Black Snow issue 6 is done and posted, as of today! Before you read any further here I strongly suggest that you READ ISSUE 6, as this will contain some spoilers. That being said, let’s talk about 6.
Actually, first a few words about what’s next. Well, probably some new Day Camp. I’ve been holding off of a couple that were written as part of the last batch I drew, and it’s about time I sat down and drew them. I believe Alex plans on writing about 10 more in the next few days, so that’s what you can expect in the immediate future. Beyond that? More Black Snow, of course. Right now it looks like the plan is to hold off of Issue 7 and go ahead with Issue 0. Don’t worry, 7 will have it’s day, and it’s already been outlined. Believe it or not, there is a grander plan and overall story arch. What is Issue 0? What you might guess, an origin story of sorts, set well before the events of Issue 1. It will be like a new Issue 1 for people reading the series for the first time, but will serve as an exciting back story that enhances and clarifies things for all the current fans. I won’t say anything else about it, you’ll have to wait and read it if you want to know more. So now let’s really get to that look back at Issue 6.
Well, obviously there were a lot of changes and new things going on in 6. Right off the bat, the covers in color and got a more polished look than in the past. I’ve discussed this in previous posts, so I won’t go into a ton of detail here, but this Issue was a merge of my love for drawing and Photoshop. I combined the two art forms into the current product you see before you. I feel it was a natural evolution in my style, and a progression of what I had already been doing. I’m really happy with the way it came out, and I hope it wasn’t too jarring to long time fans. I was inspired to go forward with it after I played around with making new color images of all the characters for the website. I was so excited by what I produced that I decided all future covers would be in color. I also decided to see exactly what I could do with with the traditional black and white and the addition of this new Photoshop medium. Seeing the results, I’ll never go back to the old way! It was also a lot faster and a bit easier to produce, as there was a lot less inking and not as much pre-planning, as placing the typed words on the page and drawing around them was a very tedious and laborious process in all past issues. The new format seems to allow for quite a bit more freedom, and it’s a hell of a lot easier to fix mistakes.
Eventually this would lead to the use of grey, which I discussed in length in the post Shades of Grey. Will every page from now on contain grey? I don’t know. Maybe. Let’s put it this way, I’ll use it when I feel appropriate. I’m really enjoying playing with it, and kind of wish I had used it from the beginning. I asked Alex what he thought of the grey, and he said it was great because it added a needed softness to my style, or something along those lines. I’ve thought about it and I agree, for the most part. There are times when it’s necessary to be hard, and in those times I will revert back to black and white. For instance, I don’t know that I would have used any grey in Issue 5, regardless of if I had used it before or not. I don’t actually regret holding off of grey until now though, it was a fun challenge that pushed me to explore and grow as an artist, and I’m the better for it. It’s kind of like when they tell photographers to start out in black and white before they move on to color so they can learn the basic principles before trying to master anything more complex.
It’s easy to get caught up in all this fancy new style, what with all the drop shadows and polished effects and what-not. Is it my best work? Again, I don’t know. That’s a tough and subjective question. It may be my best looking work on Black Snow, but I think I’d make an argument for the striking visuals in Issue 5, like this one.
Is 6 my overall favorite Issue? No, that tile is still held by Issue 4, largely due to the hilarious opening scene and lengthy appearance by my favorite character, The Lone Wolf. Seeing him with Black Snow just cracks me up every time. It makes me laugh just to think about it now. Not to mention the debut appearance of Alex’s favorite character, the Fisherman. Comedy gold. Here is a particular favorite page for both of us, containing one of our favorite nonsensical jokes.
“Two mugs then!” Not to mention this was followed up by a very strong showing and fleshing out of the Anti-Nazi, another character I really like. But we aren’t her to talk about Issue 4. Back to the matter at hand, Issue 6. Perhaps one day I’ll change my mind, and it will be my favorite. After all, I’m very close to it now, as it’s been mere hours since I finished drawing it. It’s lighter in tone than Issue 5, but considerably more somber than 4. Sort of a medium tone, that if anything leans toward more of an absurd direction than anything we’ve done previously. A very unique issue in that the main character’s are not in much of it. Obviously the focus is the cops this time. They had always been a background story up until now, so this was quite a change. One that worried me because I wasn’t sure it would work. Let’s not feature are most popular characters and focus on some of the least popular…great idea! I’m happy to say that it all turned out to be very successful. I put a lot of work into making the cops interesting here, and I can confidently say I succeeded. You really get to know their personalities here, and I think they’re all pretty entertaining. We may have even succeeded in fleshing out some new fan favorites. I know I like Brad a lot more now, after scenes like this:
Not to mention the amazing debut of Detective Redmund. It feels like this story has really picked up steam, and things are moving ahead well. Which is why we were hesitant to move forward with Issue 0 instead of going straight to 7. Hopefully it was the right decision. To me 6’s main strengths were in giving characters more dimension, acting upon long planted seeds, as well as planting some new ones. There’s a hell of a lot going on in this series, and a lot of characters. Funny, this isn’t that obvious for most people until they really sit down and think about it. I suggest you take a moment to reread the comic and you’ll notice that beyond the comedy and action there’s a lot of subplots, drama and mystery. I feel we usually get slighted in that aspect, as some how people only come out of reading Black Snow thinking it’s a “super hero comedy’. I’d say these people are missing the point.
It’s funny, I always think that finishing an issue will feel like a great accomplishment, but it always feels sort of bittersweet. Once it’s over, it’s over. The journey is complete, and that period of my life comes to a close. I have found memories of where I was, who I was with and what was happening around me when I was drawing specific panels. Often the things going on in my life effect my work in ways that you probably couldn’t guess. Music I listen to, movies I see, conversations I have, the events I witness, and just my life in general all have an impact on the image I produce. I’ll share a few things that had happened in my life to make this issue unique. The biggest thing? My son was born last year! Drawing around him is quite a challenge, and raising him has made me start thinking of things in new ways. It has also exposed me to a lot of child targeted movies, TV shows, books and toys. He has also filled me with a motivation to succeed much more-so than anything I have ever felt before. The drive to provide is amazing!
In line with this, I also got married last year. While not as obvious a change, we had been dating for over 6 years and living together for a few, I am just starting to realize what some of these changes really are. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say making a life long commitment to the one you love in front of everyone important to you does have real, meaningful impact on your life, and your “hobbies”. BTW, I’ve never considered Black Snow a hobby, but pretty much everyone else in my life does. Does it really change everything if you get paid? Then doing the exact same thing is your job? And why do people scoff when I say it is my passion? Hell if I know.
Other things that happened? I graduated from UC Berkeley with a film degree where I learned a lot about story telling and visual presentation. I then worked at Google/YouTube for a year and became enamored with the hi-tech world. You can read about that in this post from my previous blog, 21st Century Digital Boy. Since then I’ve started working at my family’s internet marketing company. In this time I’ve learned a lot, and I think long time fans have seen tremendous improvements on this very website. It’s also helped us reach unprecedented numbers of people. A side effect of all this, I have been exposed to a lot more of the internet community and all it has to offer. This also means I saw a lot of other people’s web art. I draw to learn from everything I see. In recent months I got Alex a job at my family’s company. It is a real pleasure to be able to work with my good friend. I think it was quite a change in lifestyle for him, but a much needed one to help him get his life on track. I won’t reveal any of his personal issues, except to say that he was having a lot of problems and some depression. He reached out to me for help, and I simply gave him an opportunity to better himself. I’m proud of how well he has done and I know he would have done the same for me. Working together has led to us spending more time together on a regular basis than we have since the old summer day camp days when we were first becoming friends. Seeing him so often has made it a lot easier for me to get feedback and to collaborate with Alex and produce more material. It led to rewriting Issue 6 quickly, working on 7 and 0, and creating Day Camp. I’d say it’s been extremely beneficial to our partnership and motivational for me to keep up my work rate.
Of course these are only a few of the things that happened in my life, and many other things impacted the creation of Issue 6, those were just some of the top ones. Well, that’s enough for now. I’m tired and ready to go to bed. I think I earned a little rest. Don’t worry, I’ll be back drawing tomorrow. Maybe after I wait a little I’ll read Issue 6 and have some new thoughts on it, but that’s all for now. Good night.