Friday, April 20, 2012

My secret other life.

The internet has ended what tiny anonymity I had as a teacher and comics creator.  One day a student put their hand and said" I know what you do. You make comics" Oh I said and how do you know that? " I Google all the new teachers" he said.

I have begun to merge the two professions into one manageable mental space. I teach at a school. I make comics at home. I teach about making comics online.

Below is a cross-post from some comic teaching I do over at to give you a look at some way that you can use blogs to teach interset specific content.  It's just a collection of words and pictures, which incidentally is comics.  zap.

Ideas Take Shape.  But only when you let them.
All my ideas arrive to my subconscious in tiny abused parcels. Inside are disparate broken things with sharp edges and too many pieces.  I collect the ones I like best and see if they make anything. What I’m left with are fragments of dreams, conversations, images, which I scrawl down in messy scribbles on whatever paper is around when the idea strikes.
Once I have that. I take a shot at an image.  Pow.
If it sticks or it brings up new images then I chase that for as long it keeps going.
For my own work I rarely work from a complete script. I write down the beats, the moments and the timing. I draw a map of the plot. I rough out page layouts. This is NOT how most of your favorite comics are made.  But then I do it all (or most of it) myself, which grants me a much different perspective on the creative process.
“Regular” comics have a virtual army of creative talent to get them made. I mean it. Check those credits again, I’m not just talking about the three names on the cover.  All those people require a special sort of organizational drive from editorial.  An original idea leaves the head of the writer, arrives on paper then in a very short time is interpreted by artists (penciler, inker, colorist) and fit into a much larger continuity.  When it works you get something amazing. When it falls apart, well, we’ve all seen those results.  What’s interesting to me is that when it doesn’t work no one person is to blame. Everyone is. I mean that.  The whole team falls together, so they should really be taking a greater interest in the whole. I know, I know: “Deadline this” and “deadline that.” And “I did my job” and “that’s not my responsibility”. I can’t offer up a solution, but if market forces are driving books into the creative arena that the team is not happy with, well, I for one am happy to wait longer for something everyone is proud of then to get something open with the only virtue being that it was finished on time.
With the Imagination Manifesto I had a core story that kept spawning new ideas, so I spun them into their own parallel tales. The five stories in those three hardcovers are thematically linked, and I think, all add to the overall vision.  This was arguably, not the best way to tell a story, but I kept as close to my vision as I could, and I took what time it needed, and I am proud of the book. The finished product created a world.  I also kept the rights to that project. Creative control remains mine. With Insane Jane: Avenging Star I worked from what you might call a Stan Lee style script, and I was given a huge amount of creative freedom, though the credit of the final story rest with Zachary Hunchar. On Lovern Kindzierski’s Underworld (forthcoming from Renegade Arts)  I’m working with a man who has lived and breathed comic storytelling for most of his life but who seems to understand the kind of process I use and what it can do. ( Once I get permission from Renegade I’ll share some of that work-in-progress.)
Creator-owned-written and illustrated books are their own islands in the vast landscape of comicland. David Mack, Erik Larsen, Toby Cypress, Steve Niles, Scott Morse, Frank Millar, Warren Ellis, Jeff Smith, are all do-it-yourself pioneers.  Many books that they have made follow different rules than the big-company-books and the passion shows. I think we can agree that books pointed at the bottom line are different than books made because “That story just needed telling.”
I don’t care how you start or what medium you use. Write down your ideas. Find the one that works. Make an image that works for that idea. Give it a few days then look at it and see what it inspires. Repeat as needed until your project is done. Get that story down. Get started. Stop the excuses. Make the Book.
Your homework this week: Scribble down your ideas and the images that come from them. Do this without excuses.  I mean it.Then go and read Rodd Racer by Toby Cypress

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