articles-banner

Comics and The Value of Language (Part 1) suggested the controversial idea that we live in a nation of visual illiterates. Since “literacy” consists of reading and writing skills, I proposed that “visual literacy” should consist of both image perception and drawing skills. It’s telling that the only people I’ve encountered who readily agree with this idea are other artists… everyone else is taken aback, and there seem to be two reasons for that:

1) If you can only understand drawing theoretically, how can you fully appreciate how deeply it affects the way you see and understand images?
2) The heavy implication is that non-artists are inadequate creators, and that’s especially annoying to hear if you’re a comics writer who can’t draw.

I’d like to go straight to the heart of the hurt with this follow-up, and discuss how our highly literate, but visually inexperienced culture has created for itself a “literary mode” of storytelling that frames how we discuss comics, which comics we value, and how we reward creators for their efforts. That discussion starts with a simple, but deep-reaching idea…

There is a profound difference between a good script that has been well illustrated and a good comic.

But what do I mean by that? Surely a good script, well illustrated is the definition of a good comic. If the script is good, and the artist draws it well, what else is there to take care of? The only way to answer this is by teasing out the consequences of relying on words when “writing” for a highly visual medium with a series of examples!

news-banner

Now that all the contributors to the Small Tales and Fairy Fails Kickstarter have received their rewards, I’m now making Small Tales and Fairy Fails available for general purchase! You can get a special signed and sketched copy as well, although numbers are limited to one a month. There are also a few new prints in the store, including one from STaFF (the best acronym ever – had no idea until I wrote it out)!

cover-image-lo-rescover-image-lo-res-sketchBattle Quest Title Page 01

I’ve also updated the webcomics page with some samples from STaFF and a few other new additions, along with new illustrations on the portfolio page.

In other news, the roughs for chapter 2 of The Firelight Isle are nearing completion! Have a look at my Pateron page for a sneak peek whilst they’re in production!

news-banner

After a re-write that seems to have stretched on forever, I’m back to drawing again! I’ve already produced over 20 new thumbnails and 6 roughs, which you can see a preview of below! I don’t know yet when I’ll be producing finished pages again, but I’ll be pushing out thumbnails and roughs as fast as possible in the meantime :) I’ve got a big editorial meeting at the end of May to discuss the details of the future of the project, so I’ll be crossing my fingers for that to go well.
I’ve also overhauled my Patreon reward tiers. You can now see all the roughs and new pages as they’re completed if you pledge $3 or more! If you pledge $10 or more, you can get access to layered photoshop files, complete scripts, early drafts and editing notes!

 

new-roughs

firelight-isle-banner

Now that the bulk of the work on the Small Tales and Fairy Fails Kickstarter campaign is over, it’s time to talk Firelight Isle again! January was an especially productive month for the re-write. I’ve finished another draft, and as far as I’m concerned, this is it! I still have a meeting with the editor later this month to confirm that he thinks I’m on the right track, but fingers crossed I’ll be back on to drawing thumbnails in March! ^_^ I’m very excited for this, especially given how long this re-write has taken. Since there hasn’t been anything visual to show for quite some time, I’ll leave you with an image of the pile of drafts I’ve accrued (not including the latest one, which is still on the computer at the moment).

final-draft

news-banner

Between 2011 and 2012, I produced a number of short comics for The Phoenix Weekly Story Comic, a fantastic magazine for all ages. Since then, I’ve been plotting to self-publish them as a 42-page collection. So it was that Small Tales and Fairy Fails was born! The comics have all been drawn and made, the book has all been put together, and I’ve picked out a printer (the fantastic comicprintinguk.com), but unlike the other mini-comics I’ve self-published, the cost to print a 42-page, perfect bound book is beyond my reach to pay for up front.

That’s where Kickstarter comes in! By pre-ordering the book, you can help me to raise the cost of a small print run ahead of time, and get a neat collection of short stories whilst you’re at it! As of now, there are only 48 hours left to preorder a copy! Click here to check out the perks and get more details!

Print2

news-banner
I have sent the following email to my MP, MEPs and several Commissioners in the European Parliament. If you have a small business or are a sole trader affected by the new EU VAT and VAT-MOSS rules, you can make your voice heard by doing the same – ideally use your own language and describe your own situation in your email.
You can find who your MP and MEPs are here (google their names to find their email addresses once you’ve identified them): https://www.writetothem.com/
And the following Commissioners should be copied in:
David Gauke: gauked@parliament.uk
You can find more information on who to include in your email here: http://euvataction.org/
articles-banner

At the heart of storytelling for comics lies the relationship between language and image. A comic is defined by that particular mix of the two that makes it a comic. But when you try to pin that relationship down, it gets slippery! Comics can morph from Posy Simmonds’ prose-hybrid Gemma Bovery to “silent” stories like Jiro Taniguchi’s The Walking Man without anyone batting an eyelid.

These two examples lie on opposite ends of a huge storytelling spectrum that sometimes feels too broad for one medium to contain comfortably. When we say “comics”, it really encompasses a lot! Despite this amazing diversity of expression, the idea that comics lack cultural or literary merit is still common, and the lack of public understanding about comics is still startling.

firelight-isle-banner

Here’s another part of the process of making The Firelight Isle that I haven’t discussed much… the editor!
As I’ve mentioned before, the lovely and incredibly experienced David Fickling has been editing The Firelight Isle since very early on in its life. David has had an incredible career and knows story-telling inside out… he’s helped to take The Firelight Isle from a collection of related themes, character sketches and events, to a genuine story, all without directly suggesting what I should do with the writing, or where the plot should go. Here’s a little snippet from his bio:

In his first job at Oxford University Press he signed up Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke, and has published Philip’s books ever since, including the multi-million selling His Dark Materials trilogy. Later he set up Doubleday’s program of original children’s books: the launch list included Philip Pullman and Jacqueline Wilson (whom David teamed up with artist Nick Sharratt). David is the man behind both the Goosebumps and Horrible Histories phenomenon, he remembers being told kids don’t like history! In more recent years he published Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (bestseller and award winning play) and John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Jenny Downham’s Before I Die and Andy Mulligan’s Trash – all international bestsellers and big time Hollywood movies.

He’s now publisher at the newly independent David Fickling Books, and I’m hoping that after The Firelight Isle has finished it’s run on the web, that it will eventually be collected by DFB into a lovely printed edition. The details and certainty of that publication are still up in the air though, because the way we’re approaching the creation of this story is as a whole… both David and I are keen that no corners are cut in the writing, and that (although the story is being released episodically) we approach the overall narrative with as much attention and care as any novel receives in editing. There’s no commitment to the book until it’s all top notch from beginning to middle to end, and last time we met, we agreed that the story needed quite a bit of work.

Given that, I’ve gone out on a limb somewhat in even drawing and publishing Chapter 1, but I feel that there are some concessions to be made for the webcomic format. I wanted to get the first part of the story out there so that I could gauge how the story was sitting as a series of stand-alone episodes and chapters, and I’m glad that I did. Having finished these 30 pages has really solidified how I see the characters and world, to the point where I don’t think my re-draft would have been effective if I hadn’t already finished Chapter 1.

The only snag with this method of creation is that webcomics should run to a tight schedule, but editing a 300+ page graphic novel runs to a different kind of time-table. David (having just set up a publishing company) is a pretty busy guy, and handing in a draft for him to look at means waiting until we can discuss it properly. I have a meeting set with him for the end of July, but until then I can’t really do anything more on The Firelight Isle.

This is kinda frustrating, so please bear with me over the next three weeks or so. I’ll be posting news about how things went after the meeting is done!