I’ll be handing over the manuscript for book three at the end of May. I won’t start on the illustrations for some time. First have to get books one and two all illustrated up. However, as I work through the prose, I take a little time here and there to whip out a speed sketch from one of the scenes. It gives me a chance to at least have drafts of the final drawings lying around. It also allows me to work out the style for the final images. Trying to keep them light and sketchy and moving.
I won’t be posting a lot of illustrations from book three as they will contain a lot of spoilers for the first two books. Never the less, there will be plenty more to post when the actual drawing begins.
Warming up to illustrate book one. Like I mentioned yesterday, I’ll be editing book three and cranking out the drawings for book one over the next few months. Yesterday I drew my favorite supporting cast members, the Grubians. Those of you who have read the webcomic will be familiar with these rapscallions. And if you liked them there, wait till you get a load of them in the novels.
Fair to say, these guys are my Shakespearean clowns, although they play a pivotal role in the first three books. My inspiration for them goes well past Shakespeare. My magician friends will notice a similarity to another tall and short magic duo. Except my big guy is the non-talker. Yep, Penn & Teller. Two of my biggest influences in magic since the third grade. They were the starting point for these two.
Halfway through writing book one, I realized another influence for this pair were Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. If those names aren’t familiar, google them and then get the book that pops up in the results. I also recommend getting the comic adaptation and the BBC tele-play and of course the BBC radio drama version. Trust me on this.
Lastly, the names. Was it too obvious? My devious Grubians are named after Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman, the two writers I can’t live without. Well, also Susan Hill, but I have another character based on her we’ll get to later.
That’s it for today. Back to editing book three and sketching up the art for book one. I’ll be sure to post my progress on both.
Time usually flies, however in the case of “The Conjurers”, the series seemed to have fallen into a temporal loop. Much of that was because, from the beginning, I was trying to do something different. Found a few potholes but also found a few things that worked. So where does it stand now?
My editor and I came up with a timeline with definitive dates and goals to get this done. A lot of what slowed us down was having portions of the stories told through sequential art. Prose blended into comics and vice versa. That’s great if you have the text finalized. We didn’t. So, change some prose and you had to change the drawings. Change a drawing and you had to add some prose. Round and round it went. We made a few compromises on the scope of the illustrations and also put all our focus on getting the prose done.
This weekend I sent out book two. Now I’m onto the final pass on book three and simultaneously illustrating book one. That means book one is actually, really, truly in production. Which also means I should have a publication date soon. The next few months will be more insane than the last few (in which I was only re-writing one book). along the fall through this rabbit hole I’ll post updates on the illustrations for book one and the manuscript for book three. Confused yet? Me too. That’s why I have it written down. Either way, I think the trip will end up in wonderland, which is not a bad place at all.
The trials and tribulations of writing a fantasy novel series.
So, ya, about that fantasy novel series. Where are they at and what’s happening? Are they ever going to come out? It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about the novels, mainly because there wasn’t a terrible lot to post about. Thought I’d give a quick run down on their status. Good news and bad news. Bad news first? Good idea. Get it out of the way. Here we go.
The Bad News
I have no idea when “The Conjurers” book one will launch. From the get go, I had an ambitious idea of creating a hybrid fantasy novel that weaved prose in and out of the illustrations. Cool! Exciting! Never been done before! Yes, all very well and nifty, however, as is to be expected when doing things four miles away from the nearest box, you bumble your way along a foggy road that has never been mapped. The first tree in the road was attempting to write the prose and work out the illustrations at the same time. But when the prose changes, so do the illustrations and when the illustrations change the prose needs adjusting. Round and round it went for a bit. Finally a couple faint, swinging lights appeared in the fog.
The first was coming to terms with the fact that, on my inaugural outing writing a fantasy series, I wasn’t going to be able to pull off some the word C.G.I. where text blended into a sequential series of drawings and then seamlessly merged back into traditional prose. It was clunky and at times, too comic book-ish. Once I accepted that, there was another looming issue.
The original draft of book one was just over ninety-thousand words, and that was before adding in the pages and pages of illustrations. The book would’ve been more a piece of furniture than a fun read kids could tote around in their backpacks. Thankfully, a new creative director had just flown over on white, feathery wings to my publisher and she had the light bulb moment that pulled the whole project out of the muck. “Why not split book one into two books?”
And boom! Just like that, books one and two were written. Sort of. Now I could focus on polishing the text for book one and finalize the what and where of the illustrations. Right now, as I wait for notes on the final edits for book one, I am sharpening and molding book two (formerly the second half of book one) into it’s own complete story arc. The neat bit is that where book one was torn in half makes the series more of a cliff–hangar serial. That is to say, at the end of the new book one everyone dies. Just kidding.
The Good News
Onto the good news! Mainly, that book one is nearing completion and should have an official release date soon. The second breath of fresh air is that, because books two and three are more or less written, there won’t be any delays between releases. By the time book one thumps onto shelves, I should have book two wrapped and will be putting the finishing bits of spackle on book three.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting more often, given that I have a slightly sturdier grip on this eel like process. And that also means, as I promised myself, I’ll post a lot more sketches.
So this is what a first draft looks like. At least the hand scribbled part. After the notebooks, I transcribe it all in to the computer, cutting and patching bits as I go. Then I give it one more look, jotting down a few notes of things that need renovating and it’s off to my editor.
There’s lot’s more to be done. Rewrites, cover art and interior art. All of which I am greatly looking forward to.
What’s not to love about a chase scene involving floating skull creatures. The style is a changin’. I’m focusing more on form and value and laying off the heavy atmospheres and textures.
First up, the pencils. I rough this out with blue lead first focusing on the flow of the eye across the page. Also, I try to keep in mind where the text will go.
Here’s the first light water color wash. Again, here I’m forcing myself to stay zoomed out and not get into any detail. Just laying down super light washes along the eye flow lines of the page.
The rest of the process is coming!
And he’s back! Remember? The creepy dude, sitting in the tree outside the magic shop? Eating doughnuts? Well, I hadn’t forgotten him and goodness knows he was dieing to get back in the action.
This is where the fun of writing happens. In my outline, I had a few notes for this page. Firstly, bring back the doughnut eating Watcher (and his crow). Second, I knew the scene was going to be creepy, him standing over Savachia’s Mom and all. What I didn’t know, till he started talking, was that he has a history with dear Mrs. Savachia. Well, that threw me. So, I still have my outline. I know where all this ends because of Savachia’s role in the novel. However, some of the stuff coming will be as much a surprise to me as for you. Kinda cool.
What I do know is that things are going to escalate faster and faster. There be some battlin’ a comin’. Nothing is ever what it seems when dealing with magicians.
Now to find out what’s in the secret room. Just not the way Savachia thought he was going to find out. Wait till the next episode. A little surprise, even for me!
Late again. But I had to appease the Dog eat Doug deadline before finishing this page. The interior of the magic shop is fairly close to the actual shop it’s based on. I know, cool huh?
There’s two other intriguing aspects to the real life magic store and both will play a roll in the comic. So, as you can guess, I’m not going to tell you now.
A day late but not a comic short. This one took a bit for a couple reasons. I have the entire story plotted but when I hit this page I realized it could be combined with the next page. So I scrapped them both and wrote this hybrid page.
And yes, this shop is based on a real magic store. I used to live right down the street. And it’s a magician’s magic store. By that I mean, unless you’re a magician, you would never know it existed. Yet a parade of who’s who in the magic world parade through the closet sized store whenever they’re in town.
A little side story for my magician pals: One Saturday at the shop I got to spend the afternoon browsing through and trying out a box of spirit slates and such with Eugene Burger. Now that’s a real magic shop!
It’s 12:51 in the morning, so technically I missed the Monday deadline. Hopefully this page is interesting enough to be a smidge late. And obviously it opens another plot line. This plot line also ties directly into the novel. And by that I mean the scarred, card manipulating dude is THEE bad guy.
Here’s the page where I finalized the layout for the first page. And I’ll post the final art tomorrow (I hope).