Having plotted, treatment, scripted and pencil-roughed my new 120 page graphic novel The Midsummer Night's Dream Team (as detailed in this earlier blog) the next steps are a bit of rewriting, and then the artwork. And it's the artwork that's turning out to be the revelation.
The rewriting mostly concerns the opening silent sequence. Both of my script editors, Heather and Steve, have concurred that the opening sequence is hard to follow. In the treatment (which very much suggested I was approaching this as a film as much as a comic book) I referred to that opening sequence as 'slow motion'. And whereas that might have given a dream-like effect that might have led us into the story, were it done on film, in comic strip panels it's ended up with people who you don't recognise yet, doing stuff you can't quite work out. I fear I may have to cheat it and put some words in to make it work. Those 15 pages are work in progress. The other script changes are just in the dialogue I think.
But the art, oh the art, that's a big step change. You see for the past two books (Findlay Macbeth and Prince Of Denmark Street, both available on Amazon) I've done A5 pencil roughs which I've blown up and traced through to the Bristol Board on a lightbox, then pencilled and inked. Because, as you can see from this example page of PODS, the roughs were very rough, and the bulk of the drawing was done at the pencil stage.
But with MNDT, the cartoony style of the characters, and the limited number of settings, has meant that for most of the book the pencil rough layouts are good enough for me to start inking over. Which realisation is when I hit on the idea of blueline. A lot of people do it, and I never have. Blowing the roughs up onto the Bristol Board as blue lines, inking over those and cutting out the re-pencilling stage. And it worked. Here's the blue line...
And at the top of this page you can see my attempts at inking, scanning, tweaking and finishing. I am indebted to my fellow artists on Facebook who replied with their tips. Dave Shelton passed on this tip: Image/Adjustments/Channel Mixer...
Then from the "preset" dropdown menu select "Black & White with Blue Filter"
Then click "OK"
Then they should disappear, though you might want to monkey with levels a bit to remove the last traces.
David Leach, Paul Holden and others had tips along similar lines which, when combined variously, seem to have given me a method that will work. Let us see how we progress. I shall keep my usual worksheet below...
Monday July 27th - Pages 36 - 41. 6 pages inked and assembled! How's that for a good start? On the first day of Findlay Macbeth art (Jan 2nd) I got two pages drawn, and on the first day of Prince of Denmark Street art (April 14th) I just got one page pencilled. To be fair, not only are the MNDT pages simpler, and these were 6 of the simplest ones, they're also not totally finished as I have backgrounds to drop in a couple. But still, 6 pages on the first day. If I did this every day I could finish the book in 20 days! (NB: I will not finish the book in 20 days. With a half dozen days of Masterclasses, a handful of Socks gigs and guest appearances, and the mailing out of over 100 Prince Of Denmark Street books in the coming weeks, we can look forward to this artwork being spread out over a goodly while yet).
Tuesday August 4th - 4 pages inked (34, 35, 42, 43), and the backgrounds drawn and dropped in for the interview room. No work done for a week, thanks to a day and a half of classes, the Socks first Zoom gig, another Dean gig, a day trip to Exeter, and two days packaging up Prince Of Denmark Street books and posting them.
And look, I made banner ads too. Get me, I'll be starting a Kickstarter before you know it.
My next Comic art Masterclasses on Zoom are on August 5th and 28th, 10am and 2pm. Two hour sessions at the end of which everyone goes away having produced a comic together, and with a caricature by me.
Tickets are here: