i’ve started yet another new comic which i was originally calling ‘the penn’ but am now calling ‘ZOOLOGY’. there are still many decisions to be made.
above is a pencil draft of a cover for the first chapter of the story. one of the many decisions that must soon be made is whether i’m going to break the story up into chapters, issues, or if i should hold off on that altogether and print it as one long story. if i was to do it that way, would there still be any need to divide it up into chapters? how long should the chapters be? the first one is only 6 pages, which i realize simply isn’t long enough to be printed by itself unless i release it as part of another anthology. but ugh, i don’t think that’s the right way to go about this. i think i only feel the need to rush out anthologies because i’m eager to have something to show people. i just want to impress the pretty girls so badly! if i was to start releasing them in issues, i figure i would need around 30-40 pages of content per issue- and i’m still not sure how long the story is even going to be.
above is the original doodle that inspired it all. at the time i started drawing this first first panel, i was looking at this youtube video by a group called oOoOo. the song is called ‘No Shore.’ i was in love with the mickey mouse cartoon which was featured in the video and wanted to mimic what i was seeing. i was also reading my copy of carl barks’ ‘lost in the andes‘ as well as having just read ‘the left bank gang‘ by jason (everything i do seems to derive from something much better). i had also just finished watching HBO’s The Sopranos series at the time. all that sort of inspired me to start writing an anthropomorphic noir, crime drama style comic set somewhere in the 1930s or 40s. i’m mostly drawn to the ‘simpler time’ aspect of that time period, before technology made everything so ‘hard to get away with.’
i have reluctantly begun cleaning up the drawings with photoshop. it detracts from the raw look i was originally going for.
the problem is that i really wanted to flaunt all the whiteout textures, extra lines, pen scratches and so forth, which i’m doing my best to leave in, but that magic wand tool tends to remove much of the original evidence of human endeavor from the final drawings. but i’ve decided digital revision is necessary because i’ve been drawing these comics out of my sketchbook so far which creates shadows form the pages binding when i scan them. it’s too distracting and ugly and i’ve decided from now on to always do the drawings on a loose sheet of paper. at the time i began- i was thinking more about the aesthetics of my sketchbook than i was about how the artwork would look once its scanned for reproduction.
at first i was only going to clean up the white space behind the panel boxes, but things became more complicated when i started doing dream sequences in pencil. i wanted to distinguish the dreams from reality by giving them a softer, fuzzier touch and by using gradating techniques to imply tone rather than cross-hatching. this created the need for all drawings that were done in ink to be completely black/white, which means that much to my displeasure i have to go into the actual panels and start removing all the grays created by shadows, smudges, etc. before revising with photoshop, the entire page was one smudgy tone of gray and in the scanned version you could hardly tell the middle panel was done with ink while all the others were in pencil.
i have a loose idea of what will happen in the story, but most of it is still just ‘in my head.’ the first couple of pages weren’t very planned out at all, i just started drawing and writing as i went. but maybe after the first 3 or 4 i started making plans for the characters and have since roughed out a general plot, and now i find myself writing a page worth of content at a time and then drawing it out in my sketchbook, then writing the next page, etc.
i’m trying to figure out a way to add a dimension of surrealism into the story. like maybe create a universe where a character could be walking off a cliff and not fall until he realizes there’s no ground beneath him, but i really don’t see how it would fit in here. i certainly can’t start dropping safes on people and expect them to walk out of it with nothing but a few stars circling round their heads in a story where i expect to kill characters off. this is where the use of drugs might come in handy. i was definitely considering having one of the main characters shoot heroin with a prostitute, and his drug induced perspective would be done in both pen and pencil to reflect the lucidity of his state. LSD is also an option here, as the drug was invented in 1938, HOWEVER, it wasn’t discovered to be a psychedelic until 1943…
which leads to two other issues. one is the use of color. do i colorize this? the carl barks book i’ve been reading has me wanting to introduce a simplified, limited, vibrant color palette into the panels. but what medium do i use? watercolors? (which i have little experience with). colored pencil? (too much texture, too fuzzy and would detract from the simplicity). photoshop? (too heartless and frustrating). also, would the penciled flashbacks look as good in color as they do right now in black and white? (i would HAVE TO use colored pencils for those).
other problems i’m dealing with have to do with the setting. i’m trying to address contemporary issues such as the extinction of the middle class, corruption of capitalism, etc, but is all that going to be relevant for the period i have picked out? so far it seems ok, i could just say they animals economy is still trying to recover from their 1929 great depression and make allusions to a second world war slowly brewing in the background of what is going on in the main story. but there are other social dynamics i want to establish but am unsure of how i will do it without being too obvious. i want different animals to represent different classes and ethnicities within society. for instance, dogs and cats should be from the suburbs, since they are the most common household pets and domesticated animals. so most- but not all- dogs and cats would be assumed to have grown up in a bourgeois environment. i’m seeing them as two brands of white folk, such as italian-americans and irish-americans.
the rats would be among the more impoverished members of the society. their penchant for reproducing in large numbers and reputation for being such mangy survivors makes them seem like a perfect choice for such a role. pigs, cats, and various predatory animals would be ideal for businessmen and politicians. there would also be a mafia syndicate ran exclusively by wolves called ‘The Black Paw’ which is a play on the ‘The Black Hand.’
but i wanted to balance all of this segregation out with interspecies sex! any two animals can have sex, fall in love and start a family in this universe. i want there to be a stork adoption agency which would be the preferred way of starting a family. two animals of any species fall in love, then order a baby of some kind from the stork. the trouble for the rat community would be that no one would want a baby rat, leaving many young rats homeless and left to fend for themselves.
other problems revolve around not wanting to start any pages over in fear of tarnishing the aesthetics of the sketchbook and not having a very interesting story. bad writing. ugh.
talk about thoughtboxed! this latest entry is packed to the brim with worries and concerns over a lousy ten pages worth of drawings. i think it’s funny how sometimes the most time consuming part of the process is wrapping ones head around all these silly issues over a comic i’m sure no one will end up reading anyways. ha. c’est la vie, i guess.