Working very hard to make my final issue (before switching to the 70-80 page book format) come out sometime in September. But as I think I mentioned before, I'm trying very hard to make it a complete vision. Translation? So I don't feel the need to go back and revise for future editions.
Yes. I've been revising pages on the fly again. I don't take it lightly that each printing I do, there are changes. But I do it to refine my intentions with this story. The comic versions have felt kind of like "beta projects." My art is refining and (hopefully improving) so I want pages that I look at and cringe, to not give me that feeling. So I will modify the pose or panel to fit my improving style. But previous readers won't be left out in the cold. I'm more than glad to give past purchasers the fixed version for free. The art is the only thing that is changed (sometimes, I will clarify a line of dialogue but it's rare.) I just want this to be the best it can be. If I can make something look better and read better by someone who is giving me their hard earned money, I will do that. I know the competition is crowded out there. I just want the books to reflect my current skill level.
This won't be an issue with Issue #3 or future volumes. In my attempt to release comics, I made some trade-offs to get those two out (three if you count the prelude). When I find the time, I try to see how to improve something my my critical eye. But I will no longer be doing revisions after Issue #3 comes out. You live and you learn and this process is teaching me things that only come from doing this type of work on steady basis. Placing your characters and camera becomes more and more based on what's right for the story instead of what I think I can draw. And by doing so, it makes me a better artist.
About to start the inking process which is not as labor intensive for me as the penciling does. While I wish my carpal tunnelled hands could hand ink better, I think my use of Manga Studio is improving as I make it more art friendly. Luckily the one part of the process I'm not as involved with, the coloring, allows me to move on to the lettering part a little quicker.
Bit by bit, I'm learning a lot of new things along this journey. I think issue #3 will give you a much better idea where I'm heading with the story. I think issue #2 helped introduce the main character and introduce his participation, but it was a in progress type of story with only one big major revelation that will pay off in issue #3.
Stick with me. I'm trying my best. Thanks for reading!
Trying to post more often, but don't always have a topic. So I'm going with an old trick I used when I did a weekly newspaper column, the many topic.
The Internet is full of them. I fully expected a lot of criticism just by the nature of putting my material out there. It comes with the territory. And I am very guilty of tearing some things down all on my own. But one thing this experience of creating new characters and stories has pretty much cured me of, is criticism.
The sure enormity and pettiness you see on just about every site from those who just can't comment unless it's a complaint or criticism, has made me realize the poor choice criticism actually is. I have invested a lot of work and emotion into creating this series. It has made me realize that even material I don't like or feel isn't quite good, the very fact that someone produced it should be enough of a positive for me. Who am I to tear someone down because I don't like it? They put as much, if not more, into creating their project as I did. It's really easy to tear something down you yourself have never attempted. The very act of putting it all on the line, should really exempt your from criticism, even from yourself (which I really am the most guilty of).
Sure there's constructive criticism. But there's very little of that going on nowadays. So maybe we should all look a little deeper instead of following our first instinct to down it.
Many years ago, I realized where I fell in the comics spectrum of art, exaggerated. I just naturally gravitated towards it. I felt it accomplished the purpose of comics to reflect reality but a little skewed. Now I know today's mainstream pretty much depends on the realistic movement. Like it just came out of a tv or movie, the characters look like they breath. And there are some wonderfully talented artists that do that work. If I worked from reference, I could probably mimic that style also. But what's the fun of that? I like my work to look a little off. My characters looking a little unreal. It's preference but also how my drawing hand reacts to the paper, and I go with it. I can't imagine MAN IN THE MASK to look any different than it does.
New site design! I figured it was time to match my new (old) direction, with a new design. Comics aren't the only thing I'm old school about. Guess my website design is also, with the side navigation that looked kind of dated. So everything is up top now to peruse the site. Hope it makes it easier.
Did you see the new cover image on the front page? Pretty happy with it. Single event covers are hard for me. So since this encapsulated the first three parts of the series, I wanted to represent. As you go further into the page, the story progresses.
How is the book going you ask. Well it was going pretty well considering I redrew a bunch of pages for the unreleased book. Like I said in an earlier post, after BOOK ONE, I am not revising anything. It's going to be set in stone. So I'm backing up and re-looking at some staging I had some misgivings about. But now I have to take a break because of football season. The area teams I create programs for are tackling me pretty good right now. While I hope to draw at night, my days are going to be taken up for awhile unfortunately. But I do still plan to have BOOK ONE and Issue #3 out in September. After I get out from under this workload, I'm taking three weeks off to focus on my goal.
I've often said during this winding road this book has been, that if the only thing I get out of it, is being a better artist I'm fine with it. I look at the PRELUDE book's art, and while I am still happy with it' golden age touches I was going for, my technique has progressed since then. Practice really does make better, even for an old dog. All that rust I accumulated during my drawing break has finally been shaken off. Probably the biggest improvement has been in my storytelling. It's probably the biggest reason I do revise my past pages. It's very important to me for my art to represent my emotion and general feeling towards the story. When I revise a page, I don't take it lightly. There has to be a general sense I am improving the way the reader understands my work. And I think I've done that.
Lots of great things going on (including my participation in getting a local con going), so stay tuned to the site for more.
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.