There must be a reason why I’m uploading a winter holiday piece in February. I better have a pretty good reason!
I started this piece in December. It looked like this and then I didn’t touch it again:
I was in severe creative crisis mode. I hated everything I did, I was very insecure, especially about how I drew my characters, I hated my inability to create any sensible environment, yet I somehow pushed through the rest of this stretch of chapter 2 of the comic in January and then just collapsed. Not literally, but in my head a door closed, daily comic work was suddenly out of the question. Maybe a reaction like not putting weight on an injured leg.
My will to brush it off and continue was there, a nagging voice in the back of my head to not risk any hiatus, but everything else just intuitively went out into the world to see and try new things and let the overstrained comic muscles heal. Time heals that. And now the period of healing is coming to an end as I finally could finish the christmas piece today in one go. It did not hurt. The enthusiasm for SPREY was back and then some.
In hindsight and only in hindsight this break was the absolute right call. I experienced and learned so so much. I just wish it was somehow less chaotic and didn’t let the readers hang in the air. But I must have been in such a bad shape in January that I wasn’t really capable of doing anything elegant about that. I want to go back into SPREY and finish it with passion. The smallest scope is big enough if burning love can flow into it!
But of course, I can’t have that without obstacles. The decisions of old me led to a situation where I have to finish other tasks first before I can jump back into SPREY with full force. This doesn’t mean that I can’t do anything, it is just an interesting dance to get anything meaningful done. I would love to say I can allocate a reliable time and workload to SPREY within two weeks. I don’t want to go back to the daily upload schedule. Not because I can’t pull it off, but because I think I will not deliver my best work this way. The daily upload scheme leaves little room for editing. My friend Shellpresto (I’m so grateful, thank you so much!) suggested a weekly upload of about 7 panels and I’m starting to like the idea. A lot. Maybe it’s even time to go for comic…pages as I know a lot more about layout and design than even a couple of weeks ago now. Just an idea.
I’ll start by reviewing the new script tomorrow. I feel like my first draft will break under the first stress test like a dry tree twig. The true massacre will not happen in the comic itself but when I try to cut the script down. I tend to want too much, more than the essence of the story would require.
Unfortunately, I could not sleep last night, so I had two days as one so to speak, with two regular daily drawing sessions. I‘m a bit surprised I did manage to get two panels out today, which is great.
What is not so great is that the characters seem out of scale in the second shot, at least to me. In my head the placement made sense, the men in the background would step farther away from the fire and Felipe in the front would of course stand closer to the camera. But I don‘t like how the drawn results look next to each other. That is really good to know for the future. I‘m glad I got to experience this now and can watch out a bit better next time.
Also we have another first. I intend to censor a lot of curse words and violent content by fake graffitis. That fits the street theme and might look interesting when instead of actual blood words spill or something the like. We will have to see how that works out.
I read a bit of Hogarth‘s Dynamic Light and Shade tonight. Apparently now is the time that that book can help me. I could finally understand it. There is so much to do, but I‘m enjoying the journey. I found out what one of my main problems had been. I love dramatic dark shadows, but they don‘t look good in every context. And it‘s not even a given that they always look good in themselves. Hogarth has an idiot-proof rule of thumb for artists like me: light and shadow are mutual. So if you want strong shadows you have to have strong lights. The secret to overcast therefore is to have meh shadows accompaning the meh light. Black shadows would not work here, unless context like the absolute darkest corner in the room that does not get hit with any light. Also, a lazy statement about the highlights of a form and direction of light is better than none says Hogarth. That actually stuck with me since days. A lazy statement better than none…and I started making at least lazy statements and they got me curious to pay more attention and think about ways to make better statements.
PREY christmas special
In the early afternoon I zoned out and wrote down a PREY christmas special. This is not an announcement of it in any form as it‘s pretty late in November and I have a lot of other things to do. But it sparked my curiosity and I have a script. I could imagine making a compromise and like…drawing the first pages and calling it a day. But it depends on how the next weeks are. If they are as ‚hellish‘ as this one and the last one, I might be good with what I‘m doing on a daily basis now. But what is very visible is how differently I treat an idea like this popping up compared to about 100 days ago. No sweat breaks, the idea just gets written down. I sit back and think about it, then I write some more. No stress having a rough first draft that nobody except me will ever see. Life is good. I even had a rough idea how many pages that might result in if I pack 3-4 panels a page. I‘m a slow/low paneler and love to take my time. That preference might change over the years, I can‘t know how and where to I will develop, but for now it is that. At the moment I’m more worried what the point of the PREY christmas special is. What does it give to you in exchange for your time? A warm fuzzy feeling? Is that enough? Learning more about how Rich and Willard became a couple? Telling you that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in christmas (Rich definitely doesn’t), opening one’s heart for love(not only the romantic one, you know) is a risk worth taking. Anyways, I‘m very grateful for the 100 days of making comics. Only two days to go, wow.
About the artist
Styxcolor creates freelance concept art and illustrations. She blogs about storytelling and art since 2020.