What’s in the box?

Some people care and some don’t when it comes to how things are made. I think it was Steve Jobs who said something to the effect of “People don’t want to know what’s in the box, just that it works”, obviously referring to Apple computers.

I’ve even heard some say that out loud “I don’t care how it works I just wanna buy it and know it does what it’s supposed to.”

That being said, I feel the same goes for most when it comes to art. I think the gen pop just wants to look at it and decide whether or not they like it before moving on.

So this is for the small contingent of comic / art fans who actually give a crap as to what goes into making a comic page when you’re doing it all yourself.

With War Dogs, first I had to write the script, which kept changing over a 9 month period as I ran across more and more people who wanted to contribute their likeness and be a part of it. That turns into “interviewing” each new person via Facebook chat or FB’s free phone call feature which is part of FB chat. I needed to get to know a little something about who I would be drawing into my story in order to adjust the dialogue for that particular character, so a little something of them was in the words floating in the balloon pointed at their mouth.

Does every comic writer do that? Probably not. They have much more hectic schedules when working for The Big Two and can’t afford the luxury of getting to know real people and turn them into characters in their stories but I took full advantage and made every effort to create the best, most-realistic sounding dialogue I could. The one thing I always hated about comics was the hacky dialogue. I learned from an instructor ages ago to read what you write aloud to see if it “feels” right, feels natural. Most comic dialogue is either exposition or useless attempts at banter that comes off more as the writer trying to sound clever rather than convey a bit about what the character is like as a person.

So, nine months writing and r-writing and getting to know something close to 300 – 400 people (and collect their photo reference) while working on freelance to make money, and getting the word out via social media (and trying to sneak a night out everyone cone in a blue just to stay sane) and finally it was done late September of 2016.

All the time I was writing and networking and collecting pics from people, I was creating promo images for War Dogs and making sure what I drew in the teasers I could re-purpose in the comic pages that were to come. Even if it shaved ten minutes off my time illustrating pages it would be worth it. A page can take anywhere from 6 to 18 hours to illustrate depending on how detail heavy it is. The club scene I’m inserting here took about 16 hours over two days because there were so many figures in it and backgrounds and I kept coming up with different ideas on how to lay in certain elements and this is all just for the line work stage. The color stage will be insane as well.

Researching photo reference is key. You HAVE to do it! Everyone knows what a night club looks like in their head. We’ve all been to one or two, or a dozen, but try drawing all the little details from memory; the velvet ropes, the bouncers, the people waiting on line, the lights, the signage, shots of people dancing, having drinks, guys performing on stage. Tons of details that need to be there and for what will most likely be seen for less than five minutes, IF that. I think it takes the average person 60 – 90 seconds to check a p[age especially one with no text on it.

But that’s what we do so you’re never thrown out of the illusion being presented. Certain missing details can be the same as a bad special effect in a film that reminds you you’re watching a movie.

Figure, the research part can be 2 – 4 hours, illustrating is about 18 for this page, then coloring will be another 2 – 4 hours because it’s going to be elaborate. Clubs have tons of colors floating around in all directions to keep patrons dazzled. Then there’s fog that has to be added to the performers on stage and light streaking through the fog and you get the idea it’s a shit ton of work.

A comic usually has about 5 people on each issue just to get the art done; writer, penciler, inker, colorist, and letterer. Then you have a copy editor, and the main editor. And don’t forget someone has to get the word out, get a website built for the comic and continue to field messages from people who hear or read about it and want to be in it. Since this is such a rare thing, an all Asian comic, I’ve opened the door to place as many Asians in it as I can so it feels real. This has never been done before for the Asian community and I have to make sure I do my best.

Comic artists long for splash pages and action scenes because those are fun to do, the talking head scenes can be boring if the expressions don’t capture what’s being said in the word balloons so I take pride in drawing subtle expressions and have the benefit of knowing what I’m drawing since I wrote the whole 200 page script. Most artists in comics have no idea what’s being said because they don’t get the dialogue they just get scene descriptions so comic book characters all look angry, shocked, or heartbroken.

I want my characters to emote because it adds to the film like feel I am shooting for with War Dogs.

I want this to be a film or animated project one day and this book will be all the production team needs to get the job done. The story will all be right there. They’ll just need good actors to bring the pain because there’s a lot of violence and drama in War Dogs.

I’m proud of it and can’t wait to bring it to the masses.

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