Oddly enough I was flipping through a magazine at Larissa’s work place break room when I stumbled across this really beautiful coat. If you see Straw Man’s reaction it kind of echoes mine at the time. I carefully tore the ad out of the magazine and took it home. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it but I just knew I’d like try putting Straw Man in that coat.
Let’s see… I was probably just finishing up issue 7 thinking more specifically about 9 and 10 and how I was going to hit certain marks and I thought, maybe I can do a smaller story and do something with the coat. Issue 10 is/was going to be kind of a filler issue. It’s going to tie up loose ends so I can get to the story I want to tell. I thought what a perfect time to do smaller stories that can be short little character pieces.
I had several reasons for breaking them up into smaller chunks
1. I wanted to see if I could get a comic out faster but focusing on a smaller story. I thought, one page a weekend and I’ll have this thing done in 4 months! That didn’t happen.
2. Cross-promotion potential. People always want material for anthologies so I thought, why not have some self contained stories that are ready to go.
3. by having one story in one place the potential new reader may look for the rest of the story in issue 10. Theoretically I’d have 4 sources of new readers.
4. An opportunity to try a different style. I think what happens on a larger issue is that I’m thinking, should I keep drawing like this? Because I’d really like to do it like (insert random artist name). I wanted to explore style because I know how important it is to feel comfortable with the work you’re doing.
I knew for a fact I wanted to try to do an Eric Powell wash style. In some ways this really worked for me. I used everything from brushes, pin nibs, markers, and ink washes to get that look. I even did some digital manipulation to achieve certain results. This multi-layer approach seemed to work to some extent.
With part 2 I did a 5 page Jeff Smith riff. I experimented with using a blue line pencil. I approached my solid blacks similar to what he does and gave the characters a little more bounce than I normally do. I learned a lot from doing this too. Even though it didn’t look like Jeff Smith– my pages still looked better because I spent more time drawing and less time guessing.
Part 3 — About half way through now, started off being a Craig Thompson tribute. I got Blankets from the library and carefully studied his travelogue book to see how I could get his ink style down. I dived into this page and 5 minutes in I knew I had made a terrible mistake. It just looked BAD. Like I had thrown out 10 years worth of learning, bad. (Incidentally this issue of Straw Man probably has more white out in it than the entire first issue!) Big lesson from this one? Just draw like yourself. You can’t make people like you. They can’t help but to be attracted to what you do. Don’t even try to be anyone else. So as a result this is part is going to be kind of a “lessons applied” section and not necessarily a tribute.
Even though I started off with the idea of doing 4 parts, I ended up with 3. You see while out promoting issue 9 of Straw Man I opened my big mouth to a Gary Scott Beatty. Stupid me. You see a couple of months go by and Gary’s like “Hey David, I’m REALLY going to put out this Indie Comics Magazine” and I need 400 some odd dollars and I need your work done in one month. See one thing I wasn’t betting on was how crazy life would get when Larissa got pregnant. I mean you have to be there every minute you’ve got and suddenly those hours after work… those are going to breathing classes.
(True story: I had my calendar out and I was working hard on Straw Man and loosing weight and I was writing stuff down. I was really determined to pick up speed and hold myself accountable. I was on the right track. Smooth sailing and then just as I was getting into the swing of things we found out Larissa was pregnant. And the house of cards fell…)
Gary’s story then needed to be 8 pages long instead of the planned 5. So this threw things off balance. But it was good thing because one of the stories ended up merging with what I wanted to do on issue 11.
I’m really proud about the writing I did on the Indie Comics Magazine. Not necessarily the final product but how I got there. I usually don’t take the recommended steps to writing that everyone suggests. This time I spent more time in the planning stage than normal. The story was supposed to open with this kid throwing rocks at Straw Man and to escape he goes into the men’s clothing store. But that didn’t really seem to resonate with me. At first it was just supposed to be some random kid and I had another story where straw man bumps into the kid at a hot dog vendor. I thought maybe after all these years he ends up with this crummy job. I still kept thinking about, what’s the point of Straw Man getting the new coat anyway? I then thought, well I could COMBINE the two stories. Make the hot dog kid the stone throwing kid and move that to the end of the story. I then had to give the kid a motivation to remember Straw Man (this is a pay off from the alley way drug bust from issue 1) and to really hate Straw Man. So I killed his mom.
The theme of the issue is this heaviness that happens when people just start hating Straw Man for one reason or another. So giving Straw Man a double dose of hatred really makes you feel something for the character. The fact that he wants to return the coat makes him sympathetic and misunderstood. He really wants to do good and be helpful and you can feel that heaviness when nothing works out for him.
I went for the Spider-man homage because it paralleled what Straw Man was thinking. I liked the idea of this BIG SUPERHERO moment happening in a real quiet way.
Another cool and unexpected things to come out of issue 10 is all the cross promoting that’s going on. I’ve illustrated James Smith “Mr. Monkey Bags” story, Max Ink is contributing 3 Blink Pages, Steve Peters is going to send me some Sparky pages and loan out his character for a 1 page gag. Mike Kitchen is throwing in his 2 page independent comics strip and we’re even considering a 1 or 2 page collaboration.
I never read Chaykin’s Big Black Kiss. After reading “editing the graphic novel” in Following Cerebus I did check out Blankets, Louis Reil, and the Dropsie Avenue trilogy. All of which I enjoyed at different levels. Blankets was superb storytelling but I felt sorry for the main character. Dropsie Avenue was brilliant. I loved every minute of it. But I couldn’t really get into the Spirit! With Louis Reil I think you could feel the insanity creeping into it.
Didn’t the Bigger, Blacker Kiss come out in a Melmoth issue? Wasn’t that before the misogynist thing?
Now I’ll Ask You One:
So far our conversation has been very pleasant and even exciting at times. In some ways I think it’s the opposite of what people expect from Dave Sim. I say that because it seems as if maybe there is some kind of “fear” out there of you. People respect your work, people will acknowledge your contributions to self publishing but I think people are just afraid they’re going to get bit. I think you play on a very even field and abide by the Golden Rule. I think you expect people to play fair and honest, and if they don’t it’s not worth the time. In my mind what else could you or should you expect from another person?
If you look at things from an outside perspective– the no email, no internet, and virtually no phone — you look like an impenetrable fortress. I think people look at that and say it’s not worth it.
I know you don’t want “friends” and I can understand why. It’s hard enough doing a monthly book and putting people into the mix can slow you down. How would then you prefer to work with and interact with others? In an ideal situation how would you expect to be treated? What is your tolerance level for people who don’t understand that about you?
Here’s some other comments:
I made the comment about “anyone who thinks Dave Sim wants people to get divorced is hooey” because someone specifically said “Anyone who works with Dave Sim ends up divorced’.” Completely uncalled for.
I just got the new issue of Glamourpuss and I got to say I really enjoyed it. Read it from cover to cover (except for the Johnny Mcphanbot stuff) Do you really need letters that bad or is this just another part of Glamourpuss?
I noticed a few technical glitches (like 4-color blacks instead of 100 %K) The text was kinda fuzzy. My suggestion is to make sure those are all 100%K as well. I’m not sure how the book was printed but it’s such a low number that they may have not shot plates for it. They may have just run the interiors on a really good copying machine.
There were a few times that I was reading through the issue where I thought the design choices you’re making looked great. I liked the way you were playing with type on the quotes from the female writer. My favorite was “Nothing was asked of me. I had only to be exactly what I was and a man’s desire transformed me into a miracle of perfection” I read that a few times to really let it soak in. It’s like poetry.
Some good news came in today on the petition sheet. Three new names signed up today. We’re getting close to 300.