I have three art projects in my life. The first, of course, is Uptown Girl. I haven’t shown much of her lately as I’ve been working on a new story and prepping ‘A Long Forgotten Fairytale’ for publishing. I am bringing it to the printer on Friday and should have the proof about a week after that. But in case you miss her, here’s a page from the story I am working on.
I still need to add the lettering, but it’s a pretty funny page. To be honest, it’s kind of a boring story so far. I mean, the story idea is good, the writing is funny, but it’s kind of boring to draw. It’ll change soon, the bad guys have just hatched their evil plan and it’ll get more fun to draw soon. I hope.
When Brian and I decided to finally do this project, I had anticipated more progress on it by now, but on the other hand, it’s looking better than I thought it would. The format is a lot of fun, and it’s really challenging me as a cartoonist. I am penciling more, which is not something I am used to. For Uptown Girl, since I am so used to drawing her (11 years and counting…), I usually just rough in the characters and let the inking do the work.
The third project is redoing ‘This Little Piggy’ that I mentioned in the previous post. I didn’t think I would ever revisit this project after the rejection letters, but what the heck, a good idea is a good idea. I didn’t really want to seek out a new project since Uptown Girl and Secret Comic take up the little free time I have, but I think the key to staying interested in drawing and avoiding writer’s block is having multiple things to work on. If I have a couple hours to draw, I’ll work on Uptown Girl. If I have a half hour, Secret Comic is what I’ll work on. If I pass by my studio while doing house stuff and I have a couple minutes, I’ll add a few things to the page I am working on for ‘This Little Piggy’. I am really digging the pig book now, it’s a lot different and a lot more fun to draw. I am not that far into it, I’d say about halfway through the first page. It’s not the first page of the book, just the first one I am doing. It was meant to be a test page, to be honest. Just to get a feel for the new format and to revisit an art style I used to use all the time called “cramming”. I am trying to cram as much as I can into a drawing. Cramming came from being inspired by the ‘Muppets Take Manhattan’, one of my favorite movies from when I was a kid. A while ago, I was working on another project that I thought would be a children’s book. The art was okay, but it was missing something. In the movie, the Muppets put on a big broadway show, but Kermit also felt that his project was missing something. Fozzie asks Kermit if his friends can watch the show from backstage. Struck my inspiration, Kermit says:
“What? No! No, they cannot watch the show from backstage. That’s it! That’s what’s been missing from the show! That’s what we need! More frogs and dogs and bears and chickens and… and whatever! You’re not gonna watch the show, you’re gonna be in the show! Come on, everyone!”
The other Muppets rush the stage and the show is a big success. On a Post-It note, I wrote ‘That’s what we need! More frogs and dogs and bears and chickens and… and whatever!’ I used that quote as a guide for the book. When the page was lacking and boring, I went and crammed as much as I could into the drawing. I’d add more people, made the backgrounds more interesting and it was a lot more fun to look at. Took a long time to draw, but it was worth it.
I no longer have the Post-It, but the quote is more relevant than ever since the book needs frogs, dogs, bears, chickens, pigs, raccoons, skunks, wolves, alligators, giraffes, sheep and whatever. Here’s a very bad scan of the page-in-progress:
I have a lot more to do on this page. The original is about 11 x 17, which is a lot bigger than I am used to working. Anyway, with the rate I am working and the multiple projects I am juggling, the book should be done just in time for my kids to read it to their kids.