It's getting started:
Preproduction and preproject time. Everything done before March 2005
The task of making a project is dumped into my lap. It is more or less dumped into everyones lap, and not so much dumped as skillfully slid under our doors for the whole of autumn, until it's suddenly the end of winter, and demons are shouting in my ear. "Why havn't you come up with and idea yet!" "You've known about it since 1 year back!" "Are you listening?!"
Yes, why work in advance when you have 'oh so much time on your hands'. I am however studying comics and graphical storytelling, and I'm specializing in comics, so it'll be a comic for sure. But what?
It's not that I do not have any ideas. I have loads of them. Small buggers, no good for nothing or too huge and immense to cope with other than putting down years on them. Somewhere in school, my mind is starting to act up. "Hey, why not try a webcomic.. that'll solve you prolem of trying to sell the work". I desperatly try to get a better idea, heck even an idea would suffice, but it's stays on. And I kinda like it. A character starts to take form. I don't know how, but they usually just do that. It's a girl. Cocky, confident.. they usually tend to be girls. I knock it away for now. I have no place to put that character yet.
I dump the plot, and start out making the project description (link here, alas the first draft is only available in swedish). It's taking form. I skillfully elude every aspect of the plot to be a part of the project. This is the project. The documentation of what I do. I laugh like an evil madman until realizing that I am unable to print. It was a common problem at our school. I mail the doc to my assigned reviewer and hope she checks her mail before travelling to Hofors the next day. Wich she did. And she pointed out what had to be changed. I put it aside and happily forgot everything about it.
Later, while lying in my girlfriends bed I woe in lack of ideas. I think she said it, or perhaps I said it and she replied so I had to think it over, but the idea hit me! (Which is good. Usually she hits me..)
Taste it. Yes. Me likey. Weird gizmos, science with additional castles and lightning. It kinda glides of from the premise later on, but the average technology is set. I here by blame an internet buddy of mine, let's call him "Leion".. cause that's would I'd probably do. We dared eachother on drawing whatever the other could come up with one dire day in 2004, and he gave me the task of this:
An 18th century aircraft. Yup yup. This image got stuck into my head, and it has reflected even the script since. Bloody picture. But those wooden cogs got me eager. Lots of stuff, hordes of them ("Eh, you still has to draw them remember?" "Eh, shush you nosy sense of reason, let me dream and suffer later!" "Fine.."). It'll be the worst decision of my life some day. But not this day!
Little preproduction, many thoughts
It's March? Allready?! Plot and characters, plot and characters.
So I get down to business, I must get my ideas down on paper. I lug around this A4 sketchbook, and it's getting to little work done in it. That piece to the right is probably the first transition of the main character and heorine. She doesn't have a name. I do not know what to call her. The hair is swiftly stolen from Panzer Dragoon Orta (SEGA, 2003). It is modified, and she has nothing to do with Orta. Just the hair. If I'd stole the design it'd rather be Thorn from Bone (Go here!). Not so much that my imaginative gal has anything to do with Thorn, more than I simply adore Smiths storytelling abilities and sense of characters, drama and everything! It is truly my biggest source of inspiration, and when where still at the creational stages, I might add Don Rosa, Garth Ennis, my childhood, Beyond Good and Evil (Ubisoft, 2003), Moebius, Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne's mind you), Terry Pratchett, Alan Moore, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the Maxx (Sam Kieth/ William Loebs, Image Comics 1997) and God knows what else, to the pile of inspirational influences. Not only for this project, but for everything I do.
Yeah, the design. It's the first tryout. She's to be; young, charismatic, more or less wild and be proportionally buildt - within the boundaries of stylization ofcourse. It's not that she's to be photorealistic. She's just not to be portrayed as a sexual object. This cause I'm sick of lovedolls. And I simply loved the aformentioned "the Maxx". Women. And bodyfat. And hips. And those lovely lovehandles. Alas as you can see, there's nothing of that going on in that picture. There is no specific idea why she is a she. It could have been an androgyn species as far as I know, and in some sense I guess it is. A boy-girl. She would have played with the boys, and kicked their ass if they referred to her as girly. So stereotypes, ahoy, I'm afraid. Fortunatly she changes..
I go bananas. Completely batsh*t loco. The world is coming together, without actually coming together at all, and I'm starting to pin down the first episode. It's lot's to do still. Random sketching produces this:
There's lot's of things here. We have this Han Solo type of guy to the left. He's fortunatly out fo the question so far. We have priests in gasmasks and hilarious crafts ('cause look at the smile of that guy. I'd say..) The heroine is coming nicely, but I am but a loss on how to dress her. And NOTE THAT DUCK! But the Donald-esque beak had to go. We also have the must-have scientist character.
I'm starting to build up this world. And it is a rolling landscape of sand. Desert one might say. We have this (still unnamed) girl riding what seems to be a wooden catamaran.
This turned to be a key part of the opening sequence, albeit changed a wee bit. You'll see how. The important part is that somewhere here I decided over the fact that the enviroment of the starting parts will be a vast landscape of sand. Ofcourse, who knows where she'll end up later, but for now. Sand. Ok? Sand.
By some reason, me and my fellow student eat at a Chinese restaurant. Inbetween the slurping of noodles I realise that I do not have a title for the comic. My good friend Victor aids me in this wild dilemma and delivers the magic word.. Cog. I'm satisfied, eat my noodles and start juggling the word around. Perhaps her name? "Cognite".. "Cognitia".. yes, it blows. I throw it away and go to sleep.
Project time closing in...
Struggling with character design and the script all through March..
So, Spring turns to.. more Spring, and we're all busy. Busy busy busy. It's not like I can do this on school time, no the project time hasn't even started yet. Oh my. The Easter is over and the following week gives me three things.
I rewrite the project as it should be. It is in it's current form here
I see the name "Cogs and Robbers" infront of me. A pun indeed, but it is truly a message from God. I sketch down some logos and head up to school. I buy www.riotamot.com for personal usage and use it to host the comic currently known as "Cogs and Robbers". Yeah.
Not happy, no, not at all. The big one below is pretty, but lost all character. The clothing is still a big mystery, but I like the boots. Perhaps they'll stay.
Me approve the duck tho'
What did that just say?
The big facial study turned out bad. Yeah, it's pretty, but it lost all character. I let it go for now and think about the plot instead. This is tricky, since I can't actually state the plot here. It would kind of ruin it. But I can tell you how and where I think about it.anything down. Many ideas are lost, but I am a hardcore fanatic of the rule, if it's good, it'll stay. I let my ideas get mauled in my head for some time, and then there's those fantastic moments when everything clears. They are few but they're there, and that's when the plot really thickens!
I usually think plots while staring into the ceiling, waiting to fall asleep. There's a huge downside to this, since I never write
The problem is, I still don't know what the story is about. What it REALLY is about. The surrounding parts are just tools for me to say what I want to say and thus I am excluded from the eastern tradition of character focused storytelling.. nah, not really. It just that a story has to have a point, even tho' I am more or less unaware of it. It is kind of a subconscious creation much like character design. It's not until the last few years I have actually reflected on my work in such a sense [and thank you Scott McCloud for that! (Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud, Kitchen Sink Press, 1993)], and by golly it may stop your creative flame. But it do make you make better stuff. Also, the plot is very character driven so far, it's just I need and END!
And so I get one. Strolling in the sunshine, just awaiting the Fanzine-exhibition in Sthlm and the end of March, it clicks. I see purpose and meaning, and I see an end. This is hilarious, I can't express what I come up with nor how I do it. Just know that this is the time the story gets its backbone and heart. And it is character driven allright. Moahahaha..
Those inclined may see a total lack of sketches of the world, buildings, other characters etc. That's because I really don't do any, until I need to. I like to keep things in my head as long as possible, making it evolve and nurture from eachother. This also makes me never produce anything of worth and the evolution gets stale, but this is also because I can accidently seam things together later on, and to that, even if I did sketch, I couldn't show you them now could I. It would ruin what has not been viewed yet.
It's April and what hath we?!
Disaster strucks. A wet night in Brüssels results in the flue of a lifetime. An agonizing flight home whereas I'm convinced my ears will explode any second, and home to sleep for hours and hours. It doesn't help, and I'm a walking dead for a week. I'm still walking dead. Dead man walking. The first weeks of April would be the time of me writing the site and getting it up and running. Fact is, it's all written now, Friday the 15th of April, whereas the build was built yesterday. During the 7 days of being seclosed at my house I've done the following:
I have however put down some work on the plot. Amongst feverish fits and a headache that made me wonder if drilling a hole in the skull might be efficient after all, I put down some ideas that's quite good.. I think. Only time will tell if these ideas weren't so great after all.
In the shower I come up with names. The shower, as staring into the ceiling is a great resource for thinking out what needs to be thought out. The girl's name is Alice and the duck's name is Howard. Alice obviously a blunt "Through the looking glass"-reference, fitting for the plot and that's one huge bite of plot to hand out.. eh?.. eh?!.. forget it. Howard just seemed appropriate. He looks like a howard don't he? Either way, I get schampoo in my sore eyes, and forget everything about it for a while. And the father's name still eludes me.
I build the site. It's rough cause I have a very vauge idea on how to structure it. At first, I think the option to continue where you left off in the comic is a great idea. Then I realise that cookie-blockage and several people using the same computer fudges things up. So I drop it. The way of the logo to fit almost seemless into the header takes the most time to achieve. It's built out of 4 images, in a html-table grid. Lot's off css going on there, feel free to check the code if you like. I try to make it viewable at even 800x600 but it's a lost cause. I settle for each page to fit into such a resolution and carries on.
The pages yes, this was the crucial part. One of the most important feats was that every comic page should be readable without having to scroll. So the layout on those pages are slightly different, you'll notice how I am certain, when the comics do appear. I fiddled around with sizes until I was satisfied, and called it a day. Back home, I started working out the storyboard for the first 4 pages. My fear of having a format where the width is greater than the height scared me at first, but as I started working, I got intruiged by the possebilities. I often want to have 3 panels/strip, clustering the usual formats to a mess, but this made it easy. More specifics on the first 4 pages later.
And so I sit here typing this. My head hurts as hell, and I'll have to review this writing I guess, but for now it'll have to do. This is all written in one day, pretending to be a thorough log of a couple of months of sporadical work. Truth is, this is the start, and it's after this that things'll get going for real. I just want this out of my hands so I can get it out and eat. Food. Yum.
To reflect on what's written
It's the 19th of April. Closing to the first update. Still daily headaches.
I have in this brief update taken on a toll to add thoughts I should have written, come up with afterwards or just needed to clarify.
First off, I been having a quick Q&A with a very kind and helpful teacher at school on how to refer properly to other sources and material. Needless to say, the academic world likes books, and the guidelines are written in books, for books, with books in mind. This is about what I wrote, and what she replied, translated into English ofcourse, so all ev. typos are mine and mine alone.
- My inane rabblings.
[...]when it comes to referenses, you should write as much as needed for the reader to find to the book, website, film, quote etc that you're referring to. The way it's done so far is ok in my oppinion. If you directly quote from a book (ie. copy exactly what's written, and that means every single word, or what's been said for that matter) you have to specify the whole reference along with page. If you're referring to a discussion from a specific book, you can write author, and perhaps the chapter if it's fairly specified, or just author, title, year and publisher. If you only want to drop names, then that's ok.
I think you should follow the principle of helping the reader to find, ie. if he or she becomes interested and self wants to read the book you're referring to, or check the game you're writing about, then shall you contribute with the information necessary[...]
- the helpful reply of Ingela Edkvist.
The second thing I should bring up is the character design of the main heroine. She's white. Caucasian? I have no real knowledge in racial labeling, but she's as white as an Englander in July. There's a few reasons, and you COULD claim that the setting is placed in an anglosaxian enviroment (or atleast west-mid European) around the end of the prime colonial days, thus making her apperance most fittingly white.
Another thing is my aim to not make her into a sexual object, mentioning The Maxx as a guideline, which was a stupid mistake. The girls in Maxx are chubby and hot, because honestly guys (and girls for that matter), curves puts the "hot" in "hottie", and a fair amount of bodily fat is NOT the same as "instant de-hotifying". The characters of the Maxx are CHARACTERS and attractive at the same time, eluding all stereotypes and trends of modern day comics. My Alice (it's the name of the girl, remember?) is supposed to stand beside the whole attraction element, being a more or less androgyn character, but with a vidid character. This sounded even more confusing. Hmm..
Howard (the duck) has been left out of the discussion since I more or less have not pondered upon this creation at all in the same amount as I have on Alice. Perhaps he is a sidekick (ab)used for comic relief, but I dunno. He's role is probably more like a tool of drawing out information with discussion between him and Alice. There's dramathurgical and psychological reasons aswell, which I can not bring up, because it would spoil the comic. But I can say that there is such reasons, sit back and smile evily so.
Thirdly (yes, all that character nonsense was just one thing), I have just finished the first 4 pages, thus placing me ahead of schedule. I aim to publish them, along with the needed P.D. on Tuesday (that's the 26th for those of you who care). This because I want to make the work atleast a week in advance. This is in case I get really ill, or just plain loco, and don't manage to deliver in time. I see an honour in delivering in time, and hope I will never fail to do this. Pity I am my own editor, although being your own editor is perhaps even worse.
All this text and no images. That's really bad. Better spice up the P.D. with more images from now on.
The first pages online!
..and a bunch of technicalities..
If you have not allready read the first 4 pages of the comic, I suggest you do so now. Link here for you lazy sob's. There's a bunch of discussion around this, but let us first of decide the comic as a whole.
I have in the project description discussed the matter of format and online presentation. It was rather clear that I had to deal with a format where the width is greater than the height. I also set out to make the comic atleast readable in a 800x600 resoultion (ie. NO SCROLLING). Yes, this is crucial. No point in simulating paper, it's a screen we're dealing with, and you SHOULD be able to see the whole page at the same time (unless you use a bundle of extras in your browser, in which I accept no responsebility of your reading experience. Hah.) This led me in a series of experiments to a suitable format of 700x420 pixels. 700 because I think that is the minimum size, and 420 because it fitted exactly into a 800x600 resolution. But why not a greater width? I didn't want them to get too much of a size difference, remember the format of perfection folks. 1,618:1. The number of the beast if you believe the gnostics. Either way, I decided on this format, and wouldn't budge!
And ofcourse there's ammediate problems. The normal layout, as used on every page except the P.D. and comic pages, would simply not fit into 800x600. And the reason is the logo being 16 itty bitty pixels to big. So, I have spent a good amount of hours just making a suitable layout for the comic pages.
I do NOT want to make a unique html-page for every god dam comic, especially since it's so easily functionalized. So I set out a simple script to write out the imgae source, aswell as the navigation links. But I couldn't get the script to just write out what I wanted, where I wanted, so in the end, the script writes out the whole god dam page's html-code, set in one long string. If you know how to make this work better, do NOT mail me. I'll keep it this way just out of spite. Hah!
And now for something interesting
The story, and you have read, have you not, starts out with a bang. The aftermath more or less "stolen" from the greatest show ever, Invader Zim (Nickelodeon, Jhonen Vasques), in which a seemingly impossible cliffhanger where the current protagonists are trapped between gun toting droids, is followed by them rolling into a fully trashed car, dressed in beaversuits, stating "Wow, the was an incredible escape!" I concur. Albeit, I don't aim for the comical value here, it's all set out to quickly throw you into the comic, creating a hopefully interesting enigma. Who are they, what are they running from, and why does Howard (the duck, remember?) wear that wig? And were she wearing a ballet skirt? WTF?
Also, something important for me, is to place the reader into the seemingly everyday life of the protagonist, thus avoiding introductory information. Dialogue is the key, but informative dialogue is a) Obvious and b) Boring. They really don't state anything but that the fact that the box contains some form of "loot", the duck wears a wig he usually does not ("You can take that off...") and they're about to go home. They don't even mention each other names, because frankly, when did you and your friend call each other by names EVER in every day discussions? Huh? Thought so.
This is a problem in the same sense it's a possebility. I think the opening discussion clearly give some input to both characteristics and their relationship. But it's not a clear presentation of the protagonists, it's vauge and requires more reading, reading which right now does not exist (well, 2 pages of more reading, and 4 pages worth of storyboard, but you get my drift, don't you?). Either way, the last frame on page 2 is crucial, because that's virtually the first image of both characters (not counting the splash page, but you can't really see them), and I pondered some time on how to present them in a good way. The "escape" line being particulary fitting, and to that some good ol' enthusiasm contra not-so-much-enthusiasm. Yes!
To the right, you have seen the storyboard of the first pages. Yup. I read that. Albeit, every professional editor would throw such scraps in my face, when just working with yourself, you can make rather sloppy script layouts. Although, it does change while I work on the actual pages. As you can see, both page 2, 3 and 4 has gotten additional frames - frames I thought they needed for storytelling purposes.
What about how they're done? Well yes, that is a good question. I long debated whether I should make plain lineart or grayscale. Flipping through some examples, I came to the conclusion that grayscale gives so much to the readability that it simply HAD to be grayscale. But how? Through computers? By hand? When on our field trip to Brüssels, we went to the resident Museum of Comics (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée). Gouging my eyes out at the beautiful craftsmanship, I swiftly decided that by hand is the way to go. Thus, I bought black and white gouache, and some miscellanous materials, and that was that.
So quite simply, I sketch it all out with a blue pencil-esque pen, ink with brushes and markers, and finally put down some grays with brush and gouache. Since this makes me make everything on the same piece of paper, I don't have any sketches to show. And I like it that way. The sketches always look better in some way.. erhmm..
What more to add? Oh yes. "Bertha".. well what would you name a catamaran? Or any type of vehicle with that good ol' robust feeling.
It's a routine..
Second update, ahoy!
So here we are. Well atleast I am, you are not here until you read this, which can be anytime inbetween now (my now) and oblivion (5th of May 2006 according to some sources). Either way, there's some issues to discuss, and I would prefer if you read pages 5-8 before reading this, or the other way around. Either way, it's good if you knew what the hell I'm referring to. Link for lazy sobs here.
And thus we're back with the storyboards. This being ofcourse a tad bit more detailed, since it actually needed to consist out of more. But as before, I write dialogue really tiny, and have problems reading it later on.
..with an exception for the tryouts you can find here and there. When I'm uncertain on how to place the words neatly, I resort to testing it. It's also wise when you really need to pin down the exact phrases, suitable for the task. I love dialogue. I enjoy dialogue, and I try to maintain a feel where the dialogue is not only a tool of giving information, but a vent of the characters soul. This sounds like new age-bullscheisse - it's not - I just try to make characters be alive. And frankly, everyone does not make perfect speeches, nor do they have the courtesy to let other do them. But quite easy, I try to make the dialogues feel natural and unforced. Only you know if I've succeded in the task.
You may also notice that the pages grow vaguer and vaguer, the last page basically totally erased. There's a logical reason, I had no idea on how to end this suitable. It's a common problem, I experience it now making pages 9-12 aswell. It flows smoothly until I must make some kind of ending. The updates should consist of a resonable amount of reading, story development, and hopefully some sort of closure (A start, a content and a stop) The last page was a bit of a problem, since I needed to storywise tweak more content into a short space. The solution was finally a drop down view and some layout-tricks to portray more time, and give focus to "father's" last line.
The father yes. But we'll wait and go towards the house. I had many thoughts on the actual premises of the protagonists home, but my thoughts never wandered further than a) Smaller building with a b) cool tower and those function as the tip of the iceberg since c) a major gate on the cliffside show a bit of what's inside. I've never worked much with plans and architecture, and frankly, since the house is displayed from afar, little such effort was needed. But it was crucial to understand how the interior was placed, so I didn't mess up the camera angles once inside. These sketches is basically squares and scribbles, totally boring, but you can see one of them beside the house sketch on the storyboard picture above. The house didn't need that much design though, since Alice won't spend that much time inside it afterwards. (What? She's leaving? Where? That's for me to know and you to find out.. Hah!)
Onward to "father". First name still undecided. May be Arthur, Philip or perhaps Richard. It really doesn't matter. Surname decided, but you won't know that one yet. Hah! This design is quite stereotypical, but there's a bigger reason to it. Outwards, he's a gnomy gearhead in every aspect. All he need's a Austrian dialect and lederhosen to really be over the top, but I like him. Here's where character get's beyond their seemingly 1-dimensional appearance, even though that won't show until later updates. "Father" cares dearly for his daughter, yet seem troubled. What troubles him you say? Say what you want, I won't tell..
But the actual visual design. That sketch to the left is about where his face really got going. I never sketched him out really, he just turned out swell one day after turning bad others. But as Alice, his real appearance didn't come out until he actually showed up within the comic. These first panels are so crucial in portraying a character, and you want them just to be right. His clothing were never a problem. A vest, some pants, a roomy shirt and some shawl-esque garment. And the wig ofcourse. The wig is crucial! I love those wigs..
Making these indoor pages were hard. It's a dim lightning, or rather a sharply defined lightsource, and adding darkness yet withhold readability was tough and tiresome. I long those desert panels, but it was nice though. I like to play with lights in more ways than just help defining objects and areas. There's also so much possebilities in fooling the eyes and directing them where you want them to be. It is also very boring since the paper I used where not that good in usual watercolor/gouache techniques for making vast areas of practically the same shade of gray. And after a while, you've stared yourself blind on the page, not being able to see anything at all. This is something I experience whenever I make a comic. In the end, you've seen the picture so many times, you've forgotten how to see it. You never know how someone will see it the first time they see it, and how they will read it for that matter. Only time will tell, both for you and your readers.
Making this, I've stepped over the deadline with 2 days. I still have time on my hands, and currently, I've catched up one day of the two, but I need to stay focused. There will not be a delay in the updates. Never! I hope.
It's too much of a routine..
How I stopped worrying and learned to loathe the job.
With the third update of pages comes realisation and revelation. First off, I think the P.D. is not the documentation I wanted it to be. It lacks the indepth discussion on all stuff I wanted to debate, and those things I do take up, I can't take up into too much detail since it'll ruin the story for the readers. I have also come to the conclusion that it's an impossible task to accomplish, so I'll try different ways of documenting my process now.
But first, there's the former "miss Rosengard" to debate. The evil stepmother is an amusing cliché, and almost crucial for that fairytale value. I've taken on the task of giving life to such a shallow character, and more important, the relationship between Alice, "miss Rosengard" and the father. These first sketches show how I aim to portray arrogancy and supremacy, with the exception of the bottom-right face there. It turned out to friendly, but a combination of the arrogancy and the kindness worked best, as seen in the actual pages. That 3-panel non-existant dialogue is my darling scene, and probably the one I'll love the most throughout the whole first chapter. But enough about that.
Emma, cause that's here name, should and has her reasons to act as she does - it is not mere spite. The role of stepmothering is a thorned path, on both sides, and everybody has their own problems. She's deliberatly pictured as every other Disney-stepmother, with less eyeshadow ofcourse, and I aim for her to appear such aswell. Atleast the first scenes.
So what about Alice's mother? Wait and see, I guess..
Then we have the Raiders. And the Raiding-chief. This design is also a bit funny. As the name shows, we're dealing with someone who usually is not living in such conditions, nor does he want to. The chieftain is your typical B-class villain, made to add spice and conflict to the path of the character. And what villain is complete without a pet in their lap. The dog/rodent's role is to increase the sense of stiff-upper-lip and perhaps work as comical relief later on. As you can see, I've put down not nearly enough work and love into this character if you compare with the Others. Perhaps he'll evolve, but for this chapter, his characteristics must remain stereotypical, or they'll hinder the story development. Who knows what will happen in the future?
Now, how to describe the process further. I can tell you this. The indoor scenes were among the easier (less darkness, simpler coloring), but also more difficult. We've gone through the establishing scenes, and there isn't much graphically appealing going on now, nor should it. And when the scenes get more mellow, I find myself adding symbolism more and more, aswell as a comic-trick or two.
For instance, this is a trick mind you; In page 10, the last panel, Alice looks up at the framed drawing. The drawing being in the top-right panel. It's not that it has any meaning whatsoever, it's just that I feel all giddy and clever, and the page layout becomes more complete. There must be reason with every panel. How big, what form, what position? The way of making your characters seemingly look, aim, reach etc for something within their world, but in the same time relating to the actual page and layout, is a way to add symbolic features to a seemingly straight forward story. Not that ALice looking at her drawing is symbolically. It's more fitting that she's looking up into the sky if you'd ask me... ..ooOOooooOOOo..
More subtler approaches, and thus near impossible for the reader to pick-up other than at a subconscious level at best can be to relate to objects working as symbols. Everyday garments, accessories or simple everyday objects may hint about actions to come. Ofcourse, a wellplaced dialogue or expression may do the same thing. I find these highly amusing to make, and I love it when I find one in some other persons work. It feels like they communicate to you in another level, and the things you almost sensed is perfectly clear. I hope these lines doesn't send you out in wild hunts for hidden messages, it's not like I litter the comic with them. But there's some.. hidden.. hee hee..
I've know, writing this, starting to feel the stress and pressure of making 4 pages a week. It's not that it takes time to make really, but I have other things to do, like this text for instance. I don't own a computer, so I head up to the school, scanning, writing etc. I eat and sleep bad, and have aches in various bodyparts. Still, I lie 1 week ahead of schedule, as planned, so I can live with a vacation towards the end of the project.
And when's the end? I think it'll be a total of 6 updates that're dealing with chapter 1. This makes me through half of it. Not that I'll drop CoR when the project has ended, but it'll be on a months halt or similar due to me; moving, finding a job, trying to make it into the drawing business and trying to maintain a resonable relationship with my darling. CoR will change, the way the pages are made will probably be altered in some way, but I don't know how just right now. THAT is something I don't need to deal with during the project, so what you'll get from me is 3 more updates (perhaps 4, but 3 certain!.. I think) and the end of the project, the P.D. and chapter 1 at the 31th of May.
Can I mention routine in more ways?
Pillows I tell you! Pillows!
Behind this rather awkward front lies an even stupider content. This update is tough I tell you, and I have fallen behind on the schedule. But you know what? I don't even care. And it feels kind of good. Not in the way where everything is peachy and fine, but in the way where there's a knot in my stomach telling me "Well boy, you should have worked but on the other hand, the weekend was splendid." And it was too. But that's not important, what's important is the comic, the update and this text.
As I wrote earlier, I don't know really how to structure the updates, and the wanted communication with readers have been reduced to zip. Zero. Null. On the other hand, it's rather nice. All artists are touchy with their work, and yours truly aint an exception. Having other but in on your work can be annoying, unless it's very close friends you discuss matters more light-hearted with. And That's when you can find a solution to those really big problems. I'm graduating from the school now in June and I'll miss them. And I'll miss having people to discuss scripts with aswell, to a smaller extent ofcourse, but I wonder if that is not the biggest issue after all. I'd always wanted to work in a group, making something that holds together, and by golly if that oppurtunity will just fly by now.
But that wasn't what I wanted to say. I signed up at buzzcomix.com to lure reader in, only to find that the server was down in flames the very next day. Great.. I'm looking for a suitable ring to join, or perhaps I'll ask if some webcomic wants to make a trade of banners. It'll be happening tomorrow I guess.
But who cares. You're here because you fancy CoR or you Googled for police departments. Either way, let's get going on dissecting this 4-paged update:
It was a fun but tough update. Fun and tough because I can finally draw Alice in more varied facial expressions. She's been holding the same two moods throughout the whole first 3 updates, and now we get to work on drama. Drama I tell you! I've never worked with these kind of discussions before, and it was rather awkward. You desperatly try to maintain focus and care for characters, and not just ruin the feel completely. Bad acting can ruin the best of scripts, and I don't think I'm good at script writing, so I better draw that acting well. And is it? Is it not? Over the top, or even numb? And ofcourse, I must ease the tragedy out and strengthen the friendship Howard and Alice inbetween, as not to make the cliffhanger too.. too much. Because frankly, I think the actual ending is the biggest cliffhanger yet, perhaps not as subtle as before, but rather rough and frank. And it'll go downhill from now on. But that's just because I know what'll happen. And you don't. Heh heh..
I don't know if I'm just more used to what I want to do, and thus making pages quicker, or I'm getting lazy and that has a poor effect on image quality. Either way, pages seem quicker and quicker to make, but I still think I achieve what I want to achieve. I could raise the bar, but on the other hand, it feels good to not have to stress yourself into oblivion. I have, as aformentioned, a "one week in advance"-deadline, which makes these 4 pages ready and done allready when update 3 was posted. This is ont true now, I lie two days behind again, but I still lie five days in advance so I'll just stop to care and carry on as nothing has happened. Because when the clock strikes twelve, the 31th of May, the last update will be posted, and I do not need to make more in a couple of weeks. How long CoR will be put on hiatius, I do not know.. still..
What more to say? I don't know.. We'll just say "Pillows!" because it's a rather funny word, and be done with it.
I want a computer!
Second last update and this task is tiresome..
I work like this. I sit in my apartment and make the comics. This is a strictly analogue task, involving pens, ink and paint. When I've made all the pages I stroll up to my school to scan and write these texts. Now, I'm currently feeling poorly. I cough and breath not so well, and walking up to school is not always that pleasant. Not in Hofors. An old studio comrade compared Hofors to Bergen, Norway, and it's a rather splendid comparision - it rains alot, the weather is often poorly to say the least, and such conditions work poorly with sore lungs. To add further problems, I'm trying to take a drivers license and spent the afternoon in a test range last Wednesday. I suspect I twisted something in my back, since immense pain broke out in my chest. I am 20 years old, and I don't like experiencing something that as far as I know resembles a heart attack. Either way, the last 5 days have been a bitch, and not in a good way. Hence, I'd really want to be able to make this job aswell in the safe quarters of home. With warmth. Bliss. Not needing to exit the door unless in pursuit of nutrition. But this will not happen.
On the bright side however is the fact that this is the second last update, and the last is when I'm writing this, only two pages from completion. It is unfortunate if you like the comic since the inevitable hiatius storms even closer, but good for me.
The pages then. I set out to make the layouts more interesting this time. I have so far worked almost precisly with classic european layout, and it is suitable but also boring sometimes. When dealing with these enviroments, I felt an need to spice things up a bit. The "bleedings" (as when an image goes all the way out on the page) is something I often utilize, but just havn't been working much with here. I think it has something to do with the horizontal page layout and me being unused to such a format.
Storywise, we're reaching climax. This chapter has contained as a catalyst of events, or rather the whole storyline - and we're not done yet. I'll ponder more on this as the last update is online and kicking. For now, I won't bother.
A friend told me a embarressing thing. It seems a word has fallen out in Alice's speech in update 4. And that kind of spoils that scene a bit. I wanted it to be heavy and dramatic, only to find a typo making it (in my eyes) ludicrous. The tough part is that it's not easily corrected either, so it'll just have to stick with it. Not that it is impossible to fix, it is just now not worth the effort. I may fix it before handing in the final set to the school, so let's say a week or two?
I have recently thought about the structure. Things happen quite fast, and I try to make atleast one major thing happen in every update, and also make a good ending inbetween them. My scripts are basically a chronological list of actions that will take place, and then I decide on what will go into which update. It's mosly in the line of "Hmm.. can I make this interesting in 4 pages, and will that really need an additional 4 pages?" It's all in the 4 pages, since that's the way it's updated. This makes the story, when reading it all in one sitting, very quick, perhaps too quick and hastily, but in light of it's publication, I do not think so. If I really wanted to get down and dirty, I'd make 20 pages every month instead, but somehow that is not that suitable for internet publication. It is just a pity that a possible album-ification just wouldn't be that good of a story.
I'm really hungry. Will go eat. Yum.
My girlfriend and I argued over my work pace. She basically said I was slowly destroying myself, and, well, shes right. I can't go on doing this, well aleast not when I'm doing other things aswell. The thing is, making a project means you can slowly punish yourself to oblivion - because you wont reach oblivion within the project time. Then comes the rehab period, a week of lazyness and frustration of being lazy. But I am rather psyched right not. I'm graduating. I have no idea what'll I do next. Where do I move, what do I do? These things stress me allright, making me very close to the breaking point. This is the sole reason why I feel poorly, cough and have fae heart attacks. I just can't help it...
It has ended..
And thus, a legacy is born.. or perhaps not.
Well, yeah, I guess this is cliffhanger galore at its worst. All brand spanking with a set of promises of what be next. Alice and Howard now has no strings attached, and everything is set up for a road movie of a life time. In this sense, I guess I have moved towards a more manga-inspired storytelling, without turning to the symbol language of our Asian comrades. Well, I don't feel that at ease with making such a language, but I am very fascinated by the storytelling techniques. But rather enough about that. What we have here, as Chapter 1 is basically a set-up where the two main characters; the heroine Alice and the sidekick Howard, is placed in a dire situation. This is tale-basis 1a - the protagonists balance and harmony is destroyed, and the tale is a struggle to reinstate balance. Alice and Howard does however not live that a conflictless life in the first place, but these events places their lifes onto a knifes edge. Homeless, "parentless" and in dangerous enviroments - this is when the adventure REALLY gets going.
And that is a shame, isn't it. I've spent 24 pages on setting up adventures that WILL be, instead of telling an adventure that WAS. On the other hand, that was the task in question. What this chapter does is; a) presenting characters, b) presenting the enviroment and c) deliver a set-up for a continous tale which I will hopefully continue to work with after my school times are over and it is time to make a living.
I have now reached about the climax of drama, and the final pages is more a more a mellowing and post scriptum-esque addition. Yeah, it more or less ended in the 5th update, and if we'd have commercial breaks, that were they'd cut for "these messages from our sponsors". Either way I really don't have much to add at this stage.
So what is next? What truly is next? Just as Alice asks, me myself has no real idea. Will I even continue to work on this "gem", or does it fall into the oblivion of hiatus? Does it matter? It's a strange feeling being "done" with something that can't be done with. This is the School project at its completion, and this is what I'll hand in to judgement.
In short, this has been an interesting experience. On one hand, I've never made 24 pages of continuing story. The longest I've done is 16 pages. I now feel that bigger amount of pages is almost crucial to tell a story. Where I before had problems structuring up a story, it now feels hard to make something only 4 pages long. It has also been great to practice my knowledge of goauche painting, aswell as inking. The deadline was a bit of a rough ride, but I had no bigger problems making it.
On the other hand, I have been stressed out of my mind, mainly because I try to take a drivers license and maintain a resonable relationship with my girlfriend (which has suffered because of this and my compulsive thoughts that hovered like a vulture around it..) But also because I needed to plan my week accordingly to these tasks: Making a page, Scanning and writing, Try to rest. This be a day of scanning and writing, and frankly, it's among the worst one yet, but I don't care anymore. I need rest, and I will rest for a week or so after this. And try to regain a couple of the about 10kg worth of weight I've lost during the whole 2 years of studying. I will DEFINATLY in my future studio have means of scanning and internet access, so I do not need to fiddle around with pages in such a way ever again. Because frankly, multiple work places makes me go bananas. Also, the pages feel rushed, I could have put down much more work in them than I've had. But 4 pages a week is tough business. I'll try making 2 or 3 in the future, and put down some real effort in them. This will probably ruin the page layout however. Future CaR will have another layout, I'm pretty sure of it.
With these words, I thank you for your interest and patience. I hope you enjoyed the comics much more than I enjoyed making them. Until we meet again.
Peace and Love