Monday, August 12, 2002

Monday Lunch-Time, Feeling a Bit Better and Pondering the Reasons Why I Keep Getting Gum Stuck to my Shoe....

I recently completed 10 weeks of a grueling but very satisfying course at the Ottawa School of Art. It was a comic-book course.

Since GW, I really haven't had the time or motivation to draw anything or write anything in a graphic format. I drew one cartoon for GW last year, my first real foray into digital clean-up of a hand-drawn image using PhotoShop, but in a way, it was the same sort of stuff that I had been doing all the way through University and I wanted to flex my once-bulging, now flabby, artistic muscles and really give myself a challenge. I had commented a number of times to people that I had the desire but not the get-up-and-do-it, so my mom decided to jump-start the process and give me this course as a birthday gift, and I'm very glad she did.

I had the choice of any course that the school offered, from life-drawing, to sculpture, to digital art, to oil painting, but everything seemed to be too much of a leap as I was just starting off again. There were so many courses to choose from, but only one really stood out, and its title: "Comic Book Design and Illustration." I have tried in the past to draw an entire comic book story from beginning to end, with some success. For an art class in OAC, I drew seven pages of a comic book, which was meant to be the prequel or origin story for a comic book that never followed. I also drew a comic for my Chemistry class highlighting the life and times of Fluorine Man, Caped Crusader, which was hokey, but got me a decent mark. And there were literally hundreds of pages of character and concept sketches, many of which I still have, for an entire universe of super-hero books that in all likelihood will never see the light of day. But I had never done an entire book or story, with a clear beginning and end, that was never meant to be more than just one story.

In many respects, the course was just what I needed. The assignment was to create a complete 4-page story, following the entire design process from the initial plotline, to character biographies, to script, to character sketches, to thumbnail roughs, to blue-line pencils, to final pencils, to inks and lettering. The instructor didn't provide much in the way of new insight into comic book design, as I had hoped, but he did make sure that we were following the process and we had the chance to critique each other's work and achieve a stonger end-product. Although we weren't being marked on the project, there were deadlines to make sure that we were keeping on track and wouldn't get too far behind or overwhelmed by it all. Which turned out to be *HUGE*.

Make no mistake. Four pages of a comic book doesn't seem like a lot of work, but it's gigantic. Part of the challenge was actually limiting the story to four pages. When I heard that Jay's comic book project had been put on hiatus after someone else beat him to the comic book shelves, I felt terrible for him, knowing what had probably gone into the project already. And he was planning on a full-size book....sorry, man. Anyway, after 10 weeks, I had devoted well over 200 hours to the project. For a while there, my whole non-working life was sitting at my drawing board with a pencil, pen, brush, or nib-holder in my hand, staring at the page in front of me and drawing or desperately trying to contemplate how I would get everything done.

In the end, everything *didn't* get done. Although I was hard on some of my classmates, most of whom didn't bring in a single page of finished art because they couldn't be bothered to spend the time to work on it (which I can't understand, when you're paying $200 for the course), I couldn't get it done by the last day. Only one person did, and he had thrown something together the night before just so he could get it over and done with, and it looked like it, too. But I was damn close. I had finished the inking the night before at 3 am, having taken a day off work to get it done, and all I had to do was the lettering. I was one of only two people that had completed the art on time. That was back in June.

Which brings us to today! Last night, I finally scanned my pages into my laptop so I could start doing the lettering and finish the book. At some point soon (if I can figure out where I can post the damn thing), I'm thinking of putting it up online. Let me know if you're interested in seeing it so I can figure out if it's worth spending a chunk of cash to get my own domain and everything for it. In the meantime, I'm going to go back into Adobe Illustrator and get this thing done. Finally.


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