I did something I rarely do yesterday. I just stood there and stared into the distance.
I mean, I do zone out from time to time, probably more than I realize, but yesterday I realized I was just looking at nothing and thought hard about the last Uptown Girl book, The Lazarus Heart. I am always thinking about the book, but I am usually thinking about how to lay out the next page, character designs, panel structure, tweaking the dialogue, things like that. I am also always worried about the book. Is it any good? Does it make sense? Is is slow? Is it boring? But the most biggest thing I worry about is whether or not it’s…worthy of it being the last Uptown Girl book.
Finales are hard. I think as fans of something we get nervous when a band says they’ll do a farewell album/tour or a television series is wrapping up and we worry and hope and pray that it ends on a high note. They are almost never satisfying because once we know that this is it, the expectations and fear and apprehension hit an all-time high that almost nothing can live up to.
The point is that I want this to end on a satisfying note for everyone who has been reading Uptown Girl since the beginning. I’ve been writing and drawing her adventures for over 12 years now and I want to do a good book for those readers. I also want to do a good book for myself. Something I can be proud of, something I am satisfied with because, man, this is it. If this book isn’t very good there’s no follow up to redeem myself with. No going back, this is the point of no return.
Anyway, so what was I thinking about yesterday? I was thinking that this book is pretty good. I think. You might think something different and that’s okay but I feel that the story is a true, Uptown Girl-esque story, there’s enough nods to little jokes from the last few years, some characters return, the 3 main characters all have their own thing going on, there’s action, drama, shake ups in the status quo and some pretty funny scenes. On Tuesday I drew probably the happiest panel in Uptown Girl history, the next night I drew the saddest. The scenes are unrelated but it gives you an idea as to how much happens and changes in the book.
I do think as a reader a plot can fall a little short as long as the characters are true to themselves and in that regard, I think I am doing okay. Better than okay. There’s a lot I like here. Yesterday I took a step back and just let my mind wander and think about the book. I wasn’t doing anything besides standing outside waiting for a bookstore to open. Usually when I am thinking about the book it’s because I am about to start drawing for the night, or I am drawing it or just finished drawing for the night or I am scanning and Photoshopping the pages…but yesterday I wasn’t anywhere near it.
And I’ll tell you that this feeling of the book being pretty good really made my day. There’s a lot of expectations for this book (that I have anyway) and I think I am going to be happy with it when it’s all done.
Speaking of that, when will it be done? I just finished lettering page 124 on Friday. I think I am about halfway through the first draft I finished last year. I am doing 15 pages a month and at this rate, I should be done with the book by the end of the year. Once I finish redrawing the first draft, I’ll go back and do a prologue, a flashback scene, add an action scene I haven’t gotten around to drawing yet, and the epilogue. The stack of paper on the left in the picture above are the completed pages, the stack on the right are my notes, plot outlines, sketches for upcoming pages, etc. It looks like I am further along than I am but the stack on the right has notes like “epic action scene” that will take, like, ten pages to do.
So am feeling pretty good about it. I am sure once I start working on it again tonight my enthusiasm and optimism will go back to normal levels but right now, I am happy with it.
Over the last week or so I’ve also been thinking about what happens once this book is done. I know I’ll have a lot more free time in terms of what I need to be working on so I am wondering what I will be doing. I’ve had Uptown Girl has the front and center of my cartooning career for so long that I don’t remember life without working on her adventures. I don’t want to think too hard about what happens next creatively (besides working on The Retros) because I want whatever I do to come naturally without forcing it. That being said, two ideas are kind of winning the “what will Bob do next?” contest. I posted images from both projects below. I like them and I am excited to work on them.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about, what have you been thinking about?