Sunday, May 11, 2014

Me, Myself & I

Little bearded heads, simply drawn, speaking text, unpanelled, 6 or more to a page, narrating action that isn't seen, memoir, opinion. Subtle differences in the shape of the face and expression of the features moves the reader's eye along. The text is without balloon, loose next to the drawing, short bursts. The shape of the face can change radically, the head can reference these changes in the text, formalist experiments that are easy to read. The head can refer to other cartoons, other characters can burst in and talk back to the head. Other characters can blaze a trail ahead of the bearded head and tell other tales.
    Two bunny creatures, names withheld for the time being speak in snippets and solo words, rife with inside jokes and wry nods to each other. They engage in a half telepathic dialogue, finishing each other's sentences, riffing and making word plays. They are simple contour drawings, text spoken by each critter directly above. They form sentences rather than panels, sometimes they are living in discrete spaces, two heads a panel, four panels a page, maybe more.
    A finely rendered little ceremonial magician embarks on a quest. Detailed pencil work, replete with smudging and erasing as graphic tools, four panels to a page, each panel originally drawn at four by six inches. The world this character lives in is a small town, plenty of greenery, parks and old brick walls. His home has many rooms, hard wood floors and ritual objects. Furniture is zen hippie. Unlike the other two proposals above,
he has two books to his credit, one full length graphic novel the other a collection of shorts.
    Do I here 'stop inventing', ie: instead of launching into unknown territory, I make my next graphic novel using characters and a cartoon universe that already exists in print, reinforcing the brand, as you'd say. The temptation to somehow weave all proposals into one work sounds good in theory (maybe) but may also be a disaster in reality. Better the straightforward production, low on razzle dazzle and high in storytelling.
    I apologize for using this forum to outline and clarify my intentions regarding graphic novel projects. It is useful for me to do so. This is a journal of sorts, and I'm writing simply to maintain the habit and by chance, maybe hone my skills. This next big project in comics is much on my mind and I need to clarify my many conflicting thoughts about it. Scribbled notes aren't cutting it anymore, I have many of those. This process of writing about what I may do puts my thoughts in order, one after the other. I'm banking that at night, while I sleep, the proper decision will surface.

My first full length graphic novel was published by a house unfamiliar with the form and unfamiliar with how to sell it. Granted, it was a silent book and possibly quite oblique for people who don't make a point of reading comics. The book that followed it employed the same character and was a small run of three hundred copies. It was a collection of shorts that possibly didn't have enough breathing room between them and so came off crowded and possibly confusing. My very first comic book which came out years earlier than both of the ones mentioned above was a collection of radically different strips that may have made a groovy wtf reading experience but also didn't give the reader enough of any one thing.
    This upcoming and so far hypothetical fourth book cannot be doomed to obliquity. It would be good if it was easily read, simply enjoyed and provoked wonder enough to be reread. I am forced to admit that by over planning I get anxious and that if I simply trust the process and begin the final work straight away, a decent enough story will emerge. My one recurring issue is that I am starting to think that text in the body of the book may enable a wider audience. I am not convinced that silent books by my hand are not dismissed as too difficult to read or to 'get'. In my experience, many folks don't 'get' my work whereas the very few really 'get' it. For what's it's worth, I'd like more getting to happen.
    I have a possible publisher lined up and I'd like to provide something that they will feel confident is a book they can reasonably sell. Anything too inaccessible I may as well publish myself in a tiny run rather than blow a chance at wider distribution with something that doesn't sell or is limited to a small audience. At the same time of course, I am incapable of making a teen soap drama.
    Thanks to anyone who actually read this over long and fully naval gazing post. I am becoming overly self conscious about how often the word 'I' pops up in these missives.