Monday, July 6, 2015

Distracted with Re-writing

The script for Badin and the Secret of the Saami is beginning to consume me. This is by no means unrelated to my intense study of Frank Miller's Batman series from the mid-1980s and the Incredible Hulk issues 300 and up. The stories contained within the artwork is the life essence of the characters, places and events of comic books. I never understood this as a child. It is becoming increasingly clear to me now.

So I broke away from model sheets this week, imported the Microsoft Word documents into Scrivener and began making changes to the script. I will intentionally break many established illustration and compositional rules for creating comics with this graphic novel (that is what happens when you pour over unique work such as that by Frank Miller). It is risky. Yet I know I am not as experienced as other full-time comic illustrators and the necessity of following my spirit with a loose pen and a tight story must be fed properly.

By the way, the Saami and main characters are completed. I even started working on one of the major locations. I was a up a few hours for that one. I know you'll like it when it is done. Today, I also decided I needed to make these blog entries a bit more interesting by inserting some teaser images from pencil drawings. It will be up to you to speculate. I am keeping quiet about their descriptions until after the graphic novel goes on sale.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Saami model sheets done

The Sami people in front of their 'permanent' home
ahnenkult.com
Tonight I completed the model sheets for the Saami characters of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I also created the symbol of their Siidi (Community/tribe). It is quite simple, but important. They are fictional in many ways. However, they are also believable to those with rudimentary knowledge of old Saami culture. I am proud of them. They look so dignified and unique.

My artistic abilities are limited. So they don't look like I think they should look. However, this project is a labor of love. So I just do my best and slog through until I cannot do anymore. I can relate to the characters because in many ways they are like me. They are unique in the wider Saami culture in my story—and that uniqueness can make them quite vulnerable to the majority. Not all Saami communities were reindeer herders.

Next up: The antagonist(s).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Changes

Close up of Gustav Badin from a painting made by Pehr Hilleström 1779
Badin in a 1779 painting

During my training with Manga Studio 5EX, I have discovered that the Comic Sans font I want to use does not handle the Swedish alphabet well. That being said, I will anglicize many Swedish words and Sámi words, using extra consonants. Instead of Badin and the Secret of the Sámi, I am now using Badin and the Secret of the Saami. This will probably go for some of the locations which have the ö, ä and å letters. There may be a special Swedish font I can use, but for now it seems there is no solution—or if there is, it is too complicated for me to bother with at this point.

Speaking of changes, I'm having some serious misgivings for the opening of Act I in the story. It appears some minor script changes are in order.

I am very excited as a Mr. Jörgen Granqvist in Sweden sent me pictures of paintings in the Queen's Palace that include Badin. There is no way this could spoil the story. Check out this close up. He looks so regal. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Process

I'm almost 2 weeks into creating model sheets for the Saami characters of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I'm barely finished. There are three characters that need model sheets. I finally got the face for one of them. After going back and forth with various source images and history of Saami clothing, I finally narrowed down some sources.

Fortunately, my story's Siida (Saami term for "community") and characters are fictional. However, maintaining as much realism for their region in Sweden is important. I know I will not satisfy everyone. However, I want to avoid offending anyone. The Saami culture is continuously stereotyped. As a minority group in Sweden, they are also sensitive to offenses to their traditions. This is where the importance of a good story for Badin and the Secret of the Saami comes in to play.

Yet, I will admit to having anxiety about this, as I do not want to end up with negative reviews such as this one about Disney's Frozen. I have never seen Frozen. Nor are my characters cartoon-like. They will be very human and have to deal with some painful and wonderful situations regarding themselves and the world in which they and their enemies live.

Hopefully, the readers will like the story. Moreover, I hope it will inspire Saami youth and other so-called minorities in Sweden and the United States.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Getting Ready for Manga Studio 5EX

Manga Studio EX is not a true upgrade. It is a distinct application from MS4.
I'm still going through the training curriculum for Manga Studio 5EX. It is a very different animal from Manga Studio 4 EX. Manga Studio EX is not a true upgrade. It is a distinct application from MS4.

I'm still on the fence of whether I should do the penciling phase of Badin and the Secret of the Saami with this software or with real pencil. I'll definitely do the ink and color on the computer. While I still need to complete the thumbnails and model sheets, I have a little more time to decide.

I got tripped up with brushes that were lagging. It behaved as if my 20GB of RAM wasn't enough to power it. I checked their forums and found this post about brush settings and preferences with "No delay" that fixed the problem.

I've been combing through some of Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Night Returns comics and have been inspired to change the opening scene of Act I. Mr. Miller's use of tiny panels and dialog interspersed among pages with barely any dialog is fascinating to me.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Researching for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Furniture, clothing, vehicles. These seem so unimportant. However, for an American artist illustrating a graphic novel that takes place in Sweden during the 1760s, an intense amount of time must be invested in researching how these things appeared. Having some basic knowledge of Swedish and some Swedish friends is also crucial to finding the best sources on the internet.

Now that the full script is complete (with some continuous editing here and there), I am creating the model sheets of the characters and locations. I find this kind of work to be more enjoyable on my drawing table with pencil. Sitting at this computer is nice for gathering and organizing the information. Although I draw with the computer for much of the week, this project is a very different from my typical illustration work. By the way, I have been using Scrivener for organizing. It is an amazing writing tool.

While my script is in the hands of two unnamed individuals with whom I require a quick to read to see if the story is accomplishing what I want, I have been dabbling in thumbnail creation on the script. However, I think I was getting ahead of myself. The model sheets are very important to create first. Duran Textiles in Sweden has a site with amazing pictures of clothing from 18th century Sweden that will make clothing creation for my characters much easier.

I wish I could share with you the model sheets—especially of our hero, Badin. However, that would be spoiling things. Maybe I'll share an abstract of a cropped portion as a teaser when I am done with the model sheets. Suffice it to say, I think you will be pleased with what you see in the graphic novel.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Badin and the Secret of the Sámi script finished

Almost 2 months after finishing the outline, I have before me 100 pages of the full script of Badin and the Secret of the Sámi. For those who do not know who Badin is, read this excellent article by Madubuko A. Diakité. Those unfamiliar with the Sámi people, browse the many articles at the University of Texas.

As I write this, I am going through the first edit. There are quite a few holes that need patching in the story. However, according to my assistants, it is fun, action-packed and heart-wrenching. While we're going through the first edit, I have begun sketching thumbnail panels on each script page—fleshing out angles and placement of various elements.

I am also beginning to organize my source materials and sketching concepts of the characters and scenes. A new program I purchased calle Scrivener should help me with the process. The challenge to finish this within the next few months is daunting. However, I believe I can do it with the help of the Creator and a few sleepless nights.

In addition to the graphic novel portion, I plan to include lots of extra features with behind-the-scenes information, real history and concept art. That too is being organized.

Through this historical fiction of real people, I want to make the world proud of Sweden and its diversity. Skål!