Putting the comic together, opposed to how I put the graphic novel together, has altogether been a different experience. For one, the comic, while the same theme, doesn't have the same weight and baggage. I had 16 years of stray plot points I had to streamline and realign for my current sensibilities. On top of that, almost all of it was in my head. Occasionally I would put some of it to paper. But generally, it was all on the grey matter. When I started on the GN I wanted to not feel constrained by doing the work. My job is very deadline oriented. I knew that if I made the book like that, it was doomed.
All in all, the GN was improvisational. Once I came up with the timeline I would draw scene to scene as it struck me. The main problem of doing it like that, was that I left some things in the cracks I would feel I needed to go back and put in. So it took more time in the long run as I did so.
Not so much with the comic. The GN was a big process. I wanted the comic to be smaller in purpose. I did the GN because I had no idea what my output could be. With the comic, I have 120 (if you count all the pages I redrew or deleted) some pages of work under me now. I know what I'm capable of now.
I guess what I'm saying is that the comic is more structured because it has to be. I'm serializing different plots now and giving chunks at a time that still have to make sense on their own. I take that very serious. My art was okay and felt like it went with my story. I knew there was room for improvement. Because of this, I've spent the last 6 months trying to improve my presentation before tackling the comic. The storytelling in the GN was good. But I focused on it more than the "pop" or "wow" of the art. I wanted to change that for the comic. So I hope that will be noticeable along with the more structured storytelling.
I'm doing all of this not only for myself but for those that purchased and appreciated the graphic novel. We all deserve the best job I can do and I take that serious. As much as I'm having fun with it, the structure is actually making it more enjoyable as I get to enjoy the process. With the GN I always felt like I was behind and couldn't enjoy the behind the scene part. Now I can and I think you will notice.
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.