“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”
– J. R. R. Tolkien
As an experiment I decided to make little pixel versions of my characters from Reklas Abandon. One of the things I wanted to avoid with my comic was having people that looked too alike. By pixelizing them I am able to see if each one is really unique, or if I am suffering from uncreative repetition.
What do you think?
I thought I would make a new post commemorating the completion of Reklas Abandon’s 50th page! With our estimate, this makes us about 25% done.
Of course, the page above is not the 50th page; I figured that it would be giving away too much to post the real thing. You will just have to wait until the book comes out!
The race is on! We hope to complete the final page by January so that we can have it published and ready to bring copies to the 2014 Seattle Comicon! We haven’t done much advertising for Reklas Abandon, but hopefully by bringing copies to the Varida P&R booth at the comicon we can sell some copies!
We are not trying to make a name for ourselves, or sell a ton of copies, we just want to bring this story that we love into being and let anyone who wants to take part in it do so through reading our graphic novel.
I will try to post more about the book soon!
I am officially announcing the comic book we are working on. It will be my first official work (not counting Tired Burd) and we aim to have it done by the end of the year! I had the idea for this one-off comic book back in 2009, when I roughly drew up a make-fun comic for my sister, mocking the pop-culture stereotypes we have in our comic world today. The small strip morphed into what is now Reklas Abandon, and I am really excited to see it through! The story has changed quite a bit since getting my husband involved. These past few weeks we have been discussing the plot while doing dishes, feeding the baby and at night in bed when most people should be sleeping. We are happy to say that the plot, beginning to end, is nearly finished, and all we need to do is figure out specifics, script and panels.
My hope is that I can blog about our experience in making this comic book so that others can send in tips, or receive from the things we have learned through putting it together! We live in a world where independent work can can flourish, and so I encourage anyone with a story out there, get it out! Let people see what is in your head! I can guarantee, someone just might like it! The main thing on the forefront of my mind is this: I am making the story for me. I only expect to sell one copy (to myself), and if I am the only one who likes it, that is fine. This way, I wont be disappointed with my art! I believe art is just the expression of the artist, and we shouldn’t have to be ashamed of it.
Goal: To finish the book by early next year in time for comicon
Genre: Reklas Abandon is an interesting blend of comedy, mystery, satire, noir and drama.
Art/colouring style: We are excited for the art style. We have decided to stay really simple at stick to an extremely small colour pallet. You might not see more than 10 colours (including black, white and grey)!
Line art by: Me, Tasha Kennedy
Colouring and formatting by: My husband, Lindsay Kennedy
Story by: Tasha and Lindsay Kennedy
Stay with us to see how we go in completing this work!
Picking my colouring style for my comic was pretty hard since my drawing style is a bit unique. My people look a bit like western style manga with fairly simple features. In fact, the features are so simple that it might be hard to tell certain faces apart. This is why I want to do my comic in colour. Nothing gives identity like colour does. I believe it is probably one of the simplest ways to differ characters and help the reader remember who is who.
My sister, who is somewhat of a manga fan, had me read a series called “Fruits Basket” which is a black and white manga series for teens. As much as I enjoyed the story, the one downfall was that I kept getting confused about who was who in the story because they all looked so much alike, and you had to notice small details like a wisp of hair going in a certain direction to detect a certain character.
Now think of the power rangers. When I was a kid, and my siblings and I played power rangers, how did we know who we were? Colours. “I am the yellow one!” One could say this is a pretty cheap way of differentiating characters, but hey, it works! I of course wont be making it as simple as “pink power ranger”, but I do think that giving my comic color will help bring life to my characters and my world.
My husband and I will sometimes go to a comic books store here in York called “The Traveling Man” and flip through different comic books to get inspiration for how to color mine. I usually get frustrated because my comic is most like manga in style, but almost all manga is black and white. And when I look at the different books, it is hard for me to enjoy the world and characters. I want my comic book to be different in this way. I would like characters to pop out and be memorable.
So what Style?
This was the hardest question for us. I say “us” because while I do the line art, my husband is the one with more experience in digital coloring and he has been coloring them so far. I do hope to get better at it myself, but we want to find what we like first. Like I mentioned before, there really isn’t much out there in my style that is colored, and so it’s been hard finding things we liked.
Black and White:
This was the first thing I tried with my comic. Since I saw most manga-styled art was black and white I thought I would give it a try. It looks clean and simple, and I liked that. But as I said before, it is hard to tell characters apart, and I just didn’t like doing all the extra texture I would have to do if it were black and white.
Not only that, but look at this picture: wouldn’t it have so much more life in colour?
Every once in a while, we toy with the idea of going back to black and white, as colouring takes so much more time, but then we remember that there is still a lot of work involved to do black and white well.
So we decided against it.
My husband will hate that I used this picture as an example, but it is the only airbrushed picture we did! (It’s also the first picture of mine that he ever coloured). We quickly decided we didn’t like it.
Though most manga is black and white, a lot of anime is coloured. So we started checking out different anime in colour to see how they did it. Most of the time, the colouring was really smooth with airbrushing or gradients. We really didn’t like this look because it looked so obviously “photoshop”. I just don’t want it to look to cheap or easy, because I want it to have a bit of style. This just looked like deviant fan art or something.
This was the last style that we tried. Just a simple, one-shade look seemed to fit my style. It’s basically flat colour with simple shading. We also tried a three-tone approach (flat colour, shadow, and highlight), but it seemed a bit much for a style as simple as mine.
This is what we are going with for now. I hopefully will post some finished pages soon, but I would love feedback if anyone has any more suggestions.
My next challenge is background. They seem to be the bane of my graphic novel. Either I am terrible at drawing them, or terrible at colouring them. This might be my next blog post topic.
Why am I writing this story and what purpose does it fulfill?
This is the second of the four questions listed in my last entry: What makes your story unique?
I believe there should always be (and there always is) a reason for writing your story. Some include:
- Making money (one of the least of the reasons): You see this all the time in the media. Movies being churned out simply because they will make money. (rebooting older movies, movie sequels, Cars 2)
- Making someone laugh: comedy! (Jeeves and Wooster, Much Ado About Nothing, Emperor’s New Groove)
- Making a political point or raise awareness: (Blood Diamond, V for Vendetta, Taken, 1984, Juno)
- Taking someone on an adventure: escapism. (The Lord of the Rings, Sahara, Star Dust, Wall-E)
- Illustrating a moral truth or teaching a lesson: (Chronicles of Narnia, Aesop’s Fables)
- Presenting a philosophical perspective or situation: (Fight Club, the Prestige, There Will be Blood)
- Educating: teaching the audience a bit about history, science, etc. (Into the West, biographies, King’s Speech)
There are more, of course, but those are some off the top of my head. Now, I don’t want these to be confused with Genre, even though some of the ‘reasons’ are genres (like Comedy and Adventure). These are examples of “what was the writer’s motive“.
You might object and say, “Cars 2 isn’t about making money, it is about…“. I am not saying that movie sequels don’t have stories that make good points, but we’re asking the question: what was the motive for making the movie. Sometimes it is simply a money-maker. “Everyone loved Pirates of the Caribbean and Jack Sparrow, so let’s make more of those! People will watch them even if they aren’t good.” Unfortunately, this is true. However, I admire people who make stories because they are bringing something new to the table. We have plenty movies, books and shows telling us to “be yourself!”, so we don’t need anymore!
I admired Christopher Nolan, the director/writer of the new Batman movies (Batman Begins, Dark Knight, and Dark Knight Rises), when he said that he refused to write any sequels unless he had a good story.
So what is your motive?
What is this story doing? 1984 depicted a scary world with a “big brother” type government and as a result, most of us who have read it don’t want to live in that world! Any of us who have read Lord of the Rings knows the thrill of feeling like we went on the adventure with the characters; we were able to escape into the world of Middle Earth for a while. And how many of us, after reading the Lion Witch and the Wardrobe, feel like we understand so much more the meaning of self-sacrifice? What do you want your audience to experience through your story? Or another question to ask yourself is: what difference did it make now that someone experienced your story?
So, even as I write something like a comic book, I want it to make some sort of difference to the reader. My story would probably be classed as Adventure. I want my readers to feel like they went somewhere, experienced new things and escaped into another world for a while. I have moral themes in my story as well, because I believe that whether comedy, adventure or drama, I want my story to have some kind of positive impact on the reader.
I feel that there are several questions a writer should ask himself before beginning a story. Whether it is a movie, book, graphic novel, or any kind of fiction, He should know a few things about it before he begins:
- What makes this story unique? What does it give that others don’t?
- Why am I writing this story? What purpose does it fulfill?
- Who is my audience?
- What kind of story is it?
These are the questions I am always asking myself and trying to follow when I develop my plots. I see too many movies and read too many books which have what I call “copy-and-paste-story-lines”. What I mean by this is that too many stories follow a pattern that make them no different to others.
For example: A misunderstood teenager hates his life, and his parents just don’t understand the life he wants. The teenager pursues his dreams without his parents. The parents find out and he gets it huge trouble. Then, the parents realize he is actually really good at what he does and they need to let him live his life. To conclude: happy family and he gets to live his dream.
I have seen so many stories with basic concepts such as that. Even though they take place in different worlds (which masks the fact that they all have the same story), they are still just either copying each other or they are bringing nothing new to the table. These story lines tend to lack a unique connection to its world. For example, can the story be told in a viking world? A sports world? A pirate world? … can your story fit into whatever world it wants? If so, then I think something is lacking. This brings me to the first question.
What makes this story unique? What does it give that others don’t? If your story is not dependent on its world, then it might not be all that unique. If your plot revolves around a girl who just wants to find herself and live out her dream of becoming a superstar, the best soccer player on her team, the best female viking warrior, or the best pirate looter, than you might not be bringing anything new to the table. In reality they’re all the same story, just set in different worlds. Why should a reader pick up your book when any old ‘Dreamworks’ movie says the same thing?
When I think of story lines that offer something unique, I often think of Pixar (though there are a few exceptions such as Finding Nemo, Cars and Brave). Many of their stories just can’t be duplicated because they are telling unique stories in unique worlds.
Take Monsters Inc. as an example. What is the plot? Monsters have a power shortage. Little girl comes in through the door while the two main monsters try to get her out. They grow to love her and see kids aren’t all that bad. They get her home and solve the power shortage with children’s laughter. The only world where this story could work is the monster world that Pixar created. So in this story, the world is a part of the story, not just a way to embellish the plot.
On the other hand, movies like Brave seemed to lack the originality that Pixar usually has. It was a beautiful world (ancient Scotland, what could be more awesome?), and was well done for what it was, but it was extremely hard for me to enjoy just because it virtually had the same story line as “Freaky Friday”: mother and daughter learn to understand each other because of some magical spell. This story could take place in any world!
My aim is always to make stories that are unique and bring something new to the table. I also try to put them in a world that the reader has never experienced before. So as I am putting together the plot for my story, I always ask myself, “Could these characters and this story take place in any world?”
The next three questions will be answered in later blog posts.
“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” – J.R.R. Tolkien