Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AE Complete (Sorta), The Falls, and Phaira Lore

American, Eh #2 is fundamentally finished. Now I have to go back and clean everything up, add extra details, shadows, redo panels that don't work, etc, which adds a bit more time, but it's nice to have all 17 pages + cover basically inked and in sequence.

I think AE#2 isn't bad at all. I do wonder, though, if AE is too plot driven. The whole "this happened, then this, then this" without much pause for reflection, or getting to know the characters enough. Sure, it's fun for me and family and friends who know me, or know M, but to the outside eye, I don't know if there's much depth. Or if there should be.

I am not thrilled with some of the art, but that's typical artist-angst. I have to keep reminding myself that it's just as important that I'm *doing* these comics, regardless of the outcome, and committing to doing something I've always wanted to. I only started all this in August! I can only get better, right?

Or, to quote James Kochalka: "If you don't think you're awesome, then who else will?" I'm working on that, James.

While I'm scripting AE3 and finishing up AE2, I've been inking a three-page mini-comic, the first of a series of minicomics under the series name Lybarie, which essentially will be a few poems put into comic form as a means to experiment with different styles. A lot of this is going to come from my Master's thesis, but I think, without trying to sound all Master-y, that my poems are very visual, tell some interesting stories, and more importantly they're not vague or sound all academic. So they, so far, are translating alright to comic form. The first is "The Falls" which was the first poem in my thesis.

Either way, it's nice to do something short, instead of looking ahead to pages and pages. Just as a break, but a way to keep practicing inking with a brush. And drawing and inking from memory, and not relying entirely on photos. I'm proud that the first page of The Falls, which is all landscape, is drawn and inked from memory, no reference used. And it looks pretty realistic. That's a big deal!

I'm still hoping that Juniper Key and the Very Serious Girl might be put together for September's SPX Conference (which Jodi and I are now officially online and registered for under Acute Studios - very sweet), but it's on hold for the moment due to Jodi's wrist.

In the midst of all this, I'm looking to put together at least one other book for SPX - something fiction-based and a little different, so there's a variety to display and sell. Still mulling over Cake Brat - I have a lot of scribbled pages and sketches for characters, but it's not ready yet for anything solid. (I kind of have this belief that stories will only emerge when they're ready, so I don't push it if it's not coming to me loud and clear.)

Or, I'm actually considering, and I can't believe I am, reanimating an old universe I created from about 2001-2004, and haven't touched in five years. Phaira Lore is a science fiction series I worked on for years. I wrote five screenplays and lots of short stories in this universe. But I stopped in 2004, moved on, and haven't looked them since (there's some drama behind that decision, but I'm not getting into it). For the past two weeks, during downtime at work or at home, I've been reading all these stories and scripts and kind of marvelling at the energy I had to do all of it. It's a bit of a raw read, though - I'm mildly embarassed at some of it, but I'm.... nostalgic? Relieved to reread it? There's a quiet love for these characters that I haven't touched in years, cheesy as it sounds. They were a big part of my life for a while.

When I left it, I didn't forget about it - I always thought I would eventually do something with PL - tighten it up, change some details, but use what I created. Because despite some of the stuff I'm embarassed at, the overdramatic nature of some parts, or realizing how parts were directly stolen from other shows like the anime Cowboy Bebop, fundamentally it's a story about a girl and her two brothers, and how in the midst of violence and craziness they struggle to work and live with each other. Which I like, and I see clearly now. I don't need particular characters to spice things up - they can be cut. A lot can be cut, and simplified, and in the end it's still interesting characters, a good story, and a universe to work in. Whether in comic form, or maybe story form with pictures.... I don't know. But that's the news for now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Page 16, Visible Fuck-ups, and Who is the Cake Brat?

I just inked page 16 last night, and have to do a few other bits on it before moving onto penciling and inking page 17, which is the last page. Then figure out the cover, do that, and American, Eh #2 is done. How 'bout that? Not bad at all. I have to go through and make corrections and tighten everything up, but the basics of each page are solid.

I'm pretty stoked, actually. I made a goal a few months back that I had to finish a minimum of two pages every week. Well, with Christmas, then NYC, and just that heavy winter laziness that robs me of any kind of motivation, that goal got pushed back. But for the past month, I've been sticking to it, and making myself work on the comic at least one hour every day. And the 2-pages a week goal hasn't been too difficult at all, it turns out, despite all the mistakes and set-backs.

I make lots of mistakes. Lots of mistakes. My white-out pen is always popped out and shaken because I'm still not a confident inker with a brush, particularly now that I'm re-learning to hold it vertically (as you are supposed to do, I learned) instead of angled like a pen. I will never be able to sell original copies of my comic pages for this reason - who wants visible fuck-ups? I can't help but wonder how they *do* that - even the more amateur artists at the SPX who aren't super famous. Am I missing something here? Are they faking me out with their pretty, perfect boards?

I'm also debating what to do next, while I'm scripting AE#3, which usually takes a couple of weeks to figure out. I want to keep going with inking and practicing with my new swanky Winsor and Newton Kolinsky sable brushes (which *do* make a difference, holy crow) . One thing I'm turning around in my head is another title, which came from a random reading of a post on Hong Kong food.

Cake Brat is actually this:

But someone in the comments section made mention of what a great name it was, and I agree - it's stuck in my head for weeks now, and I've been turning it over in my head, and letting characters and situations come to me. Everything is scribbled in my little black sketchbook right now, but I'm thinking it might be something new to try, something outside of my personal romantics. Titled Cake Brat, with overdone, overt covers. Sprinkles on red lips that spell out Cake Brat, you know, really over the top, trying-too-hard stylized art. But then inside, it's just someone who is known as "the Cake Brat" from these covers, whether it's a band name or or even as just a nickname.....

It probably sounds strange, but I'm not going to get into much more here, because it's all still being figured out in my head, but we'll see where I end up going with it. It's probably going to have something to do with food and music and stuff.