Keep Moving Forward

Click here to read the comic! I’ve added links after each instalment back to the corresponding blog post, so it’ll be easy to find your way back here.

I warned you, didn’t I?

When I started this blog, I wrote that I’d be experimenting as I went along. Well, the first big change is here: I’ve decided to continue Fantasy Story in black & white. As much as I wish I could say this was solely an artistically-driven decision, it mostly comes down to practicalities. With my current time constraints (a toddler at home, other work that needs to take priority) and after looking into pricing for printing (which I do plan on doing) it just made sense. Colouring takes me a long time. Maybe one day I’ll be able to hire a colourist, or revisit colouring myself on future projects, but for now, for this comic, greyscale it is!

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Some Pros & Cons

As a reader, I often find it takes me a minute to mentally adjust to reading a black & white comic if I’m expecting colour. Colour is so seductive and exciting, and my eyes want it!  But one I’ve made that shift, there’s something I like about reading in black and white. Maybe it’s that, in well-done black and white comics, I tend to focus on the story and ideas more than gazing at the art.

As a creator, there’s so much that thoughtful application of colour adds to the storytelling. However, it can also be a crutch for sub-par linework, and now that I’ve made the switch I’m looking forward to focusing on value contrast, shape design, and other aspects of the art that need to be on point without the pretty colours to keep readers sticking around.

I’m going to leave the pages I’ve already posted up in colour for awhile before I convert them all to greyscale. If you’ve been reading since the beginning, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how you felt when suddenly the world went black & white. Confused? Betrayed? Wondering if there’s some tie to Oz you weren’t expecting? And if the change didn’t totally turn you off, did you notice any difference in the way you read the story once it wasn’t in colour anymore?

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A Few New Faces

Hopefully, the lack of colour wasn’t the only thing you noticed in this instalment. Two new characters were introduced, and though we still don’t know much about any of them, I’m excited for their stories to begin to unfold over the ensuing pages. I wish I could publish more at once, but as it is, I hope you’ll come back to see what happens next!

Oh, by the way: I’ve been posting some detail and WIP stuff over on Instagram @jlprentice in between posts here, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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So that’s it for today. Hope everyone had a great weekend, and the Monday Blues don’t getcha down tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Jessica

Who Am I?

Finally – New Pages!

I’ve been pretty busy with contract work and a family emergency in the past couple of weeks, but last night I was finally able to finish the next two pages of Fantasy Story.

I’ve added the new pages to The Story So Far so head over there to read them in continuity.  I’m still figuring out the options WordPress has for displaying something like a comic and if anyone has feedback on the readability of the way it’s set up now I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Development of a Comic Page

I love seeing and sharing preliminary work, so this time I’ve posted the roughs for pages 4 and 5 along with the finished pages below.

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Rough artwork for Page 4 & 5

In some ways I think the roughs phase is the most fun: planning page layouts, deciding how many panels and which kinds of shots to use to tell the story–without having to worry about details or feel committed to the marks I make–is a lot like solving a puzzle. A puzzle that gives you a god complex and a rush of creative euphoria, that is. Creating a solo comic, if you think about it in film terms,  includes the jobs of scriptwriter, director, casting agent, set & wardrobe designers, all the actors, and everything else all rolled into one. That’s a lot of freedom! It also means a lot of decisions to manage on every single page.

If you look at the rough version of each page next to the final one, you can see I’ve made quite a few changes and refinements. Once I was finished drawing the preliminary art for all of issue 1 it was easier to go back and see with fresh eyes elements that didn’t seem to be working or things I wanted to tweak. My roughs are pretty rough, which means I have more problem-solving to do in the later stages of the page but it also helps to keep me thinking during each stage rather than trying to copy or trace a finished idea. The same holds true for inking my finished pencils: even when penciling the final pages I left things pretty loose and made the final call when I laid down ink.

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Out of the Hayloft

In the opening pages, we saw a character with very little context. Now, we’re starting to see more about the world she finds herself in and get some clues as to the setting, time period, and culture this story inhabits. We find out that this is a character who doesn’t seem to know much more than we do–including about herself–but hopefully through her body language, actions, and inner monologue the reader is able to start forming some sense of what this character is like. That’s the tricky part, but hey, that’s my job to worry about!

Comics are like poetry in that you have to communicate everything you want to say within a very small amount of real estate. There’s a pleasing challenge in that kind of dense format.

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So, what next?

Hopefully you won’t have to wait around too long to read more; I’ve got a busy couple weeks ahead but I’m excited to get to work on the next three pages and (spoiler alert) introduce a couple new characters into the mix.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

Jessica

Join the SKYLARKS

Peace & Prosperity

Short post! I hope to have the next three pages up within a week or so.

First, thank you to everyone who visited my site the first time round, and especially for coming back again. I was alerted to a problem with the comments settings, and I believe I’ve fixed it so if you want to leave a comment (left-side menu), you should be able.

Now. Here’s a poster.

What does it have to do with the woman who woke up all banged up in a hayloft on pages 1-3? You’ll have to find out next time…

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Thanks for reading!

Jessica

They Meet in a Tavern…

Welcome to the Fantasy Story process blog!

Fantasy Story is a comic project I’ve been developing over the past year, in between juggling school, illustration work, and raising a tiny human being. FS is the first comic I’ve ever let escape out into the world, and I’m so excited to finally be sharing the first three pages today.

If you just want to read the comic without interruptions, head on over to The Story So Far.

In addition to hosting the comic itself, though, I created this site as a place to share progress shots, creative trials & tribulations, and commentary on the story as I release it. If you’re into that sort of thing, well then read on, my friends…

Ok first here’s a look at page 1. Meetcha below 🙂

(Again, if you just want to read the pages without the commentary you can find them here).

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PROGRESS not PERFECTION

Alright. Confession time: for years I’ve been labouring under the dumb impression that before I could make comics, I first had to be good enough to make comics. So I’d do other things: dream up story ideas and character designs and read a lot about making comics and I’d do other illustration work… but I almost always stopped short of making actual sequential pages.

As I said above, this is dumb. As illustrated beautifully in this great quote by Ira Glass, if you want to GET good enough, “the most important possible thing you can do is make a lot of work.” Fine, Ira Glass! You’re right.

With Fantasy Story, I am explicitly giving myself permission to experiment, to try different approaches and techniques, and to grow as an artist and storyteller over the course of the work. If you stick around to read more of Fantasy Story as it’s released you might notice a major theme of the work is identity. This is no coincidence: as Elinore, Tav, Max and David (you’ll meet them all soon don’t worry) discover who they are and how they relate to their world, I’m right there with them on a mission of creative self-discovery.

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Whew, That Was Easy!

I learned so much throughout the execution of these first few pages, especially inking, colouring, and lettering them.

I’ve almost always used Pigma Micron pens for inking in the past, but have been perennially dissatisfied with the lack of line width variation and character they give, so I decided to ink these pages using a dip pen and a Hunt #102 nib. If I was smart I would have practiced on other things before using a totally new tool on my final art but hey, I said this project was a learning process, right?

I’ve definitely still got kinks to work out with getting the ink to flow smoothly, not gouging the bristol, and just generally getting a facility with the pen, but page 2 went much more smoothly than page 1, and page 3 was… almost starting to feel comfortable.

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I could go on for pages about the time I had drawing and troubleshooting these initial pages, but I think that’s enough for now.  If you haven’t yet read all three pages together without the chatter here’s your last chance (just kidding).

Thanks for reading. I hope you liked it, and your curiosity is piqued enough to come back for more.

Below are a coupla progress shots. I plan on basically alternating between posting new pages and doing process posts… Work stuff and my little mini me at home keep me from being able to keep a tight production schedule, but I’m tryin’!

WIP Shots

 

If you’ve read all the way to this point you get an extra-special thank you. Shhh don’t tell the others!

Jess