Creatively Speaking Part 1: The Journey Begins

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The time has come for the very first edition of Creatively Speaking. What is Creatively Speaking you ask? Well, it is something rather dear to my heart. It has always been my goal to one day join the ranks of the esteemed comic professionals, to actually have a comic that I wrote get published. My one hurdling block? I can’t draw. As luck would have it though I’ve found someone who is willing to take the journey with me, someone who has a quirky and unique style that would fit a whole number of genres. This feature is going to be a monthly update, a glance at my personal journey of seeing that dream hopefully become a reality. And as we always know, every journey has a first step:

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The Journey Begins
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After all these years I finally ran into someone at work who could draw. Not just draw though, draw good enough that I could envision making a comic with him. Now I’m naturally a very shy guy in personal and the topic of “would you like to collaborate on a comic with me” just doesn’t flow organically. After quickly becoming friends, I got to the point that I felt comfortable enough to ask without fear of rejection. I got up the courage and asked…on Facebook:

“As you know, I really think you have a great artistic talent and was just wondering if you ever considered drawing a graphic novel/comic book. I’ve been on the lookout for a talented individual and I believe I have found one in you. If it is something you’re interested in pursuing, just let me know and we can discuss what type of story would best suit your interests and what type of genre you’d like to tackle. I’ve got 75 ideas and counting, so I’m not in short supply but I’d really love to collaborate with you. If not, well you can’t hurt a guy for trying… Thanks for the consideration!”

His response was an enthusiastic yes. The only hurdle? He knew pretty much nothing about the world of comics. This could be easily fixed though. I laid out my initial game plan, a plan that I was sure would have to be adjusted as time went on but you’ve got to start somewhere:

“I’m happy to hear you’re on board! I’ve got a multi-part strategy in mind that will hopefully lead to the end game.
Stage 1: Matching you art tonally with potential genres and seeing how flexible we can be.
Stage 2: Comic Book 101 (going over the different terms like one-shot, panels, bleeds, splash pages, gutters, etc…). We’ll also go over some of the various techniques other artists use for their sequential art.
Stage 3: Nailing the perfect story. Here we’ll pick the story we want to pursue and do some concept drawings/major plot points. I think the best bet is start with a mini-series or OGN.
Stage 4: The actual work begins. Depending on how things progress we may or may not need a letterer or a colourist. We shall see.
Stage 5: Submission time. I’ve already got all the relevant info for this.”

And with that we were off to the first Stage: the type of style that he would excel at in terms of creating comics. I had seen him use a whole plethora of techniques since I’ve known him so the real key was nailing down the one that would produce the highest quality of work. Now for someone who had never read much comics before what I tried to do was boil it down to four individuals in the comic industry today that he could try to emulate while adding his own flavor to.

“To best help us nail down the right genre we’ll have to see what art style best suits you and truly brings out your best. I already know you’re great at drawing creatures and zombies and replicating established characters so we’ve got that covered. It is the human characters that we need to decide on. I’ve listed here 4 differing art styles from 4 fantastic artists:
Artist #1: Darwyn Cooke – His style is nice and clean while being very evocative of the more classic silver age styling. Works best for super hero books and other retro stories.
Artist #2: Mike Mignola – His style can both complicated and simple. His characters are nice and clean (with more detail than Cooke’s) but his backgrounds are really detailed. He is also the master of using shadows. This style would work best for the horror and more gritty genres of work.
Artist #3: Jim Cheung – Really detailed and emotionally filled characters. A more realistic approach that works for a wealth of genres.
Artist #4: Bryan Lee O’Malley – A more manga influenced, expressive style. It would work for more humorous/fantasy inspired genres or anything really quirky.
Have a look over this small sampling. They cover pretty much all the different styles out there. See which one works for you the best. Maybe they all work? Maybe you prefer two of them. Really it boils down to whichever one you can suit and modify to your style, to make your own, which you feel happiest with, and which gets you the highest quality art.”

I provided him with examples of each artist’s work and he was off and running. The end result, the artist that best suited his abilities? Well it was none other than Bryan Lee O’Malley. With this info in hand it was now my turn to formulate some ideas that would best suit his choice. Over the years I have amassed over 75 different concepts so my main hurdling block would be to narrow it down to the Top 10 that would fit tonally with the art. As I began to do just that, I also began to prepare a crash course to introduce him into the wonderful world of comics. I’ve got my work cut out for me. 🙂

NEXT TIME on Creatively Speaking: Comic Book 101.

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And that ends the first edition of Creatively Speaking. Have any comments or suggestions? Any personal stories you’d like to impart? Leave a comment below!

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