On the Fly

It’s no secret that work on ‘A Long Forgotten Fairytale’ has been slow and frustrating.  I am working on page 153 and now that I am near the end of the second act, I think the book might be longer than I had anticipated.  I think I could do another 153 pages easily.  Well, not easily.  Nothing on this book has been done easily.

I compare this book to the first Uptown Girl graphic novel a lot in terms of productivity.  I did a page a day then.  I’d push myself to finish the page if it was a late day or evening before calling it a night.  I’d resist doing more pages if it was a productive day.  When I was doing this as a monthly comic, I’d do 8 pages a day, easily.  But then I was single and childless.  ‘Big City Secrets’, the first graphic novel, was done when my daughter took naps,  freeing up a lot of time.  Now Sophie is 5 and I only have time to draw when she is asleep at night.  I work for maybe an hour and I am far behind on the old ‘page-a-day’ schedule.  I need to be more productive.  But when I sit down to draw, Sophie runs into my cave to draw with me, play with me, or a zillion other things.  And that’s fine.  It reminds me that I should be playing with her instead of hiding and drawing, anyway.

But I started to notice a lot of time during the weekends when I would take Sophie to the library or an indoor playland and I would sit and watch her play.  I am too tall for much of the playground stuff.  At the library I’d pick out books for her but she would want to stay and play for a while longer.  I started to realize that these were perfect times to draw.  But I can’t haul my drafting table around.  So I needed to think more portable.

This idea collided with me putting together ‘All This Time’, the next book collecting some of the old monthly comic series.  A lot of the old stories had a lot of the energy and spontaneity that I don’t have with the longer stories.  I miss that.  But a lot of those stories were done places other than my drawing table.  At work, coffee shops, wherever.  I thought if I could draw almost anywhere maybe I could capture the energy the stories had then.

I bought a small clipboard that could open up to store stuff.  It’s plastic, pretty durable and light.  I filled it with paper, pens and a few templates.  Everything I needed to draw a comic on the fly.  In order to fit the insides of the clipboard, I needed to cut the paper down to the size that ‘A Long Forgotten Fairytale’ used to be.

This weekend I had a chance to draw a couple pages and to see if this experiment would work.  I think it did.  I’m always thinking a few books ahead of the one I am working on right now, and a few years down the line I’ll be doing a book called ‘The Lazarus Heart’.  I knew it would open with a bang and the opening has been on my mind lately since lately all I’ve been drawing is people talking, countrysides, trees and birds.  A fun action-y scene in a city sounded like a lot more fun that what I’ve been drawing the last few weeks.

So here’s what I did.1 2

Of course, I still plan on finishing ‘…Fairytale’, but I plan on working on this off and on for a while.  It’s actually been kinda fun.



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