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Sixth Step, Seventh Step

It’s the new year.

I spent December working on other things in order to read my rough pages with a fresh eye. A few friends were confused about my last post and thought I’d stopped working on TWTHN completely. That’s not the case.

One thing I’ve come to terms with recently is the length of time it’ll take me (as 1 person) to complete the stories I want to tell. I got into a good groove over the summer where I would work on TWTHN roughs during day and writing prep-work on DPC in the evening. I anticipate TWTHN will take anywhere from 1-4 years to finish cleaning up. This depends on how fast I can churn out pages and whether I take on any storyboard gigs in the future. Because of this time-frame I’m going to try and spend my spare time laying down the groundwork for future projects. Hopefully this will speed up the transition when I eventually finish TWTHN and move onto the next big story.

Now that it’s 2019, it’s in my best interest to get TWTHN out as fast as possible. The last round of edits/test pages/colour script/leftover designs will all be handled on the fly as I clean up pages. And aside from some possible colour tweaks and minor art elements, the website is done. I’ll be jumping back to it once I have finished pages ready to post.

The clock is ticking…

DPC Poster

Here’s a little teaser for my 3rd story (title’s a secret for now). Needed to reset my eyes/mind before cleaning up TWTHN, so I spent the last 2.5 weeks writing out the first draft of this. It’s been in development for a very long time, so getting to this stage is a huge win for me. Here’s the history:

  • 2008: Wrote a 30 pg. script (my first one ever) that would be the first iteration of this story. In hindsight, it kinda read like the pilot for a TV series. It was trash.
  • 2009: Tonnes more development and iteration of this world, both drawing and writing, but struggled to connect everything together. Drew a few comic pages of potential short stories, none of them completed.
  • 2010: A certain film came out this year that rocked and wrecked my world. I loved it, it was everything I wished my story could be. There were even a few eerie similarities to what I’d been writing. I got depressed, stopped working on DPC and moved onto other ideas.
  • 2011: Read an old classic novel and wanted to write an adaptation of it for practice. *CLICK* This story would fit well with my DPC work, what if I combined the two?
  • 2012 – 2015: Passive development of this potential new version of DPC.
  • 2016: After urging from a friend, I started spending my commute time writing instead of reading. Printed all DPC notes and started developing this new version.
  • ROADBLOCKS: Writing on paper is refreshing, but very hard to organize and rearrange. This combined with lots of new ideas associated with the source novel made it very hard to figure out the story and how it would progress. I was stumped again.
  • 2017 – 2018: Started writing digitally on tablet during commutes. Purposely did NOT look at previous work, but created a new outline from scratch instead. The puzzle pieces were falling into place, but something was still missing…
  • 2018 spring/summer: Compiled all written and digital notes. *THE BIG CLICK* After looking through all the work so far and reminiscing on some unpleasant experiences I went through in 2016 (unrelated), I finally figured out what I wanted to say with this story. Everything became unified. Trimmed away the excess fat and finished the prep work.
  • 2018 winter: Here we are…

I had way too much fun writing this story. It was smooth sailing except for 2 scenes in the back quarter. I’ll have to see how it all reads when I pull it out of the drawer again for revisions in a couple years. Now it’s time to clean some comic pages!

Mock-up


Printed out a mock-version of the book last week. It’s 241 pages. Gonna give it a read through to catch any lingering pacing & art issues.

Fourth Step, Fifth Step

I finally finished roughing-out the book. It’s 239 pages right now, which is pretty close to my initial estimate. Making it to the end was a real endurance test for me. I’m feeling conflicted about my pacing and the breaks I took in-between, but I think they were necessary to keep my head on straight.

One thing I can say for sure is that I’m much more confident with comic layout than I was back in April. I love how efficient storytelling through comics can be (compared to storyboarding). It was also interesting to note that action scenes were easier to plan out than the dialogue scenes (the complete opposite for me when I storyboard).

This is the closest I’ve been to releasing the finished story. But first, there are a couple things to take care of:

Edits. I was making notes on the side as I went through the thumbs, so now I have go back and fix whatever needs fixing. There are a couple scenes where I was unsure of the pacing, so I might need to +/- a page where necessary. This process shouldn’t take too long, and I’d rather spend some time now than overhaul clean pages at the end.

Location designs are soft-locked because I’ll be nailing them down and maintaining continuity when I draw the final pages. I’m still undecided about the colour script. Might just figure that out scene by scene as well.

Very excited to get this all up and running!

Verge

Six more scenes, 12 script pages left, 88% done. So close I can taste it.

Three & Half Step

Wow, it’s already August. I’ve roughed out 140 pages so far and I’m ~61% through the script. Not too bad… I think I could’ve gotten a bit more done, but I was feeling a little overwhelmed around the 50% mark and took a short break to recharge.

I’m getting closer and closer to the last 30 pages of my script, which I’ve been secretly dreading. A lot of tough sequences coming up. Even though I have enough rough pages that I can start cleaning up right now, I’m gonna push through and get all of ’em done first.

Talk more in September!

Morning Warmup

Thumbs

The first 45 pages are roughed out so far. Only ~200 left to go! Gotta pick up the pace.

All Over The Place

It’s May! My day-job has wrapped up, which means I can work on this full-time now. So, how are things looking?

There are only 3 character designs left to finish up, but they’re not too urgent, so I’m gonna call a soft-lock on this bottle. I still want to do a single clean colour of each design, but I’ll save that for after the thumbnails are finished. Just in case I decide not to colour the comic.

I’ve roughed out 19 pages (yay!). Based on progress so far, I’m estimating the finished book to be around 200-250 pages. Definitely not more than 300 pages, but we’ll see how some of the heavier sequences turn out. I’m gonna see how much I can get done by August, then adjust the schedule from there.

Location designs are moving in tandem with thumbnails as mentioned in the previous post.

The website is half done. All that’s left is filling in the content and making sure everything looks good.

2019 launch date for sure! But which month will be a surprise…for now.

Scattered progress is better than no progress, right?

Winter Blues

Things are still moving forward at glacial speed. I’ve actually thumbed out the first 7 pages of the book alongside progress with location designs. This might be the best way to go. It helps fight design paralysis when I have some idea as to what shots will be drawn and how things may be staged. Also, my current day gig will be finishing up in a few months (I think), so I’ll check back in around then.

Course-Correction

Time for another round of adjusting dates to better fit Will’s…lack of productivity?

Kidding. I did get stuff done, just not enough as I’d hoped. Making the trailer threw me for a loop, but in the end it was actually helpful. Like a test run of how the comic would look if I tried to jump into it right then and there, with whatever I’d prepared so far. The general feeling was that I’d probably fall flat on my face. It was a good try though.

I can guess what you’re thinking. Stop making excuses and just make the comic. Yeah…nope. I’m close, but not close enough.

There are a small handful of character designs that I have to nail down. The majority of them are done, but not all of them are cleaned up, or have full turnarounds. After making the trailer I think that a thorough design cleanup might be a waste of time. What I’ll probably do is one clean drawing of each design to lock the colours and everything, then just do my best in the final pages to keep it all consistent.

For locations, there’s quite some work to be done. The backgrounds in the trailer were a first pass at them. I definitely need to spend a chunk of time nailing them all down, as well as finding a consistent style for drawing them. Drawing BGs was fun, but not something I’m very experienced at. I do look forward to getting better at them.

Launch date in 2019. I’m not gonna comment on this for fear of jinxing anything. 😉

Trailer Post-Mortem

I’m so relieved this trailer is done. I did NOT expect it to take so long to finish. Back in May I was starting to get a little fatigued from all the designing I was doing. Since most of the character designs were nailed down, I figured I’d put them to the test. What followed was me getting my butt whooped by my old nemesis, storyboards. I tried my best to crunch to the finish before my month-long vacation, but failed. When I came back and looked at the art so far, I noticed a lot of things that needed fixing. It was probably better that I didn’t rush it. There are still a few things I would’ve liked to tweak (record better sfx, redraw some stuff, touch up the edit), but I’ve got to move on.

Colouring my boards was difficult. There was a point where I was thinking to myself, would it be a cop-out if I made the comic in grayscale? I’m on the fence about it. If I do choose to colour, I really need to make a colour script before I start drawing the pages.

Making the music for this was a lot of fun. The time spent in front of the keyboard flew by really fast. Sound mixing is uncharted territory for me, so I hope the tune didn’t rip a hole in your ear or sound like a muddled mess. There were some story-related choices regarding the song, but for the sake of not spoiling anything I’ll save that chat for later. One thing I can say is that I tried to stay away from instruments that wouldn’t exist in that world, like pianos, large brass sections, violins, disco, electronica…

I watched a bunch of trailers for inspiration, but kept coming back to these ones: Kairos, The Master, Lastman.

That about sums up my thoughts for now. Here are some feelings:

Will from 2010:  THIS THING IS REAL!! IT’S COMING!!! AHHHHHHHHHHAHAAA

Present-day Will:  …I still gotta make the actual book yo

Trailer

Here it is.

Detour

So I got a little sidetracked from designs and decided to make a trailer. It’s about 80% done. I’m going on vacation soon so I’ll have to finish it when I get back. Until then…

Colour Test

Thinking about how I’m gonna colour this comic. Could be something like this.

Design Dump!

Here are a few faces that show up over the course of the story. And my main girl, whom I’ve been neglecting (sorry!! I’ll come back to you at the end).

These past few weeks have been super productive. If I can keep up my current pace, I should have most of the designs roughed out by May.

Third Step

image

So, the script is done. Well, pretty much. Any changes from here on will be made during the thumbnail stage. But first I’ve got to design everything.  

I’ve got to design EVERYTHING. :’O

I did a count and there are approximately 35-50 characters to design, 49 specific locations, and 9 major props (someone kill me now). A bunch of these characters are non-speaking roles, and some of the locations are sections within a larger location, if that makes any difference to the amount of work to be done. Probably not.  

Being a storyboard artist, I’m used to having everything already designed for me. Or if something wasn’t provided, I’d just make up something quick. I don’t think that’ll fly in this case. Who knows, if things take too long I might have to resort to that for less important designs. The good thing is now I can show you all some art, at least as much as I can without spoiler-ing the story.   

Wish me luck!              

Script…Locked!

Second Step

image

Yesh! The second draft is done.  

About 5-6 months behind schedule. *gulp* I think I grossly underestimated how long things would take. This new schedule should be a bit more accurate. Three years sounds about right, right? I’m just gonna focus on the next step and fill in the dates as I go…for now.

So why did the 2nd draft take so long? Besides the amount of revisions, I hit a couple roadblocks that killed the momentum I was building.  One was around June when work got intense for a month or so.  Then in August I had a week off and was making good progress— until I hit this one scene. It needed to be completely re-imagined and my revision notes for it were pretty much “this needs to be fixed, here’s a bunch of possibilities, so fix it”. Also, the outcome would affect the scenes that followed, so I couldn’t skip past it. After running away scared and banging my head against the wall, I made it through and finished off the rest this past week.          

Coming in at 99 pages, I’m feeling pretty confident with it. Compared to the 1st draft, which was 86 pages, this one is more fleshed out, flows better, and is much clearer. Here’s what’s next: 

The third draft. This will be more of a polish than a complete re-write*, so it shouldn’t take as long (I hope). I’ve marked a bunch of scenes that need a little more tweaking, and there are few new revisions that came up that still need to be addressed. After that, I’ll do a dialogue pass to make sure everything sounds okay. Then I’ll put it away for a bit and re-read later to assess the whole. THEN it should be ready for thumbnails, which I’m sure will bring out any remaining dialogue and story issues.

Alright, let’s go!  


*this advice worked wonders, but probably isn’t necessary for my 3rd draft

One & Half Step

Quick update since I’m past the first due date.  Currently 77% done the first re-write.  Aiming to finish by the end of month.  Gotta push it!  

Talk more soon-ish. 

First Step

image

Made a super simplified production schedule to keep a track of my overall progress.  I’m not sure how much time each stage will actually take me to finish so the dates are estimates.  My day job as a storyboard artist is the main obstacle right now.  It’s great, but it drains a lot of my creative energy.  I’m working on a solution to that (more on this later).  

So what’s next? Well, I went and re-read the script again.  This time with my revision hat on, and…well…I kind of ripped it to shreds. :}  There are a lot more revs than I had realized.  But it’s fine.  I’ve made a huge list of all the areas that need fixing, so now it’s time to jump into the re-write.  

I’ve also started the character design process.  I spent a few evenings compiling all the random sketches I had laying around the computer and house.  Now that it’s all organized, I can start chipping away at designs while I re-write.    

Poster

Here’s a poster I made to keep me motivated.  I still haven’t finalized her design yet but the title is settled on.  In fact, I’m opening up a little contest just for kicks.  The first person to guess the exact title will receive a quick sketch from me for being a smart cookie.  Shoot me an email or private message if you figure it out!  You have until the comic officially launches or when the title is released, which probably won’t be for a while.

EDIT (10.9.2017): Contest closed.

Important Things

Q: The most important thing when attempting a project of large scale is ________.
a) having a story worth telling 
b) having a story that works
c) having a good story  
d) having a good story that works and that one feels from their gut is worth telling

Let’s hope the answer is D.  If I don’t make it to the end of this project then I guess I didn’t have much to begin with at all.  

On Your Mark

This whole thing started when I finished the first draft of a story back in 2012.  I pulled out the script a few months ago on a whim.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be.  There were definitely some parts that needed fixing, but overall it seemed to be working.  There was one problem though.  I wrote it imagining a live-action film.  Unfortunately, there’s no way it could be made without heavy CGI and visual effects.  I doubt anyone would be interested in putting up the budget for it either.  What’s funny is that when I first came up with the idea I pictured it as a comic or a book.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that a comic might be the best way to go.  I’ve been wanting to make one for a long while and now I have the excuse to do it.  So!  Here I am, documenting my progress (or failure) online.  It’s going to be a tonne of work, but I’m up for the challenge.  

If you make people laugh or cry about little black marks on sheets of white paper, what is that but a practical joke?  All the great story lines are great practical jokes that people fall for over and over again.

Kurt Vonnegut