Been a while. But sometimes ya gotta shut off the social media and just think and do stuff. That’s done, for now. Here’s the outcome…
I know that I want to do Glorious Junk as a stand-alone, done in one, released at one time Graphic Novel. And I also know that sometimes, I just need to vary my creative diet. Just like nuthin’ but pizza would get old after a while, so will working on just this one project. It’s always struck me as unfair to just share random pages of a larger work as a enticement for the final project — but sometimes it’s the only thing one can do to get interest in it. That’s why I thought that only if I could do a webcomic. 3x weekly and balance that and the Graphic Novel. Best of both worlds. I would have a platform of a regular webcomic to showcase my story/art and promote the Graphic Novel. By having a Mon-Wed-Fri schedule for the webcomic, I would be forced to produce stuff on a regular schedule. And I know that from prior experience, I do well by having two or three things in the “active” basket. If I get blocked on one, the other will get some attention and the volleying back and forth creates a kind of energy that stops staleness or dread from taking root.
The question was — what to do as a webcomic. While I do know that a humor/gag-a-day strip would do better, that kind of strip just isn’t in my wheelhouse. I’m a long-form story creative. So I look to the adventure strips of old and think about what kind of new story I could do in this kind of format. I’ve tried a few times to get a webcomic going, but nothing really stuck for me. So that idea went on the back burner for a while.
Then, when I wasn’t looking or even thinking about it, the story idea just flared up in my brain. One exercise I had done was to come up with short story ideas for animated shorts. I had one all plotted and storyboarded months ago. For some reason that story just came to my awareness with a few twists. Unlike Graphic Novels (for the most part) a long-form Webcomic that I wanted to do would be open-ended. It could contain short stories along with longer stories. And this idea of mine was just perfect for this. The Status-quo from the first story would be totally changed at the end of it. So there would be evolution in both the world and the people who we see in it. The series would grow and evolve on its own, and the story would be in service to the people in the world. When I nailed down the particulars of the story, the backstory and the world-building for this series, it was amazing how the pieces just “fell” into place.
To say that I’m a bit excited is like saying that Human DNA is just a little complex.
I’d like to announce that on June 1st, 2016 (a nice date because 6/1/16 is a palindrome and I couldn’t resist), I’ll be premiering “Afterwards…”
Those ellipsis are intentional, btw. This webcomic will start out with a strip on that Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The following week will have the intended frequency of Mon-Wed-Fri with an option to ramp down to just 2x a week, if necessary. In May, I’ll be working on getting a buffer (that mythical thing from legend and folklore for wrebcartoonists) that should keep this thing on track for a while. And I’ll be sharing some behind-the-scenes stuff here on this blog until the release date. When that happens, CRToons.com will get a much needed facelift and revamp. On the off days (Tuesdays, Thursdays and maybe weekends) will be BTS stuff for not only Afterwards… but also from Glorious Junk.
The time is right, and I do hope that you’ll join me on this embarking on a grand adventure of storytelling. While I’ve closed off comments, you can feel free to email me comments and stuff. Just add mike and an AT symbol in front of crtoons.com and send me your comments. I hope that once the revamp of the site is done that comments will be enabled, just have to minimize spam (which has done more to limit free speech than anything else, imho) somehow.
Let me know how “inside baseball” you’d like me to go. I’d be willing to do videos of my art process (drawing, inking & coloring), and even as tutorials. Or anything you’d like to see from me.
Here’s a sketch I did while working out some of the characters for Afterwards…
In the coming days, I’ll post some of the world-building sketches and costume designs. All spoiler-free!
Thanks for reading this and bearing with my “mole mode” (something I got from Von Glitscha, who is the master of creating Vector art, btw). I won’t go away again like that. Better to post a sentence and leave it at that rather than nuthin’. 😀
Now back to the drawing tablet.
Hi there! Beginning today, I hope to do this as a weekly (or more often) blog that will be about the process and things that I encounter while working on this graphic novel: Glorious Junk book 1: Wings of Change.
Origins of Glorious Junk
the concept of Glorious Junk had changed a lot in the past year or so. Originally it was a straight-out fantasy that critiqued and had fun with what was going on in US culture and comics. It was to emulate a newspaper comic strip, and be daily with sunday comics. And it was hard for me to get my story-head around dribbling out drips and drabs of story in 4 panel installments. Maybe I just didn’t have the discipline to do so … or maybe I just didn’t have the mindset for it. So the idea stalled and I moved on.
But, damn, I loved that name.
Onward to about 3 months ago. I had an image/scene of a Winged woman flying over mesas of a desert and that image just wouldn’t leave my brain. At all. So I did what I always do when this kind of thing happens, draw the character and see what happens. It was as if a floodgate opened up under my stylus. Before I knew it I had main characters, minor characters, background events and a world being built up around these sketches.
A world without a story is just an intellectual exercise, something to file away for future use. I was prepared to do this, but the characters, especially that winged woman just wouldn’t let me be.
What could I do but STFU and listen to her. And she told me her story. And this is where Glorious Junk came into play. This is where she works, at a used item/Junk store. In Berkeley/Emeryville here in the N. California Bay Area, there’s a store called Urban Ore, where stuff is collected and sold/bought. It’s like that, but on a much grander scale.
As far as characters go, most of the characters I had for the stalled comic strip of the same name fit into this new narrative perfectly. As if my mind assembled them and this story just for the Winged Woman. She now has a name: Lyth (short for Lythia).
As of today, I’ve laid out 72 pages, 55 of which have dialog and captions. I think it may be around 160 pages when done.
Plot and story premise
Now that I had characters and basic character sheets done, it was time to plot out the story. Compared to other stories, this one fell into place rather quickly. Using my app of choice for this, Scrivener, I had made about 123 notecards that detailed the story from beginning to end.
For me this is a crucial step, as any story must have a starting point and a definitive end point. Sure the story may continue and have subplots that may be resolved in future stories, but it must stand by itself as a whole work.
I had conflict, real stakes, a character with her own agency and motivations and an ending that resolved the conflict and advanced the character.
Now it was on to the next step:
Laying Out and Writing Pages
First off, I consider myself to be a cartoonist. To me that means the story and art are conjoined. When I layout pages, it’s very rough. Scribbles basically. But this is where I begin to find the pacing and rhythms of the plot put into pages. I let the content of the plot dictate how long a scene is. I quiet my internal editor as much as I can. For this, I would layout a chapter or two, then go back and add dialog and captions. At that point, I usually redo individual panels of the page, add a page or delete a page for flow and if it advances the story better. Because it’s all about the story.
This is where Texturing (as my wife calls it) happens. It’s all in service to, you guessed it, the story.
Some parts, like the beginning I was stalled on. Usually this is because that internal editor of mine puts up a stop sign and makes me evaluate the story. I added a prologue, that emphasized the stakes and conflict the story has and the stall ended and I was flying.
I was making good progress, until a nagging feeling stopped me. I then saw that the entire ending was firmly planted in Troupe-ville. After talking about it with my wife (who is a gifted writer, btw) I realized that the ending I had originally written came out of nowhere and didn’t add to the characters. In fact, it diluted the struggle of the character. I went back to the plot and applied the axiom of making my character’s life difficult. I thought about what exactly I wanted to say and what the character’s arc was to be. And then I had an insight to get rid of the “Big World Ending Conflict Resolution” and insert one loosely based on something that happened to me and have it fit to be a conclusion to this story.
At this point, the story began flowing again, I was laying out pages and writing them pretty fluidly.
The main take-away from all this is that sometimes when a story stalls, it’s your subconscious/internal editor saying “Wait a minute, this ain’t working.” If one listens to that voice and aren’t afraid to get rid of parts of the story (i.e. “Kill your darlings”) the story comes out stronger and more cohesive for it.
To Be Continued…
I apologize if a lot of what I wrote about Glorious Junk was not too specific about the actual story, that’ll come in time. No spoilers here! What is going to be happening here is a chronicle of creating a Graphic Novel from idea to printed/published work.
While I work on the story, I’ll also be redoing CRToons.com with a shiny new theme and focusing on sharing my process, things I’ve learned and other stuff as it relates to Glorious Junk and other comics I’m working on. I’ll be turning on comments as soon as I can figure out how to filter out all the spammy crap that WordPress installs seems to attract.
Soon, I’ll have some process videos up about creating comics digitally, tutorials on apps that I like and use a lot. This should be a good adventure.