“As great as you are, man, you’ll never be greater than yourself”
Bob Dylan said that. And I’ve been thinking about that quote a lot lately.
‘A Long Forgotten Fairytale’ is the longest thing I have ever written. Before this project, I think the longest thing I had written was 64 pages…Uptown Girl #48, I think. I can’t help but compare this book to the first Uptown Girl original graphic novel, “Big City Secrets”, written by Brian Bastian. I was nervous tackling this story alone, I am not a writer, I am a cartoonist. I offered the book to Brian, but he passed on it. And I think he’s happy about that. I am trying to touch on a lot of little things in this book. I am trying to capture the spirit of 8-Bit Nintendo games, the overall dread of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ and the fish-out-of-water theme of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. At the same time, avoiding telling a story that is kinda similar to Uptown Girl #50 and reinventing The King of Birds. I am also telling a story that is, well, a lot creepier than readers of Uptown Girl might be used to. There’s been some uncomfortable moments, some rewrites, violence…all under a threat of death. It’s been a challenge.
But like I said, I can’t stop comparing this book to “…Secrets”. Both of these books are huge adventures, but the similarities end there. With ‘…Secrets’ I was working from a full, written script. With “…Fairytale” I am following an outline and in some cases, changing the direction of the story or at least the scene on the fly. I can tell you the story is very different than the story I thought I would write. In some cases, I think it is better. “…Secrets” was, and is, the best thing I have ever done, with or without Brian. I feel it is a better, stronger story with better artwork. With the current book, the characters have been taken out of their typical environment and plunked down in a new setting. The new setting took a lot of time to draw. I was drawing things I wasn’t used to drawing. the book brought Uptown Girl, and me, out of our familiar comfort zones. This leads me to think that the art from ‘…Secrets’ is better than ‘…Fairytale’. I had expected that each book would top the previous book, at least in the art. And for a long time, I was pretty sure that the new book was falling behind in that sense. It was looking like I would never do anything as good as ‘…Secrets’.
This is not to say that ‘…Fairytale’ is lousy, it might be, but the art wasn’t as strong as I expected it to be. I wanted to be better than me.
Compare these two pages, page the 189th page from the two books. First up, a page from ‘…Secrets’, then ‘…Fairytale’.
Now, these are both pretty different scenes, but I used to think the first drawing was a much better one. But I am getting close to wrapping up the book. My frustration, anxiety and doubt about the book are fading away as I am closer to the last page than ever before. I…don’t think that the art in this book is as bad as I thought it was. If you’ve been reading this blog for the past two years or so that I have been doing this book, you might remember the frustration I’ve expressed about it. But I think the book will be wrapped up by the end of the month, and I notice that I can see the book for what it is, and not comparing it to an earlier book. I am actually excited about the book for the first time in a long time.
I just hope you guys like it.