Happy New Year, and welcome back to the future!
Hopefully you’ve already given up on your resolutions. I know I have…
What I haven’t given up on is drawing Black Snow: Another Round. In fact, I’ve just started. On New Years Eve I decided the time for sketching and planning was over, and the time for actually working on the book had begun. So I started page 1 and over the next day I finished it! Take a gander.
I don’t really know the format for releasing these pages this time around. Do I make a new sub-site like I did with TDM and pump them out once a week? Do I just add them to that TDM site like it is just the next chapter in the saga? Do I stop giving every page away for free in the hopes that more people will buy the printed book? I don’t know.
To be honest, I don’t know how to format this site at all. I never have. I recently took out several of the pages from the nav, like the galleries and reviews. I’m thinking simpler is better. But I’m open to any of your suggestions.
Anyway, let’s talk about this page! So far I’m loving it. It was fun to draw, and relatively easy. I’m excited about this new style.
I did more sketches than what I shared with you previously. I don’t really feel like sharing them, as I didn’t really love them. Plus, their purpose was not to be shared with people, they were for me to practice some new things before I jumped into the public eye.
I like this end result, and think I can carry it through the entire book. It’s an accumulation of things I picked up over the course of the last book, and my drawing career in general. I think I finally figured out what I like doing and what I don’t.
And I do think it is significantly different than what I was doing in TDM. Behind the scenes I’m doing an almost completely different process. I won’t bore you with the minutia, but it feels a lot more natural and simple compared to my old technique.
Visually I think there are some big differences. Overall I think there is a rougher, sketchier quality, which was very much intentional. I’m tired of trying to make something polished that doesn’t come off the way I intended. This is a rough story full of rough characters, and that should be obvious at a glance. I didn’t use nice transparent shadows and lighting to add depth. I used solid black inking with a few highlights and shadows created with different shades. I didn’t do a color fill to add all the shading nicely in the lines in a uniform way, I hand drew it all in so some of the shades could seep out the borders and and it could look a little imperfect.
I also didn’t use reference photos as heavily as I was in the past. Which I think will help me with the consistency and make it more fun to draw. I still looked at photos, but I didn’t try to base my drawing that strongly on them. Over the course of TDM I think I greatly improved on my realistic drawing and feel more confident with it now.
Speaking of, I’ve drawn old Black Snow here for roughly 13 years now, so I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on him now. Of course this page is the first time he’s ever been featured out of costume, and more importantly, without his mask. So while that was a challenge I was comfortable enough with the character to do it. And I like the way he turned out.
My wife commented that he looked handsome. So what’s that say about me? I think he looks pretty rugged but decidedly uncouth and ragged. Like looking in a mirror?
I went back and forth on the size and aspect ratio. I didn’t know if it was time to go with a more traditionally page size, or stick with our super sized 8.5×11. In the end I stuck with what I’d done before. I did that for a couple reasons. It’s what I feel comfortable with, it would be consistent with the old books, and it lets me make the art a little bigger for the reader.
I also debated sticking with the black borders. I kind of like the looks of the page with white borders, but in the end I thought I’d be consistent here too. The black sets us apart from most other comics, and I think it looks pretty sharp. I’ve seen it used occasionally in Hellboy books, and Sin City makes great use of it. Since those are two of my bigger influences I feel good about using it too.
This page also does something we’ve never done before, narration and inner monologue. Thoughts are something I’ve long been tempted to play with, so I’m glad we get to do some of that here. It adds another dimension to the characters and the storytelling, and can be a powerful tool when done well.
If you are wondering what exactly is happening here, and when this is taking place in reference to TDM, well I don’t want to spoil anything. More to come soon!