WHERE IT'S AT

It took us almost two months to the day to take Issue One from a blank page to a completed script. My rough math said that two-month script only received about forty real work hours, the result of resigning to work mostly when Jordan was available to write with me in real time.

As I mentioned before, the last two months have been less productive due to my unexpected unemployment and a death in the family... or so it seemed until I checked the dates today. We're coming up on two months since work on the Issue Two script was begun, and we're pretty close despite having spent less time together. Chatting over video instead of text really speeds up the discussion process, and after getting through the outlining stages (which I explain below), I scripted the first third of the issue in two days. If we can match that as we continue, it wouldn't surprise me to see the second issue also finished in two months, and the coming issues getting done even more quickly so long as we can stay on a consistent schedule for meet-ups.

THE PROCESS

Yes, the process seems to be working well. First, we start with the issue's big picture in mind, roughly break down the number of pages each scene will require, and figure out the page-by-page beats.

Once we have a sentence or two for each page, we start breaking page beats down into panels - usually six, sometimes as many as eight, and I think only a handful of times we've done five. It's pretty dense storytelling, so I don't think we ever have the option of using four panels or fewer.

These panel breakdowns often include rough ideas of dialogue, or at least what it needs to accomplish ("he tells her she's crazy," or "she lets him know she isn't happy"), but once our paneled outline is in place, we go back through and clean up the lines, trying to get it as close to working dialogue as we're able.

At this point, the outline is a very readable representation of the issue, so we finally take a fourth pass to try and write the final script. The panel descriptions have all the information an artist would need to bring them to life, the dialogue is almost always cleaned up even further, panel beats change as we begin to better visualize how one moment will move to the next, how a facial expression can communicate something we'd previously had as dialogue, or how a series of panels might need to be cut to put more emphasis on another part of the scene.

I am VERY much a planner. I believe in laying a very strong structure so that each stage requires less heavy lifting. As I add layers to the work, it's more and more about details and refinement, and I never have to go back and reset the foundation because I gave that the majority of my thought and my time.

You might think that this would reduce the opportunity for following a creative spark, but not so! It's often more likely you'll be creative in your choices when there are certain rules and presuppositions that must be followed. Doing whatever you want can be a real killer of creative opportunities. Not being able to go with the easiest answer will almost always lead you to much more interesting solutions. See any heist movie for examples of this.

MOVING ON

I thought I'd be able to catch up my sketchbook posts this weekend, but it appears I was wrong. Boy, I wish I had a scanner. So convenient, those things... As it is, I'll have to go through the slow process of photographing each page until my wife's camera's memory card can't take any more, uploading it to GIMP, and shrinking, cropping, and normalizing the sizes of all the files.

Ugh.

I really ought to stop doing a month at a time and just get the pages prepped as I finish them. I say now that I'll try to get the pictures up tomorrow. We'll see what I do.

Followers of mine on Facebook will know that I spent October participating in the Drawlloween challenge. I drew 31 pictures (or was supposed to - some days I just posted a sketchbook page full of images for that day's theme). Those images and the practice pages and discarded attempts are what you'll be seeing for October. I've never done anything like that before, and I was impressed with myself for sticking to it and getting it done. My art improved over the course of the month, which was exciting to see. I was forced to draw things I never would have thought to draw. Some days it was definitely more of a challenge than fun, but I did it.

And now like a writer of sketch comedy, I find I don't know how to end this.

-db

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