It’s happening!

It took less than a week to get Kiss the Poison Tree from initial idea to first update online.

How did that happen? I’m really not sure. I’m trying not to think too much at the moment because I want to keep this going – this state where I just do whatever comes into my head immediately and it all comes up incredibly inspired.

All my other projects are overthought and full of too many complexities that the casual reader can get bogged down in. I want this world to appear to people as if they are discovering it, not as if I am telling them about it. At the moment it seems like the best way to do that is tell the story quickly while I’m still discovering it myself, and let my characters say and do what they want, never mind the possible consequences for later in the story.

This is very different from how I normally work. It’s all making me a little bit dizzy.

I’m still not sure what kind of update schedule there will be. I’m considering just putting pages up when I finish them, at a maximum rate of one a day, until I reach 20 updates. 20 is the number of updates considered by a lot of people to be the point at which a comic can be seriously considered for things like review or advertisement. If I’m going to ride this wave I want to get there as quickly as possible. And after drawing 20 pages, I will have a better idea of what pace I can realistically maintain.

At the moment I’m running into my physical limitations. I’m drawing the third page, but my arm got a little sore. I had to stop and do something else before I broke myself. That’s why I’m typing this at the moment, because I am far too excited to sleep, or really do anything that isn’t related to my new comic.

It’s the hand-lettering that does me in, I think. When I letter The Elves of Linden Hold my arm cramps too. Lettering Kiss the Poison Tree in pencil is a very different process, but it still uses a lot of the same muscles. (It looks a ton better, by the way. It never occurred to me before to try, but apparently I am much better at lettering with pencil than with ink.)

Anyway I’ve been wavering on the subject of switching to digital lettering, but for now I want to stick with hand-lettering. For one thing it’s a way to make sure I keep dialogue minimal. Learning how to tell more with pictures and less with words is a priority for this project, and the pain in my arm will let me know how I’m doing at that.

It’s also part of the whole process of making art on the paper. Yes, I’m back to making art.

The whole conflict between me, art, comics and computers is a very complicated one. I learned when I started drawing Dragon’s Fall that trying to make every page a work of art, as good as I could get it, doing most of the work on the computer, was a quick way to get entirely overwhelmed.

The way I ultimately dealt with this for my work on Dragon’s Fall was to think of the comic pages as something separate from art. They were an assignment; a task to be finished; more of a craft than an art. But the other thing I’ve been doing more and more recently is to get as much detail into the paper sketch as I could, and leave very little to do creatively once I got to the digital stage. I found that paper gave me a clear line, where I could stop being an artist, stop being a perfectionist, and just get the work done.

With Kiss the Poison Tree, I’m taking that to an extreme. When I finish the drawing that is a page of KTPT, it is a finished piece of art in my mind. It has all the linework and most of the shading that will appear on the final page.

Keeping all the artwork on the paper allows me to be an artist with it, be a perfectionist, tweak the page until there is nothing I could do on paper to make it more perfect.

That’s why hand-lettering seems natural to me for this project. The words are part of the art. Although I am trying to keep the words minimal, sometimes they are necessary. If they weren’t I would leave them out. So they go on the page.

Of course, once I get the page into my computer, I can’t resist adding color and a few highlights. I am like a kid with crayons. I can’t not color. And anyway, I seem unable to avoid plots that hinge on a character’s hair or eye color.

(The more I think about it, the more it seems that everything about The Elves of Linden Hold goes against my artistic nature.)

Anyway I’ve got eight page scripts, after that I have no idea what happens, and I’m talking about what’s going to happen when I get to page twenty. Not overthinking is pretty incredible! Wheeeeee!

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