Letters to Holly

Friday, February 4

The First Few

The drawing schedule has worked pretty well, so far. Instead of having to resort to a looser style, I've been able to refine my artwork somewhat . It certainly helps to be drawing bigger; I drew the first hero minicomic at a smaller proportion, and it got sloppy at times. Also, having detailed panels already thumbnailed means I only have to recreate the artwork at a larger size. All the questions about camera placement are already answered.

Here are the pencils for the first two pages.  They scanned lightly, and I beefed up the contrast so you can see them. That's where the brown comes from.

You can see the diagonal grid marks to represent the fence surrounding their ring. This doesn't have the polish I'd prefer, but it feels clear to me, and that's paramount.

The cityscape at the top of this page came out nice, but the clouds in the lower two panels have to go. I'm going to draw and scan the championship belt plate and paste it into the final scanned art later on. That's what the "stat" note means. I'll probably also drop the blinds on the left in the second panel. I can't get the angles right. 
I started the third page today. These above were the two most difficult pages as they were first and involved more perspective work than any other pages that will follow. I should be able to finish penciling by mid-March and then move on to inking. I think I'm on a good run here.

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My Mom visited the wife and boy while I was at work. They visited a local family-play center, and the story goes that my son was hypnotized by a toy firetruck, the first he's ever seen, and crawled across about half the length of our house to get it.

Wednesday, February 2

Reacting With Hesitance

The boy inches closer to crawling. He grasps toe-and-knee motion, but he has yet to keep his arms locked. And when he does arch up with straight arms, he doesn't bring up the knees. But instead of rolling, he's now dipping a shoulder and lurching forward, plowing into the floor. Every "step" is a crash landing. He had his last round of flu shots Monday, and he faces more vaccinations, to my surprise. I thought he was done.

I finally learned to plan for quick meals when it's my turn to watch the boy and put him down when Your Sister is at yoga. I'll make stir fry tonight, and it should take maybe 20 minutes total. Your Sister made dinner last night, and I chomped down on a clove, filling my head with a puffy cloud of fragrance and rage. I had to eat more than my usual number of cookies to buy the flavor. 

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The local paper sometimes runs long letters to the editor under the classification of "guest columns." The latest issue contains a column written by the husband of a teacher who works closely with Your Sister. He's on the local police force, and he's run for local office at least once. He wrote about gun-control laws and ranted against "liberals' who want to constrain civil liberties. It's an explosion of faulty logic, probably cobbled from comments made by talk-show hosts. For instance, he used a catchphrase I've seen a lot lately: "if guns cause murder, I can blame misspellings on my pencil."

I was tempted -- very tempted -- to rebut in a letter, but I hesitate because of the wives. I don't think this guy can respond well to negative feedback or critical analysis of his comments. In fact, I suspect he's hoping for opposing letters to give him both a fresh target for anger and an tacit invitation to fire back in his own response letters. I don't see him handling criticism on his stance very well, and that would inevitably bleed into the friendship between Your Sister and his wife. Your Sister wants me to write anyway, and I said I would depending on the conversation created by the subsequent letters. We both dread their quality -- half-cocked, hysteric, and snarky shotgun blasts of bad analogies and heated rhetoric. It's gonna get ugly. I'm sure the letters page editor wet himself with joy when the column was submitted; it's gonna lead to months of reaction letters and removes the worry of filling white space.

I'm also concerned about how the author was identified. Instead of simply providing his name and town, as is normal, he gave a small bio including his job. His comments then stem from a public figure and officer of the law, not a private citizen. Some of his comments become troubling when said with badge in hand. The implications of an officer speaking out against the law while he's presenting himself as an officer bother me as much as the faulty logic.Will he selectively enforce the law? Your Sister made the good point that a political candidate complaining about the legislative process sounds more like an anarchist than the patriot he wants to present. I think what churns my innards is his implication that the true victims of Tucson are gun rights.

We talked about the letter and its weaknesses and the prudent way to respond for hours. I'd post a link to it on the paper's site (and use the link to sketch out my own response), but it's been down all day.

Speaking of sketching, I put pencil to artboard for the first page of the comic, and it went well. Drawing bigger is a relief after dozens of small sketches. I almost finished the page after a shift in the early morn and while Your Sister prepared for bed. I almost, almost drew a whole page in one day. That's encouraging. And this was a complicated page. A number of other pages might fly by.

Picture of the Day
Maybe they need copy editors for maps. Did no one notice that long, Nile-looking object to the left of Israel?

Monday, January 31

Revving Up in Various Ways

The three of us put on warm-weather clothes and trekked outside. I wanted to run and pulled out the sneakers from the closet. The run was hard, and I knew it would be. I hadn't run in months, and I was taking the newer route, the one for which I have no muscle memory. I slowed to a brisk walk at some spots, but I forced myself to run farther between those breaks. Your Sister walked with the deputy in the opposite direction, and we arrived home at the same time. I knew I'd be sore the next day. It wasn't until I walked out of my shower and saw my new sneakers under the end table that I realized I had run in my old, broken sneakers, and I knew that the next day's soreness would be far worse than I first thought. And it was. And still is. I'm beat up bad.

It didn't help that I had to wrestle with the lawnmower to drain its oil. This was the first time I had unbolted anything off it, and everything was attached at factory tension. My hands are a mess. I did win eventually, and the old oil plopped into a re-purposed tea jug in the shed.

I got into the workshop for the first time in a week and scanned in my comic page sketches. I  expanded the initial thumbnails into sketch-book page layouts. Now I'll put a quick version of the script over the sketches to see if the word-balloon placements will work. I'll probably have to whittle the script down to fewer words, and I worry about the flow of dialogue once that's done.

These page sketches are roughly 2 x 3 inches on a 6 x 9 page.

And these are the pages filling those sketchbook pages.
Now I have 24 sketched pages to gaze at and find the mistakes. I've also roughed out a cover. while minding the boy, I ruled out the page dimensions on my art boards, and they await the artwork. I have just under three months to get this drawn and lettered. I feel good about this.

The helpful Lutheran pamphlet spelled out how Lutheranism is distinct from the Catholic church and, say, Baptists. It's a cheerful sales pitch, and I don't have any trouble initially with Your Sister's plan to sprinkle the boy. But there is a passage about how the faithful are "beggars at the foot of the cross," and that pings my radar. Also there are repeated mentioned of breaking down the ego to build up the faith. While I don't want him to be a jerk, I don't want him constantly berating himself to fulfill dogma. I don't agree that one becomes enlightened by emotionally destroying yourself on a regular basis.Of course, I like to chug uphill for a half-hour on sidewalks, but I get the euphoria of endorphins. And then I drink Sprite in the shower, so I get caffeine-free sugar bubbles. Until the Lord's Supper involves moderate cardio exercise and a shot of pop, I'll stick to running. And the thrill of making comics, of course.