Welcome to my first real "Backer Blog" entry. For now, I am going to try and post these on Tuesdays, just for you, my amazing Patrons! This week we're going to look at the very first step of my process, before I even pick up a pencil... reading!
When I first started drawing comics, I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and make completely original stories. As I found out, this is very hard to do! Over time, I realized that most of my favorite comics (and books, and movies) were usually inspired by comics and books and movies that had come before. These creators understood that it is okay to take elements from other stories and rework them and reuse them in their own stories. It is the creator's unique outlook on life - their sense of humor, the way they draw, how they structure a plot, the people they have met in their life, the jobs they have worked - that makes their stories original, even if they are filled with elements that have come before.
With this idea in mind, I find that one of the most important parts of my process, when I am starting a new project, is to do a lot of reading. As I read, some part of a story will stick out at me, whether it is a character, a plot twist, a setting, a gag, a mood, or whatever. And I'll think, "That's great! I want to create something like that!" And eventually enough of these moments start to overlap in interesting ways, and I keep dumping them into the same brainstorming cauldron and before you know it, a project begins to form!
The books in the photograph above all directly inspired Isle of Elsi in this way. I mashed all of those books up in my brain - it's as if certain characters from one book walked into a different book, or moods and jokes were combined and overlapped, along with some of my life experiences - and in the end I came up with Isle of Elsi. Eventually, I hope to write a little bit about each of them and how they influenced this project. All of these books are highly recommended! In comics order, they are:
- Uncle $crooge by Carl Barks
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- Our Village by John Yeoman, illustrated by Quentin Blake
- How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet
- Bone by Jeff Smith
- Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash, illustrated by Linell Nash
- The Vicar of Nibbleswicke by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake
- The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
- The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Ernest Shepherd
Maybe you have started a new project, and you just haven't realized it yet! As you read, pay attention to the things that you love about certain books. Write them down. Think about how to combine them with elements from other books, mixed with your own unique life experiences. Pretty soon, you'll be heading off on your own original adventure!