Did you notice the new cover image on the front page? Spiffy, huh? Yeah I know I had a cover image on the front page that was supposed to be the cover to the whole collection. But to be honest, I drew that up as a placeholder to distinguish that there would be an issue 3 and a collected book. You'll notice that I did put subject to change.
Seriously though, I wanted something along the lines of a collage cover for awhile. I do think a cover should reflect the contents and tease someone to at least thumb through the book. I'm not a skilled enough artist to pull off a single, encapsulating image. I can build drama by building the image. As much as I liked the image I had up, it had some art issues that I felt I had improved on. I also have another 40 some pages under my belt since I drew that first image.
It's probably the first time I translated an image that was in my head so verbatim. I usually can get close but whatever skill level I was at the time would hold me back and I'd have to compromise. Not this time. If anything I think I did better. Which really pleased me. I've often said that in addition to fulfilling a life long dream, if this process can make me a better artist then it's worth it.
More new new stuff all week long!
It's pretty much down to dotting the "I's" and crossing the "T's." Yep you read that right. The long delayed final part to my first comic book story is finished. All I have to do is do some tightening up and I've gotten it to a point I'm happy with. And trust me. That's not an easy thing.
But since I've finally gotten to that point. I thought I'd take a moment to address something I haven't in the last couple of months. Other than my day job/business and other official hold ups, what was the other reason a book I'd thought I'd be done with in October, ended up the end of April the following year.
It really is an easy answer. I changed my mind on my ending.
I've mentioned in an earlier post that my book was supposed to be one big huge graphic novel that I convinced myself I needed to make into individual comics to start with and collect later on. They then would be two separate collections that would detail the origin. I had about 15-20 years working on the particulars of this story so I thought I had it mapped out pretty well. However, one thing all those plans didn't factor on was what would actually happen once I started producing the story and art.
This has been an amazing period of growth for me during also a very weird period of dealing with anxiety. Something I know many suffer with and such wouldn't wish on anyone. The book itself was therapy for me. Working out some issues and concerns I had, while also fulfilling a life long dream.
Creating these characters and this story has brought an immense amount of pride. I've always considered myself a character guy over plot. I wanted the direction I aimed the characters towards to dictate where I was sending my story. As such, they didn't like where I was going.
So I found myself at the end of September with a dilemma. My characters no longer felt true to the very complicated direction I was sending them on for the final part of the first graphic novel. I liked the fun, simple tone I had started in the first 50 pages of the book (issue 1 & 2). And # 3 was shaping to be a very dramatic shift in tone that would propel them into the next book.
But while I was happy with the art for 3, the story just wasn't working for me anymore. My sentiments about some elements had shifted significantly. My pitch to whomever asked about the book was an old fashioned, fun book that celebrated comics. I knew saying that, that #3 would be a direct contrast to that tone. Oh sure, it delivered on the character beats I wanted to get out there. But I was about to commit to a resolution that while long planned, outlived it's use. It would have been a disservice to make the characters I had created in the first two books go through. They had morphed away from the characters that I had originally created that I had intended that for that story. And more importantly, so had Tommy (grandson). It would have been stubborn of me to go through with it for the sake of drama.
So I decided to reevaluate it. Work it out as best I could, keep the parts that were appropriate, get rid of the parts that weren't and create new pieces that would work in the tone I wanted.
There was no want for perfection. I wasn't doing it because I felt it wasn't up to quality. It was. It just would have been a colossal mistake to put that part of the story into this version of my characters.
It made me reflect on my purpose for this book. Just because I felt the dark direction just wouldn't be right, I know I still needed elements of it for the drama I felt would work with what I had created in 1 and 2. I wanted Tommy to grow from it, but in a way that was very true to the current version, and not the one I created so many years ago.
I'm pretty happy with it. And while I was proud of it in its original form, I'm much more now that I've kept with the tone I'd created.
I'll have a store up soon and then some dates and conventions I'll have it for sale.
Thanks for sticking around!!!!
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.