So why do a work log? I got this idea from the Comics Experience forums where comics writers keep a work log. It is very interesting, to me at least, to read someone else's process, and there's a lot going on in the process that forget about eventually.
But, as my 3-year-old daughter would ask, "why?" Several reasons. It is a place for me to document the decisions I made, to explain to my future self why I made a dumb decision. It is for those few people out there (hi mom, dad!) who may be interested in the process, and it feels nice to finish something once in a while. It keeps you going. The project I am now working on is the biggest one so far, so a regular schedule where I release a journal entry in which I write down how things are going will, hopefully, help me keep momentum.
So, for the first installment: what am I working on?
I'm finally ... going to be pitching a book to publishers!
I've decided to create a "pitch package": something to send to publishers to see if they are interested. I have five stories scripted; five theater plays that are in the public domain and which I adapt to comics form. I've chosen public domain theater plays for now, but I hope I can find playwrights interested in seeing their plays adapted too. I could imagine there being a market for such adaptations; people who were curious about specific plays but who have busy lives and can't make the time to go to the theater all that often.
The pitch package will simply be a rough prototype of what the book would look like, the inside pages sketched. The book would be accompanied with a cover letter explaining what I'd want from the publisher (to publish my book, and maybe even work with me in an editorial capacity), and why I think this book would be suitable for them.
The book will be designed to be a coffee table magazine, and its tentative title will be "Coffee Table Theater Plays". The vision is of a book as a beautiful object, a magazine you pick up at the dentist to read a theater play or two while waiting.
I am drawing so-called thumbnails of the panels right now and glueing the stories together to see if the pacing works and if it's a pleasurable read. Kind of a first draft, a fully thumbnailed anthology of short comics.
I plan to have the book printed in A4 format or maybe slightly bigger, but smaller than A3, because it has to be a coffee table magazine and read pleasantly, so it has to be big, but at the same time it has to fit on the shelves of a book case.
I want to send this book to 20+ publishers I have found that might be interested in this project, and I will send them the book with the thumbnails, an "ashcan", meaning "a book to be tossed into the ...", to see if they would potentially be interested in this project, and if they would be interested in being involved early, as I'd imagine an editor might be.
My plan is to have regular status updates here, with some art to show how the project is progressing.
The book currently weighs in at around 130 pages, but this may change a little as I thumbnail the panels. I find I throw around the script a lot still while drawing the panels.
I've made a schedule. At the moment, it is very hard to estimate how much time it will take, but there is no exernally-imposed deadline, at least for now, so I'll just focus on the quality, I'll focus on the stories reading pleasantly and I'll give that precedence over meeting production targets.
The planning puts the finish date somewhere in the first half of 2017. I don't even know if I can do one, or two pages of thumbnails a day. That's a factor of two in the planning right there.
The books are kind of expensive to print so I'll only be sending them around to potential publishers, but when they're finished, you can read the stories online.
I am thumbnailing Johan August Strindberg's theater play "The Stronger" at the moment. Strindberg is considered the father of modern Swedish literature. The play considered whether married or unmarried women are better off in 1889. The power of the play lies in that he leaves it in the middle, leaving the audience to reach their own conclusion.
Above is a thumbnail from the short comic. I drew them digitally with a cheap wacom in Gimp. It's just a very fast way to compose quick digital sketches. The panels are designed to be composed of abstract shapes of white and gray, to be replaced by mid-tone colors to be decided upon at a later stage.
Thumbnails are an incredibly fun part of the process. You get to just play and tell yourself it isn't the last version so it doesn't have to be perfect, and at the same time the looseness of the sketches gives them a lively quality of their own. Maybe I should go with a loose drawing style for at least part of the book also. Because the next steps involve making more involved versions of these panels: first laying them out on paper, then doing a more precise pencil drawing. After that, the panels are inked, scanned and colored. It's a rather laborious but fun process.
, I hope you'll follow my on my journey, and until next time!
The goal is to have something to send to publishers, to see if they'd be intested in publishing something like this in its finished form.
I finished the thumbnails for "Warrior's Lament". It wasn't easy puzzling together the photo reference for it, but I think I like how the pacing came out. At any length, I'm putting it away for a while so I can return to it with a fresh pair of eyes. And an editor indicated he may have time to give me feedback on it also, so I'll wait for that.
So on I go, working on the theater play comics.