Tuesday, January 5, 2010

That's a What Blog's For, Silly!

So this month of January, for me, in my Earthbound comics duties, is deadline fever.  I'm prepping 3 (possibly 5) books to be ready in time for March and April conventions.  I seem to be mostly ahead of the game though...

My big big project is getting the Mastorism trade paperback volume ready, which, last night, meant I had to write a forward for the book (for lack of a better term--  I coaxed Jeff into writing an introduction).  All the while, putting this thing together I had thought about how far I had come from the first page...  but it really wasn't until I really put my head into writing the forward that I truly analyzed and saw the scope of how transformative a process this volume of Mastorism was.

I mean, I certainly knew that I grew as an artist.  A quick comparison between the prelude and the epilogue would convince anyone of that.  And as a writer, I likely also grew.  One of the things I noted in my forward was having to adapt the story, hitting the beats, so that it worked well as a bi-weekly webcomic but also as chapters and finally as a full story.  (Not to sound like a pretentious snob, but there is most certainly a difference between developing a story to be presented as a webcomic at certain regular intervals versus just posting your story comic on the web.)  So there was significant (and documented) growth in those areas, and pretty much every day that I completed a page, I was reminded of those things.

But the look back brought to light some other transformations that I hadn't ever stopped to consider, which are interesting to dwell on.  At least momentarily:

Webcomics.  My views on webcomics have practically done a complete 180 since the early development of Mastorism.  While my first run of Explosion Proof was more or less an experiment for myself to see the ins and outs, process wise, of getting a book created and published, even with a heavy promotion effort on my part, it seemed nigh on impossible to do what I wanted with a print publication.  What I wanted, of course, was to reach an audience.  A few message board chats  with DJ Coffman turned me on to the concept of publishing my story as a webcomic.  It was still swimming upstream. 

At the time webcomics had almost zero appeal to me, so why would I want to do that with my own comic?  But I persisted, learned everything I could (DJ was an amazing resource)--  today, not only has my own comic been relatively successful in the webcomic arena, but I'm a totally converted webcomics reader.  Totally part of that scene, to the point where, in this blog, I'm working to have a weekly webcomic feature.  I care about them that much. 

Digital Art.  Okay.  I noticed this.  In fact, many people know me as digital art/wacom evangelist.  Its one of my favorite subjects.  But the thing is, I can't remember when I wasn't.  Unless I think about it, that is.  Because two years ago I thought my Wacom tablet was a waste of money.  The REAL truth about how I came to make the digital jump is this:  I can't draw fast enough the traditional way.  Pure and simple.

You see, I had originally set out to draw Mastorism 100% traditionally.  In fact, I have one or two of the first pages drawn out traditionally (what you see published, though, are digital re-works), and about 2 or 3 more pages with the panels delineated that I never even got to.  I had dedicated myself to getting 2 pages done a week, and working traditionally was simply not cutting it.  Traditionalists like to sit an argue that traditional art is actually faster (they seem to think that us digital artists spend half the day hitting ctrl-z simply because its there), but I think its more up to the individual, and for THIS individual it cuts several steps from my process, and is just way way way WAY faster in excecution for me.  So I forced myself to learn to first ink, and shortly after also draw digitally.  And I never looked back. 

Okay okay, I look back all the time.  My wife would totally bust me on that since I've bought like 45 cheapo brushes (and one expensive one) hella pads of paper, pens, nibs, etc over the last two years.  I actually nerd out on that stuff.  Buuuut, when I want to get something done, I'll flip on the computer, and its most certainly how I define myself as an artist.

So, those are two of the biggies... there are some others, but I'll spare you for the time being.  You can see why I chose not to expand on these in the forward, or half the book would be just me writing about how much I changed during the book. 

That's a what blog's for, silly!

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