Saturday, August 29, 2009

illustration friday: caution

When I focus on writing, I forget all about illustrations. I've been focused on writing for months now, and surely my illustration skills are suffering.

Enter Illustration Friday. A word is assigned, and participants illustrate the word. It's liberating not to have to think of a subject, and fun to explore ways to express the word. I am probably going to consistently use characters from the Nik Notebooks. I need to practice drawing them as much as I need to practice drawing.

There are a number of things about this illustration I'd change, if it were not intended to be an exercise, and if I wanted to retain my death grip on ideas of perfection. But I am learning how to get things done, and letting go of getting those things done perfectly. Perfection is a crutch, and I am tossing it out with the recycling.

So here, one day late, is my piece for Illustration Friday. The word is caution. That's Nik on the bridge, which is an engineering miracle. Maximo and Lulu are in the backpack.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

word count with flight 714

I am working on my third major revision, hoping this will take it up to the 100% shine required for sending with a query. The inspiration for my graphic novel, and its heroine, Nik, is the Tintin series, by Belgian writer and illustrator Herge. Pictured left, a page from Flight 714.

One of the many items on this revision's to do list was a word count. I want my book to be the same length and format as a Tintin. Sound stunningly original? Maybe not, but this is what my book needs to be, so no arguing.

First, I did a word count of Flight 714, one of the later Tintin books. Total: 10,800 words.

Then I did my own word count. Dialogue only. No stage directions or speaker designations — a graphic novel is often written very much like a script. Total: 9,300 words.

Close! That's only a 1,500 word difference. And Flight 714 is pretty wordy — see in the picture? But that is why it is so fulfilling to read a Tintin. Not only do you have amazing artwork, but you actually get to read it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

color monday: rejects

Since colors evoke feelings, and memories sometimes, I want to try a more interactive approach to Color Monday.

I'll number the posts instead of naming them after my inspiration, so as not to make this all about my experience. What about yours? Do these colors mean anything to you? Do they bring any feelings to the surface of your skull?

The story of these colors and my reflections:

These are the colors of our bathroom tiles. Rejected from several high end jobs, I gathered everything I thought could go together at a rejects sale. I'm reminded of semi-precious stones, hawaiian beaches and the sixties era swimming pool at the seattle ywca.

a.d.: new orleans after the deluge

The new graphic novel, “A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge,” written and illustrated by Josh Neufeld, and published by Pantheon, gives us new access to Hurricane Katrina.

Josh Neufeld was in New York when the Twin Towers fell. Like millions, he felt helpless and angry. These feelings transformed themselves when Hurricane Katrina hit. This time, he realized, he could do something, and he volunteered for the American Red Cross.

Stationed in Biloxi Mississippi, Josh became a disaster response worker. He blogged about his experiences, and conducted interviews with disaster victims. Based on this extensive research, “A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge,” follows the narratives of seven people who survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

The story, now published in hardcover by Pantheon, was originally self published as a web comic. You can read it here. A more extensive article about this graphic novel can be found in the New York Times.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

agents 101: this is not a cocktail party

Besides revising my graphic novel manuscript until it shines, and I am talking 100 percent wattage, I am on my quest to find an agent. I have compiled a very short list of three potential agents.

Why three? Three is a good number, and I have to read their lists (or the books they have agented). That's quite a bit of reading, but to know an agent, you need to read their list. I can't imagine getting to know more than three people through this method at a time. Because this is not a cocktail party getting to know you. This is more like researching the person you are going to marry.

Thanks to Martha Brockenbrough, for pulling my post SCBWI Conference "What do I do next?" frenzy into this one clear focus.

So I begin the next phase of my quest to find an agent. Reading!

Monday, August 17, 2009

color monday: index 4 x 6

This Color Monday debuts a new format. The original format of digital palettes were derived from my day job as colorista — designing palettes for web sites. I do love the clean numerical mixing of digital cmyk color.

But I sit in front of the computer so much already. I forget that I am an artist too, who needs unpredictability, and accidents of color to bleed into something suprising on the scrappy surface of an of index card.

I first wrote my graphic novel on index cards, 4 x 6, in tiny writing, scene by scene, before fleshing it out on the computer. Why not turn a writing tool into an art tool? I work well with parameters, and small spaces.

So I sat down in my studio. Brushes, paints, pencils arrayed before me like an artist's smorgasbord. Inspired by lunch, I painted the colors of green beans, sun gold and chocolate cherry tomatoes, an unripe green zebra tomato, and one golden plum, all on a 4 x 6. Yum.

In order: sun gold cherry tomato, golden plum, chocolate cherry tomato, green zebra tomato and green bean.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

fracking awesome

I'm back from LA and here is my report. The conference was fracking awesome. How could it not be with four days of non stop talent imparting secrets to mining emotion, finding voice and never giving up, ever, on your dreams?

All that awesomeness is still with me, even though I'm back to work, and the daily routines of life. I made new friends, who will stay with me, and my heart is different. Maybe more mature, somehow. Maybe a little more luminous.

I think I went to the conference naive, and entered a rite of passage. All that talk about finding the agent of my dreams in one long weekend. Silly, but sincere. It just doesn't work that way. I'll paraphrase Kelly Sonnack, an agent at Andrea Brown Literary, who says the relationship she seeks to foster with her creatives most resembles a marriage.

We're not talking weekend fling. A marriage is a very big deal. It takes a tremendous amount of commitment, love, faith and perserverence. Isn't this what all of our creative endeavors deserve? Frack yes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

preparation + opportunity = luck

I am about to embark on the speediest graphic novel revision of my life, to incorporate my critique group's fantastic feedback from my last revision.

I felt I had plenty of time to work on this revision because my critique group wasn't getting together until August 17th. But then I decided to go to the LA SCBWI Conference in hope of finding an agent for the graphic novel two weeks before the conference. And if that didn't require a marathon of maneuvering, I also got a job.

While I was watching Battlestar Galactica, with no travel plans or gainful employment, I should have been revising so as to be ready for anything, in this case, the conference. A friend asked, "Are you going to have your manuscript ready to hand off in case anyone asks for it?" And because I'd been watching Battlestar Galactica, I said, "Frack!" I'd forgotten about that part.

So it's time for a little quote from Seneca: LUCK IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PREPARATION MEETS OPPORTUNITY.

I've got the opportunity, now I need to prepare for luck.

Monday, August 3, 2009

color monday: jaw dropper

We are lucky enough to live on a hill facing west, and we have a little view of the Olympics. The sunsets are always beautiful, even when subtle, and we always admire them.

But sometimes the sunsets are so spectacular your jaw drops. Velvety blue sky above dusky lavender, and orange cherry red.
I tried to capture just such a sunset, that came and went yesterday, for this color Monday: jaw dropper.