Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Comic Process Part 1

Since I've received some good feedback from my "Produce Your Own Mini Comic" tutorial blog entry, I figured I might as well blog my thought process when creating a comic from scratch. Currently, I am working on an eight page mini comic for the Comic Projects group on Facebook. The challenge is called "Monster Mini," and the rules are pretty straight forward. The mini comic must be done by August 1st, it must at least be eight pages, and it must contain a monster. With those basic rules to ground me, I started brain storming at the beginning of the month. At that time, I also had been watching several kung fu movies, particularly 36th Chamber of Shaolin and The Five Deadly Venoms. I decided to have a Shaolin monk be the hero, and an ogre type monster as the villain (mostly based on Japanese oni from mythology). Sketching and letting my mind wander helps me think things out in detail, so this is what I started doing:

Shaolin Monk, "Brother Zhao." You can see his six dots on his forehad “香疤 (xiāng bā).

Meng the Ogre. I really like his big upper body, and big arms. He has a Japanese tetsubo weapon. I know, I'm mixing Chinese and Japanese stuff, but it's my fun little mini comic.

This is Meng's head. As you can see the light sketch under his chin, I'm planning a double braided beard. He looks a little plain without one, and it's symmetrical to his horns.

Lastly, after fleshing out the story, I realized I had a few extras that needed to be drawn. This is a villager and a fisherman.

The other thing that helps get the brain pumping with ideas is going some photo reference hunting! Here are some pics I found that were inspiring:

While coming up with the story, I called my friend Aaron for a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. My main thoughts were having an ogre and a Shaolin monk, but I wanted the monk not to resort to Kung-Fu in this tale. I also wanted it to feel like an old myth or fable, so the end of the tale has to resolve with a lesson or moral. With those things in mind, I wrote up a simple synopsis of the story:

A villager runs to the top of a mountain where a Shaolin monastery resides. He finds a monk, and begs that they send an army of monks to defend his village from an ogre. He wishes them to protect his people, because everybody knows that their Chinese boxing and sword skills are legendary. But only the one monk, Zhao comes down to the town to investigate.
When he arrives, he follows the path of destruction to an ogre eating cakes in a bakery. The monk gently taps the ogre's shoulder, and asks him why he has destroyed the town. The ogre claims he has the hunger of fifty men, and takes what he wants. The monk then suggests, "If I can feed you enough to satisfy your hunger, will you leave this village? If I fail at this task, you may eat me instead."
The ogre agrees, and the two set towards a lake. The monk boards a small sailing boat, and sets a large net into the water. He then asks the ogre to blow as hard as he can into the sail. The ogre blows, and the boat whizzes across the lake. At the other side, the monk unboards the board, and draws the net with the help of the ogre. Hundreds of fish have filled the net, and the ogre laughs pleasingly. The monk suggests, "if you help these fisherman of the village, you will be able to catch enough for yourself and for the village." The ogre vows to become a peaceful member of the community. The monk says his goodbyes, and returns to his monastery.
What do you think of this? Any suggestions? Once you think it sounds decent, I'm going to do a page breakdown of this for the eight pages. I'm also going to start doing some character sketches, and maybe nab some photo references of a Shaolin monastery.

From here, I look over the story, and share it again with my friend. Once we felt it was okay to move forward, I wrote up the page breakdowns. Essentially I write a key moment, idea, or scene that will appear on each page. The dialogue doesn't have to be fully realized, but if I come up with any dialogue, I make sure to write it down for future reference:

Pg 1: Villager(female) climbs up mountain to the monastery, and finds Brother Zhao at the gate sweeping.

Pg 2: The villager requests an army of monks to defeat a monk that is terrorizing the village. Zhao says that his brothers are visiting another monastery and won't be back for a week. Zhao starts heading down the mountain and says, "I'll see what I can do." last panel shot of the frightened and exasperated villager yelling "aren't you at least going to bring a sword?!"

Pg 3: The monk follows path of destruction to the ogre sitting Indian-style in a bakery, eating whole cakes in one bite.

Page 4:  Zhao asks, "Could you at least pay for your food and be more careful in the village?" The ogre responds, "Pay? Who would offer me a job, if it meant feeding a hungry ogre? I have the appetite of 50 men. Bother me and you'll be my supper! The monk makes an offer that if he can feed the ogre, the ogre will not terrorize the village. If the monk fails, he will offer himself as food. The ogre agrees.

Pg 5: Zhao leads the ogre to a lake where two fishermen are sitting by a dock. Zhao asks them to tie their nets together and to borrow their boat.

Pg 6: Zhao boards the boat, and casts the net. Then asks the ogre to blow as hard as he can towards the sail. The ogre huffs and the boat whizzes across the lake.

Pg 7: The ogre and Zhao pull up the net to reveal a giant catch of fish and sea life. The ogre laughs and says he couldn't possibly eat that much fish.

Pg 8: The monk suggests he helps the fishermen to fish, and he and the village would have plenty of food. The ogre bear hugs Zhao, and the monk starts his journey towards the monastery and says goodbye

I think this step is one of the most important, because this is my blueprint for the construction of the comic. From here, I can begin work on my thumbnails. From my thumbnails, I can start actual pages.
Sometimes, during the creation of the final pages, I might not be in the mood to draw a certain scene or even panel, so I can use my thumbnails to skip around to somewhere that I can work on at the moment. This really keeps me busy, instead of spinning my wheels on a panel I'm not getting anywhere on for hours. I don't have much free time between work and my busy life, so I have to maximize the usage out of all my free moments .

I currently have three out of the eight pages thumbnailed, and I should have them all completed by tomorrow. I'll scan them in when I get a chance next, and update this process soon. I've also started penciling the first two pages, just because I've been visualizing the opening pages for some time now.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spokane Comicon 2012 Photos

Well Spokane Comicon 2012 came and went again, and it was a blast. I always say this because it's true, Comicons are like family reunions. It was awesome! Here are some photos from this year:

 Batman and Rorschach
My girlfriend, reading King City
Batman and Ramona Flowers
 Batman and Catwoman
Giving Cape Tips
Me and my booth
Me and my table mate Josh. My brother-in law Chuy is playing with the iPad
Lars Brown and Matt Brazee
 Matt Nelson of Catbeard the Pirate

 My friend Aaron showed up!

The Crowds

 Zephan and Stevie!
 Me and my girlfriend!
 From Lars to Me!
Josh and I doing what we do!

 Snake Eyes snuck up on me at one point, a little startling

Mario and Luigi

Is that Creature from the Black Lagoon on the bottom?


 Rabbid Force, a webcomic

 Dead Supergirl... Unsettling.

 This girl has some cool art, kept meaning to say hi but didn't get a chance.

 Heroines of Spokane Comicon