Announcing my next project: TEMPEST

Now that Reklas Abandon has been released, published and we have sold some copies, I feel like I am allowed to start talking about the next project. I really shouldn’t call it my ‘next’ project, as it is the one I have been working on for several years now, but it is finally time to start blogging about it and pushing towards finishing something. I took a long break from drawing actual pages, as I saw several areas where I needed to grow as an artist and the story needed work, and that is why we did Reklas Abandon. We thought we should do a one-off story that took less commitment so that we could see what it was like releasing a graphic novel. The number things we learned from finishing it is astronomical. And during the break I made some serious headway on my other story; I made enough headway to get going on Volume 1 in hopes of releasing it as soon as we can!

TEMPEST

As I mentioned above, this is the project I have been working on for many years and it is only now getting close to being released. A bit of general information about it: benji

Name: Tempest
Story type: This will be an actual series rather than a one-off story like Reklas abandon was. My rough guess would be at least 10 volumes, but perhaps more.
Length: I estimate each volume ranging between 100-200 pages. Some will be longer than others, but volume one will probably be the longest since it is the gateway into the world. And as mentioned above, there will be at least 10 volumes to tell the story I wish to tell.
Genre: Fantasy/sci-fi/adventure
Art Style: This will be pretty similar in style to Reklas Abandon, as far as the people go, but a lot more detailed and perhaps a bit less angular. I will be doing a lot more backgrounds of course (as Reklas Abandon had next to none), and the world will be much, much, much bigger.
Colouring: Yes, the whole series will be in colour. I just can’t get into fantasy unless I have colour taking me there, and so I see this as an important aspect of my series. We will be putting a lot of effort into choosing the swatches for each different world, and we are already really excited about the ones we have come up with so far! The colouring style will be much different to Reklas Abandon in that it will be much more detailed. With Reklas, it was a total of 10 colours (including black, white and three different greys), really simple one shade cel-shading, and we used the pencil tool for colouring instead of a brush on photoshop, meaning the lines were very harsh rather than smooth-looking on the canvas. With TEMPEST, we will still try to limit our colour pallet, but it will be a lot more vast. We will also be using paintbrush-like strokes to give it more of a fantastical touch. After completing a few trial pages in this style (which I might put up soon), we are really excited with how it is looking. There is nothing more surreal for me than seeing my worlds come to life in colour.
Who is doing what: As usual, I (Tasha) am doing all of the drawing/line art, and Lindsay (my husband) will be doing the majority of colouring. Different to Reklas Abandon where we both came up with the story, the writing is done mostly by me. It’s a story I have been doctoring for many years, but of course, Lindsay has been invaluable in helping me embellish it and working through plot holes and writer’s block.
Story/Plot: This story is a big one. My aim before releasing the first volume was to have it basically finished so that I would have no plot holes and plenty of decent foreshadowing. I have a lot of pride in that the story should be able to keep a consistent flow as it will ever move forward towards an epic end. The plot involves three completely different worlds (our Earth being one of them) and how characters from all three collide to to tell different stories. There are several characters from each world that you will follow as you go through the series, and every separate story is woven together to create a large tapestry-like picture.

My Progress so far

Over the past 4 years I got as far as volume 3 only to stop and see there were several things I wanted to do over. As of now, I am starting over with volume 1 and that is what I will be working on this year. Now that I have grown as an artist, (I hope!) and Lindsay has grown as a colourist, we are pressing on to release the first volume and set ourselves on a long course to finally finish the story.

As I work on it I will be blogging about our progress and hopefully give you little snap-shots into the world. I want to be posting pictures of different characters/etc. so you can be seeing whether or not you are interested in this kind of story. If you wish to keep getting updates about it, just see the widget on the right and subscribe to the blog!

Pictures coming soon!

Tolkien on Creation

“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

Why am I writing this story?

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.

What makes my story unique?

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.