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.
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!
So, last week, my schedule went like this (day in bold, plans in italics) I try and keep my plans manageable, working within deadlines. 2000AD Work tends to grant you two weeks for six pages (If pushed I can do a page a day, but if I keep it light, I can do other things…)
Mon : Dredd Layouts
Did layouts and I ended up pencilling a page and a half as well. But, of course, I felt like I could’ve done more, which is why I should’ve stuck to my original plan of only doing things I’ve written down (and if I do extra make sure they’re unrelated)
Tue: Pay Tax. Pencil two pages (1,2)
Ugh paying tax always a headache, this was sorted though. I need a lie down afterwards, but it’s down. In the end I got nothing pencilled either (well, I finished the half page from Monday) so basically back on track.
Wed: Pencils two pages (3,4)
Woops, I think I also ended up drawing another folklore thursday tale here (pencils/inks/colours), because they rejigged their themes and we needed to get back to their current theme (so we banked the one I drew for this week). Honestly can’t remember if I did any pencils of Dredd here… but I think I must have done because…
Thur: Pencils (5,6)
Finished! It was a hard slog, lots of crowd scenes (and I KNOW I’m gonna need to rethink some of the pencils when I ink it, but sometimes you just need to finish) Pages 1-5 felt like I’d forgotten to draw, page 6 went like a charm then I realised page 6 didn’t have any crowds on it. So that tells me I should avoid crowds…
Fri: Channel Hex Day.
Still waiting on script revisions, but Spent the Thursday night/Friday morning with stomach pain (didn’t get to sleep til around 5am friday), which left me out of commission all day. (I get this on a regular basis, docs have narrowed it down to IBS with a WHEAT trigger, but that doesn’t do much good, I avoid all wheat/gluten which helped some, and it’s not as fearsome agony as it has been but it’s still pretty sore and regular)
Sat: Project D pencils 1,2
Got nothing done. Was another bad night (though not as bad) unusual in that I don’t normally get two bad days in a row, so this completely keel hauled me for the day. And a bit on Sunday.
Sun: Project D pencils 3,4
Nothing done here either. Still recovering lost sleep. DID this thursday’s folklore Thursday though, so that’s something. Plus some of the day left and gonna sit and do some work right now.
Ok, bit ambitious maybe (esp given these are all crowd scenes, but I do sometimes find them easier to ink than pencil)
Thursday I’ll be catching up on people I owe emails to, and maybe .. maybe sending some submissions out further than my own network (these are more than likely just going to land and get nothing back, but you’ve got to cast if you want to catch)
Friday I’ll be sending out my monthly newsletter, and then catching up with the channel hex stuff, I’m rejigging the paper size I’m working at, so it’s a bit easier on old man Holden and my biggest struggle is finding the right art style. Normally I have a vision in mind but it can be hard to hold on to that when you’re doing something piecemeal.
Anyway, look if you’re enjoying the blog, please let me know in the comments.
Any resemblance to creatures living, dead or fictional is entirely coincidental.
I wanted to do a one page short story, there’s a variety of cool muck monster things in fiction, and I love the pairing of god with streetwise magician (who is named here Jack)
The pencils on this show though, that it took a fair amount of fiddling to get something that I thought would work.
(And even now, having written the dialogue and then stripped it off just to upload it here, I think dialogue-free might be better?)
I’m sure John won’t mind me saying I’m taking full blame for the comic strip, John’s tweet (as contained in the captions) is all I had to go on.
I think the story element of this works well paired with the info captions. And I suspect this might be the direction I start pushing more of the strips in. It doesn’t feel like writing, though, of course, it is.
There’s a alternative version of this which is much more of a kids comic one, I started drawing and abandoned it fairly quickly.
Yesterday I’d planned out my week, then rejigged it. It was all based on the first week I did this, where I laid out the foundations for doing six pages of pencils in a week (which is, honestly, about half my normal speed) but gave me time to relax and do other things. The following week six pages of inks (again I’m capabale of six pages pencilled and inked in a week) which left me time to do other stuff.
This week I thought, ok, let’s ramp it up – which was idiotic because the point was to avoid that feeling I get to every night where I’ve done a decent amount of work and yet, it still feels like I could do more. Where the targets are undefined and so you always fall short.
Defining nice easy to achieve targets meant I’d get stuff done and then have time to relax and play in other fields, as it were.
Today, for example, I did some layouts, did a pitch image, did a page of pencils and that’s it. My plan was to do layouts (even for six pages I find this exhausting) and pencil two pages – the last layout day I planned to do layouts and nothing else.
So now, I feel like I should either spend the rest of the night frantically drawing another page of pencils (doable, but I’ll be working til 1) and still feel like a lazy pos, or I should just not bother and feel like I missed my target.
Anyway, tomorrow I try and go back to my original first steps, got some tax to pay and will sort that out, and maybe get one page pencilled.
UPDATE: Yikes. Rethought it, next week’s got too much on. Pairing it back. If I get more done, brilliant, but it’s gonna look a lot like the last couple of weeks instead.
Ok, I think this is gonna be a regular series, life inside comics, I suppose.
Plan last week was to ink 6 pages of Dredd, pay my tax, and take three days to do some other things. Project D and Channel Hex stuff.
Ok, in the plus column. Inked six pages of Dredd. And pencilled, inked, coloured and lettered a folklore thursday strip. In the negative column, put off tax til next week (honestly, I find this draining, but it’s literally just paying tax), and Project D and Channel Hex got short shift as my wife and I took ourselves away for the night. We had babysitters, and so, off we went to the Galgorm hotel and Spa. As ever, when I think I’m going to relax, I start hyperventilating and have a panic about what I could be doing instead. (When I’m working I’m wonderfully relaxed). But we haven’t had a break away with just the two of us for over a year, so off we went.
Channel Hex and Project D will still get some time, but probably next week. Inking is more time consuming than pencils (certainly the way I do it) and next week is gonna be a pencil day.
Ok, so there’s a LOT more going on in this week. I’m faster pencilling, so gonna see if I can hit three pages per day pencils, Project D is 8 pages and will require some futzing in 3d software too, so these pencils will be very rough in some areas and detailed in others. But it means come
Have reconsidered, and scaled back. Far better to plan for less and get more done. Part of the point of all this is to not leave a day feeling like I could’ve done more when I’d already done plenty. Better to feel like “Yup, I did what I had to do, PLUS I DID SOME EXTRA.”
We ended up, somehow, out of sync with the folklore thursday account, tweeting our stories on week ahead of theme (christmas, a confusing time all round). So this is a resync strip. John sent me the tweet and I had all sorts of ideas for what Hidebehinds could look like (9 meter tall stick humanoid stick insects stuck in my head) but I wanted to do a goofy cartoony style, and so, this is what you get!
I could’ve gone gory, had toyed with the idea of the a hidebehind suddenly spotting the reader (after despatching the lumberjack) but that would’ve need a creepier art style than what I was going with.
Last week I thought I’d try a new way of working (nothing to do with drawing, everything to do with organising myself) and you can read about it here.
I’m going to add to that process by doing a Sunday recap, where I just look to see how it worked/what’s next.
Dredd #3 Layouts
Light day, really, but that’s ok.
Dredd #3 pencils 1 & 2
Bit of a struggle to get second page done – family stuff tends to eat time. But that’s ok.
Dredd #3 pencils 3 & 4
Dredd #3 pencils 5 & 6
CHANNEL HEX DAY
No script yet, but began redesigning elements and thinking about artistic style for the book. Stuff that needed done anyway. I have 5 pages of this pencilled and inked, but was never happy with it. (Maybe this is always the problem with work without a deadline though)
Actually, researched it and layed it all out. 8 pages of strip.
Did it yesterday, Daniel.
One of the key things to what I’m trying to do is not overburden myself with stuff, even when it seems very possible. And to give myself days where I’d consider them “light” – a full day to do layouts on 6 pages? crazy. But that’s just the target, after that, I have time to do other things. I’m trying NOT to do the other things that are on my task schedule, because what I’m trying to avoid is that feeling that “oh no, I did loads but it was not enough” – I definitely enjoy working more than not working, but, for example, if I’d done layouts on monday and raced ahead to pencil the strip the same day and got, say, a page and a half of pencils done, I’d’ve felt like I didn’t manage to get enough done. Punishing myself for getting ahead. It’s bonkers, but it happens.
As it happens, during the week, because I had room for thinking, I also came up with a kid friendly cartoony style that might be the basis for two entirely different new projects. I conferred with John Reppion on year two of our folklore friday. Which will be the same but different. Very different. I also did layouts for a friend for a strip and laid out the self-written Jericho 5 (a four page strip I’m doing for The 77 – a fanzine based on the kind of British comics that came out before US comics dominated everything).
So in all, did what I wanted and allowed me freedom to do more. (Without it, I’d’ve felt guilt that I wasn’t working and would never have had the brainspace to do more)
So, now, next week, here’s how I see it shaping up.
Dredd inks 1 &2
I’ve already started inking 1, which is me instantly negating everything I’ve just thought about above. BUT, I’m gonna put it away for Monday.
TAX DAY Dredd page 3
Yuck. Just gonna get my tax paid. Honestly, I’ll need a lie-down after this. (Yes, it’s early to pay, but I like to get this stuff out of the way)
Dredd inks 4 & 5
I feel like two pages of inks might be too much, but we’ll see.
Dredd inks 5 & 6
I do love the plain simplicity of those days where it’s just – draw x and y.
CHANNEL HEX DAY
If I’m waiting on a script, it’ll be working on the cover, and the book size
Pencils D pages 1 & 2
Project D I’ll talk about it when I can.
Pencils D pages 2 &3 PODCAST
And that’s my plan. I feel like it’s a little more filled than last weeks and that might be a mistake. Plus I’ve got to make room for drawing Folklore Thursday (which takes approx 3-4 hours) and I’m going to try and up the blogging schedule a bit plus I have to record a podcast next sunday, which eats up most of a night.
Last week I felt like I got everything done I need too. This coming week i feel like it might be a struggle. But we’ll see.
Seymour Roger Cray was an American supercomputer engineer. Beneath his suburban home he constructed a series of tunnels. When Cray reached a creative impasse he would retire below. “While I’m digging, the elves will often come to me with solutions to my problem”
I’m fairly sure: Cray was messing around. And I think we’re only just getting by with this as a folklore tale by the skin of our teeth. THAT said, having slept, ate, and breathed computers from an early age and always ALWAYS been fascinated by Cray super computers, I’m not gonna argue the point. If Elves are what he said, Elves is what I’m drawing.
Reading John’s tweets usually fairly quickly pops an idea into my head, and this idea appeared fully formed. Initially though, I drew the supercomputer in Cray’s head with a whole bunch of Elves working away at it, but then it felt wrong – we don’t hear mention of the elves until later in the tweet and so I didn’t want to spoil that fun surprise too early. If anything I regret not making the direction of Cray’s walk follow the reading direction, if I had time I’d redo it (and if a publisher comes along and wants to print the entire run of these things, I’ll certainly look at them all again…)
I can’t remember when I first heard or say a Cray supercomputer, but it was fairly formative. Look at that weird part alien, part Henge computer design (it’s actually more of a C shape, with a gap, but I stuck that in the rear view on this drawing). She’s a beaut. And, as time wears on and Moore’s law keeps progressing, she’s now only about a fraction of the power of whatever device you’re currently reading this on. Ain’t technology grand?
(Now If I can just convince John that Turing got his ideas from pixies, Ada Lovelace from Gnomes, and Steve Jobs consulted with swamp monsters then we could have a full set of technological folklorist…)
Part of a regular cut-out-and-keep collection of Blogposts about well… process.
(I mean I say regular, the thing that really distinguishes my processes are they’re constantly in flux so it’s less a bunch of steps you should take as a bunch of things I’ve tried that have sometimes worked, sometimes not, but might spark a notion…)
I have a weekly whiteboard and I’ve been using a bullet journal the past three months. The bullet journal got a lot of use in its first two months, largely as I started writing thoughts down in it. But now my week is getting back in to a semi regular shape, so I thought I’d share it with you (and I write it all on my white board)
I’m trying to have reasonable targets for a day – nothing major, but enough to get stuff down and progress, and leave me spare time to do other things.
This week, for example:
Monday: read and layout a dredd script. – This is pretty light, layouts are exhausting, but this is the start of the new school term so the days still a little chaotic. (And, as it happened, I had time to pitch a short – four page – strip to a small press magazine and then write it up, at some point I’ll be drawing it [For the sake of talking about it, let’s call it “J”)
Tuesday – pencil two pages of the Dredd strip. My pencils are pretty loose, so in theory this is doable, but equally wife back at work, kids will be out of school, so there’s some big family to-dos in between times.
Wednesday – pencil two pages of Dredd. Tuesday and Wednesdays have similair structures. The biggest obstacle is usually me. Inertia and other things. Trying to keep other things to a minimum. (But sometimes they impose, like they’re already doing this week, but it’s ok! SLACK BUILT IN!)
Thursday – Pencils two pages of Dredd. No obligations on Thursday, and this should see Dredd pencilled. And I can start prepping for Friday.
Friday – Channel Hex day! Getting back to channel hex. Waiting on script revisions, so if they’re not here I’ll probably go back and redesign some characters and rethink the look of it.
Saturday / Sunday – I’ve another strip (waiting script) and I’ve set aside Saturday and Sunday as research days for it (that’s a light load, but family stuff may end up wiping me out at the weekend)
And that’s this week! Next week I’ll move on to the dredd inks, and try and up the ante.