Last… July was it? I announced that I had started work on a Nintendo Super Squad graphic novel. I foolishly predicted that it would be done in late September, November at the most. I figured I could do a page a day and even with something like fifty pages (my high end estimate for how long the story would take to tell) the project wouldn’t take more than a couple of months. However, I failed to account for the needs of a pregnant wife and my own deep-rooted laziness. August came and went without much progress, and on September 10th my son was born. Suddenly laziness wasn’t a problem anymore. Who has time to be lazy when a baby’s on the line?! Suffice to say, my creative life jet rocketed into the ground.
I was bemoaning this change the yesterday during one of my many hour long commutes, regretting that while I love my son it would still be nice to have time to create. Even better would be creating and getting paid for it, rather than these night shifts at a job I tolerate just to make ends meet. After I was done with my little pity party I crawled out from underneath the porch, tossed away the empty bottles, and set out determined to make time gosh darn it!
I’m happy to say that work as resumed on Tales of the Supper Squid, Vol 1: The Case of the Missing Mario (tentative title). I’m not going to even guess when it will be finished. I still think if I could dive in it would be done in a month or two. But let’s be realistic. I don’t even know if it’ll be done before 2012. I’d like to think so. It’s nice to have goals.
I was a little afraid today when I cracked open the ol’ Super Squad file. I was worried the pages I finished last year would be terrible and I’d have to re-do them. Fresh perspective always brings the potential for cringes. Luckily, they were a delight! Each page made me laugh out-loud, which is my own barometer for if something of my own is actually worth showing to other people (not that it’s ever stopped me from throwing crap up on the Internet for everyone to see). Re-reading the start of the book was great way to get excited about the project again and I jumped it with gusto.
I thought I would post a little bit of the process and hopefully get people interested. I would like to make some money on this project after all. Even if it’s just enough for a personal pan pizza.
These days I do all my comickering in Manga Studio, a totally boss program that’s far better than its name suggests. Protip: You don’t have to use it for manga at all! Sometimes I’ll sketch out thumbnails on paper first (especially if inspiration hits at work, though this is rare) but I find it’s easier to work directly in the program. This way I know exactly what dimensions and space I’m working with. I’ll do most of my “writing” in the car or while walking the dog or waiting for baby to fall asleep. Basically anywhere except in front of a keyboard. Scripting out the action is too rigged for my tastes. It’s too hard to visualize changes. I prefer to get a strong idea of what direction the page is going to take, and then work out the details as they come up.
For example, I knew this page was going to set the scene for the bar and that Hammer brothers, and I knew that Mario was going to bust in all imposing like. But that the bar is a giant barrel with Diddy Kong as a waiter didn’t come until the last possible moment. Up to this point in the outline the bar has always been just a generic mushroom building. But breaking out the panels I knew I wanted an outside establishing shot, and something for the Hammer Brothers to do before Mario busted in. I wanted Mario’s entrance to be dramatic and so I couldn’t follow him entering from his point of view. Inspiration struck when I decided the second panel should have a Hammer Bro hitting on a girl, who quickly became Pauline from Donkey Kong, which informed the theme of the bar, and in turn generated the dialog that the Bro would say. It all came after I started laying down panels. This kind of writing I couldn’t accomplish if I was lay it out in a word processor.
Anyways, Manga Stupid automatically creates a sketching layer which is perfect for all this. Manga Studio automatically does a lot of great stuff that takes the tedium out of computer comics.
Once I’m happy with the sketch it’s on to tracing. Remember kids, comics is 90% tracing. Chasing Amy lied to you. All you need to comic is trace.
I’ve got a couple of pen settings I stick to in Manga Studio. This is because I’m dumb and don’t know better.
And lastly, dialog. I.E. the point where I misspell something and don’t catch it until it goes to print. Big thanks to Shawn and Adam of #talkingtime who helped come up with the pick-up line. I knew I wanted the Bro to make a bad pun about hammering, but per the course I only had half a joke. I took my normal tactic of getting someone funnier to write the rest for me. I’m not sure if this will be exactly how it reads in the final book. I’m still deciding if “’cause it’s going to get hammered” reads better. If 90% of comicking is tracing, than 90% of writing is going back and forth between minute differences that no-one but you will ever notice.
Well, I don’t know if this has been interesting. If not, thanks for indulging me. And look forward to Tales of the Supper Squid, Vol 1: The Case of the Missing Mario (tentative title) coming… sometime! It’s sure to be a barrel (get it?! olololol) of laughs. If nothing else you’ll get to see Mario naked. And that’s something!