Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finding The End Part 3:The Jump Off



The last few projects I've started all went the same. I had an idea that I committed to and was excited to write and draw. I'd pull out the sketchbook and start looking for the character and style of the book. After a week or more of that I'd hit on something and then move over to the laptop where I'd spend a few weeks plotting an outline. I followed the screenplay structure. Act I, Act II, Act III complete with properly placed plot points, mind points... you get the points.

Next up,  I would start writing. My structure consisted of detailed plot with full character dialog. I didn't bother breaking it down into pages or panels because I was doing graphic novels, I could do that in the layout stage. A few projects didn't make it to the end of this step. My last project did. I finished the full script.

It was a few months after having the initial idea that I was ready to finally start doing thumbnails ands laying out the book. I finished layouts in about 5 days and the book ended up being 124 pages long. I jumped right into drawing and inking pages. I was around 90 days into creating my OGN and I had only spent 20 of them drawing so far. I felt burnt out and hit the wall that mentioned in the previous posts.

Flash forward a year later and I'm writing this post. What's different this time around? Everything.

There's the content which we covered in the last post. I'm playing in made up world but telling a personal story with it. But most of all, I'm already drawing. That's the big difference. The idea started to form in SDCC around 3 weeks ago, 2 weeks of discussing options with my trusted crew of art junkies and now I'm laying out pages.

I decided to skip that whole pesky writing step. Well, okay, not really. I'm just "writing" differently. Instead of sitting at a laptop and using all that energy and motivation that I have for this story, I'm just going for it. I'm writing with thumbnails. Letting the story breath and grow in the direction it wants to go with the art. I have the major beats I want to head towards and most of all, I have the ending. So with those milestones in mind, I'm putting lines down and going for it. The thumbnail stage is my version of a first draft. I'll be able to step back at the end of that and edit all I want before going into the 2nd draft of finishing the art. I'm just combining all the steps into one.

I try to be honest with myself. I could come up with a million great reasons why I've stopped every project I've started. Most people would say I already do a monthly book, that should be enough. But that's no excuse. I'm dying to tell my own stories, and I've just flat out dropped the ball each time. But I think that it's because I try to go about it the way I THINK it's suppose to be done. Graphic novels are written and then drawn, right. Well, the more I look into some of my favorite storytellers you begin to find out that's not always the case. I was happy to know that find out that Jeff Smith knew where Bone was going, but he didn't have it blocked out before hand. He just drew his story. I liked the idea of this because it would allow me to use that new energy and motivation I have on actual pages where as before I was burnt out before even getting to the art stage.

I'm 10 pages into this new process and I'm as excited today as I was on the day I started to form the concept.  I'm determined to not repeat the past this time and hopefully with in the next year you'll be holding this book in your hands.

Thanks to all of you who have been following along and leaving your comments. Pass the word, retweet, post away. The more eyes that are reading the more people that will keep me in check.

See you in the next post.

17 comments:

Anthony Bachman said...

Loving the journey of the process Skottie. Good luck, keep pushing and we will all be here to see this little dude rock the apocalypse!

Josh said...

I totally agreed with Anthony and I like your idea draw as writing own graphically novel. Good luck Skottie!

Mike Sudduth said...

Keep it up man. I love these process posts that you do. They're very insightful, and honestly help me with the whole creator-owned project thing. Good luck, and I can't wait to see more!

J. Simmons said...

This is how I draw/write my comics. Right from the hip.

And I've taken it one step further with my current webcomic MILT where I'm drawing and writing it all at once, real rough and fun. No pencils, no outline, just getting the story out there and having a blast with it, and I've done MILT and a handful of other stories and they've been pretty successful in the world of the internet.

www.miltcomic.blogspot.com

clarkkers said...

i'm excited just reading about your process. the concept looks really cool, and i works so great with your style.

i like how you "script" with thumbnails, I do that too.

is this a story where the kid wheres the mask the whole time and at the very end he finally takes it off? that would be crazy.

Bill said...

As you say "the more eyes that are reading"... So not a completely scientific experiment, but if you succeed, that's what's important. :-)

I agree wholeheartedly with "writing" both words and images simultaneously: the comic book industry does it the way they do (words, then art) to support mass-production, not inspired storytelling.

I don't think you can really know your character until you've drawn them in a bunch of situations. Then you'll know what they'll say and how they'll say it. The words will be obvious.

Looking forward to it!

RAWLS said...

Writing with thumbnails is definitely a great way to do things. I love it!

Zach said...

Excited to see it, Skottie! I've just restarted a project for the 3rd time with the same approach and have made more progress while keeping more of that initial charge. Letting the story "breath" is how I've explained it to a couple of writing buddies too. I reckon it to a novelist writing a book - while he might plot it out, the actual writing of the book, on the page, is what it's about and takes up most of the time. Hypothetical-novelist doesn't pre-plot every page out and if he did, he'd loose steam pretty quickly.

It'll be interesting to see how this "novelist" approach will effect your work, man. Excited to see it!

scott said...

It's funny that you mentioned Jeff Smith, because that's who I immediately thought of when you described your process. His process is very much the same way. He talks a little bit about it on his DVD, "The Cartoonist". It's a fantastic thing to watch, as well as some short clips found on the tube of you...

It's a process I've adapted to somewhat while working on my picture book, using what I call pacing charts. But then I have to type out all the action in the "proper format' for the manuscript; kinda sucks out all that initial energy. Damn prospective agents and their damn rules! :)

Good luck, Skottie. Keep rollin', man-I'm excited to see what happens. And thanks for sharing!

Pancho said...

these posts are an inspiration to me.
one day, I will arrange to tell my stories too.

thekiltedgerman said...

Sounds like this will be an exciting journey. Can't wait to see where the project takes you!

Midrell Fitzgerald/ Blake Trevino said...

Aww man this looks really beast I love the solitude panels that you got going on there. It gives off that sort of free feeling. I literaly cant wait.

Adam said...

Interesting idea!

I may have to try out that process myself.

Keep this up. Love reading all these posts!

Joe Romano 2 said...

The little peak you give into your mind and creative process is awesome Skottie! You are a huge inspiration to me. It's nice to know that even the pros struggle with this process. as an amateur, it gives me some hope. Keep it going, and count me in forva copy!!!

A. Jonathan Cox said...

That's how I did mine, but I bumbled into doing it that way when the script wasn't clicking (and taking FOREVER). It also helped me to see the whole story, and once that was all worked out, it was harder to pull the plug on it.

-EM- said...

your work always amazes me man, and helps me want to be as good as you, and others out there.

Matthew Funk said...

I don't know how many writers do this, but even though I'm not a good enough artist to draw my own comics, when I write for artists, I start with thumbnails for the whole issue with dialogue scribbled next to them, and then go back and actually script the whole thing.