Whoah, look at the time!

15 08 2009

The time that has passed between this and the previous post, that is!

Sorry about that. I kept on having some weird problems with cookies (some WordPress vs Opera issue) that was annoying enough to keep me away from this place. Well, that should change now.

I have finally sent Din Krakatau to Ka-blam awhile ago and it’s being processed by them as I type. The files have been accepted (phew!) and now I’m waiting for the invoice.

More info soon.


“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.


17 10 2008

Now that was a long break. I was torn between not having time to do anything and not having time to do anything else but feeling bad that I’m not working on Din Krakatau. Well, on Wednesday evening (night, actually) I felt like listening to some podcasts, which lead to me picking up the pen and paper again, starting to work on chapter 4. I did roughly 2/3rd of a page and went to bed.

The very next day I have finished that one and drew THREE PAGES MORE! YAY! Good result for me!

Which means, I have finished pencilling pages 97-100 (nice round number). Currently there are 82 pages online and 28 pages to go (nice reversed digits). There’s also exactly 14 pages left of chapter 3 to go live (half of 28). So I’m changing my statistics to a countdown.

46 pages to go live, 32 to color and letter, 28 to pencil.

I’m hoping to keep up the tempo like I did on the third chapter. Then it would be just a matter of doing some color illustrations for the covers and interior artwork, handing it off to someone for spellcheck/grammarcheck… and hopefully scraping enough funds to get paypal.

Oh… and of course I’ll have to slightly reformat the pages to fit Ka-Blam’s template (as I messed up mine and the sizes are off) and then strip out the color from the color pages. Woe is me (not really, it’s just time consuming).

Din Krakatau: Work in Progress update 9

18 09 2008

Whoah, what a mad dash to completion this was. I discovered that I can listen to podcasts while drawing, so doing two separate things at the same time I don’t feel the need to drop the coloring, nor do I lose track of the podcast. Well, this resulted in the last few nights. Every night I was coloring FOUR PAGES!

Today I ended up lettering it all…. which means.

Chapter three is FINALLY completed! This should give me enough buffer to work on chapter four, and hopefully finish it before I run out of pages. Don’t want to make another delay.

So what’s the overall state? 96 pages done, 32 pages to do.

And now excuse me, while I go entertain myself to save my sanity from Photoshop induced nightmares.

Din Krakatau: Work in Progress update 8

14 09 2008

Haven’t done one of these in a while… Again.

Well, the previous coloring sessions burned me out a bit and I had to slow down. So, I’m only six pages further than the last time, which is not that bad considering that in this time only three pages went live. Although if I’d manage to keep the tempo, I’d be done with it by now. Oh well.

Overall current state: all 128 pages scripted and thumbnailed, 96 pages pencilled, 80 pages finished (48 to finish), 80 pages uploaded, 67 pages “live”.

As you can see, I am 5/8 done with the storyline and I’m very happy to have done so many pages. After I color and letter 8th more, I’ll have the equivalent of 8 issue miniseries, and the next 8 will get me to the end of chapter 3.

I have discovered one problem though. The template that I used for my pages is wrong. Not much wrong, just a little bit off here and there. After cramming the pages into the Ka-blam template, it appears a lot of word balloons end up in the “yellow” area (meaning outside of what they consider to be the live area) and also there’s a small gap on left/right sides, meaning in case of some misprinting I might get white stripes on the edges. Well, that’s just great.

I moped around for a day or two and decided to go on, as messing around with the templates at this point would be stupid. Just finish it and then worry. The difference is not that bad, I can modify the edges of pages easily.  But I’ve been thinking of doing it as an oversized book. Use the current page area and treat it as the book’s live area, trim off the trim, this way I get a nice, large page. Seeing that Ka-blam allows custom sized books at no extra charge, I can simply do that. Well, not that simply, I need to figure out the new page size and the trim… argh. But, the situation can be salvaged.

This also made me think a bit about further projects, but that’s best left for another blog post.

Din Krakatau: Work in Progress update 6

25 08 2008

And here we are, on the sixth update.

Overall current state: 128 pages scripted and thumbnailed, 93 pages pencilled, 64 pages online, 35 pages to pencil.

Yep, this means I have finished pencilling chapter 3. Can’t say I’m furiously happy about the last three pages (felt kinda weird all day long) but they’re done. All three were giving me some grief too. Well, nevermind. Tonight is free anyway. Tomorrow I shall be scanning and editing all 32 pages (if I’ll make it in time). And then on to coloring. And then to repeat it all one more time. Can’t wait to have this story finished.

While it is a bit early for that, I am thinking of the next title to work on, Six Bullets Left. This one needs some rewriting, but not much more than few pages (or so it seems to me). I should get some extra thicker pens and perhaps return to inking? since I trace off every pencilled line several times anyway, might just do it once or twice with the black pen. Seeing that the story is much shorter (only 66 pages, shouldn’t take more than a month and a half to pencil it all) this might be the way to do it.

Meanwhile, I shall return to being lazy.