Saturday, August 30, 2014

Letter From the Editor

Oh, hi.

Last week's post was a wee bit wee.  Abbreviated.  Foreshortened.  Limited.  I was short on energy, patience, and apparently, words.  Rest assured, this week's post will not be so muzzled.  Get ready for a torrent of words.  I'm about to open the hydrant of my word makey thingy and douse you with its contents.  They will fill up the street to about ankle level.  Small children will come out of their houses and splash in those words.  Like in a Spike Lee movie, except with less racial tension.

If you're already worded out, you can skip to the pictures.  No biggie.  I know I'm going to.

 I'm still editing.  And what's more, I'm only just about to finish editing the very first page.  But it's going well.  I'm still excited to work on it every day.  I wondered if the editing process would be tedious, but it's actually really fun.

Like last week's panels, this week's panels also won't make the cut of my editing...umm...splicer?  What do editors edit with?  A marker?  That sounds weird.  Anyway, this panel isn't going to make the final book.  There will be a version of it, but it had to be completely re-drawn.

It's another of India's imaginings on the first page.  Here's the sketch:

And the outline:

And the final:

Here's the thing: The original version, the one that's being taken out?  It's actually cooler than the one I'm replacing it with.  It's got brighter colors, more detail, and it's probably better drawn.  But it just doesn't fit.  It didn't make sense the way it was and didn't help to explain things.  In fact, I think it confused things a bit.  Which is why I had to replace it.

Not every page will be as heavily edited as this one.  Most of them won't need much of anything.  But the first page is one of the most important in the book, particularly since it introduces the main character.  So, as with the rest of the book, I'm willing to take the time to get it as close to "right" as I can.

In other exciting news, I'm going to a conference in September and I have a brief meeting with the editor of a publishing house scheduled while I'm there.  I'm looking forward to it, of course, but I'm going to do my best not to get my hopes up or think about it too much.  Mostly because every time I think about it I throw up a little bit in my mouth.

To quote Marty McFly: "What if they say, 'Get outta here, kid, you got no future'?  I just don't think I could take that kind of rejection."

Actually, I'm pretty sure I COULD take that kind of rejection.  Here's why:

Every once in a while, people ask me what it takes to be an illustrator and I tell them it takes a healthy amount of stubborn and stupid.  I happen to have that last one in spades.  When they were handing out stupid, I got mine.  Then I got back in line for more.  The lady handing it out looked at me and was like, "Uh...don't you think you've had enough stupid?"  And I said, stupidly, "I'll tell you when I've had enough."  "Okaaay...", she said under her breath skeptically, dipping her giant serving spoon into the trough and slopping an extra helping of stupid onto my already-laden tray.

So here I am all these years later with at least double the Recommended Lifetime Allowance of stupid and probably the regular amount of stubborn.  And it's going to take more than a couple of rejections, common sense, basic human dignity, a living wage, the advice of sensible people and my own crippling self doubt for me to give up.

So there.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Fun Sized" Post


Short post this time around.  I've been swamped this month, which means less time to ruminate about weird non-sequiturs and then foist it onto you.  On the plus side, hopefully by next week I'll have something new to foist on to you.

I'm still working on editing the first page, which is going slower than expected.  But it's also more fun than expected, so...bonus.

In the meantime, here's a panel from the first page.  It's not actually going to be in the book.  Not this version, anyway.  It needed to be re-drawn for various reasons that will make sense once you've seen the new version.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Catch of the Day

Oy Maties.

Welcome aboard the finest, most seaworthy post you're likely to read in the next ten minutes.  Well, let's say five minutes just to be safe.  I'll be your cap'n on this brief, odd electronic voyage.  You can call me Ishmael.  That's not my name, but whatever floats your boat, man.

Some years ago, never mind how long precisely, having little or no money in my purse and nothing particular to interest me by way of gainful employment, I decided to start a book.  Furthermore, I decided to call that book "Kittens Are Dumb and Nobody Likes You".  Then, thinking about the marketing implications therein, I decided to re-title the book "Saturday".

Long story short, I've finished the book and am now working my way through the editing process.  I figure a lot of people have probably given up on ever seeing the book at this point.  For those of you who have held on, I promise you it will come out.  Eventually.  For those of you who gave up and will never actually read this, I want you to know I never liked you anyway.

Speaking of fishing, check out this panel:

It's from one of the first pages and it's part of an explanation of how India sees the world.

I think a lot of people wonder about what's lurking in deep water.  For some, deep water is even a phobia.  I can totally understand that.  Could be anything down there: sharks, hypodermic needles, clowns, dentists, heights, enclosed spaces.  The ocean is a scary place.

India's musings probably have as much to do with boredom as they do with her fascination about the mysteries of the deep.  When I was little, I hated fishing.  It meant waking up early, being cold, and surviving extreme boredom.  I used to resort to just about anything to alleviate said boredom.  One time I found a dead fish and put it on the end of my lure just so I would know what it felt like to have caught a fish.


Of course, these days fishing is one of my favorite things ever ever.  It still involves waking up early.  And it often means being cold.  But I developed a taste for it.  Like coffee, olives, and Ken Burns documentaries, fishing is something most kids don't have the capacity to appreciate.  Only sophistercated, cultured adults like me.

Now I'm going to go eat some Rocky Road ice cream and watch cartoons.


Monday, August 11, 2014

The Once and Future India


Been waiting all week with bated breath for the latest update of "Saturday" the book?  Well, grab some mints and wait no more, 'cause this update has come a-round the mountain and pulled into the station of your inbox.

I'm still chipping away at the edits to the first page.  Like I said, the earlier pages will need a decent amount of revision.  I've been working on "Saturday" for like, a million years.  Back then I did much of my drawing in caves by the flickering light of this newfangled technology called fire.  Anyhoo, even though I always drew to the best of my abilities, a million years of practice has helped me improve somewhat.

Drawing technology has also improved in that time; cave walls smoother, charcoal blacker, and fires brighter.  Consequently, my drawings are different than they were back in the day.

Case in point:

This is a drawing of India from one of the first pages:

Not bad, but not exactly how India looks on the last page.  In the beginning, India had super pale skin, bigger glasses, and sharper features.  And this wasn't even the first model of India.  If you want to see how her look developed, check this out.  There are some really ugly ones in there.

Here's what India looks like today:

I suppose you could say that India and I have both done a bit of growing up in the last million years.  Actually, don't say that.  In fact, unread that last sentence.  What a bunch of treacle.  That sounds like something you'd read in Parade magazine.  India has changed visually, but her character is the same.  And I've gotten marginally better at drawing, but I certainly haven't grown up any.

Thank goodness.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Zeppelin doesn't rule.


Prepare yourself for the latest update of "Saturday" the book.  I don't really know HOW you should prepare yourself.  It's not really my business in the first place.  But there's no wrong answer.  This is a safe place.  I want you to feel comfortable preparing yourself in whichever way you feel most accurately represents you and your spirit animal.

I'm still working on edits.  I'm actually re-drawing certain panels on the very first page.  Pretty sure I've said this before, but the older a page or panel is, the more likely it is to need a bit of gussying up.  So the first several pages of "Saturday" will need some heavy editing (at least in terms of the illustration), but the editing will probably be less and less severe as I get deeper into the book.

I may also go back and re-do the cover.  I haven't decided yet.  Something about it is kind of bothering me.  My illustrator-sense is tingling.  Although it's possible it's just fallen asleep like when you've been sitting on an airplane for too long.

In the meantime, here are a couple more rejected panels:

The idea with this first one was that India is sticking her head out the car window and imagining she's in a zeppelin.  I rejected it for a couple of reasons: First, it's not very clear that's what's happening.  I suppose I could have clarified the imagery somehow, but I didn't bother because of the second reason.  Reason the Second: It's not very interesting, either conceptually or visually.  The human brain is an amazing thing.  You can literally imagine anything you want.  And the premise of "Saturday" is that India's brain is particularly vivid.  And in this universe, we're supposed to believe that the best she can come up with is that she's riding in a zeppelin?  What kid would ever imagine that?

Reject number two:

The premise of this one is that India's in a spelling contest with a student who particularly dislikes her.  India imagines the contest as an old west duel.  I can't actually remember which page this was slated for, but I figure I rejected it because I thought up something better.  But I'm glad this one got the axe, too.  India dressed as Blondie is pretty fun, but the rest of it...meh.

Almost every panel in this book had multiple alternates (different angles, expressions, or different concepts entirely).  Fortunately, I didn't draw all these variations.  Most of these alternates were discarded in the writing phase.  The problem is that I do some of my best thinking while I draw, which means sometimes I don't think of a better idea until I'm already finished drawing a mediocre one.

Aw, well.  It's good practice, I suppose.