Kickstarter is live!

I am very excited to announce that my Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of SANK! Playing Cards is live!  It has been so much fun working with this group of artist.  We’re offering not only playable decks in a custom designed box, but also fine art prints, originals, and even commissioned art works.

King of Spade by Susanne Lund Pangrazio, Jack of Diamonds by Anna Orton, Queen of Hearts by me, Ace of Clubs by Nicole Bennett

Sketching -> Painting

Sketching n painting

The big news from this week was a positive response from a literary agent (!)  I’ve been sending out agent queries for this book, and one said she was interested in reading it and seeing more – that’s no guarantee anything will come of it, but it is a much needed positive reaction and a big motivation to keep up the energy levels with regard to this project.  And energy levels these days are a precious commodity.

So, as a result of her interest in seeing more of the book, I switched gears and started making finished pages.  I’m a little more than halfway done rough blocking, so I chose to work on a couple of page spreads that I feel confident about.  This opened up a huge pile of experiment time – what exactly do I want the size of the book to be? How exactly do I want to work? What exactly do I want the feel of the images to be?  Ugg, I have a headache just recounting this decision making maelstrom.  But, I figured out the finished size and cut come paper!  In the picture above I’m working 1:1 – I’m painting it as exactly the size I want the finished product to be.  I had trouble during the painting of Story(cycle) understanding what the finished page would look like as I painted it slightly larger, so I wanted to try doing things 1:1; however, I’m doing little panels now, so that means tiny painting.  I’m going to finish this spread as is, then try doing things 2:1 for the next spread.

The plan is to just paint away and let it get kind of messy, then Dave is going to clean up the gutters digitally, making one side’s white and the other side’s black.  He’ll also put in text boxes and dialog digitally, which means all I have to worry about is painting, yay!(It’s enough to worry about…believe me…)

Polish pages shall be posted!

Script -> Sketching

Well, a lot of life has happened between blog updates…suffice it to say things are moving, but moving a slower than hoped.  Sometimes having a project to work on was the only thing to keep me sane, but I do have those pesky over-achiever tendencies.

So, script: done.  I sent out a few meek calls for editors, since I’ve never had the experience of working with one.  But, being broke as I am, tempting one to work for pie and gratitude didn’t exactly entice a flood of eager contributors.  Self editing went pretty well after some feedback from friendly husbeast, and I decided to get sketching and work through the kinks in the text as I went.  This seems to be a good method for me, since drawing takes me much longer than writing, and I get to sit with the language I’ve cobbled together for longer.

Then, sketching.  I’m doing this book with sort of traditional comic-y panels, as you can see.Panelseses

All very well and good, and proving to be challenging and fun.  I’m composing things two pages at a time, since the book has two parallel narratives; one page had white gutters, the other had black.  This is turning into a really fun exercise for me, but I have to admit I’m still skeptical about my ability to do the whole sequential art business.  This probably has to do with all the life stuff vaguely mentioned above, which has left me feeling just plain knocked off course on all fronts, specifically the art front, so maybe I just need to relax and be nice to myself…easier said than done 😛

Anyway, getting close to halfway done already on the sketching process!  I took the holidays off to mostly sleep and eat, so I’m looking forward to digging into the next round of pages.  Let’s go 2014!

Crossing the mid-point

Well then, quite a busy/frustrating few weeks I’ve had…

Plenty of non-writing stuff going on in life at the moment, including the joys of a lengthy visa application process.  But, somewhere in there I’ve managed to slip across the half-way point in the script, and things have taken an unexpected turn, as they are wont.

I laid the story elements out and started to write the connections between them.  How does Shakespeare relate to green tea?  Excellent question, so I tried to answer it in narrative and conversation.  My characters started to sound like themselves, they developed little annoying quirks and redeeming qualities; all exciting and really fun for me, even if those annoying quirks were remarkably similar to things that annoy me about myself…

It occurred to me, like a slap in the face, that I was missing a golden opportunity to delve into one of my favourite Shakespeare plays: Macbeth.  Temptation, ahoy!  Lady Macbeth, how I love thee!  In re-reading it I re-discovered that weird Porter scene: after Macbeth decides to do the deed and kill Duncan, the action cuts to a drunk Porter yelling at the eerie knocking that echoes through the damned castle.  It’s a play within the play, harkening back to medieval English morality plays.  The Porter acts like a porter to the Gates of Hell, listing off a series of treacherous sinners who are knocking at the gate.  So, naturally, now my book as a mini morality play.

The two stories in my book are split and carry on side by side, until Lucifer reaches a tree in the meadow and the woman is left alone for a moment.  The structure breaks down, and my version of a morality play, including a staging of the medieval play Mankind in the background.  The moment of temptation, in this case, is something quite different.  The woman is tempted to negate herself, to break herself down and to give up on herself.  Temptation takes the form of Depression, of self-annihilation.

Of course she fights back, of course the story moves on, but this felt like a turning point for me, like I was discovering why I’m writing this thing in the first place.  This is a story about temptation, but it’s also an exercise in understanding and overcoming my own depression.  I’ve been reminded recently that the stories that matter, the ones that stick with us, are the difficult stories to tell.  I’m challenging myself to write the tough stuff, so I’m letting this piece wander into its dark night of the soul, confident that its dawn will peep through by the end.

Sundown begins

Ok, so I’ve been working on it here and there, just poking the idea around in my head and watching it squirm.

It first started with an image; just a man walking through a meadow in Summer at sundown.  And then there was some vague notion about temptation; plenty of stories involve an act of temptation, or are stories about the approach to and results of temptation.  Temptation is a frequent plot point.  I wanted to do something more zoomed in.  This would be an exploration of the moment of temptation, the liminal space when temptation is considered and options are weighed, but before a decision has been made.  A chance to expand on the feeling of dangerous possibilities, when things can be thrown away or preserved.

I scribbled down things as I saw them, not sure where it would take me, but interested in the prospect of building a story around the seemingly random set of images that came to me.  Cups of green tea, the meadow in lush summer, the maple trees, setting sun, a woman, Shakespeare volume tattered, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Lucifer walking (at sundown), Anubis, the threshold of temptation, the space where weight is considered.  Let’s see what happens…

Like Story(cycle), I hit the library first.  Any excuse to wander around the shelves, I must be addicted to the smell of books.  I’m writing the first draft now after taking copious notes and following bread-crumb trails and generally staring off into space and not editing instincts.  I have to admit, the post-MFA me is much more interested in seeing where curiosity takes me; there is far, far less self-editing going on at the moment.

Sketches come soon, but for now I’ll just say that this book will have panels.  Like traditional sequential art style, the sort of thing I experimented with in a few pages of Story(cycle), but now I’m committing to it.  Watercolor for sure, and digital text boxes.

At this point, forecast for finish is April, but that depends a lot on stuff going on with regard to where I’m living:  my student visa for the UK expires in January and I’d like to stay, so I’m currently in the tangles of a visa application.  Oh joy.