“The Djinn Project”: 300 pages written

25 02 2009

…and a little history of comics.

Rather than blog about it, I spent the last two weeks working on a project. I can now announce that I have just finished writing the last 300th page.

“The Djinn Project” is my current working title, as the original two titles were dropped by me. The first one would cause problems with foreign editions (there’s a book named like that already) and the second one stopped being relevant in the end. So I’m currently thinking up a third title, meanwhile for now it’ll be the Djinn project as, you know, it features The Djinn. Lots of them.

There are three goals in this project. One, improve my art even further and initialize a switch into a larger format, meaning I’ll be drawing on much larger sheets of paper than I usually do.

Second, obviously, is to tell a damn good story. And I can say this. From all the scripts I have finished so far, this one’s the best.

And finally… Third, it’s supposed to be a “love letter” to all the great artists I have discovered over the years, but mostly to a group of French artists, with Philippe Druillet being the main one among them.

The summer of year  1991 was the first time I saw Druillet’s art.

There used to be a Polish comics magazine, simply named Komiks (which, interestingly is singular in Polish, komiksy being plural). Not the most original name, I know. But the art inside? Most of it was great. I never got the entire run, but what I did manage get over the years of my childhood introduced me to a lot of great artists and titles. The first issue came out in 1987, originally under the title “Komiks-Fantastyka” and it was a quarterly supplement to a magazine named “Fantastyka” (fantastyka being a Polish word used to dump together both SF and Fantasy. that lasted for about three years and in the middle of 1990, when the publisher changed, they dropped the “fantastyka” from the title and switched to a monthly schedule.

What was inside? A great Polish sf comic titled Funky Koval by  Parowski, Polch and Rodek, followed by Yans (since the original “Hans” sounded too German) by Rosinski (our best “export artist” of that era) and Duchateau. Later,  we were introduced to Jean-Claude Mezieres and Pierre Christin’s Valerian, the Spatio-Temporal Agent;  Le Trende & Loisel’s Pelissa (or the Search for the Bird of Time, assuming this is how it translates to properly, printed as Roxana in English if I recall), Marvano and Haldeman’s  Endless War (or Eternal War), Andreas’ Rork and many others. There were no Druillet or Moebius comics inside though. But… there were articles.

See, it was a magazine after all. While most of what they did was present an entire story each volume, they also used inside covers and two or four additional for various written pieces. And in that particular May 1991 issue (which was couple of months late at this point) there was an article about Druillet.

There wasn’t much. Only three pages total, half of which was taken by art. But what art it was. While at this point I’m aware these weren’t best examples of his art, they totally blew my 11 year old mind. These three illustrations, all from Yragael (one being a nearly full page reproduction, one being a full page shrunk into a tiny panel and one being half of a page with the bottom text part chopped off also shrunk to a panel) totally redefined how I was looking at comics and opened the floodgates of my imagination.

This article was later followed by two more, written by the same person across the next couple years, both with further illustrations (this time from the short story AAARRRZZZ, one panel from Agorn and three or four images from Vuzz). Now that I look through my old comics that survived from that period (basically one notebook pretending to be an issue of a magazine), I can see how big influence these few pages were on me.

At this point I managed to read (not own, unfortunately) most of short stories that appeared in Heavy Metal magazine, and also had the chance to read The Seven Voyages of Lone Sloane, Delirius, Gail, Urm and Yragael. And, I even managed to buy one, the final volume of Lone Sloane titled Chaos, which right now proudly stands as the pearl of my collection.

“So you’re saying that you’ll be ripping off Druillet in this book of yours?” No, not quite. See, this is just one of inspirations. There were others. A short excerpt of Richard Corben’s Mutant world that appeared in an anthology issue of Komiks. All the weird illustrations that were reprinted together with an article about the Heavy Metal magazine, a gallery by Enki Bilal (showcasing art mostly from “The Town that Didn’t Exist and the Nikopol Trilogy; that scene with violent bloody hockey match still burns bright in my mind) and the Gandahar movie, featuring designs by Philippe Caza.

It came out around the same time as that Druillet article did, and it caused similar creative avalanches in my brain. I don’t know who made the decision to bring over here a movie that’s so strange and features lots of nudity (it’s Caza, so half of female characters don’t seem to know what clothes are) and how did it manage to land on the VHS rental store shelves right next to “Chuck Norris Karate Commandos” (both rented at the same time)… but it was one of the most beautiful animated films I saw in my life. I saw it recently, for the first time with the original French dubbing and it’s still marvelous. A bit slow at times, but that just gives you more time to soak in with the exquisite art.

Was there more? Yes, there was plenty more, but I can’t name half of these things at this point. I’d recognize them if I saw them though.

So all of these will be a deliberate influence on this particular project. These and a lot more, who (like aforementioned Corben) go beyond the francophonic comics market.

Right, that’s out of the way.

Now, the format itself. The story is written with six books in mind, each one being 50 pages long (plus two pages for comments or annotations or somesuch), full color and unfortunately in American Comics size (technical limitations that I have to abide to if I want this printed fairly cheap and easily sellable through an online store). I’m hoping that, if the title catches on, I can have someone print an oversized hardcover edition. That’d be great. But that’s too far in the future, I first have to draw this thing. I’ll try to do the best job ever.

And I still need a new title.

Color and Print on Demand

16 02 2009

When I first started looking at various POD options, I paid attention mostly to the price of color printing. Mostly because the only book I was working on at that time was entirely in color, and I felt that it might be good to print it that way, also another two larger projects were projected to be in color.

Well, Din Krakatau is still not printed (preparing that first book is more difficult that I thought, but that’s okay, I’ll learn something at least), but that’s beside the point. The point was that the price of color scared me away. At this point Lulu was charging 15 cents per color page and it appeared I’d have to charge almost 30$ for Din Krakatau, if I wanted to make any money on the sales. Well, Ka-Blam ended up being cheaper (and only 13,5cent per copy) and over time Lulu raised their price to 20cents, thus making it impossibly expensive. that crossed Lulu off my list.

I decided that I’ll make Din Krakatau in both color and b&w, and then follow with future Amen City Chronicles volumes in b&w only. With much cheaper printing (2cents per b&w page) and smaller format (5×7.5inch) , the price drops considerably. But, this is supposed to be about color.

Recently I pulled out notes to some of my other projects, shocked to see that most of them were left untouched since 2006. How can I claim that I’m working on dozens of projects, if they’re just sitting there in the folders, right? So, I ended up revising and expanding some of them, adding bits here and there. Some got reformatted towards b&w. And then I stopped at WoN (acronym for now). How am I supposed to do that in b&w when this is THE color project that I want to do?

I returned to looking at options, approaching it from a different angle this time. Can’t have large color POD trades, too bad. I wish I could, but it’s not very nice to charge people 100$ for something that traditionally would cost 50$ at most (not to mention it would be done on a much better paper and possibly even in a hardcover for additional 10-20$). So I dircted my attention elsewhere.

Now, personally I dislike single issues. They’re short, annoying to handle, require some stupid bags and boards to keep them safe and their price is inflated. But in this case, it seemed the only way to go. Especially, since I noticed that the higher the page count, the cheaper price per page (since there’s a basic fee included in there too  that otherwise would be multiplied among a larger number of issues) and there was another thing. For some reason, at Ka-Blam, stapled books cost a lot less to print than trades do. Yes, lower page count etc. but that’s not what I’m thinking about. The price per page is lower.  Now, it is difficult to calculate the actual price per page in this case (as it seems to fluctuate a bit), but it appears to be somewhere in the 4.5-5cent range. And a color page in trade paperback format costs 13.5cent!

That’s a BIG difference!

This made me look over the stories and come up with a pretty simple idea. Do it as 48-52 page issues. This way the comics have a considerable page count, enough to tell a nice chunk of the story, the issue count is kept fairly low (basically halved) and I can keep the price at a level of let’s say 6.50-7$.

This idea also  opened another possibility for me. Single issue self-contained tales. Color Graphic Novellas? Perhaps I could call them that.

As I am writing this, I’ve been looking through unfinished scripts for yet another project, and it seems it would fit perfectly into a 7 chapter long series formatted that way. Another one fits into 13 chapters, and there’s perhaps 20 or 30 others that would form nice separate books.

This is something I’ll have to look deeper into.

Octobriana: Gender Revolution for The Masses

11 02 2009

Octobriana design

Octobriana, as remade by me for the remake/remodel thread on Warren Ellis’ Whitechapel. Click the image if you want to see a bit larger version on the DeviantArt page.  Here’s what I wrote about it over there.

This was created for the remake/remodel thread on Warren Ellis’ Whitechapel forums, but I’m too fond of the end result to just let it die with the thread, thus moving it here.
Octobriana is a character that’s currently in public domain (and has been used by comics artists in UK, US, Finland etc.). You can learn more about her checking this wiki page [link] or just googling for Octobriana.

So what’s the idea? I took the revolution and tried to applied it to sexuality, but since “sexual revolution” would link to hippies or something like that, I went with gender revolution. With her oversexed image (and huge hair!) she was the perfect target for “dragqueenification” (not a word, I know). Furthermore, communist ties: the color red, while the nickname she’s sometimes given, devil-woman, plus the fact that the star is basically a pentagram in disguise led to the replacement of that star with an aforementioned pentagram.

Meet, Octobriana, the leader of the band of the same name who uses heavy militant beats…. you know? there’s a story for a graphic novel somewhere in that pic.

That thing on the top is supposed to be natural, fake and cyberhair mixed all together and I also gave him/her my boots (yes, I got a pair like that, except they have lower heels, inner zip and no pentagram… also they don’t sit that well on very skinny legs).

Left leg raised to show off the boot and to avoid “bulge in your face” shot.

And you know? This is giving me ideas for a short graphic novel. Not sure whether it would be using the name Octobriana at all or just the design I came up with, but there are some ideas brewing inside my skull.

If anything would come out of it, it would probably be about music, gender and religion, I guess. Or something, no idea.

DeviantArt revival

10 02 2009

Decided to revive my DeviantArt page. Already posted one piece (which was already presented on this blog) and I’ll be uploading more images in the upcoming days. Or perhaps I’ll put them all up in one night. Whichever.

At least it’ll give me an incentive to post here (or maybe not) .

Just added a page…

8 02 2009

Decided to add a sub-page for Pulpgrinder Books. There’s not much there right now, just a short description of plans and goals.  I tried to sound more official by writing it in third person, but for some reason writing things like that makes me feel silly, as if I was pretending not to be in the room.

Now I just need to find a way to make it all happen, not to mention a way to keep myself focused on producing new pages for future projects. I’d say it’s a good time to start because while the $’s aren’t the strongest currency these days, it still is considerably stronger than OUR currency which has been plummeting considerably in the last half year or so (still not as bad as the pound has).

When every sale has a potential of bringing you 150% of what it would do previously, it looks pretty good, don’t you think?

Time to Post Something…

3 02 2009

Wow, have I neglected this place!

Well, yesterday, Din Krakatau finished its online webcomic serialization. Today, a final post-page got posted, informing of the future printed edition. Let’s hope getting that thing printed won’t be too difficult. In theory it’s all simple, just up the files, pay for the proof, receive proof and verify it and approve for online sale. Yeah. I just hope nothing weird pops up along the way (plus I need that Paypal fully active first anyway).

Moving on: so, what are my future plans? I have ideas for three or four different projects that I’d love to do this year. These include a short graphic novel which I’ll call “SBL” for now (below 100 pages), a long graphic novel “VE”  (300 or more, done in a rather “sketchy/messy” style) and a sequel to Din Krakatau, “ACCv2”. I might also start working on “WoN”, but that one is going to be a special one.

Other potential projects (and their abbreviated titles that will be meaningless to anyone but me) “LoR”, “MJA” and perhaps some short color stories. And maybe “GB#1”.

Heh, totally mysterious post.

SBL has been in the making for a while now. It was my second finished script, one that I wrote for myself and then dumped it as I couldn’t draw well enough at that point. I’ll be revising the story and expanding it a little bit.

VE is another old project of mine, it started couple of years ago with a short story I’ve written. This story was going to be a beginning of a larger series, but that never happened beyond couple of drafts. As for the comic itself, I tackled it once, writing the script and drawing very raw layouts. Ended up scripting the first two issues in script form (and had it layouted visually until the middle of second chapter).  I decided to return to it and use the story as a basis for my “300 project”. What’s the 300 project? It’s a rather crazy idea of drawing a 300 page graphic novel in a space of a month. The story in VE is long enough for that, especially since I have couple of larger “arcs” in mind and these could easily fill the book. Might even need an additional volume. Will see how it works out visually, for now I just draw random sketches of characters and such.

ACCv2, that is second volume of Amen City Chronicles (first one being Din Krakatau) shall most likely follow closely from this story and through the use of “a group of friends/relatives telling stories” trick, I shall use it to tell couple of shorter tales and lead into the third volume. This one most likely shall be titled “Demon Eater”, but I haven’t made up my mind yet.

as for WoN, it’s a project that I’m expecting to be a little controversial (since it deals with religion and all) and is going to be a huge undertaking (several hundreds  of digitally painted pages), which means I’ll probably have to do it in chapters/issues. As much as I don’t like these, 40-52 page issues wouldn’t be so bad in the end.

That’s it for now.