So you want to do a graphic novel. That’s great! And you think you have the writing and drawing chops to do it all by yourself. That’s great too!

But if you want it to be entirely painted, and your only idea of how to write is to throw a few characters into a situation and see what they do, you’ll probably never finish it.

Because comics take a lot of time. And comics don’t pay very well. And shit happens.

Figure out where your story is going, and how to get there in about 200 pages, and find an art process that won’t take too much longer than the pencil and inks of the B&W days. Or you will never finish your story.

(Me? I’m 10-20 pages away from finishing Decrypting Rita. It’ll be 200-210 pages, depending on if I decide to do the epilogue I’ve been debating the need for. But my mother dying kinda took the wind out of my sails for a bit. I’ll probably get back to it soon; I’ve been working on it fairly frequently for four and a half years now, and comics are kind of my day job thanks to Patreon.)

Ozymandias (again)


I’m still working on this adaptation of ‘Ozymandias’ as a dry run for ‘Drowning City’. The script font may need to be a little larger to be legible, and I’m not as sold on the sans-serif font for less floridly-delivered dialogue as I was in my initial doodles. That’s why I’m experimenting!

The painterly tricks, however, are definitely holding up. This takes a lot less time to draw than you think it does.



Bayeux: horizontally scrolling comics for Comic Easel.

I have decided to package the custom theme I use on Decrypting Rita into something that other people can hopefully use.

This is the first release, and still has a few things hardwired for my comic – if you’re afraid of editing a few bits of text in a PHP file, and poking at some CSS, this theme is not yet for you. Check out the readme.txt in the archive for more details.

The name, of course, comes from the Bayeux Tapestry, which presents the story of William the Conqueror in the form of one very long horizontal scroll. Scott McCloud cites it as one of the precursors to what we call “comics” in his book Understanding Comics; it’s arguable whether something lacking the modern innovations of “panels” and “dialogue balloons” qualifies as “comics” but it’s definitely “sequential art”!

Anyway. Good luck; let me know if you get it working on your site. If you can’t then I may try to help you out but no promises – those pages of Rita ain’t gonna draw themselves!

(And if you add in controls for the stuff I didn’t, please toss me a copy of your modifications – I like it when other people do my work for me!)

“manga” vs “comics”

I was looking at a thread on DA started by a girl who wants to make manga. Someone was saying “geeze, you're Western, use the Western word, call them comics”. Which I personally tend to agree with. But I started thinking about who tends to say “I want to make manga!” Instead of “I want to make comics!” and why. This is the response I wrote…

To American kids who grew up reading imported manga, “comics” means “those superhero things sold in those weird shops full of creepy old dudes”, while “manga” means “stories about things I can actually give a shit about”. Especially if that kid is a girl. American comics are really not friendly to women; manga are. You can get manga with female protagonists very easily; this is incredibly rare in American comics, and finding one who doesn't look like a twelve year old boy's porn fantasy is even rarer. I think it is very telling that most of the kids I see saying they want to make manga rather than comics are girls.

And while there are certainly Western creators who are Asian-influenced, if your work looks pretty much exactly like Asian comics, you're not going to have any luck getting published by anyone but a publisher who specializes in amerimanga. Publishers have limited resources, and often tend to focus on a specific sort of work – it's not just “is this great” but “is this something we actually know how to market” and “is this something we, personally, love enough to put our time into”.

That said, it grates on my ears to see American creators calling their work “manga” instead of “comics” too. And if an American who comes from a manga-reading background wants to sell their work outside of anime cons, they'll want to start calling it “comics” eventually. Or maybe a “graphic novel”, which is free of a lot of the superheros-for-little-boys stigma. But then again I formed my opinions in the 80s B&W boom, when “comics” meant more than just “creepy superhero stuff”.

anyway they both suck bandes dessinėes are where it's at :)



Stuff I doed this weekend:

Worked on the roughs for my contribution to my anthology. What I outlined as 8 pages currently occupies 19 pages of rough layouts, and will probably end up being 21-22pp. Working in a digest size just throws off my calculations! I might try to edit it down a little in the process of going from roughs to finished pages; I’ll see how it reads. It’s only a rough draft of the dialogue right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there end up being panel rearrangements along with reworking the words.

Went to Jason’s and talked about his plans for the future of Foolscap, a somewhat moribund little Seattle con he’s going to be the chairman of for next year. Then we played “Netrunner” a couple of times. The first time I died after the second time I threw myself at his ice; the second time came down to some very tense headgames when we were both one point away from the win and he had two systems that may have been traps and may have been points. He won – but then again I’d gotten to a point where I was spending several turns just taking money from having the “Great Work” card in play, and had all but maybe 10 of the money tokens available in the game! I declared that this meant I’d basically retired from console cowgirling after my startup went big, and was keeping a hand in for amusement. (I also had fun spinning tales of what taking money from a “day job” card entailed.)

Went to an actual concom meeting for said con.

Went to a Metafilter meetup. Got there late, joined in on the tail end of a game of “Cards Against Humanity” which… wow. I think that game loses you purity test points. Good stuff for playing over a few intoxicants, and one of the very few games where having art on the cards would probably hurt it. I think Erin was threatening to bring a copy to Rainfurrest or something?

Also I need to remember to get Nick to take a reference photo of me for one tough pose in that anthology story when he’s over here this weekend,

and also

After wallowing mindlessly in a pit of Gantz, I grabbed a smaller sketchbook and started roughing out pages for my contribution to the anthology I’m doing. Which is why I made the post about the Andrew Lang [COLOR] Fairy Books; I was skimming through them looking for inspiration for the title, based on the half-remembered fairy story I’d cross-bred with a setup swiped from Xxxenophile. So far I’m up to the end of page 2 of my 8-page outline, which is turning out to mean I’m up to page 4 of my actual thumbnails. Not surprising, really, given that I’m using a small format.

why did I read this thing

Yesterday I was feeling kind of crappy; after I finished up the page of Rita that I posted, I ended up sprawling on the couch reading most of Gantz. Which is really not something I’d recommend doing, as it’s kinda dumb.

Here are some things my brain had to say about the giant holes in the whole setup while I was in the shower. Spoilers ahead, if you actually want to read the comic. I don’t really recommend this.

Continue reading