Hey! Welcome back (unless you’ve just been lurking since the last post… in which case, nice to see you’re still here!)
Ok, last week I’d intended to ink up the Battle strip and … uhm… hunt for some work, so here’s how that went:
Battle story – all inked up. Pretty happy with it. Pretty much took as long as I expected, even though I went a bit hell for leather on the detail. Was intended to be in colour, but I’m sort of hoping it ends up in b&w.
Had another super exciting IBS attack (I have a ‘wheat’ trigger, but sometimes it just happens – largely once a fortnight nowdays) which threw me off for a day.
So the other big goal was to find some work, and heck that worked out ok. Lined up three (shortish) gigs: a pencilled gig (7 pages – henceforce JMcC) will I’ll do next week . A charity comic war gig, which is 14 pages (the following two weeks, henceforth AD) and a 10 pager which I’m really looking forward to (DK). It’ll be that next week.
So that’s next month taken care of. After that I have to hunt more work. I hope you’re enjoying this insight into the freelancer creative process!
(I’ve a couple of possible jobs that will represent more significant page counts – hoping to get a graphic novel off the ground, that would be around 100 pages, and represent a solid five months worth of work)
So next week is shaping up like this:
Mon 24th: Pencils JMcC Pg 3 (I’m pencilling page 2 of this today, and I pencilled page 1 of this yesterday) only one page pencilled, because I gots to do some email admin as well. Tues 25th: Pencils JMcC Pg4 & 5 Wed 26th: Pencils JMcC Pg6 & 7 Thur 27th: Layouts AD Fri 28th: CHANNEL HEX (I have start of a script, I’ve drawn a few pages already but I’m redrawing it) Sat 29th: AD Pencils 1 Sun 1st: AD Pencils 2
I’ll not jinx it, but I can largely work out what I’m doing for the next four weeks.
Hey please let me know in the comments if you’re reading this stuff, and especially if you want more (or less) of it.
I wanted to tell a story, and specifically a love story. Linking readers through time to each other. Initially, because I’m the definition of vanilla straight man, it was a man and a woman but that just felt very dull – too much like the basis of a mid 90s rom com.
So I thought I’d make it a lesbian couple. Two women separated by decades, linked by a single book, and that became more interesting – one living a life in secret, the other much more open.
The book, The Well of Loneliness was suggested by John, I wanted a book that would’ve been old enough to have been around in the 20s (why the 20s? I wanted to dress the reader in something recognisably from an older time frame, this felt right).
The large selection of books in panel 4 is based somewhat on the book shop in Belfast Keats and Chapman – which my kids call “The Maze”
Anyway, the idea is the book opens a portal from present to past. Or maybe past to future. And maybe those people meet and kiss or maybe it’s symbolic. I haven’t decided.
Monday 10th: pencilled 3 pages of Chimpksy ep 5 (the final part) Tuesday 11th : pencilled remaining 3 pages of Chimpsky ep5 Wednesday 12th: Inked Chimpsky ep5 pages 1 & 2 Thursday 13th: Inked Chimpsky ep5 pages 3 & 4 Friday 14th: Inked Chimpsky ep5 pages 5 & 6 Saturday 15 / Sunday 16: did some channel hex stuff.
At some point last week (I think Tuesday?) I pencilled, inked, coloured and lettered this weeks Folklore Thursday story.
So that’s Chimpsky’s Law finished. I have it on good authority, the Niemand droid has another series in their scopes.
Next week is shaping up like this, I’ve an 8 page strip called Destroyer for the new Battle comic (written by Rob Williams) I’ve pencilled it all (did it the week before last) and inked up the first page, and so, this week I’ll be finishing the inks of that off. The plan is to get the inks finished by Friday when I can free up for Channel Hex.
How’s Channel Hex going? Well, I’m still tweaking things, still waiting on a new draft of a script (but that’s ok, no rush) I’m more convinced than ever that there’s a proportion of my future career that may lie in kickstarter based projects. The audience is smaller, the income potentially greater and the creative control is unlimited. But it may take me some time to find my way to that. (And it may not turn out to be the land of milk and honey)
After next week, frankly, I’ve no idea. I’m hoping sometime midweek I may land another gig, but you can’t really count on anything as a freelancer. That’s the life.
Oh man, this was a hard one. Frankly, I found the idea of an avenging god of unrequited love absolutely appalling. And it was hard to figure out how to tell a story that wasn’t going to be… gross. I’m not sure I’ve done it. But at least it’s funnier than it might have been.
Unusually I sent this to John not fully formed, leaving the dialogue out of the bottom (when I write I usually hate every bit of dialogue I write. It’s the hardest part of writing for me).
I knew he (ie our little incel in the strip, not John) was gonna say something – and look, I actually really liked the drawing of him (and still do, I love grotesqueries – it’s how I was made) and I didn’t know if I’d have to scrap all of it and come up with something new.
Anyway, after mulling it over, I figured I could keep the art if I lightened the dialogue. I was going to add a voice from off panel of his mom (because of course) saying “Johnny your dinner!” “NOT NOW MOM!” but that was really over egging the pudding.
Still hope you enjoy it, I quite like his gross little face…
Ok, plan last week was to get a couple of things pencilled. And..er.. that’s not quite what happened.
Primarily I wanted to get Destroyer Pencilled, an 8 page strip by Rob Williams for the upcoming Battle Special (big deadlines, no need to rush) it’s pretty reference heavy, so I decided to get it all done and references all out of the way in one fell swoop. That ate up a chunk of the week. Then I wanted to get the final part of Chimpsky pencilled. But, alas, not to be. Stomach pain kicked in (a regular feature in my life, IBS – usually hits around 2-3am, then it’s a night of pain followed by a next day of really just exhaustion)
Still waiting on some channel hex scripting, so nothing done on that front either. Did some samples for a publisher, let’s see where that goes. And that’s largely it. Oh, did pencil and ink and colour another folklore thursday.
Chimpsky, pencils and inks. Last 5 pages of the last episode, really plan to blast through it. Will probably get it finished by next weekend. 2 Pages per day, Mon 1-3 pages pencils, Tue 4-6 pages pencils, Wed 1-2 pages inks, Thu 3-4 pages inks, Fri CHANNEL HEX (reminder: nudge writer – but I might start working on the cover) Sat/Sun: inks page 5
Sat/Sun are always hard to get work done, family stuff.
Does that seem like a fast pace? It probably does if you’re used to my current laconic pacing, but that’s only 5 pages pencils and inks in 7 days – you really need to be capable of a page of pencils and inks per day.
The following week I’ll be focusing on inking the 8 pages of destoryer, it’s a more intense inkinging session so will probably require me to take the full week (on the other hand, it’s all digital which does tend to go faster)
Is this the shortest comic adaptation of Beowulf? someone phone the guinness book of world records.
Oh I was so excited to get this tweet early from John.
I’ve never been into fantasy, I was hard wired for sci-fi, but as I’ve gotten older and come to understand just how much the sci-fi I enjoyed is really just fantasy with a different skin (sci-fi- it’s science – but science so advanced it’s indistinguishable from magic! so it’s just magic then? shut up brain)
But, and I dunno where the inflection point happened (certainly within the last 20 years) maybe it was Game of Thrones? maybe it was just a general boredom of sci-fi or maybe it’s the need to escape from reality into a world not permanently connected to the internet (and the news) but I’ve wanted to draw some fantasy.
(Actually, maybe it was from going to see Beowulf in the cinema in the 2007 film, which, for all its flaws, I rather enjoyed).
Ok, last week, the plan was to ink 6 pages of Judge Dredd Chimpsky’s Law ep 5 – and yup! all done. Took longer than I wanted, and it ended up eating into time I’d set aside for other things. But, overall, good amount of work done.
I also took the time to set and pencil the self-written Jericho-5 – a scifi story set in the 70s, time travelling floaty android, 70s tough guy cop, a dinosaur. Silly, but fun. Course drawing it from my own script involved me calling writer-me all sorts of names. But it’s pencilled (deadline on this is way way in the future, but wanted it done and out of the way)
Today I did thursday’s folklore thursday comic (pencils, inks, lettering) so it was a fairly productive week.
Plan next week is to pencil 8 pages for a Battle comic, and the last part of Chimpsky (6 pages).
That’ll be Monday – Sunday, with a channel hex day on Friday.
Suspect that’s a bit ambitious, so if I can get the 8 pager pencilled, that’ll be enough. Then the week after pencils/inks of Chimpsky part 5, the following week I’ll start inking the 8 pager, then, after that… gosh… I don’t think I have anything doing then…erk…
Ok, let’s go over what the hell happened this month, from a personal/work standpoint.
Let’s start with the positives:
Completed: 23 pages of art. Of which, 17 were pencilled this month. Five were folklore thursday strips, which I adapted from John Reppion’s tweets into comics, then pencilled, inked and coloured.
On top of that, I also did 8 pages of layouts for my buddy John McCrea on the last episode of Yondu (they’re A4 sized, rough layouts that John then really went to town on and made so much better) I actually got to draw Silver Surfer for Marvel! (Albeit John went in and redraw it all, but that’s close enough!)
Wrote a four page strip for a kickstarter project, which I’m gonna get done next month (hopefully). It’s about a gruff New York detective in 1977 New York who finds himself bonded to the disembodied time travelling android called “Jericho 5″…
(Give it’s only the fourth cover I’ve ever done for 2000AD, I’m pretty happy with that)
2000AD announced that the strip I’ve done with Arthur Wyatt for the Megazine is coming in April out along with the news that Chimpsky’s back – in Chimpsky’s Law. And I’ve done covers for both.
On top of that, been working a new system that’s allowing me to get stuff done and not feel awful when I turn and do other things too. Trying to find a balance that doesn’t mean I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough stuff, while, conversely allowing me to do more stuff.
Health wise, I lost about a week with IBS related stomach pains (over five days spread through the month – pain kicks in around 1-5am and then the next day I’m beat). I’ve cut out gluten from my diet and now, sadly, I’ve also cut out chocolate. I’ve eaten chocolate without a problem but I think my danger is always I’ll just stuff so much chocolate in me my stomach can’t cope. Easier to cut it out altogether. If I’ve less pain next month then I know that’ll have worked (and if it’s exactly the same, then sod it – back to chocolate I go, I’m sorry cocoa-goodness, I miss you).
Channel Hex is in a bit of a holding pattern, but we’re coming back to it – it’s the starblazer sized mini graphic novellas that I’d planned to draw then kickstart. I was never 100% happy with how I’d started drawing it, and the writer is rejigging the script too. Better to be good than just done. But it’d be nice to start properly. Friday’s are the day I’m setting aside to get it complete. One thing I’ve learnt about doing the folklore thursday’s is that, if you just consistently churn out a page per week, time marches relentlessly on and at the end of a year you’ll have 52 pages (and I only spend a few hours on the folklore stuff, and colour it and write the script). Basically, patients. I’ve always been good with patience.
Now, let’s see what didn’t happen this month:
More Covers – I’d really intended to pitch a cover a month to 2000AD. It just didn’t happen. I’m in the middle of working for them and it feels weird to say “Hey, look I know I haven’t finished this thing, but what about if I also do this other thing”. I think that’s a me-problem rather than a them-problem though. I definitely intend to pitch a cover for every project I’m asked to draw, so we’ll see how it goes.
More Writing – I don’t think of what I do on folklore thursday’s as writing, but I suppose it is (esp the recent couple that are more heavily scripted than some other things). Had intended to do more, but I’ve scripted a four page short, which I plan to draw next month too.
Batman month. Wow, that didn’t work out at all. In down time I’d intended to start doing batman sketches and things – something that I hoped would get me a bit of a wider showing on twitter (Dredd hits the dredd audience, who know me already, anything new falls on mostly-deaf ears, but you hit Batman or some other thing in the big two you can expect to get it seen far and wide). Anyway, calling this a bust. May not have been a good idea, but there it is. Might try again in Feb.
Lined up for next month, so far:
Finishing off Chimpsky (one episode to go!) after that something for Battle! (I know I swore off WWII but come on, I’m not turning down a chance to do something for Battle…) and hopefully a proper start on channel hex.
That’s it, hope you had a good Jan, see you next month!
I love twitter, I’ve been there since 2006 -so just over 13 years. In that time a lot’s changed about the quality of discourse on there (driven in part by the wider world, and in part by twitter userbase growing unfathomably big) but I still largely love it. I love the curated list of people I follow (just over 4k as of right now, though that list could really be only be about a hundred since they’re the ones I mainly see in my feed) and I love the list of people that follow me (many of whom have become real life friends, but there’s 11k of you now, and I’m sure some follow me for reasons I’ll never be able to fathom).
Anyway, I think though, we’ve chucked some stuff away that was good about the pre twitter days. Specifically blogging, newsletters and linked lists.
Newsletters are starting to make a come back – every writer I know now has started building a newsletter. Many artists are following suit. And they make a great deal of sense. There’s no gatekeeping there, your audience sees what you say (well, assuming they don’t just bin it or it gets buried under a ton of other stuff).
Blogs, too, make a lot of sense. You can expand your thinking, really open it up, but also you can get a good historical record of everything that you’ve said. And while that’s sort of true with twitter, twitter is also somewhere where you can go to just sort of vent (I mean, the ideal twitter situation is you say something and once you’ve read it it disappears in a cloud of logic, vented into the digital ether). So, finding something you’ve said that really is worth rereading is almost impossible (in fact, I ended up creating a separate twitter account purely for my Clip Studio Tips as I wanted it to be just good sensible useful information instead of the normal brain farts I sully my own twitter with)
Anyway, newsletter – check (subscribe to mine: http://www.tinyletter.com/pjholden – new newsletter coming next week)
Blog – check.
Linked list. Well, I’m rebuilding it. If you want to be added to my linked list (which will also go out with my newsletter) please get in touch here or on my twitter feed.