My latest creative rush continues to pour forth in the form of a lot of drawing in a relatively short time. I busted out the first 7 Day Camps in about as many days. That’s all Alex has written and given to me at this point, so I’m excited to get the second batch from him and get back to work on it. Until then I decided to try and finish Issue 6 of Black Snow. Currently I’m working on page 22, so that means I finished 4 pages at the rate of almost a page a day. I’m really happy with the work on both these comics, as I have continued to try new things and put a lot of effort into them. The fear is always that when you rush or do a lot at once you don’t have the time or energy to really make each drawing unique, and they simply become repetitious exercises in advancing the story.
I’m glad to say that I can confidently state that this has not happened with my work. So what’s got me so fired up? Well, it was working on Day Camp. Before I started that I decided to finish page 18 of Black Snow, which had been sitting on my drawing board as a rough outline for over a month. I had initially started it and felt a loss of interest. “Another scene sitting around talking at the bar?” I thought, “How can I make that interesting?” I sat down, put pencil to paper and cranked something out that I was pretty happy with, though mostly I was just excited to move on to Day Camp.
I was a little worried because it was something so completely new and different and I didn’t know if I’d be any good at it. I sat down to work on it and it felt almost effortless! The characters and their actions seemed to flow naturally from me, and it was fast and easy to draw. The style was not really planned out ahead of time, but that came naturally as well. Why did it all work out so well? I have a couple theories. 1. I’ve wanted to do a comic strip since I was a little kid, and this was finally my chance to try out all the things I loved reading as I grew up. 2. It finally let me try a lot of ideas I’d been wanting to do, but didn’t want to risk trying on Black Snow, like color and a less clean simplistic style. 3. They were a page at a time, and not a 13 page script that I had to map out to a 30 page comic book. They also didn’t emphasize story like Black Snow, so there wasn’t the same kind of pressure. 4. I lived it!
For those not in the know, Day Camp is somewhat based on the real experiences Alex and I had while attended a day camp for a few summers during our pre-teen and early teen years. The characters and plots are loosely based on real things. For instance, there was a Travis, Mark, Michigan, and I did have a crush on a real Serena. Alex is allergic to dairy and we did hear an inappropriate poem about a cow. We have a lot more stories and characters to share from this time in our lives that I think you’ll enjoy. It is not supposed to be taken as an actual retelling of these events or people though, as we’ve changed and made up a lot of stuff. I’m sure as time goes on this will be even more the case as the characters continue to evolve. When I say I lived it I also mean it’s easy for me to relate to and form a mental picture that I can draw. I was a kid who talked with my friends while swinging or climbing a tree. I’ve never been a super hero, I’ve never been to Detroit, I don’t frequent bars all that often, and I’ve never smoked a cigarette. I was only a 17 year old high school student when we started Black Snow! It is more a work of pure imagination, which can be good and bad. It takes more time, some research, and a lot more effort.
That being said, I’ve been doing it long enough now that I’ve gotten more comfortable with it and it’s a bit easier to do. The characters have become more defined and real, and it’s developed it’s own unique style. Thankfully I’ve found that my excitement from Day Camp translated over when I resumed work on Issue 6 and has renewed my enthusiasm for it. Hopefully it shows in the final product and readers can actually tell that I’m really enjoying drawing these comics.