Thursday, 19 November 2009

Cosmic Jellyfish

In case you hadn't realised, BLIP is just... out there... somewhere in the cartoon galaxy. And this first encounter has been freeformed, rather than planned. I wanted to release myself from my usual regime, and let things develop in their own way. See, I have a rotten habit of over-analysing my work. I'll hone and hone and hone a project until, if I'm not careful, I've lost the creative spark that got me so excited about it in the first place and I'll drop the thing cold. As a consequence, I'm quite ridiculously guilty of never finishing things. Seriously. You should see my attic, stuffed to the rafters with projects started but ne'er to be finished. So here I've changed tack. I've thought about the basics and sketched out the slimmest of thumbnails. But for the most part, I've let my mind wander down whatever path it chooses, towards some sort of intergalactic conclusion that makes sense to me, at least. The aim being to just get drawing, pronto, and to GET SOMETHING FINISHED. In capitals, just like that. And I've adopted a handy motto/mantra, which I've printed out and stuck to the sloping ceiling above my desk:

Get it done.
Get it done.
Get it done.

Even so, at the end of last week, that ol' chisel of mine was out once more, chip-chip-chipping away at the conceit of my story. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't work. I could do this. I could do that. Oh, I was honing away alright, and I came perilously close to blinding my creative process again. I was all for tossing the thing aside and starting something new and exciting instead. But this time, I forced myself to keep on drawing, and what do you know, eventually, that funk began to clear. Come Tuesday I could see again. And lo and behold, it was obvious I was still on the right track, and had been all along.

Curse you, you artistic fog, you!

Mind you, you can surely forgive my uncertainty. I mean, this first BLIP strip already features swathes of signal-munching Space Lice. And now, well, I've only gone and thrown a jellyfish into the mix. Yes, indeed. A Great Cosmic Jellyfish. I told you this was a freeformed adventure...

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Wee Beasties

So there's me, with my head in the stars, speculating on the interstellar exploits of a wee alien, when all the time I should have been looking closer to home for my inspiration. You see, we've got our very own little visitor, right here in our back garden. Whoever or whatever it is, has taken up residence in our olde wall. I say "olde" because it's Grade C listed, along with our house, so whoever it is, they have good taste. And they like rose hips. A lot.

That's quite a spoil heap. Our two Springers are drawn straight to it, whenever we open the back door - sniff, sniff, sniff - and that rose hip in the hole confirms there's an internal residence.

I'm guessing it's your common woodmouse, and I'm also guessing that he/she has brought a few familial companions with them, which means our own home is about to be over-run with the little blighters once more (It comes with territory, I'm afraid). But I'd love to know exactly who or what it is, and have taken to leaping out in to the dark each night, with my trusty flashlight ready to blind the culprit(s), mid-nibble. But all to no avail, thus far.

Actually, this visitation is quite timely, as I've now entered the final third of my first BLIP book, and my thoughts are turning towards the next adventure. There's going to be a lot more flora and fauna on show in that one, and juxtapositioning of size and scale... but I'll save the detail for another day...

Meanwhile, there's our own little visitor to ponder once more. And sniff.

Friday, 6 November 2009


I'm no comic book fool. Before I began this Not-Particularly-Great Endeavour of mine I sketched my li'l story out in thumbnails, checking the flow of things, seeing what worked. But you know, in my head, I'm always editing. How can I streamline this? How can I take my adventure from Point A to B in the most efficient way? I'm all-too aware of that dreaded comics term "decompression" and it's burning bright, at the back of my mind, with every page I create.

For the uninitiated, "decompression" is a term applied to modern comics storytelling. Google it and you'll find lots of folks talking about it. It's all to do with the way today's comic artists tell their stories, st-r-e-t-ching out action via single panel pages and telling their tales via repeat panels with sparse dialogue, so that a 24-page modern comic can be read in a heartbeat, and all that it entails for publishers, blah-blah-blah.

Um. Kind of like I'm doing here.

Look, I'm so aware of what I'm doing it's almost painful. But in my case, this is my own comic experiment to create as I please. And if I want to stretch a wafer-thin encounter out over 48 pages, then I'll do just that, and you can't stop me. So there.

But, but, but the point of this blog post is that, even here, in this laid-back, self-created comic environment, I'm always thinking about the pacing of my tale, and how best to present it. And although those initial thumbnail sketches I made are essential, I'm still editing, even as I finish each page, so to help me I've taken to creating rather jolly finished thumbnail pages. I reduce 24 of my completed pages on to a single A4 page, so's I can look at them in sequence, checking the flow of the story and just as importantly, the mix of the colour scheme, all on one sheet. And it's been darned handy this week, because I've now looked at the finished article(s) and I've been able to edit out two whole pages of action and tone down a big shouty example of colour overload. I was on page 34. Now I'm on page 32. But my spacey tale flows a whole lot better, now I've condensed the action, and it looks better too, now that I've recoloured a panel. So there you go. It begins with thumbnails, and it ends with them too!...