Resolutions, good things that happened and comics

I know what you’re thinking, New Years was weeks ago, shouldn’t you have posted this then. Well…I procrastinate sometimes.

2015 was an interesting year. For a lot of people I know it was one of the worst years in recent history, while it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t a great one either. On the good side of things, I got my act together and decided that Baking is what I want to do with the rest of my life and have took the steps to start my apprenticeship and go back to school. I figured out a schedule that keeps my cluster headaches to a minimum and an aftercare treatment that keeps me from turning into a zombie after a cluster. I managed to train my dog to the point where he actually listens, I can now take him on small walks without a leash. It may not seem like much, but he’s a stubborn little bastard. I asked my boyfriend to marry me and he said yes! We’re planning on tying the knot in the summer of 2015.

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I couldn’t find a picture of the engagement so here’s a dinosaur!

On the bad side of things, I put my health, sanity and safety on the line to draw, ink, shade, format and print my comic in a span of two weeks…while working two jobs…during one of the biggest baking holidays of the year. I pulled this off for a book that, other than me and a few people close to me, no one cared about. I didn’t deal with this all that well and I went into a downward spiral where just looking at the damn thing became painful. I went into a sort of slump where it was a little hard to keep on track, I didn’t even like posting things to this blog. It hurt a lot more than I was willing to let on, but after months and months of letting it eat at me, I’m starting to get over it and looking towards the future.

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Sometimes looking at this makes me wanna cry other times I just smile.

Back in the day, when I worked in print, I asked a co-worker if he’d made any New Years Resolutions. I asked this mainly to make conversation, because I hand’t been there that long and it seemed like good small talk. This lead to a rant about societal pressure and conformity and why I shouldn’t be a sheep. There was a lot of ‘Edwards, you shouldn’t make goals because of some arbitrary date, you should do it because you want to,’ he liked to rant about things, even things that contradicted the things he was ranting about. He had a point though, goals should be made because of a sincere want to improve ourselves, not because it’s the New Year and that’s what we’re supposed to do. However, I like the idea of starting fresh and having a big bold deadline to finish my goals by. So here are some of the things I resolve to do before 2017 rolls around.

  1. Fill up all of my old sketch books. I have around ten half finished sketch books just lying around collecting dust. I love drawing, but I’m not great at it, just look at any of the comics I’ve posted here. But I think if I make an effort to fill up those books, I’ll improve. I mean I can’t get any worse.
  2. Apprenticeship. This is an obvious one, since I’ve got most of my hours and have signed up for all of the classes, but I’m really looking forwards to learning new skills and perfecting some old skills.
  3. Wedding. I’ve been married (extremely unsuccessfully) before, so I know that there’s a ton of things that you don’t think about when you decide to get married. I’m gonna stay on top of things, make sure the stress stays to a minimum.
  4.  Produce a draft of my novel that I’m satisfied with. This will be one of the hardest goals I’m trying to do this year, because I can be extremely critical of myself. I love to write, but dislike almost everything I produce. So on top of finishing a project I’ve got to build up the confidence to like what I’ve finished.
  5. Read 50 Books. Self explanatory, I like reading.
  6. Blog once a week. When I first started this blog, I used to post once a week. This was partly because wordpress used to have a little reminder that would tell me that I hadn’t updated. I’m also going to finish all of the half started posts, seriously there are like thirty reviews, stories and whatnot that I’ve started and half finished. This includes my very much ignored Disney Retrospective!
  7. Finish my Yoda Book or Yobo Book, since Yoda is not only the name of my dog, but a wise green alien. A while back I started a children’s book about my dog that was all construction paper cut outs. It’s too cute to pass up on.
  8. Eat seven new meats. Once again self explanatory, I love meat and I’m a bit of hedonist at heart.
  9. Work on a short animated film. This one falls into life goals, I love animation and one day I want to have my name on an animated film.
  10. Go on a trip. Traveling is awesome and I need to do it more.
  11. And finally, work on my comic more. Because even when it breaks my heart, I still love it and I still want to finish it. So part of actually encouraging myself to work of it more, is to get people to actually read it. So if you want, the whole thing is available here to read and if you like your comics in physical form and have two dollars, you can buy a copy here. Expect a lot more about this particular goal over the coming weeks.

So I guess the big thing now is actually doing all of this stuff a goal to keep goals. So for all of you who have trudged through this thanks for reading!

Art Contest (What I did on my summer vacation)

One of my hobbies is sculpting, more accurately, I like to sculpt over old toys. Because, you know, I’m an adult and stuff. Most of the times it’s old Gen 1 My Little Ponys, but recently I’ve been revamping old Playarts figures into player characters from the D&D campaign I’m a part of. 
   
    
 
A couple of months ago, I decided to enter an art contest held by a local art shop. The theme was dinosaurs and dinosaurs just happen to be one of my favourite things. I ended up forgetting about the contest and throwing a sculpted My Little Pony together last minute, which was pretty cute, but didn’t win. 

  
So when the next contest was announced a month later with the theme of space, I decided to give it a real go. My plan was to create a functioning clockwork solar system made out of watch gears. The only problem was that watch gears, gears in general, are really hard and expensive to come by. So once again I was left with less than twenty-four hours to come up with something and complete it. 

I’ve always liked the idea of a universe eating serpent, but the idea seemed a little over done. Jurassic World had also just come out and I was a little obsessed with the best character in the film, the Mosasaurus. So with a little scultp, some tin foil, spray paint and an old book; I sculpted a planet eating monster. 

   
 
She turned out better than I thought and in the end I ended up winning. Part of it was because not nearly as many people entered the space contest as the dinosaur one, but I think part of it was that I busted my ass and created something pretty cool. 

The prize was a hundred dollar gift certificate, which I used most on getting fancy markers. I’m not much of a drawer, as anyone who frequents this blog can attest to, but I thought what the hell and decided to give markers a try. 

   
    
 
Most of what I’ve drawn is D&D related, but I’ve been doing a couple of comic concept drawings in there too. 

On Team 12 or how to break your brain with comic books

The following is a somewhat disjointed and long winded take on my wonderful failure of a comic and the long road that brought me here.

As I mentioned in my previous post my boyfriend and I had a booth at the 2015 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and that my original plan was to have a table of baked goods. Needless to say that didn’t quite work out and I ended up producing a comic instead. I thought it would be easy, I’ve made comics in the past, I’ve finished Twenty-Four Hour Comic Book Day three years in a row.

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The thing with Twenty Four Hour Comic Day is that it’s all very spur of the moment and whatever you produce has to be in the moment and final. You don’t get the opportunity to go back and change things, whatever goes on the page, stays on the page. There’s no room to edit or expand on your ideas. You’re supposed to go in blind and pull the pages from your head and hand. It’s a great exercise, but it’s not exactly the way writing and drawing a comic works. You don’t get a lot of time, so you lose detail. When you’re artistically challenged like me, everything sort of turns into a blob. Faces become caricatures, arms and legs become too long and hands become stumps.

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to find the best way to talk about Team 12, this strange little idea that’s been swimming around my head for over a decade. You ever have an idea that sits at the back at your mind occasionally popping into the forefront of your thoughts and derailing whatever you’re working on? No? Well that’s what Team 12 is for me.

I think in the long, long ago the seeds for Team 12 were first planted in the form of some poorly written, but well reviewed Digimon fanfiction. From what I remember (this might be a little hazy, as this was well over fifteen years ago) I got tired of the constraints of fanfiction and ended up transplanting all of the original characters from the fanfiction into an original setting and it sort of evolved from there.

At first it was an homage to my favourite movie AKIRA and my favourite comic series The Authority. It was about a group of twelve gifted children that were one day experimented on and trained to become deadly assassins. Eventually they escaped their handlers and reintegrated themselves into the lives they had been ripped from. The whole thing moved at a snails pace, chronicling each year from the protagonists life. I got to the part where the kids escaped and made it back into the real world, when it started to fall apart and turned into a bit of a soap opera. Back then, and maybe now, when posting original stuff online the best way to keep readers was to make sure that there was lots of drama and a healthy dose of slash never hurt either. I think the team made it into adulthood or maybe even teenagehood before the whole thing imploded and I gave up.

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Five years later I’d refined the story a little, converted my prose into a script and started drawing. The setting became an idealistic utopia, torn apart by an attack by a man with superhuman abilities. The focus was changed from their training period and teenage years to the after the attack, with the occasional flashback thrown in for explanation. As I’ve mentioned before and will again and again, I’m not a great artist, but as pitiful as what I put out now, it’s light years ahead of what I used to do. I used the sims as reference material, which just makes the whole thing hilarious. I worked in print at the time and was actually create a really nice copy of it, nice production values at least.

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Unfortunately on the inside it looked like the above image. My art wasn’t the only problem, I introduced too much too fast.Each character was given an introduction page, some even cramming in twelve panels. I’d also made the mistake of drawing out each panel individually without any idea of where it would fit on the page, which lead to a a bunch of different spacing issues. The whole thing was a mess and I shelved it. It looked so horrible I never wanted to draw again.

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But as it always does, it bit me again and I found myself redrawing everything and it didn’t look as awful and that was enough to keep me going. I had a sense of improvement and a couple of pads of comic paper and I was good to go. I decided to focus on fewer characters, all twelve would still be there, but they’d be introduced slowly and some might not be forefront in the first arc. There was a lot more focus on world building and developing the three characters the first arc was going to be focused on. Over all, it was a lot more consistent made more sense and looked a hell of a lot better.

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Still, it was too condensed, quite cluttered and didn’t have any establishing shots. There’s a lot of dialogue and no matter how many times I redo that first issue, there’s always going to be a lot of dialogue. A lot of the dialogue came after the issue had been drawn and there was no way I could fit everything into the pages I had drawn. So I did insert pages and by the time I started doing those pages I was well into issue two and my style had changed a little and those insert pages didn’t look a whole lot like the issue they were being inserted into.

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At the time of my second attempt I was working at the worlds most dysfunctional print shop and actually scanned, fixed up the inks, coloured and inserted dialogue while I was supposed to be working (it was one of those jobs where when there was nothing to do, you pretended to be doing something or worked on personal projects. It was better to look busy than do nothing and there was a lot of down time at that place). As of writing this, the second attempt is the furthest I’ve ever gotten on the project with two issues completed and a third drawn.

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Then my life completely fell apart and that second attempt still really reminds me of that. Part of why I’d immersed my self in the project so deeply was to avoid some serious problems I was having. The way all of that imploded, still makes attempt two hard to look at. Despite the fact that after the fallout I’d plotted out the first arc, I put the whole thing away and I didn’t know if I wanted to touch it again.

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A couple of years passed and I changed careers, I didn’t draw so much but I still participated in twenty four hour comic book day. I tried not to think of my little comic and kept myself busy enough not to think about it. Then the 2015 Calgary Expo happened, my boyfriend and me had a table and because starting a food based business takes more money than I had time to save up for, I decided that I could make a comic in less than a month.

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After all, I’d done Twenty Four Hour Comic Day three years in a row and I’d drawn that first issue twice before. What could possibly go wrong? Well, everything. It didn’t take long to do the inks and pencils and as sad as it was, it was the best thing I had ever drawn. Within two weeks I had a detailed comic that actually made sequential sense and at the time I thought it looked great.

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Then the problems started. All I needed to do was get the thing scanned, touch up my lines, shade and add my dialogue. It should have only taken a week; from what I could remember from my previous attempts a week was more than enough time. Only I was forgetting that I did most of my previous attempts while pretending to work and looking at the dates on my files, it took a lot longer than a week.

I lost a day when I took it to be scanned and UPS not only was it scanned at the wrong dpi and and in B&W instead of greyscale, but the glass was dirty as well. I ended up calling in a favour from a friend to get the job done properly. Shading took way longer than I thought, photoshop crashed and the files that were open became corrupt and unusable. I had to start all over again and now I was a week behind.

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I stopped sleeping. It was not longer twenty-four hour comic day or even forty-eight hour comic book day. I was staying awake for seventy-two hours at a time. Not only was a hazard to myself and everyone around me, but I was hindered in every way possible. I was making mistakes at work and home. I was living and breathing my comic. What little sleep I got was spent worrying about finishing.

After a few snafu’s with trying to put the dialogue in, only finishing after my boyfriend offered to drop it in with a superior knowledge of illustrator, I was finished and with less than a day to get it printed. Despite the fact that it didn’t look great, I got a 100 copies printed. This was partly because after my last go at twenty-four comic book day I’d gotten a couple of messages requesting a printed copy. So I took the chance and brought my finished comic to the Expo.

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After four days I sold one copy. Other than a few close friends, I couldn’t give it away for free. I couldn’t even get my family to read it. Even though I put on a tough face, it got me down and it took me a couple of weeks to recover from everything. I tried not to let it get me down, but it was hard and a little heartbreaking. I’d put everything I had into attempt three and it completely failed.

So here we are a month after the fact and there’s a box or comics sitting in my office, but I think I’m okay with it. I’m still proud of what I achieved and while it might not be the best looking comics or, hell, the worst looking thing out there. I achieved a lot in a short period of time and it’s the most complete attempt at my vision. It’s the only version I can look at and not feel a whole lot of shame. It’s certainly not the best comic, but it’s mine and for the most part, I did it on my own.

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