Yeah. It’s been a while, sorry about that.
Earlier this year I pledged to do a non-comic piece of artwork every day. And it was going fine for a while. Uptown Girl was wrapping up and I knew this year would be about trying new things, thinking of new art projects and getting out of my comfort zone. In doing this, I had hoped I would stumble upon my next project. Of course, I’d still be doing The Retros, but I need to something in addition to that.
I was keeping up just fine on this goal until Inktober rolled around this year. Up until October, I had been doing little paintings and I was beginning to burn out. Inktober gave me an excuse to take a break from painting and focus on just drawing each day for a month. Stepping away from the paint was a nice change of pace and it recharged my painting batteries again.
Once Inktober wrapped up, I pretty much stopped, or at least posting, the daily non-comic artwork. Normally when I fall short of a goal I get a little discouraged, but I felt I had accomplished what I wanted to…meaning I had stumbled on my next non-Uptown Girl project.
While doing one of the daily paintings this summer, I drew a bear with a rabbit on its head. I liked the drawing and wondered what their story was. Writers talk about how some stories just…open up to them and that is exactly what happened here. I wrote down a very loose story about these two characters and really felt I had something. Over the next few months I did a of drawings of these two as I tried to get a feel for their personalities, their world and what this story would look like.
It was a lot of fun and they went through a lot of revisions as I tried to get them right. Eventually I settled on the last bear here. I liked the shape and the little fur flourishes. I also liked it looked different than my normal style.
Over the last few months, the story stayed with me as I worked on simplifying it and stripping the story down to its essentials. Some of the art here shows the bear at a meeting and wearing clothes. At one point the story was going to take place in a sort of animal city, similar to a Richard Scarry story. But the more I thought about it, the smaller the world became and focusing on the bear and rabbit as much as possible, at least art-wise, felt right.
I had planned on starting the book in earnest in January. Starting a new project in the new year felt like a good idea, but as Inktober wrapped up and my painting energy returned, I decided to take advantage of that momentum and jump right into the book. I wrote a second draft of the book and got to work.
As of this writing, I am about two dozen pages in, and a third draft of the prose is being created as the “voice” is reacting to the artwork, adding a little more life and humor to the story. I am happy to say that I am four pages away from wrapping up the artwork and I should have it done by the end of the month. Once the artwork is done, I’ll touch it up and add the text through Photoshop and ta-da, my first version will be done. The hard part is next as I try to find an agent or a publisher. If I a lucky enough to make it to the next step of getting it published, I am sure I’ll need to do further revisions and likely redo the whole book. And that’s fine. Knowing I may need to redo the whole book is actually helpful here as I am not agonizing over every word or brushstroke. Instead what I’ve done will easily present what I am going for here.
That’s not to say that it’s been all lollipops and rainbows. Once I started the book for real I started to feel discouraged and intimidated. I considered giving up and walking away, but the truth is that Sophie has been very excited about the book since I showed her the first drawing and she helped with a lot of ideas. Her enthusiasm pushed me to completing this project.
So, this book is for her. It would have been anyway, but I likely would have abandoned this project if not for her.
I am excited to have this completed and I am looking forward to submitting it to agents and publishers. There are more options than comic publishers, but it’s also a more competitive, tougher market to get into, but that’s okay. I have to try.
Today is Sophie’s tenth birthday, and I couldn’t be prouder to call her my daughter. We draw together, we explore the woods by our house together, we watch cartoons and go to bookstores and ride bikes. I love being a dad, I love being her dad. She has shaped my life in uncountable ways.