Sujatha! The post I read wasn't as enthusiastic as that one, so I did not pursue it further. But it's a nice list to keep for reference.

Believe it or not, but I have studied this stuff! I've even adopted forms from Manga, since the Japanese have a wealth of different comic styles.

See? And people think Cartooning is just about drawing funny pictures. :0)

Thanks again, JOHN :0)