The process of creating a Comic Book is a steep learning curve. Each step seems to involve a whole new mindset. But it's great fun trying.
Over half the lifetime of my kids, I have been creating a magical world featuring a strange lad called Timo. To give you an idea of how long it has taken, originally his name was Nemo, then Pixar went and spoiled it all. Armed with a new title, his World grew ever larger in my head, but I was really keen to get this part of his story made as a short film.
Meeting up with Bethan Davies, seasoned author and screenwriter, Timo actually got pinned down and streamlined into the story it is now. As a sensitive story editor, Bethan worked through the text so that the characters and narrative remained, but the flow worked in a more focussed way. It was brilliant to give it the polish it needed to go forward.
Despite workshopping the screenplay, the idea of a short film was always being put on hold, as work commitments constantly got in the way.
Tired of waiting to produce a BAFTA winner, I rethought the storyboard as a Comic book and that is where we are now. Grabbing Dom Tsoi, a talented fine artist hot foot from university, I decided to get this thing done. Since September 2015 we have worked through the story and learnt how to make a comic!
Every page goes through a series of steps. I create a rough outline of how the frame appears in my head and Dom has the tricky task of interpreting it into one of his rough sketches. We hone it down still further until a final line drawing appears. When it's all good to go, Dom inks the final page and I scan it at very high resolution (thanks to Katie and the lovely chaps at OSP Productions in Chepstow) so it's ready for Photoshop. Next shading and colour are added, which is an entire art in itself.
Even the speech bubbles turned out to be far more complex than I thought. Hand lettering was not an option, but the Comic Sans on the Mac was dreadful. I turned to purchasing a custom Comic lettering font, named after the legendary artist Dave Gibbons and suddenly it's looking cool.
Book size was another aspect we had not really considered. Straight off the bat we created every page on A3 at 300 dpi. I understood that CMYK was important for printing, so we were all over that, however, it soon became clear that the classic size we had chosen was actually a slightly different aspect to the A format. There followed hours reverse engineering each panel to make it fit the page. Typically from disaster there emerged revelation. Spacing panels to solve a layout problem revealed some negative space which gave rise to my favourite panel, Timo's eyes framed in black.
Printing was the final challenge. Initially everyone I approached tried twisting it into a category that they were able to produce, there wasn't an obvious specialist who understood quite what a comic should look and actually feel like. Dom and I spent days trying to work out what sort of paper stock could achieve this.
After a few weeks of research, one voice was head and shoulders above for me. The master of all things print, Richard at Comicprintinguk basically took it from here. All my newbie idiot questions were answered with grace and the product was outstanding. The only compromise was paper thickness. As I couldn't afford Offset printing, digital was the way forward and that didn't allow really thin paper. Rich got as near as he could, explaining the pros and cons along the way. He was quite literally on the same page on this!
As with every new venture, mistakes will be made. I didn't disappoint in that department. The first print run was a beauty, however we had spent so much time worrying about image quality, I had ignored another important aspect... erm the text. There were some howling spelling errors, but more importantly, the print text appeared much larger than they had on screen. I never wanted the tiny text some comics use, but this was pretty huge. Reducing the font by 2 points allowed more room for the illustrations and a full spell check was triple checked before we had a another crack. Many of my loyal supporters cling to their first run copies in the vain hope they will be worth millions in a few years when this all goes Harry Potter and collectors will be seeking out the rarest of memorabilia!
So bringing this up to date. Part two is now on the shelves and thoughts are turning to book two. Many lessons learned en route to uncovering the Myth of the K'inti. I hope you will join us.