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.
Indeed, this project has taken a lot more work than anticipated and I anticipated a lot. However, my editor and publisher want to get it right. Doing things outside the box means a lot of growing pains and learning as you go. Been a ton of that.
So, as it goes right now, I’m streaming words for book two, as you can see in the photo. Yes, that’s a tiger with a rabbit in its mouth and it’s not what you think. Unless you think it’s something more than a tiger with a rabbit in its mouth. Then you’re on the right track. I have a solid, working outline of book two. Nine chapters in, I’m discovering lots of cool bits that don’t show up when you outline stories. The focus on book two is getting the words down, fast and furious. Type it into the box with all the circuits and such, cut of the jagged edges and send it off to my ridiculously patient editor. By that time she should be sending me the manuscript for book one. That needs final line edits, final art direction and final, final art.
While things have been delayed quite a bit, the good news is we’re figuring out this odd way of slipping from prose to art and art to prose and a few variations in between. The other good news is that there won’t be a delay between books. That, right now, is key. And the first webcomic companion will finish its run soon. There’ll be another companion right after that one, which should be much less experimentally. More on that later after I finish torturing my Lamy on this draft.
Had to share this one for all of you reading the speed drawing experiment that is the Conjurers webcomic. You can probably guess who the boy is falling out of the sky. Completely different style than in the comic, but I think his general essence comes through. Keep reading the webcomic to see how he gets here.
This is a two page spread from chapter five. There will be a bit of text above the drawing on each page. I wanted an introductory drawing of the city for the reader. Now, I could easily spend weeks just adding more and more detail to every nook and cranny, however, time-wise I had to stay focused on what this spread needed to accomplish.
Using a distant vanishing point, the drawing creates a sense of depth as if you are riding into the city. The same view as the main characters. So while there are no panels or dialog on the page, hopefully the picture tells at least three hundred words. Leaving out the sky was not so the text would be clear on a white background, but to give it a pop up book illusion, as if the buildings are standing up and out from the page. Maybe it works or maybe it was a cool idea with poor execution. Let me know what you think.
Here's a quick concept sketch for the Dedites, a religious order that believes Dedi created the Conjurian. They sprang up when I worked on the origins for this world. Their counterparts would be the growing majority that Dedi merely discovered the Conjurian. However, as you'll see in the first novel, the truths behind their beliefs will play a huge part in the future of both worlds.
The monk pictured here is loosely based on another of my favorite magicians, Kenton Knepper. A brilliant thinker and a major influence on many of the effects I perform.
And a car chase! Yep, not as involved as I would have wanted, but still fun. There’s going to be some odd alliances coming up.
Also, this comic will launch on GoComic.com starting on October 28th. It’ll still run here, along with all other Conjurers related stories, but GoComics will open it up to a larger audience. I’ll be promoting that a lot more in the coming days.
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.
This one was brutish from an art perspective. Like I’ve mentioned before, this is a new style for me, so I’m constantly in search of new mistakes and hoping for happy accidents. And I was trying to push this one towards more of a painterly feel and it got away from me a bit. Still, learned a ton for the next page, which I am off to finalize the script for now.
Welcome to a meeting of the inner circle. This is the ruling body of the Conjurian. And while you won’t see a lot of them in this episode, you’ll see them all in different capacities in the novel.
For now I have only mentioned a few names. You know Ray, Eugene, Aggler and now a mention of Xavier. They are key players in the overall arc for the comic and the novels. So much fun ahead.
Next episode, you’ll see what happens when Savachia tries to take charge. Also, an honest offer from an evil man.
What? Savachia’s dad? Yep. And the nasty Shadow Conjurer’s got him. And the poor little Watcher. His old crush on Savachia’s Mom made him drop the ball, and his “redemption” will really put several trains on a collision course.
The fun bit is that I am working on the novel whilst working on this arc of the comic. So many things start to tie together. At first it seems like a jumbled mess. You just keep chiselling away and little surprises appear like diamond flecks in a rock wall.
Next week, Savachia will try and get his head to stop spinning and get some answers. Sadly, some of those answers will whip his head around faster than the teacups at Disney World.
Seems to me someone knows a lot more than they have let on. And who is this Christopher fellow? You will find out. He’s a major player in the world of magicians. Can’t give away too much. Suffice it to say, he has a large role in the novel. was happy he popped up in this comic series. Kind of a little meet and greet before the book.
Now, what about Savachia’s father? Oh my, there’s lots. You’ll see.
Here’s a slightly rough cover mock up for the novel. As a magician, I adore playing cards and especially the wave of brilliantly designed custom decks that have come along in recent years. Especially this one. I knew early on that I wanted to do a relatively simple yet striking cover. Coming up with my own spade design was the hard part. Didn’t want to just buy or download some clipart and slap it on there. The solution was a lot of fun. I doodled the spade, very small, in my sketchbook. By keeping it small, it made it very easy to get the shape I wanted.
Then I scanned the doodle in and used that as the template to draw the spade in more detail in Photoshop. The face in the center needs some work. That’s the Shadow Conjurer. The main baddy. No eyes, no nose. Just three red scars running down his face.
For fun, I want to work up a fantasy, collage style wrap around cover too. If anything, it would make a cool poster. So, would you pick up a book with a cover like this?
And wham! Something has popped out of the Conjurian. Ya, I know we’re not heading directly into the Conjurian for a good while, but I wanted elements from that world to crossover into Savachia’s story. Things are picking up some steam, and there’s more complications to come for the poor street hustler. He’s stepped into a dandy of a wasps’ nest.
Also, I have some ultra cool news coming about the webcomic’s future. Should be able to announce it very soon.
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!