My WonderCon sales were low this year. As to the socialising, I went to a “costume party” where about 6 people out of 200 actually wore costumes (Rhode and I being 2 of them). So the fun I had at this year’s WonderCon came mostly in making a new book.
After spending years using a fiddly time-consuming process on writing, thumb-nailing and inking my self-published comics, I have recently been looking for a looser, faster style. In order to find it, I have been trying to make MINI comics in a few days as opposed to months as has been the case before. The fast turn-around is in order to stop myself from noodling but I have a hard time keeping drawings clean, clear and appealing when working loosely. I haven’t yet found the style I am looking for, but I am liking the exploration.
I first tried this new approach last year when a professional project ended earlier than expected and I had two weeks worth of extra time before COMIC CON 2007. I decided to make a mini-comic, and in order to do that book quickly, I resolved to work about as loosely as I would normally do my professional story-boards, only draw one panel per page, have proportionally more text and no word-balloons. This removed a lot of the fiddly parts of comic-book layouts and the end result felt like a tiny picture book (at 5.25 inches wide and 3.5 inches tall). A lot of the drawing was very rough, yet I found the whole experience very satisfying. Best of all, I managed to get a 36 page comic book done in just under two weeks, a story about the little dog I got when I was 7 years old entitled, JOCK.
More recently, I decided to make a comic even faster, in a 3-day weekend. This was partly Inspired by some 24 hour comics that I saw done by Benton Jew and Anson Jew. Rather than working 24 hours in a row, I would work an 8 hour day for 3 consecutive days on the President’s Day long-weekend. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to come up with anything I liked in the 3 days that I had set aside. I had a lot of variations on a few ideas but could not figure out which idea I wanted to do. So at the end of the weekend, I abandoned the notion of having something new done in time for WonderCon, which was less than a week away.
Then, on the following Wednesday morning, the ideas I had been toying with the previous weekend clicked into place in my mind and I quickly wrote out a simple little story that I liked a lot; a silly fairy tale about a little girl who lives with a family of bears, entitled THE TINIEST BEAR. With WonderCon beginning only two days away, I knuckled down to see if I could get this idea down on paper in time to sell at the con. In order to do this, I once again decided to work very loosely and at an even smaller size. The finished book was 2.75 inches tall and 4.25 inches wide. These dimensions meant that I could print a whole 16 page mini comic on one sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper (front and back) meaning that I could afford to do it all on my slow-printing ink-jet printer at home.
As it was, I needed 3 days to get it done and I took my laptop and Cintiq in to WonderCon on Friday to do last minute drawing at my booth. I worked on the drawings that same night and printed the pages out on Saturday morning, doing the page trimming and stapling at the Con itself, where the tiny books finally went on sale, as fresh as any comic book could possibly be. I have been “down to the wire” many times but never before to the point that I am actually working on the book at the show where I sold it! I was pretty happy with the story that I had written, and overall I had fun with the “3 day comic” approach. However, in order to get the artwork done in that time-frame, the drawings were very scribbly, which meant that customers weren’t immediately taken in by the artwork when they picked up the book and flipped through it. However, those few who took the time to actually READ the story usually bought it. Maybe next time, I’ll set aside more time for a polishing pass… I would still stick to the 3 days for writing and blocking-out the book and then have another 3 days to finesse the drawings add some tones and make the end result a little more palatable for the customers. It would still be satisfying to get something out under a week.
As to THE TINIEST BEAR, I plan to expand it to the proper length for a story book (24 pages, or maybe 32) and republish it myself, maybe even a colour version for this year’s Comic Con… and perhaps even submit it to a publisher as a proposal for a children’s book. I have more ideas for stories about the little girl and her bear posse… On the other hand, perhaps I might devote the time I have left this year to do other things instead… I have some comics stories that I would love to get cleaned up and put into a new comics book…
we shall see…