Monday, September 29, 2008

How to Make a Comic

When you make the decision to do a comic, you don't think much past the actual sitting down and doing the artwork. Sure, that part is tough and taxing, but what about when the art's done? What if you want a little more than just photocopies en masse ? How do you get your baby into some semblance of print form?

M, our friend Pas, my best friend Bean and I are going to the Small Press Expo on Friday. A few weeks ago, when I was slogging through the first few pages of the comic, M suggested that I try to have it printed in time to bring it to SPX.

Until then, I was just doing it because I always wanted to - I wanted to get better at my art, and fulfil one of my little dreams of actually completing a comic. When M suggested it, I realized that I have an interesting opportunity to get to know the indie industry better, and maybe share a bit of what I've done. Isn't that why I'm going? Because I adore independant comics, and want to see the makers and shakers? Maybe, in a small way, I can be a part of that. And maybe I can go to some of the bookstores that support local work and sell a few..... maybe.

So I've been knocking myself out over the past week and a half, burning through page after page, and I managed to get them all done by Friday the 26th - one week before the SPX.
First step - go to Kinkos in Providence and scan the pages. I venture out in the rain on Saturday morning, thinking that I'll drop them off, they'll scan them in an hour or so, and it'll cost maybe $15-20.

Costs $45 to scan 14 pages and put them on a disc! Are you kidding me? And that was with a $20 discount that the punky cashier girl gave me, I think, because she thought I was a student. Wearing my favorite goofy T-shirt probably encouraged that thought.

And I got to Kinkos at 11am, and they said come back at 4pm. I begged them to get it done earlier, and they said 2pm. So I drive home, slog around for a bit, make a rum cake for my friend Net's birthday, and then drive back to pick them up. Bleah.

So they're scanned. But then, M and I open up the images at home, and you can see all the lines from my non-photo blue pencil marks, which I thought weren't supposed to show up. That's why it's non-photo blue, isn't it? But there they are, I can see them, even though M says I'm being crazy. So I spend some hours going through and carefully erasing all the little lines I can find, until my wrist is killing me. Sleep.

Next day: Sunday. We go to our friends Net and Fonz's house with the scrubbed files, ready for layout. They're awesome graphic designers, and they very, very kindly offered to lay the comic out for printing on their weekend. I humbly give them rum cake and my babysitting services as payment, because lord knows I couldn't afford them. (Their kid is adorable and the easiest kid I've ever babysit in my sea of previous childcare, so it's more than a pleasure).

So Fonz (nicknamed so as he does look like Henry Winkler) opens the files I've edited, and I can see all these little stupid lines that I missed in my fatigue. But at this point, I just push it down and let it go (and once again, M gets annoyed with me because I'm acting crazy).

Fonz and Net spend 2-3 hours laying out everything, making dummy copies, and talking to the third member of this team effort: my father-in-law. Father-in-law is a print broker, meaning he arranges for businesses to have their documents/reports/etc. printed. So while my friends lay it out, M's dad gives them specifics of what he needs, and arranges to have it printed on the press and ready by Thursday. At the moment, I haven't been quoted a cost, so although I'm not counting on it, I may not have to pay for the printing.

(Makes you wonder, doesn't it - I'm awfully lucky to have these people around that just happen to be able to help with this project of mine)

Everything gets done, laid out beautiful in a mini-comic layout. Which I wasn't necessarily thinking of during the art process. I was thinking of a full-size comic. But then it was suggested that a small comic would be cool too. And when it was laid out, and sample copies were printed, I liked it. The text is small, but still legible. So we're doing that.

M is nice enough to drive to his father's house to drop off the disk with the completed comic on it. And now it's just a matter of waiting. We're leaving Friday at around 3pm, so we're crossing our fingers it can be done in time.

And last night, I just vegged out and watched a chick flick, then read my book in bed. Awesome to just do nothing. It won't last though; I'm thinking of waiting a week to start American, Eh? No.2, and this week doing some ink and brush illustrations of some of my Japan pictures.

And I think some strategy is in order when I start No. 2:

-Barely press down on the blue non-photo pencil, because scanners pick up everything
-make sure I have a spare $50 so I can scan my pages
-leave some good time to go through and edit every page, and indulge my perfectionism to its fullest
-kiss my friends' asses so they'll help me with layout next time, along with my father-in-law ( :-).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pink Moon

Listening to the song, thought of one of my all-time favorite commercials.

It's one of my favorite things to do with M.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Singin' Once Again

Because I'm not busy enough already with three jobs, swimming and working out, and working on the comic book, I joined a community chorus last week.

I love to sing. I sing a lot: in the car, doing chores, etc. Yes, I am one of those people belting out songs from musicals while swishing around a broom. My house has nice acoustics.

My family is very musical. One of my fondest memories of my gram is sitting on her lap in her creaky rocking chair, as she sang church hymns in her high soprano voice in time to the squeaks. At my wedding, my mum and six aunts got up and sang "Mary Mac" by Great Big Sea. My uncle and cousins sang and played a traditional Scottish song too. My cousin Jessie is in school to be an opera singer (and she's amazing!). Other cousin was in a rock band for years. Sister is also in choirs and musicals. A bunch of family members play musical instruments... you get the picture.

I was in the church choir when I was a kid, and the school choir. Always in the Christmas pageants as an angel (very true to life).
When I was in high school, I started trying out for the musicals they held. Almost every year, the high school production was a musical, and pretty detailed at that. So I tried out for Wizard of Oz, but wasn't taken in, probably because I was shaking like a leaf during auditions (I was only in grade 9).

But then I was in this (not lead, supporting):

And next year, I went old and evil in this:

Really, two of the best times I had in my life was being involved in these two plays from start to finish. I loved to sing, but also to sing with everyone else, and be involved with the stage design, costumes, etc.

I also got involved in the high school choir, and joined a four-person acapella group. We sang jazz and barbershop songs in the school hallways at the end of the day. I sang lead on "The Java Jive":

"Slip me a slug from that wonderful mug

and I'll cut a rug that's snug in a jug

Drop your nickel in my pot, Joe

Taking it slow

Waiter, water, perculator...."

Who sings that in high school?? Loved it.

Anyways, cut to now. I joined the Cumberland Lincoln Community Chorus last week. It's a very church community-feeling place, which is kind of comfortable. It's not religious, but it's just that sense of community, that friendliness. If I miss any thing about church, it is that atmosphere.

The director of the chorus is this fabulous instructor who's so engaging and knows exactly how to guide each group and how to fix problems. Sitting for two hours singing under his direction isn't boring in the least. It's mostly older people, there's a few around my age, but mostly middle aged and older. But I'm okay with that, if anything, more comfortable with that population than my own.

It's September and we're learning about 12 Christmas songs, to perform over the season! Including one of my favorites:

So come and see me be one of many open-mouthed people in choir white and black when the holiday starts. I'll be having a good time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Comic - Update!

On page 8 of 13. I have to burn through the rest of them before the end of the month if I want to copy it for the Small Press Expo. I'll do my best!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Bit of Love for the Ocean State Pt 1.

In a change of pace, here's some of my favorite things and places in Rhode Island:

Art Supply Warehouse in Providence. It's not called ASW anymore, it's now "Jerry's Artarama" but it's such a dumb name I call it by what I first knew it as. Big, lovely art supply store in this cool brick mill building. I love to wander the aisles and take in all the beautiful stuff.

Scarborough Beach, Narragansett. Yes, there are supposed to be even more beautiful beaches in the state, as my cousin-in-law reminds me all the time, but for me, making the 45min drive down to South County, watching the land get flatter and greener and more spacious, then making the turn to Scarborough State Beach, and the smell of the ocean and the span of the shoreline... it's my favorite beach. It really exemplifies "beach" for me, because it's so big, and all you see when you stand in the sand is ocean and more ocean.

Cinemaworld, Lincoln. My favorite movie theatre - it's new, huge, with comfy stadium seating and generally, it's not nearly as busy or obnoxious as other theatres, particularly ones set in malls. It's where M and I go for all our movies.

Kabob n Curry Restaurant, Providence. I think it's been moved to the top of the list, after going there last month for dinner with friends. Fabulous Indian food, and killer sangria, my favorite drink. Plus it's right on Thayer Street, which has some cool stores, though it's starting to go corporate.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

American, Eh? The Comic

So I'm slowly, but steadily, working on my first real comic book.

This has been a dream of mine for ages. On the list has always been: do my own comic or graphic novel.

I've been putting it off for years. I never thought my art was good enough - for years, it was all about writing and poetry and school, with art as a reluctant side project. I did some painting and sketching mostly - it was only until recently that I realized my true love: black and white ink- brush drawings.

Now when I say "first comic book" that's not entirely true. About five years ago, I did make an honest attempt at a graphic novel. It was called Mobius Loop, and was a science-fiction story about what would happen if, in the future, the human race realized it only had one year left to live, due to an incoming meteorite, and how that year-long wait would drive people crazy, would heighten religious fever, and other questions like: what happens if you get pregnant during that year?

(Actually, in recounting this, it's a pretty interesting idea.)

Anyways, back then I diligently worked on pages and pages of this, without any real research into how to do it: how to arrange panels, different points of view, shadows, etc. I probably did about 60 pages of it with black pens and an old ruler. I even submitted the first part of it for a Xeric grant, which is money for new comic artists to publish their work. I did not win, of course, and eventually it all wound down and I put it away. The thing is, it was the output of that graphic novel that hindered me from doing it again. Because my art wasn't good. It really wasn't, in looking back. And there were a lot of mistakes. It was blocky and stilted and really had no depth.

In the past six months or so, I've really been back into art, into drawing, and recently into black and white ink drawing. I've been practicing with both pens and brush, and brush is hard, but produces such character in every stroke it's worth the pain. I started out just doing still lifes, a picture of my Mom in Japan.

And now I'm on page 5 of a 13 page story, with the namesake of this blog. I'm going slowly, and I really don't know if I can get it done in time to print it and bring it to the Small Press Expo, a big convention for indie comic artists at the start of October. But I think some of the art is actually pretty decent. The story is kinda cute, though kind of pathetic at the same time (if you read it, you'll get why I say that). If I could post the cover I would, but my scanner is too small; still, it's something I like alot.

This, hopefully, will be the first comic that I've actually *finished.* 13 pages mean a lot, and will even more so when I round it out to 16 (with title page, etc), and get it printed, and hold it in my hand. Crappy or not, it's a dream.