Thursday, 19 March 2009

A Year of Wonders Already

Although this is the first post about this comic strip project, Mirabilis, I am actually working on page 111, with a 100 pages inked and coloured ready for press sitting on my hard drive. The frame above is from yesterday. No, you haven't stumbled on some super-team that can produce 100 pages a week, we've been working on it for over a year and the ideas have been in gestation for 10 years before that. Of course subscribers to the DFC will already have seen, and hopefully read, the first 12 episodes of 5 pages each. Sadly it looks as though the DFC will be closing in a couple of weeks due to the , "current financial climate", and Dave and I will find ourselves, not for the first time, back on the freelance street, a busy place even in the best of times.

We are ever the optimists, and are continuing to work with the full confidence that Mirabilis will find it's way into the ever popular graphic novel format. In the mean time, any reader who hasn't seen the comic can get a taster of the first 10 pages here, and keep an eye on the site because we are planning to post the next 50, or so, pages for your delectation.

I can't believe that a year of working on it pretty much full time has gone by. A lot of that time at the beginning was spent on pre-production and some tying off of previous flat-fee projects. We've settled down into a schedule set up for the weekly DFC, but find that even with the comic gone it's a realistic way of working. The system revolves around the DFC episodes, each 5 pages long, parceling them up into 4 episode, or 20 page, "batches". Each batch roughly takes 6 weeks, after which Dave comes to visit me in Somerset (he lives in London), for a "lockdown" weekend. This isn't some kinky bondage session but the chance to make final checks on the last batch, and discuss upcoming episodes and the direction of the story as a whole. We also manage to eat well, have a few drinks and perhaps one game of Age of Kings, where I ritually suffer defeat to Dave's superior tactical abilities.

If I were to drill down I would think , as a team on average we produce a page of finished comic every 1.2 days. From what I gather this is about the norm in comics, perhaps a little slower than average. When you consider that each page has around 7 individual images that's quite a throughput compared to my other work in children's book illustration, where each single image would be fussed over for at least a day.

For this reason I am always impressed by comic artists, along with animators who also churn out mind boggling quantities of work. I once worked next to an experienced professional animator who could draw faster and for more hours than anyone I've met before and since. He drew so much that he had grown horny protrusions on the fingers that gripped the pencil. When I told him how impressed I was by his speed and alacrity he replied, "Sure, but I have no ideas for what to draw". I guess speed isn't everything.

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