This traditional method does not apply exclusively to fine art but also extends to my comic, C’est La Mort, as well as to the bulk of my writing (with the exception of Aplasia, which I approach in “blog entry” fashion as described here). What this means is that any work I create is likely inscribed in no less than two different physical books: at least one sketchbook and at least one notebook. If it’s a narrative work, there will also be a dedicated catch-all book just for that project. Once filled I start a second volume, and sometimes I have multiple dedicated journals.
While C’est La Mort retains a rough, sketchy, old school indie comic feel overall as it’s traditionally drawn in opaque rather than washy ink, it undergoes multiple passes during the creation process. My method doesn’t differ significantly ways from other comic artists, but as I’ve been asked about my work habits a few times I thought to outline the phases here:
· Initial written rough: this includes a scrawl of stray thoughts, ideas, tie-ins and eventually the actual script for each chapter. Written by hand in pencil in a dedicated notebook, this is first recorded and then recited verbally to at least one party. As I read aloud, I make additional notes and edits. The listener acts as a sounding board and we discuss it. Additional changes may be made after this chat, or if I am still uncertain about something I will seek out another sounding board for an additional opinion.
· Small thumbnails: these are drawn up at the same time as the rough script. This two-part initial stage is one of the slowest processes, as I spent most of that time thinking, reflecting, flipping through notes, sketches and the Story Thus Far. These first thumbs are used primarily for panel layouts, although occasionally I will write in some of the text or draw a loose version of what I want to illustrate in the panel(s).
· Half-down thumbnails: still rough, these are drawn in color and set up the look of each page. When I create these I invariably edit the script, adjusting text and imagery. While the half-down thumbs are a more solid state for the pages, they are not copied verbatim when translating to the actual finished pages.
· Final pages: The full-size final form never fully resembles the initial rough script, and is sometimes completely different. While the thumbs are useful, I am often still editing as I work on this last step. Color decisions and facial expressions are the most common changes I make, but at times the entire page design is overhauled.
I thought of making C’est a fully-painted traditional comic or possibly a hybrid traditional/digital work, but after further consideration I felt that the tone of the story is best conveyed in the kitschy style I finally settled on. While aspects have already changed over the portion I’ve completed thus far, by and large it will remain consistent. The next sequential art project I will undertake – that is, the short narrative for Huntress Hood – will be in a different style. The method by which I create it, however, will remain the same.