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Another lovely weekend. Homework is a bit lighter this weekend, and since I got favorable reviews of last week's work, I'm feeling generally more encouraged about it.

My Graphic Design teacher spent a break with me talking about my future plans, specifically about wanting to teach Sequential Art while making graphic novels on the side. He suggested that it would probably be a good idea to try to make comics in the professional world for at least a while before teaching, simply because I would then have practical knowledge to pass on rather than simply untested theoretical knowledge. Comics theory is one thing, but the business of making comics is quite another. He suggested that not only would it allow me to be more helpful to my students, but it would probably give me more credibility in their eyes as well.

Now, I think he's got a very good point, and I would like to give that a go - however, there's the matter of making a living to consider. Once I finish school, Marilyn and I will move back to wherever it is we want to live (still looking like the mountains at this point), and I want Marilyn to have the opportunity to pursue her music, going back to school or whatever, so I'd have to be the one with the job that covers most of our expenses. I need to investigate the matter further, but I'm very skeptical about being able to make a living at making comics. Guess I'd better talk to some folks...

This also encourages me to get some serious published work under my belt before I finish school. I've got two pieces that are technically published - my contribution for Proverbs and Parables , and the cover to The New Crew #1. But that's nothing. All I did for those is pencilling and some inking; I guess that technically I "wrote" the conceptual stuff for the Proverbs and Parables section (setting it in a medieval context, how to depict each passage visually, etc.), but the text is all Scripture, of course. I want to finish some work that's 100% my creation, tells a full story, and is graphic novel length. Again, I feel pretty encouraged about this - I've got a couple of stories I think would do the trick, and for the last month or two, I've been tinkering with my 1920s Crestline horror story (which at this point has the working title "Nostalgia"). There are a couple of other stories in my mind which might be contenders for a first graphic novel, but I keep coming back to "Nostalgia" because it reminds me of home, and I like that feeling. It also deals with thoughts, concerns, and feelings that are still strong to me now, but which (I hope) will also fade with time. So, better to get that stuff on paper now!

I've been thinking a lot about what I think about making comics; specifically, what tools I use, what size paper, etc. Up until now, I've had the notion that comics should be created on sheets of 10" x 15" bristol board (vellum finish), using crowquill pens, brushes, and occasionally rapidographs. Recently, I've begun to wonder if it might be better to work with something else; or, at the very least, something a bit smaller. I've been doing an exercise in my sketch book lately, something I picked up from my friend Tou (he was in half of my classes last semester, and drew a great caricature of my niece and nephew when we ran into him at Sea World over the summer) - using a Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen "B", which simulates a brush but is easier and less messy to use, I'll sketch out quick panels, figuring out composition on the fly and sketching whatever or whomever happens to be in front of me. I'll continue like this until the end of the page. I've been doing this for a couple of weeks now, whenever I have the time, and it's been a marvelous way of familiarizing myself with the art of making comics. I remember what the author said about getting all the bad stuff out of you so that you can get to the good stuff; this feels like it's what I'm doing. That's the theory, anyway. It's experience, of a kind.

I started drawing a rough version of "Nostalgia" in my sketchbook. The first panel turned out to look pretty good, to my surprise - just a picture of a protagonist's car driving up toward Camp Seeley in the middle of a moonlit night. I made a photocopy of it and began to experiment with shading.

When we did our first assignment for Brothers Grimm - the alphabet chapbook inspired by Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies - I discovered that I really appreciated Gorey's style of shading: hatching and crosshatching exclusively. Nothing was blocked in, drawn as solid black, but the effect was achieved with lines only. This is a bit more extreme than my usual style of shading, but I find that it increases a sense of mystery and murky atmosphere. Another fine example of this technique appears in Christopher Manson's Maze (which my wife was wonderful enough to purchase for me from Amazon - I haven't seen a copy of this since I was a young boy at the Slusser house). So, I'd like to try it with "Nostalgia". I suspect it will also help to lend the story a sense of taking place in the past.

I'll scan those pictures, and as soon as I can figure out how to post them up here, I'll do so.

However, it occurs to me as I look over these things again that the difference between their work and mine (okay, the difference I'm addressing) is that they don't use a brush tip; or, at the very least, theirs is very fine, as opposed to what I'm using, which emphasizes the character of the line itself. It may be that to effectively use this technique, I'll have to use rapidographs and pens exclusively, if not very fine brushes. I'm not dissatisfied with the rough version I have now, but now I think I'd better try experimenting without a brush to see how it will look.

I'm sure this is all fascinating to you. Okay, enough technical stuff.

Other stories float around in my mind, and, as I said, I scribble down notes from time to time. I've been thinking about two of my favorite genres, fantasy and science fiction. I've created a fantasy section at the bookstore, on the bottom shelves of the Tolkien and Lewis endcaps, and since I did that, I've been seeing more fantasy and science fiction books coming in. I don't know anything about the quality of them - no time to read them at work, and certainly no time to buy them and read them at home - but I'm intrigued by the thought that fantasy and science fiction may be experiencing a resurgence in the Christian book world. I'm guessing it's due to the media blitz that Shadowmancer has received (I've only read one or two reviews of the book, and they generally didn't lavish much praise on it), and the cynical side of me is tempted to add that people are falling over themselves to create "the Christian alternative to Harry Potter," which is an entirely different kettle of fish that annoys me but I don't feel like going into at the moment. The positive thing that may be coming out of this, in my mind, is that the Church in general is overcoming its fear of fantasy.

But, you know, I don't know that it matters a whole lot to me at this point. The Christian publishing world isn't my goal, and if Christian bookstores don't want to carry my books, that's okay. I have works in mind that may preach to the choir, but the ones I'm thinking about right now aren't those.

Okay, I've got laundry to do, and then back to the homework. Maybe I'll post again later tonight, but no promises; my evening's looking pretty booked.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 19, 2004 at Sunday, September 19, 2004 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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