So I guess I’m participating in NaNoWriMo after all.
After the awesomeness of Inktober I’ve become creatively inspired. During October I drew at least one image every day but for the 31st when we lost power for a week. I used the prompt list created by Jake Parker. It was an amazing exercise in drawing both in working from the boundary of that single word as a prompt and in how it challenged me to do study my art. Drawing every day for a month stepped my game up a few notches. I saw my technique improve, my style diversify and my skillset broaden and expand (imagine if I exercised like this or did something else for 31 days in a row? Shaddup!).
About midway through - October 13th to be exact - I hit upon the prompt word “Teeming.” I was inspired to draw a groups of robots, a teeming horde of them if you will.
Right in the center of that lot is an angry looking cat with a pair of ears or horns or veins of paddles or whatever you want to call them. Well call them what you will they took obsessed me for the remainder of the month.
Every day after whatever the prompt I did something with that guy in it. After a few days he got a name: Bunnyhead. Should be obvious as to why. But he began to grow in my mind as a scrabbling, hard living hard working robot in a strange, broken, unforgiving world. In this world robots battle robots for survival. But where are their builders? Were they built by humans? Did they kill them?
I don’t know. But bit and pieces began to form as I drew more and more. Eventually a story came to mind. A rough outline anyway. It’s got legs from what I can tell so I’m going for it.
Initially I approached it from a prose angle but quickly found it was lacking in something from the telling. Then I suppose it was from all the art I was consuming that I thought how it might work well as a graphic novel. But then who would draw it?
I could, I suppose, I thought to myself.
Get the fuck out of here, I said to myself. You? You’ve been drawing regularly for a year or so maybe. Before that you drew a little bit for your kid? Before that? Art classes in high school and a lot of kid stuff before then.
Well who else is going to draw it then? I asked myself.
Don’t ask me, I answered back. I’m just your negative inner critical monologue.
Then fuck off or get out of the way, I said.
And it did.
I’ve toyed with writing graphic novels in the past. I had the idea for a superhero story in my senior year of college. I was reading a lot of the late 80’s - 90’s classics then: Sandman, Dark Knight, The Watchmen, V for Vendetta. Neil Gaiman included a portion of a script in the back of one of the Sandman trades which I read closely, analyzed and devoured. I followed his script format and began to write but found the process tedious. Soon I abandoned it in favor of a traditional prose fiction novel (that’s never been finished either though ideas for it are always rolling around in my head about it). I felt somewhat vindicated when I got to meet the master Jonathan Lethem who told me how much he hated writing comics when he did a few issues of Omega.
But the idea of writing a graphic novel stuck with me lo these past twenty some odd years.
Fast forward to the end of October 2017. When I wasn’t sure how to tell the story or continue with Bunnyhead then I had the strange thought to tell it as a comic. It seemed like a ridiculous idea given how I hated writing them once. Somehow the idea persevered. So I cracked open Scrivener and opened the graphic novel script template and began to write.
It wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it would be. Nor was it like when I did it before. In fact it went smooth and easily. Not surprising, though, given that I’ve been writing steadily for the last thirteen years and have improved since college. The words came and they stuck and didn’t suck the next day. So I kept writing.
As for the art I’ve been working and study the artwork of my favorite artists (Simon Stalenhag, Ed Piskor, Jeff Lemire, Charles Burns, Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola, Justin Oakford, and Simon Roy to name a few) with a keen eye. I’m not a great artist but I’ve gotten better and I’ve got a certain style which has developed and even improved. Which is really all you need, isn’t it?
So I’ll give it a go, write the words and draw the pictures, and see how it all pans out. Maybe it’ll get published some day?
Stranger things have happened.