I have not done well to keep you updated this month. Five or six brief Facebook updates, but only one blog post since the site launch?
This is unacceptable.
The good news is, I haven't much time to write about the process because the process is keeping me too busy to do it.
In my early days, I picked up a good amount of information from Jim Zub's tutorials and a lot of inspiration from Jason Brubaker's reMINDblog.com and podcasts, but an article eventually led me to a Facebook group called Connecting Comic Book Writers and Artists, and it was the discovery point for most of what I've learned so far about just how much it really takes to create and print a comic book. It has really been a great resource of discussion and information. I mostly lurked for about seven or eight months, but in writing my last blog post, I realized that I needed to place a job posting in the artist's group I frequent, and I did it that day.
We were looking for two things: an artist who can draw environments and help to build the world, and a character designer to do our second round of named characters from the first arc. We received twenty-eight applicants.
Holy crap. Twenty-eight.
I spent the first night looking at everybody's art to get a feel for the spectrum of possibilities, then collected them all into an email to Jordan with links to their portfolios and my immediate impressions. When he got back to me with his opinions, I went one-by-one down the list, writing a personal message to each artist.
Nearing the end of my writing time for the night, I saw that I'd only sent eight messages
Ugh. This would not do.
I knew that I'd be far more efficient if I grouped the messages I needed to write by the course of action each needed to contain ("Compliment", "Consider for later", "Request rates"). I spent half an hour creating a spreadsheet with each artist's name, portfolio link, my impression, Jordan's impression, a course of action , and a current status. Lastly, I sorted the list by the course of action, and was ready to go for next time.
And it worked. I spent my next work day sending the rest of the messages, then sat back and waited for the rates to roll in.
It took us a surprising two weeks to receive everyone's rates and narrow down our choices. We had a very tough time deciding between three artists for the character designer position (others I liked just as well were a bit too pricey for our current stage of production), but finally landed on one guy - Luca Cichitti - and sent the message. I don't have a link to a public portfolio at the moment, but I'll see if I can get that to you. Definitely want to give this guy some traffic if I'm able - he has very strong stuff!
Finding a background guy was comparatively easy. I waited until we'd also found our character designer to send his "You're hired" message, but we knew almost immediately who we were going with. His name is Scott Sackett. He mentioned in his response to the job posting that he was a former architecture major, and linked to some examples of sketched environments which I thought were really tangible and somewhat interpretive. He's already delivered some really cool progress shots, and we're very excited see what else he can do. I can't wait to show you the world.
I'm very happy to say that professionalism has been the name of the game on all fronts. Everyone I had to turn down took it graciously, congratulating me on finding the talented artists we did, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't a total a-hole about it, so we all seem to be on good terms. Which is great for the future, because I really liked a lot of these artists and would be interested to see if we're ever able to do something together.
Yes, It's been a long month of spreadsheets, correspondence, and taking care of business. But it's hasn't been all work and no play, no sir!
Halfway through the month, having outlined the beginning, middle, and end of the first issue, Jordan came over and we stayed up to the wee hours of the morning doing a rough page layout from beginning to end. I taped the pages together and ended up with something like a twenty-four page comic book.
It was a very exciting moment for me. As I said on Facebook - thirteen years ago, this seed was planted. This was the most legitimate the endeavor had ever felt.
And still, it continues on. Artists are giving us art, and after all these months of planning and outlining and studying and connecting and revising and hiring and corresponding and documenting... we've finally begun to write it. Like, actually write it.
There are at this moment words, phrases, and perhaps even paragraphs in a document that will certainly be a part of the finished product. This must be the first time the actual thing itself has existed in any form.
I mean sure, a comic isn't a comic until it's got art as well, but a comic script is certainly a thing unto itself. When we gave our arc outline to readers, a few of them reminded us throughout their questionnaire responses that the thing they were reading was not a story, but a summary. Which we knew... but this script will tell the entire story: what you see, and what you read, exactly as you will read it.
We blasted through its twenty-four pages over a couple of sessions, mostly turning our outline and page layouts into a legible format (with a little help from Fred Van Lente, to whom I was of course directed by Jim Zub, as I imagine many an aspiring comics creator have been). We moved along at a pretty good pace with me running through the pages, getting down a description of our basic panels and incorporating the notes Jordan had taken while I was sketching them out that late night in mid July, and him coming up behind me fleshing out the first draft dialogue. It's mostly all there. It's good enough to move forward.
Last Thursday, I spruced up the first four pages, actually flexing my writing muscles for the first time in a long time. The last time I wrote something worth reading was when I was putting this site together and before that, I can't even tell you. So for three hours the other night, I really worked to paint the word pictures and get the dialogue closer to something good enough to keep.
Ahhh. Writing. Really writing.
Feels good, man.
And now I've written a blog post! Hoorah for getting back into the swing of things. I'm putting together the gallery for my July sketchbook pages now, so you can expect that very soon. Maybe today or tomorrow, even.
Oh, and one more note - we reached 100 likes (and more) on our Facebook page! Hoorah for that too. It's kinda funny - we were stuck at 95 for possibly a month or more, and then in just a couple of weeks we got almost twenty likes. A few were referred thanks to a friend participating in a tiny contest we had, and I really can't be sure where the rest came from or why - but I'm glad for it!
I hope not to take so long to write another - and hopefully shorter - update on production. I also still have another feature in mind for this site, I just have to find the time.
Thanks for reading,