Thursday, June 16, 2011

Keeping it straight: continuity

I've talked recently about how adding Snowie to Knight and Day has caused me a bit of a flurry in the writing department.  I had planned on introducing the idea of Iris wanting a cat into the strip, but hadn't gotten around to it. And while I was writing, rewriting, and pondering, real life handed me Snowie!

However, doing a comic strip the way I do can cause other continuity glitches, problems, etc.  Ultimately, my goal is to be syndicated, and have the strip presented daily in a newspaper, then collect those strips later for book collections.  Currently, I am not syndicated, which means most of my cartoon income comes from book and art sales, which is not enough to make the comic strip a full time job.  This also means that I am creating strips to be seen by an Editor first, an audience second.  This means that you, my friendly audience, don't get to see new strips every day, or even every week when my freelance work piles up.  I also spend most of my time doing gag a day strips, where there IS an overall continuity, but it runs mainly in the background.  You'd need to read a few weeks worth of strips to see how they all fit together.

As confident as I am in my work, I do realise that the syndicates may have lapses of error, where they may not see the potential of myself and my comic strips, and how well we could do working together.  Which leads me to plan B.

And here is my advice... always have a plan B!  When pursuing a goal like syndication, or trying to find yourself as an artist, you can get lost in the many directions that you can go.  Trying to find the one path to focus on is not easy, and not always practical.  So, to make your life easier, choose projects that pay, first, keeping in mind that those pieces will go into your portfolio, and also improve your artistic skills, and dealing with client skills.  Second, choose projects that if you can't use them in one place, use them in another.

For example, I work with Knight and Day since A) the strip has been very popular with people who have read it, and B) given time, I will have enough material to publish another book.  My first book is still popular, so creating another comic strip collection makes perfect sense. 

Of course, if syndicated, things may change, but as it stands, all these strips I have been doing will go into another Knight and Day comic strip collection, which I am already creating.  It's a blast seeing it come together, but that word continuity comes in again.  First, there's continuity with the seasons, so that summer strips must come together, and winter strips are all together, and now the Snowie storyline must be fit in to make perfect sense with the overall book.  Like Take Me Away From All This!!, this next book will read like a year out of the life of Steven and Amy Knight, so although most strips stand alone, altogether they will create a perfect 'whole', where we will see the characters grow and change and see just how much can happen to a family in a year's time.

I'm looking forward to it, but meanwhile, as the book comes together, I now have a timeline where each strip must fit into.

However, I've written several books now, and many cartoons, both with Knight and Day as well as The Inquiring Minds, of which Iris Knight is a part of.  So NOW I have to worry about what I write in a different way... the strips have to fit the continuity already established in my first books and comic books!

I think it's time I took the time to make a time line... which may save some time in the long run. :0)

All the best,    JOHN :0)