Monday, March 30, 2009

More Layout Work

Here are a few more spreads.

One is directly following the previous spreads of Robel. We watch him glide down the mountainside to give the message of the approaching warlord to the council. Then we see abit of the Sidian City, and look up into a high tower and meet Eleya, who is arguing with her father about the Sidian religion, and the fact that she is going to be sacrificed today. It isn't technically a sacrifice, as she's going to be fighting a beast in hand to hand combat, but as no one's ever survived before it's basically a sacrifice.

In this scene I want to show that Eleya does not believe in her father's religion and the religion of her people. She has finally got the courage to tell her father how she truly feels, now that she is going to be killed. He, though, is trying to hang on to his religious foundations and is not willing to hear her blasphemous remarks. He loves her, but still tries to be stern and stoic, and is genuinely insulted by her open lack of faith.

And we learn that his wife, Eleya's mother, is a sore spot for him. Gordon can only hold himself back for so long until he smacks his own daughter in the face... but she doesn't fall down. Instead, she keeps her feet, insults him one last time and storms out, leaving him now angry at himself. This is not how he wanted to spend his last day with his daughter.

Monday, March 23, 2009

San Diego, here I come!

I just got word from the Small Press Committee that I was approved for a table in the small press area of The San Diego Comic Con. YAHOO!

I've got to hustle to get some stuff together by then. Xiola production has been slower than expected, but such is life. If I can get together a Xiola preview book as a giveaway, then I'll be happy. Now I can focus on the goal of getting as much finished on this book as possible before July.

I still have not finished the layout of the first issue. ARGH! Laying out pages takes a long time. I go back and relayout often, finding better ways of telling the story. I recently reread Katsuhiro Otomo's "Domu" and I fell in love with his simple panel approach. He tells the story slowly, over many panels, often nine panels to a page, broken into three three-panel sections, the top, middle and bottom, like this.

He'll often have the splash page or large panel, but the layout is clean. I like this classic looking layout style, and hope to transfer some of this feeling into "Xiola."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Been too busy

Between work at Tippett and extra work for clients I've been too busy to work for myself this past week. I'm planning on getting back on track this weekend.

Stay tuned. More layout work is coming.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Restructuring for page count

This is an example of how I've adapted my layout to work better now that I've added four pages to my book.

Because I had designed my story to take place over 20 pages, I ended up cramming lots of panels and information on each spread. Too much information was being crammed into these two pages. This spread is the introduction to how the Sidians collect sap from bushes growing on the top of rock formations which they use to produce their oils. It is also the introduction to Robel, the flier. And you find out that the Sidians will soon be under attack by a conquering warlord. And I foreshadow that their oxen are easily spooked.

The first page starts out overlooking the towering rocks on which the Sidians cultivate their sap producing bushes. I do a closeup of a worker scraping sap from a bush. Then a wide of workers with Robel small in the background. Then I punch in on Robel, to which we hear the drums roll in the distance. The workers begin to wrap up their work. Meanwhile a boy is trying to push his ox down the path and strikes it, sending it into a panicked run towards the cliff.

On the next page we see Robel jumping into action. He grabs the reins of the ox, turns it and calms it down. After he explains to the boy that oxen are easily startled, he is called over to the cliff's edge by an older man named Ristides who points out smoke on the horizon. They talk for a moment about the reality of the approaching warlord, mentioon the high ritual happening today, and the fact that they have no army.

All these points are important for my story to work, but it was getting too busy and I wasn't able to pace the story as well as I'd liked, so here's my redo below.

Now I've got four pages to tell the same story. I am able to do a few more closeups on the Sidians at work. Scraping the sap into bowls and grinding the sap into mush and loading it into pots. This may be the only time in the entire book where you see the Sidians at work, and I think it's important to show them as regular people. I have Robel holding a feather in his hand. I like props, they seem to help make it seem as though the characters are thinking about something instead of just standing there posing.

The page on the right shows the Sidians beginning to wrap up their work and start their slow hike back down the cliff trails. Now I'm able to punch in on the boy and his problems with his ox.

On this spread I am able to play with space and allow Robel one extra big panel to sell the strain of slowing down the ox. I also swapped two of the panels at the top as I want to punch in on Robel grabbing the reins, then pull back out to see the beginning of his pull. I spend a few more frames with Robel talking to the boy.

On the last page I get to do a study in faces, and landscapes. Ristides is based off my wife's uncle. He's got a great face, and I can't wait to paint him. I'll probably make him even bigger in the last panel. And I want to show the landscape slowly changing from desert rocks to green mountains in the far distance where the smoke is coming from. The larger panel will help give me a bit more room to do so.

So all in all I'm happier with the extra pages. I was able to tell the story with fewer panels and pages, but was just lacking a bit of the actions and my pages were a little too crammed. Now I've got room to breathe.

Tomorrow is my birthday, so I may not work on the book, but if I do, the next page is of Robel gliding down the mountainside. It'll be a fun one to sketch out. I like action.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Page Count

I attended Wondercon this past Saturday and brought my son with me for his first comic convention. We got there when it opened at 10 and stayed until closing. It was a long day, but it was a good day.

We went around and did the normal fan stuff first. I snuck in the business stuff here and there throughout the day. I have been trying to plan the layout of my Xiola comic, and as I said, the story is written, but I still need to lay out the whole thing and think of how many pages I want the books to be. Now normally, I'd want to make a book with a page count of a mutiple of 4 for easiest printing. I'd originally thought I'd make each book 20 pages long which is short for a comic, but the more I look into it the more I think I should make it longer. 20 pages seemed reasonable because I wanted to give myself a realistic goal. 20 pages per book for 7 books is 140 pages for the entire story. That may take me years to complete.

Some comics are 40 pages per issue as in most Marvel books. (Speaking of which, where was Marvel this year? They had no presence at the con.) There's a new company called Radical which makes it's first issues 48 pages, then the rest are 24 pages. They try and suck you into their world with their first issue and then bring you back for a more normal monthly page count. But then there is Hellboy. I ran into Mignola and gave him a copy on my Wanderings short. After talking to him I realised that I'm going to do what he did; tell a story I want to tell over a series of books and in a manageable size so I can get it done. So I checked out his Hellboy Seed of Destruction series and found that they are 24 pages per issue.

Not too short for a comic, though short enought to be manageable for a one man team. In total it will be 168 pages for all 7 issues of Xiola. It is definitely going to take more than a year to complete, but I'm excited to see what I'll get finished by the San Diego Con this summer.

Now I've got to go back to my rough layout and reorganize my pages. I'll add a few more panels to cover the four more pages, but mostly I'll be spreading out the same number of panels over more pages. Less claustrophobic. I'd had some pages with more than nine panels, and more than nine starts to really get busy.

Once I lay out the first book I'll post it, so you can see what a rough draft of a comic looks like.