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12 January 2014

I'm writing a Graphic Novel!

You might have noticed that I've been neglecting the blog recently. I'd better give you an update on what I've been up to!

Bad Moon is in production! To date, I've drafted 50 pages of story and I can see the end in sight! 

I mentioned in my last post that I was considering making a comic. The story of desperados El Pancho and King Uke needed to be told and I figured that a comic might be a brilliant medium for telling the tale. The only problem I could foresee was that I'd never done this before... oh yes, and I hadn't written the story... ah... and there's the small point of not being that good at drawing.

No problem! I resolved to find a way to make this work!

Here's something that I stumbled across whilst looking for inspiration for my comic. Isn't it great! Ha ha. This is NOT the sort of cowboy comic I'm producing. This is a still from a book by photographer Sam Haskins called "Kate". I wouldn't mind having a read of that... for inspiration ;-)

I began storyboarding led by the lyrics of some of the songs that I wrote with El Pancho on the Wanted EP. You might remember that I've already built up an arsenal of artwork and ideas as a result of that wonderful project. I started by moulding them all together and we would see where it would lead.

The first thing I'm going to call out is the tool I've been using to storyboard. This is a screenshot of an App I downloaded called Comic Maker HD. I'm not using all of the features (and it has a nasty tendency to crash), but this is a killer concept, well executed. It's allowed me to mock up actual comic pages with pictures and words. It's a great starting point. Once I've got the page as I want it, I've then been downloading to my PC for the professional King Uke magic! ;-)

I won't go into the magic just now, but suffice to say that it is involved and plays to my strengths as a photo-masher. I trialled a couple of different styles and finally settled on one that I could pull off consistently at as little risk to my health as possible.

I would have loved to have been able to produce something as wild as this vintage Rawhide Kid comic, but my skills are not up to this.

(Photo courtesy of Marvel Masterworks

Here's a sample page that I've drafted. You might remember the lyrics from the Outlaw song. The artwork is partly inspired by Frank Miller's Sin City series, but this is a little starker... a little more angular. And, of course, this is about cowboys! I want the story-telling to be brief and open to interpretation. I want the reader to be whisked along and not to have to squint too hard to get the general gist of what is going on. But most importantly, I want to tell the complete story as it happened all those many years ago.

Anyone remember the Monkees?

This might be a little too flamboyant for my comic... but only a little bit! ;-)

(Photo courtesy of Bummer California

I'll admit that I entered into this project with only the barest idea of how I was going to do this. I know just enough about the mechanics of comic-making to be dangerous, and that's about it. Having got a long way into the process, I did start researching, but immediately decided that I didn't really want to follow any sort of comic rules. As long as my comic makes sense to me, then I'm really not that bothered about etiquette.

If you think that comic-making is easy, just take a look at the Blambot site. Their incredibly detailed rules on Grammar and Tradition quite literally blew my mind. I love that Nate Piekos has taken the time to document all this, but right now for this project, all that goes out of the window. Will I live to regret this foolhardiness? Ha ha. We'll have to wait and see!

In a moment of fervent revelation I wrote the following on Google+

"I am a hammer! I will smash their bastard rules and create a new future where anything goes! I laugh in the face of convention and choke the throat of authority!"

Ha ha! Big words from the little cowboy ;-)

Although I've felt a bit like the character in this 2000AD comic at times, I've really been enjoying the process. The story seems to be slotting together nicely.

I'm obviously trying to fit all this in around a family and work so time is limited, but I've kind of fallen into a rhythm. What I've discovered is that first thing in the morning is the best time to script. In the evening I can stare at blank pages for an age and make no progress. In the morning, I seem to be able to unblock any problem without much thought at all. I don't know why it works, but as long as it does, I'll keep doing it.

It is tiring work, there's no doubt about that. My fears about being able to finish were well-grounded. I've spent days and days and days on this. Thankfully, I think I've made enough progress to see me through. I've drafted almost four parts with the possibility of a final fifth part to wrap it all up. Who knows. Whilst working through the fourth chapter I've just uncovered a loose end that I think might need tying off before I finish. Ha ha... them's the breaks!

What I don't want to do is to rush it and compromise on the quality. I also don't want to start repeating myself. I reckon I've got the balance at the moment. I just need to keep an eye on it.

I'll finish by pondering whether this comic will ever be published. I constantly worry about copyright infringement. How close to the edge is too close? Though most of the artwork is hand-drawn by me and the story is certainly my own, will I somehow have inadvertently ruffled someone's feathers by leaning too heavily on one of their ideas? I don't know and for now, I don't care. I'll worry about getting it finished before I consider anything beyond this.

As always, I welcome any words of support or offers of advice. Drop me a comment...


  1. Ha ha! I'm not sure about that Pancho... but there certainly is something wrong with me ;-)
    I think I have drafted the whole story now. It is 70 pages long in 5 chapters. I've drawn 53 pages. My plan is to write a post-script.
    Then I will have my first draft ready!
    I then have to go through and tidy up the bits I'm unhappy with.
    Draft 2 is where I think I might need some feedback!

  2. I'll give you till the rest Eli Wallach's lifetime to get this book finished KU or you'll have to hang...your head in shame,as I think he is keen to read this comic of yours.
    Well,it's good to have a real deadline (he's 98 by the way) to go by when working with cowboy material,I think.Like a noose you can almost reach the ground on,it keeps you on your toes. ;-)

    Darren Hanlon's music video starring Eli Wallach.

  3. I've got the story done Daz! Just need to finesse it now!

    Eli Wallach is a god!