100 Days of SPREY – 38-42

We reached a milestone in the Street Prey Webcomic! We’re in the middle of the first action scene and the first character just died. Why are these milestones? I am not talking about making action comics and telling my stories anymore – I’m doing it! I’m legit now. And I quickly realized that the first properly written and drawn out action scene is never good. It almost cannot be. I will have to underwhelm and overwhelm the audience and myself at several occassions and only over time get a feeling for how much is the right amount. Street Prey is a grateful first, as it allows for a spectrum of bizarre exaggerations but does not completely fly out the window into pure fantasy in the end. Let’s see how things turn out!

Other than that I have been scrambling to practise on and learn daily, when possible, while also keeping up with other responsibilities. I don’t have my perfect schedule down yet, but I’m working on it and that’s sometimes the only thing you can do.

I am appalled that I didn’t stream for most of January. I had some incredibly bleak days where I had no energy for it…and that just drives the point back that with all twisting and turning I am still an introvert. I will attack streaming again as soon as possible.

100 Days of SPREY – 31-37

The past days were very tumultuous. I am very exhausted, just like before my winter break, but restless at the same time. My comic work keeps coming. It is not very fun to create at the moment, but I’m doing my best. And my friends tell me they see an improvement in my art, which is great!

I’m a bit sad I cannot express myself that well today. There would be many little things that pile up from day to day work. Exploring the aesthetics of a great old game, reading a good book, having a little insight on a topic while drawing. These small things are what leads to bigger developments “suddenly” taking place later like a new, overall higher level in the quality of one’s art. But the only thing you can do in times like these is trying to keep up and look forward. If ideas that you didn’t write down get lost after a couple of days, they probably weren’t that great.

sidenote: I originally wanted one of my slashers in scene 2 of Street Prey to carry this weapon but realized kusarigama would not be exactly the most practical weapon for a narrow alley where you can’t swing the chain well.
above: an express page of boots when I designed my first two slashers yesterday night against all odds, paying special attention to the boots to present them in detail shots.

Suddenly I find myself interested in values again. I used to despise them as color’s boring and humorless cousin. Scott Robertson’s “How to Render” bored me to tears as well as value exercises tend to do. But now I like to think of values as means to structure my picture. They do not have to be “right” as in realistic, as long as they add to the readability of my shot or deliberately take away from it to evoke a feeling in the viewer.

100 Days of SPREY – 29

What a day!

I decided to finally tackle a couple of writing tasks today in one chunk. To my own surprise it actually worked out, although there’s at least 2-3 sessions lurking for tomorrow and the days after. And an interesting insight occured to me as I was developing a script for an anthology comic. Actually, if you look at anthologies, manga series or movie franchises…they do not go in having planned a ridiculous number of instalments or epic story already. They test the water with short stories, brief, poignant, cutting to the action, or ONE movie. And if the people bite, then there is more of it. If they do not bite, then you try it later again or know you can abandon that idea and it stays at this ONE instalment. I am someone who is at a complex story with many players fast. That is not the worst skill, building your scope like a spider weaving a net, naturally and without much hassle, but this is not a skill that starts things. You start things if you can convey a brilliant or at least passable and well entertaining story in 8 comic pages, a short short-story, a music video length of animation. After having finished and published many of those, you will naturally have more of the stamina to tackle a thing like a feature length movie or a comic comparable to that. And that is still not something like a twelve book series. That is actually a painful thing to think about. You love your characters and their stories enough to fill those twelve volumes. And nobody can stop you from filling those. But did you ever stop and consider that nobody might care for them and never read past the first 8 pages? They might never make it. There might not be the substance to actually fill out those twelve books. So maybe do not plan for them. Maybe be more modest and go for one book or even just one or two short stories. What’s in your head, heart and notes nobody can take away from you, but it is not and does not have to be what the audience sees. So apparently I’m a beginner at something again.

And now for the daily art. Note: I started writing down some lore for Street Prey and making more thumbnails in advance for the current scene in addition to the daily comic panel. That was long needed and it feels very good to tackle it.

Color study of another screengrab from “Silent Night Deadly Night” (1984)

Returning to regular hair studies with a couple of lovely ladies today.

Quick commission that was a lot of fun and also had quite the memorable topic.

100 Days of SPREY – 23

I‘m back and I hope you all had a good start into the year. There is a certain risk involved if you make breaks…what if you don‘t come back? Resistance to go back to hard work or shame about the flaws of my past and present work didn‘t get me this time. I released a new panel of Street Prey(SPREY) and it‘s alright.

Above: bonus drawing of Rich, exploring the urban decaying environment the people of his part of the city have to live in

I did some extra writing behind the scenes today, too. So I present to you a model I came up with, a fun picture to explain where I‘m at with my artist‘s journey and what I‘m about to do.

Imagine you were in a desolate and dark place. It is cold and ruggy, rainy and windy and nobody has a business to be here. I am lucky. Despite very bad sight I found a mountain that I want and need to climb, because something up there is calling me in my heart. Having something to strive for is great, even if it seems unattainable at first like a really unfriendly big rock.

I realized I need a light if I want to continue. I need something to assess whether I‘m actually moving towards my goal or not. Otherwise I could be stumbling around in a circle without winning much. I probably have done so in the past my fair share. I thought to myself I treat the idea of finishing it as a ball of light and put it in my lantern to guide me. Now everything I see is tinted in SPREY and I can better see what specifically helps me to get to finish SPREY. I sacrificed the potential of many other things that were inviting, too, but I just can‘t follow everything at once.

My first stop following the lantern is a forgotten garage. This is very fitting for SPREY and a hilarious start for this part of the journey. Who said that I have to WALK all the way on my feet? Here I can build a metaphorical motorcycle, which again, is a great SPREY specific thing. I will sacrifice time and a lot of effort tinkering in this hall, but hopefully make that up really fast and some more when it‘s done and I‘m on the road, breezing through it. This metaphorical motorcycle dictates the future pace of the journey. I will be travelling from fuel station to fuel station. And I have to be brave and actually define and map out those fuel stations and take a good luck at my ressources and how I want to spend them. They are not endless. A fuel burning vehicle really represents that well. I tend to sometimes forget about myself and that I have to refuel, too, in a symbolic way. If I can‘t do it for myself, I must do it for the vehicle at least, which is a great safeguard.

And now, let‘s play some more. What is the fuel? That is a brilliant question! I cannot just have conceptual gasoline although the thought makes me laugh. You can run on so many things! Love, spite, ambition, deadlines, anything else you can imagine, you choose. I chose love because I believe all encompassing universal love is a ressource that you can generate yourself and use without a limit. Romantic love is a subset of it, too, but not everything. What is difficult is to use love effectively. Or is it? Let‘s find out! It will be very interesting to cultivate love on a philosophical level. Love cannot burn you out or can it?

So here‘s what we got: My motorcycle is my drawing process, my designs are my roadmaps, my tools and the mastery of them are my wheels, my knowledge is my motor, my goal is my light and my fuel is what keeps me going. I love SPREY. I love storytelling. I love what I‘m doing and I love what I‘m doing here in the blog, too. Love is a pretty big word if you mean that other, complicated love that is not the one from greeting cards. Otherwise I could eat a greeting card, bouquet of flowers and heart shaped sweets every day and declare my level of love just increased by that. It doesn‘t work this way. I‘m currently tinkering at my motorcycle to make it run better. I‘m sure it can run already, but I should not start until I finished the check-up and defined my next step, the very first fuel station I want to reach.

Let‘s find out more tomorrow.

100 Days of SPREY – 22

With the prior blog entry I have defined and committed myself to a core of my comic project. This is important, because there will always be a lot of temptations to pivot away or otherwise water it down later. Before I can enter the process of developing finer details of Street Prey (SPREY) more, there is a last layer of chains to break.

I have mentioned it before, but SPREY is actually an old idea. In 2011 I thought to myself while riding home from university on train and subway: wouldn‘t it be great if a hacker and a cop, a very unlikely pair, were trapped in an abandoned subway tunnel system with some cannibal horror rockers and had to learn to get along and fight their way out? With a lot of synthwavey and cyberpunky color play and 80ies horror movies cheese please, thank you. Apparently, the idea and the characters evolved a lot since then. But there must be something about SPREY that was so memorable it never left my brain again. It was just waiting for it‘s time to come later.

Maybe this even is a completely normal, natural cycle of creation: When you are young, you have a lot of time to explore media and a lot of playful ideas, but no means to create properly. And later in life, if you chose to evolve the toolset to create, you would actually not dream up big ideas like these anymore. But you yourself are still moved by them. So what you love and grew up with, you will consciously or unconsciously try to bring back to the world. This contributes to the cycle of trends returning every 30 years or so, when those who grew up under the influence of certain works of art and other media are in positions where they have a say in what gets created either as creator or as paying customer.

It is not inherently bad to do it like this. You just have to make sure to bring what you cherish back in a way other people outside of your bubble understand it, too. Many movie makers I love from the 80ies were inspired by horror and sci-fi movies of the 50ies and brought elements and references from them over to their own movies. While the 80ies will always have a special place in my heart, I‘m not as strongly connected to the 50ies. Still, I can enjoy the movies, I can see where my heroes are coming from and respect their roots, too, as a neverending cycle of artists being inspired by other artists who came before them. One day someone will look at my beloved 80ies and 90ies influences, shake their head and say „Well, not my thing, but I can understand where she‘s coming from.“ just like me now.

And there we have it. The movie makers of the 80ies did not seek to recreate the past slavishly. They couldn‘t, the audience wouldn‘t buy it, just like I couldn‘t recreate an authentic 80ies experience if I tried. I haven‘t culturally lived in that era. We cannot move back in history, at least it is not healthy to do so and ignore what was learned since then as well as ignoring societal progress. You cannot successfully exclude reality ever and reality is progression of time and change. Everything changes and you have to adapt. Also, my favorite 80ies movies have been made already. While I can learn from them and try to bring their appeal or lessons from them to my works, I should not try to be them like my heroes did not try to revert back to the 50ies.

If you are thinking to yourself right now, everything of this is obvious, why am I making such a fuss, you are a lucky lucky person! To me, nothing of this was clear ten years ago. Even now I‘m still learning and repeating to learn how to stand on my own as a creative brain and not get swept up in trends or fandoms. Did you ever wonder why we get self-indulgent works of art, especially movies, where the ageing creative mind behind the work brings back something they invented and cherished from their youth, even if nobody asked for it, the present audience doesn‘t understand it anymore and the creator stubbornly makes no effort to adapt to anything. They have worked hard and have made many sacrifices to come to a place where they finally can create their dream project, so of course they are unwilling to compromise. But then the creation might not have the impact it otherwise could have had. You are indeed alone when you are creating, but you are not alone when you unleash it onto the world.

Have a counter example. My knowledge of Russia of the 1800s is quite limited, but the great old novelists like Chekov, Tolstoj and Dostojewski still manage to make me care for the fates of their protagonists and what the works tell me about life. I can enjoy the old literature, even if I do not understand every reference without looking it up. I think this is because they managed to capture the essence not only of their times but of a timeless human experience. Flaws, passions, despair over seemingly inevitable failures, small sparkles of joy throughout a mundane existance, the pain and uncertainty of growing up. All this, to an extent, resonates with every human being. We all arrive at places in our life where we ask ourselves comparable questions, where we face comparable problems, but of course, nothing is ever an exact copy of itself. Therefore, seemingly old stories have to be told again and again with new coats on top. One day we will bore future generations with what was novel to us, maybe like early social media and it‘s opportunities and risks.

And now the big question – what are the consequences for my comic?

I just laid down my current design and worldbuilding philosophy for you. I had this grandiose idea to make SPREY 80ies technology cyberpunk, but clean and sanitized like synthwave, with hidden gritty horrors under the stylish surface. That is a lot, and that requires a lot of work to get right. I was all about learning the rules of those genres and preparing to follow slavishly. I do not have to. The big cyberpunk works of the 80ies and later have been done already. I will never be Akira, Blade Runner or Battle Angel Alita and I don‘t have to. Synthwave has been done already, too. I must do more than just use references. There must be room for me and what I can bring to the table myself, even if it is just that I want to make a mature romance out of it.

And instead of asking myself how and whom I can impress by getting all the details right and learning a lot of things by heart…what can I add on top of the core of my story that will make the core shine even more and add to what I have to say, not detract from it? Suddenly you do not have as many paralyzing choices as before while being very free. But unfortunately, the answers are not there immediately. They want to be discovered and fought for in many hours of exploration, trial and error and research. But now I have a chance to actually work with the core of my own comic instead of just slapping an aesthetic over it like someone else‘s worn skin.