Friday, September 7, 2012

24 page Story Structures

While I'm smashing my brain on a new idea ( apparently ADULT material sells, light-heart'd stuff doesn't ) I thought I'd post the new Story Structures I made for a 24 page comic. As I've mentioned before when I was younger ( okay only 10 years ago ) the only stories I could come up with were a Protagonist, and Antagonist, they fight, something happens, the end.

Vanilla as hell...

Recently my sister-in-law found some of those old comics I did and admitted the stories sucked. I confessed they did, and that I've been hard at work to capture the same essence in stories I do like. Like an episode of American Dad ( it's an obsession now ) an issue of the G.I. Joe comic book, and the TV series Kolchak: The Nightstalker. I've posted some of those Structures before on this blog, but when I was working on a light-heart'd comedy ( which will never sell, but I'm keeping on as a side project  and might go through with it when I have more scripts ) I realized that the Structures I had needed more Structure.

I didn't know what I was looking for, but using G.I. Joe as an example I found the issues I liked the most and read at a furious pace were the ones with multiple stories going on at once. Not so much the single story issues where the Protagonist takes up most of the pages. So to find out what I was looking for I started with what I knew. I wanted to make a 24 page comic.

You can do a lot in 24 pages. When I first started this blog I was contempt at the time to do 16 page comics. However the downside of a 16 page comic comes when pricing them. $1.99 for 16 pages sounds like a rip-off. 24 pages for $0.99 sounds like a bargain. That's just me being part businessman, but it's necessary to think like that from time to time.

With a 24 page base I went to work. The 2 Story Structure I previously posted looked good on paper, but I tweaked it. After the tweaks I used that as another base-line for my new ones. The 3 and 4 Story Structure. To go into it some more I'll start with the 2 Story Structure.

The first thing I did is add the triangle legend at the top left corner to show the relationship between the 2 stories. Based off of studying TV sitcoms, the 2 Story Structure was intended to be used on a comedy full of jokes, cut-scenes, weird situations, and conflicts. Both stories have the option to meet in the Climax which is optional. Story-B can conclude before the Climax--meet in the Climax--or take up the Resolution with Story-A concluding at the end of the Climax.

Analyzed further I found the Structure also works well for an Action Comic where the Protagonist and Antagonist occupy the stories and meet in the Climax. To better read the guide I color coded the pages/scenes. Grey pages are optional ( for inserts and covers to make it 32 pages for print ) Purple is for pages/scenes that can include all stories, and Red/Blue represent more stories. ( it gets harder when adding more stories so the colored pages help ).

The inserts are optional, but the scenes in which they break up help add little cliffhangers into the comic. It takes me back to my old comics where a page would end then I got 2 pages of ads from selling Grit to the Atlas workout program. Again, they're optional, but can add suspense in the story and give the creator the option to add pin-ups, information, character cards, or even fake ads. ( or real ones if you got advertisers and collaborators you want to help promote )

The hard part about this is you need 2 stories that will either intersect or end on their own. This could be a challenge, but really what it does is expand your mind to make even the most mundane story more interesting. To start it off I added ways to come up with stories. There are 3 Ideas to get going. You could base the stories off a Theme--Topic--Event. Then there are the plot devices to also help in the planning stage. Chekhov's Gun, Red Herring, Option Exhausted, and Ticking Clock. Lastly you also got In Media Res if you want your story to start with a band. After all the Introduction/Catalyst is 3 pages. You can do a lot in 3 pages. That's 27 panels max. ( remember 9 panels can occupy one page and still be read-able )

From there I also gave 6 Examples on the bottom. More exist, but that was the most I could come up. I wrote down how the stories could work together or on their own. For more ideas on what kind of stories to write you can take it further and use George Polti's 36 Dramatic Situations.

Now I thought this Structure was pretty solid, but for the comic I was writing I needed more. I had a Chekhov's Gun character that was introduced in the first scene, but instead of just having that character show up in the Climax to wrap it up, I felt that character should have an adventure of their own.

So I went back to the drawing board and made the 3 Story Structure.

Just like the previous one, I have my triangle legend showing the importance of the stories and Story-A occupies the insert breaks. In this structure the newly added Story-C acts like a wildcard/plot device. They could be mundane at first, but play a role in the Climax, or when their story ends on Scene 7 they could shape the events that take place in the Climax.

I even added 6 Examples on the bottom to show how the stories could go. Again there are more, but when your brainstorming it helps to see some basic options before you dive in. Another difference between this and the 2 Story Structure is how the scenes are divided. Story-A is given 2 pages for each scene that can be devoted to their Problem, Solution, and Conflict events, where Story-B and C those events can take up one page. Again it is optional, but it shows how one can split the difference with the allowed pages. It possible to cram that much information in the given amount of space. Remember you've got 9 panels at the most to work with for each page.

This limitation also helps one become a better editor. I know from past experience I could write on and on. In fact one script I threw out was because one scene took up 8 pages. That was half the comic. I left no room for setting up the Climax. The limitation of pages allowed per scene and what goes on in those pages make you a more concise writer. You get the point across moving the reader along, instead of falling into the traps of over-explaining, useless dialogue, sagging-middles, and the worse--adding more pages than you intended to make when you started.

Another thing I use to do is start a comic that ended up short. Say I wanted to make a 16 page comic and it ended up being 15 pages...or 10...or 7. Yeah that's the worse-- that's why I made these Structures so when I sit down to make a 24 page story, I make a 24 page layout, and write a 24 page script.

The advantage of a 3 Story Structure is for those who have an idea with multiple characters and want them all to experience the same Theme--Topic--Event. All while having Story-C tie it altogether. Another thing is the characters to Story-B and C are not limited to ending on their own or popping in during the Climax. They can intersect each other or Story-A before that.

All these structures are is a baseline for getting stories to work together and fleshing out a comic that had ups/downs, left/rights, problems/conflicts, etc etc. This up-and-down-back-and-forth might sound confusing, but what it's doing is making what could be 3 boring stories in to a real page-turner. That's what you want to make, something that keeps the reader interested.

This layout also makes you the creator make sure you don't miss anything. If one went in without any Structure they could forget about concluding Story-B and C. In fact without a structure they wouldn't be called that. They'd be Character-so-and-so's story, and this-character's story. With a solid foundation to work with there's no way you could forget anything that's happening with in those 24 pages.

Now again, I thought this Structure would help me with the story I wanted to tell. I had my Chekhov's Gun character Story-C, but I had nothing for that character to do in all those pages. I needed something smaller for that character. Instead of making other scenes longer, I decided my only option was to add another story, unrelated to Story-A and B, but one that intersects with my Wildcard and has a moral of its own.

Going back to the drawing board I made the 4 Story Stucture...

Now this is a mess. I have 4 Stories to manage in one comic, but oddly enough it was what I needed for the story I was working on. My Chekhov's Gun character, while critical to the Climax now takes up Story-D. That characters story is rather short, but it allowed me to have that character interact with Story-B and C before Climax where that character will play a pivotal role. It also gave me the green light to add new characters for Story-C that I never thought of before.

Story-A is still the main story, and while it looks like it doesn't occupy most of the comic, it actually does. The Introduction/Climax make up for the lost pages bringing their story to 12 pages. 13 if you give them the ending. That's half the comic. One would wonder " Why not just focus the entire comic on Story-A? ". This is a good question, but here's the reality. There are only so many good stories out there. In fact people have wasted a lot of time trying to come up with those and only those.

The reality is any story can be a better story if it's built with more stories. It might not be the best story altogether, but this is a technique people use to avoid writers-block. Taking smaller stories and putting them together can have mixed results, but when they're put together right and intersect with each other the reader will be satisfied. Or should be. All I know is I am in the entertainment I read and watch.

I'll admit I have a lot of EPIC ideas. We all do. Everyone one of us has that one idea we cherish more than anything else. But before we know it a month went by. Then a year, 5 years, our whole lives because we cared so much for one idea just waiting for the right story to come along to tell us this is it.

With the 2-3-4-Story Structures the wait is over. It makes you  the creator want to write no matter what it's about. Thus letting go of our ONE BIG IDEA and doing what we want to do. Write and draw comics. The key isn't writing good stories, it's telling stories in a good way. After all art is subjective. Whether its drawing or stories it's always up to the various readers on whether they like it or not. You can't please everyone, but at least you can know that you did it the best way you possibly could instead of phoning it in.


These Structures aren't the end all be all. In fact every time I make one of these up I know a new one is around the corner just waiting for me to discover it. They also aren't written laws. They can be modified and changed as one wishes. But they do follow some basic tips I learned in the past. Such as Scenes being 2 pages at the most-- the Climax is the longest scene--Problems, Solutions, Conflicts--and 9 panels max per page.

All I know is after I made these I've had an explosion of ideas. I wrote a fan-fiction layout for a webcomic I like ( although it's cannon breaking it was fun ) and I wrote 2 scripts for the project I shelved for now. Though that decision wasn't because it sucked. I like it a lot. It was just the reality of it. It's a hard sell.

That's the one thing that's missing in all the tutorials, how to books, and guides that are there. What does one make? What sells? Those kinds of answers can't be printed and shipped for $19.99. It takes awareness of the world around you. Looking with in yourself and asking " What would I read?" " What do I read?" " What do I find entertaining?"

Sometimes the answers aren't what we think they are. That's the reality I faced, and with my arsenal of structures I plan to take it head on.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Break it Down: Arrested Development

As I prepared to start writing my newest comic book script, I decided to take a break and do something I've been meaning to do for nearly a decade. Sit down and watch Arrested Development.

Little did I know I'd waste a day and half watching all 53 episodes. I was depressed because I really wanted to sit down and start writing, but I wasn't. I was glued to my TV and was in some kind of coma. It wasn't until I made it half-way through the series I realized why I was hooked on the show. This was the story structure I was looking for.

To explain that further I should go back to last week. I actually sat down and read some archived webcomics I've been meaning to get caught up on. All of them are different, but they had one common trait. They lacked any narration. Now writing just like drawing is subjective. In fact I love it when people tell stories with as little dialogue as possible. Especially since most of the comic books I grew up with were very text heavy ( i.e. Chris Claremont's run of X-Men ) Again that's subjective, so there is no right or wrong way. However when it came to my material I realized I too completely left out a narrator.

Which is why Arrested Development felt more like a comic book to me than a TV show. Even though the show was 21-22 minutes, each episode went by really fast. Just like reading a comic book. Besides the comic book comparison, Arrested Development also had the same traits I enjoy in the other shows I watch. Archer, American Dad, and How I Met Your Mother who make good use of carrying over small jokes throughout the series and Chekhov's Gun.

Now I'm not sure if Arrested Development started this formula, as I did find similar to the Larry Sanders Show and was told one of the producers was from that, but tracking down who is a task since they hand out producer credits like candy on every TV show. Either way, that formula of quick dialogue, past references with in the show, and Plot Devices makes each episode of Arrested Development feel like a solid story.

One example of a past references in Arrested Development is the first episode. Micheal asks Gob about his new trick, which Gob replies " Illusion Micheal, tricks are for prostitutes " This was referenced in the 3rd season where Gob's dummy Franklin was a pimp and told Micheal " he has to pay for the illusions...I mean tricks ".  To which Micheal learned Gob was the pimp.

Like the other shows I mention, Chekhov's Gun plays a huge role in each one of them. Some are painfully obvious, but in most cases the Gun is hidden so well that when it's revealed towards the end of the episode the viewer immediately loves it because they made the connection. I can't remember any in Arrested Development at the moment, but they are there. And they are hidden pretty well.

Another thing the show does well is tell multiple stories. I was inspired by American Dad to make a Two Story Structure, which works pretty good as my current script is going by the Structure I made out. But Arrested Development had about 3 or 4 separate stories going on in each episode. And they all came to a conclusion at the end of each episode. Sure Buster's relationship with Lucille 2 lasted more than one episode, but every conflict he had in one episode with her ended with that episode.

This attention to detail and resolution to all these small stories with in each episode is amazing. For a person who's been taking writing pretty seriously the last 2 years it's daunting. But then reality hits me. All those shows I mentioned have multiple writers. They have staffs. To emulate that with one person working on a comic book is nearly impossible.

But that's why I was sucked into Arrested Development and marathon'd through it. It wasn't me being lazy ( which is always my first assumption. ) I was inspired. And why not shoot for the same quality with something that inspires you? In fact if you don't, and you think it's out of your league, then you're selling yourself short.

This inspiration lead me to find that all these shows I loved or are currently watching all share the same traits. Use of plot devices, quick dialogue, references to previouse episodes, and running gags. It's amazing to me how the ratio of shows that make use of these tools are out numbered by those who just phone it in. Which is why I only watch maybe 10 shows at the most. And movies just don't do it for me anymore, they don't have the same quality I find in TV shows I love.

So after breaking down Arrested Development I found out why I loved it. It wasn't a particular actor, the subject matter, or the setting. It was how it was put together. The same structure I found in the other shows I like. It isn't so much what's on the surface, but what's holding it together.

That's what I'm looking for in my own writing. Like a bad TV show, a bad Comic will try to rely on another aspect of it if the story structure isn't there. For a show it could be a guest star ( Simpsons ) and for a Comic Book it could be great art. Those are surfaces, a fancy cover that's maybe too fancy to cover up the lack of structure.

And Arrested Development is the perfect example of how the structure was so perfect that the surface didn't even matter. It was shot on video, the characters were kept to a minimum, and the guest stars weren't the main focus, they fit in small roles that were key to the story instead of being the major focus for that episode ( something the Simpsons use to do, but now they treat guest stars like they're hosting SNL )

In the end the show just confirmed something I already knew. If you have a good story structure, you'll get good writing, and when you have good writing you have good entertainment no matter what it looks it. I think this is something a lot of aspiring comic book artist don't learn. Especially those who want to be creator/writers.

They take the writing for granted. They focus too much on the art thinking that's what sells it. It might sell at first, but what keeps it selling is good writing. And for that you need a good Story Structure. But just like art, writing is subjective.

You can have a good structure and still produce a crappy story, but at least that crappy story was told in the best way possible.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Break it Down: Calvin & Hobbes

I recently read a little of Calvin & Hobbes for a little Tumblr project ( it was calling out another artist for tracing, fun stuff ), but after those shenanigans I kept reading Calvin & Hobbes because after nearly 20 years out of syndication it still holds up.


It's not like it's anything special. At least when you compare it to comic strips that came out before it's time. At it's core Calvin & Hobbes shares a lot of similarities with the Nancy formula of joke telling. To understand what I mean this link provides a lot of information in just a few pages. Your life might change after reading it.

Calvin & Hobbes also doesn't have a lot of characters. It's Calvin, Hobbes, Susie, Mom, Dad ( I didn't realize his Mom and Dad weren't given names until last week ) Ms. Wormwood, The Principle, That Bully, and that's about it.

Overall there's not much to it, but there's one thing that makes Calvin & Hobbes stand out from all the other comics of it's time and probably all time. The art. It's not that it was museum quality or that Bill Watterson was such a great artist. It was the fact he made the art part of the comic. Something a lot of comics, especially Web-comics, don't take advantage of.

Before I mentioned how most of Calvin & Hobbes humor took from the Nancy formula of jokes. Gag jokes, Visual Pun, Word Pun, Slapstick, Misunderstanding, Incongruity, and Inversion. However Calvin & Hobbes took those simple structures and had a lot of strips that did all that with the art. It also added Calvin's imagination to the mix which is why it was loved by many.

Most of the ones we remember are the Sunday strips. I remember back in the day Calvin & Hobbes took up half of a page, it was worth it to me. Seeing Dinosaurs or Spaceman Spiff just waiting to see what kind of mischief Calvin was up too. Other strips that Bill let his art take over were the Snowmen, Wagon/Sled rides, and any strip were Calvin's imagination was visualized to us the readers.

Instead of filling up each strip with words words words and Bust-Shots, Bill took advantage of his artistic skills and pushed them to the limit. The end result was a huge world that he created using very few characters and understanding the medium.

When I lurk on Tumblr, DA, or other Image sites I see hundreds if not thousands of artists who aren't doing enough. Sure some strips look pretty with Sai or Photoshop, but the majority of them out there aren't pushing themselves in the right areas. Those areas being the 5 panel shots, timing, positive/negative space ( or Bold Blacks as I call it ), and an overall understanding to get ones the point across.

I guess part of this has to do with a lack of knowledge. I'll be the first to agree, anyone can make a comic strip. It isn't that hard and there's always different strokes for different folks. Most people get popular enough that they don't care about improving and keep shoveling the same thing over and over. That's fine.

But what if they wanted more? What if they find their jokes are more miss than hit? What if their art is lacking or playing no role at all in the comic? How would they improve? It's easy. Look at what Bill Watterson did outside of his artwork.

  • He made full use of the 5 panel shots. 
  • He made use of the 3 angles.
  • He kept the writing concise.
  • He used Bold Blacks, Perspectives, or action lines to direct the reader.
  • In color he made use of positive and negative space.
  • Most of his panels were full figure shots.
  • He also used perspective to create moods. 
  • Most importantly every character in every panel had a dynamic pose or expression. Even when they were doing mundane things like Calvin's dad sitting down reading the newspaper he didn't look like he was made of wood.

The last one is probably what separated Calvin & Hobbes from most other comics. All the characters were always doing something. As I sit here sketching out characters of my own I find it boring when I draw them just standing around with their arms on their most of the comics out there right now. So I switched up to having them do stuff. Running, jumping, crawling, whatever. Then I found that exhausting.

As I looked at my work I realized why that was. I was doing all my sketches as full figures. This is the same guy who loathed drawing full figures just last year. I would sketch at most bust-shots of characters thinking to myself,  " Oh well when I add legs in the comic that will be easy ".

That's the trap I see so many artists falling into. They take things for granted so when they have to draw a character running or jumping it becomes the hardest thing they ever drew. In some cases they change it. Or when they take writing for granted and when they make a huge Graphic Novel it falls short because they lacked any knowledge in story structure. And that's why so many comics out there fail. The people behind them take too much for granted and think just making something is good enough.

Whether it's the art or writing it doesn't matter. When something is taken for granted it can throw the whole strip off. That's why Calvin & Hobbes was a success. Bill Watterson didn't take anything for granted. He pushed all his skills as far as he could and that passion resulted in one of the most popular strips of all time. That doesn't mean other strips with weaker art aren't as good.

Growing up I loved reading Peanuts. It was pretty much standard reading. Artistically it doesn't compare to Calvin & Hobbes, but the writing does. Peanuts also shares the same aspects that Nancy had which most comics of that time also had. In other words Schultz knew how to tell his jokes. He also used his art to sell the joke even if his style wasn't that great. Expressions and body language play a huge role.

Most of the comics I see in the newspaper follow these fundamentals, fundamentals that are lost on those aspiring to make their own comics. No ones stopping you, but for heavens sake one has to learn from comics to make comics.

What Calvin & Hobbes as taught me is there are 3 parts to making a good comic. Now realistically comics, just like all art, is subjective. Even some of the comics being syndicated today would make some people think " WTF, why is this in the newspaper? I can do better than that!!" -- an actual quote

Well those strips are in the paper because the creator or creators have average or above average skills in those 3 parts. They are the Art, the Writing, and the Structure. If there's one thing the internet has taught me is good writing will always save bad art, good art will never save bad writing. The glue that holds the writing and art together is the Structure. Which makes up the timing and all the other little tidbits such as the set-up, the conflict, and the resolution.

Out of the 3 the hardest part is the Writing. The 2nd hardest is getting the writing to form a structure. And the least hardest is the art to tie it altogether. Don't think the art is the easiest? Look at Dilbert. Even as crudely drawn as it is I always laugh my ass of to it.

And even if Calvin & Hobbes was taken down a notch in the art department it would still provide humor because the writing and structure were solid. But that's where Calvin & Hobbes had an edge. Bill knew how to write and put it together in a structure, but he used his art to push it even further. So much that he made strips like this with no words at all.

In the end we all can't have Calvin & Hobbes like comics of our own. It's just a reality, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. After reading it for a few days I found myself wanting to tap into that mojo Bill had. But it doesn't take mentoring, a class, or something found in a book. And it definitely doesn't mean COPY HIS STYLE which a lot of fail-artist think when they know something is wrong with what they're doing.

It takes passion and dedication. The price of admission being the time spent drawing away in my sketch book. The endless desire to push my skills to their limits. That includes making use of the 5 shots, 3 angles, perspectives, bold-blacks, dynamic poses, and joke structure in general.

Writing is one thing, drawing is another. To put those things together in a comic strip is something completely different. That's where a lot of comics fail, but Calvin & Hobbes didn't.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Break it down: Dragonslayer

I wanted to start a new feature where I break down what I consider to be a well written piece of entertainment. Thanks to a 30 free trial of Amazon Prime I watched Dragonslayer, a movie that never made my embarrassingly large DVD collection, and was awestruck on how solid the story was. Even though at the time it was mostly passed off as a Special Effect movie. Oh how wrong the critics were.

So where to begin...

Lets start with the characters. It's my firm belief that a story is only as good as the characters that are charged with playing it out. We got Galen the apprentice as our protagonist. He starts off as a naive apprentice, but when his master dies he shows a lot of Extraversion characteristics. He wants to be around people, he likes being the center of attention, he wants to please others. These characteristics are what get him into trouble in the story ( more on that later )

Then there's Tryian. When he's introduced at the start of the film he gives off an antagonist vibe. He kills the Wizard, and later his servant, and shows no compassion for Galen throughout the movie. However he's not an antagonist. This is revealed later when the Princess is selected by lottery to be the sacrifice for the Dragon. The King asks Tryian to do something about it, but Tryian protests that his first duty is for the Kingdom. Tryian is Conscientiousness. His duty comes first, that duty to protect the Kingdom. The sacrifices have done that for decades.

Tryian isn't so much an antagonist, but a person who's trying to do good from his point of view which justifies all his actions, even fighting Galen at the mouth of the Dragon's Lair. The same could be said for the King. He was held by his duty, until it became personal.

Finally there's Valerian. She posses a lot of Neurotic characteristics, which could have been the result her father hid her as a boy her entire life. She doesn't trust others and looks down on herself. Even when reveals to everyone she's a woman, she still holds back socially. Unaware that Galen has feelings for her. Besides that she is also tormented. Tormented by the fact she hid her gender to keep herself out of the lottery. This inner torment lead her to find a solution to kill the Dragon. It was Valerian who convinced others to seek out a Wizard. She wanted redemption for what she had done while others went to slaughter.

There are other characters that drive the story, but with these 3 main ones the authors had enough at hand to create ups and downs that would be the driving force of the story.

The Story...

At the start we're given the premise. The King selects by lottery a virgin girl to be sacrificed to the dragon. In return the dragon doesn't burn their crops. It's a deal that satisfies both parties. The people are left in peace, and the Dragon gets treat. Especially since the dragon is of a dying race. It has no benefit to gather attention to itself and the control over that Kingdom with fear is all it needs to live out it's life. In the years though that fear turns into something the people want to do away with.

So we have Valerian and some citizens go on a journey to find a wizard to defeat the dragon. Ulrich is that wizard, but he'd probably die on the journey alone. Especially since he's already seen his death in a vision. Now we're given two Chekov's Gun, the amulet Ulrich always has and seems to be the source of his power and his vision. However their true nature as Chekov's Gun isn't reveal until the end of the story.

Tryian is introduced and asks for a test. A test that kills Ulrich. Shocked by his death, Galen later finds the amulet is speaking to him somehow. He also learns that it has given him great power. With Ulrich dead, he decides that this is a sign to finish the quest and kill the dragon himself.

On their journey Hodge, Ulrichs servant, is also killed by Tryian. He was carrying a pouch of Ulrichs ashes and tells Galen " burning water..." before he dies. This is another Chekov's Gun. It also shows that Hodge went along with Galen because he knew of Ulrich's plan, but Galen is oblivious to this. Now by himself, Galen tries to kill dragon with his new found powers.

This is where the protagonist Galen finds his first challenge. When arriving at the Kingdom the party stops at the dragons lair. Galen proceeds to create a landslide to trap the beast. He seems to have succeeded. When they get to the Kingdom the peasents have a party for Galen, he is at his highest point of popularity. Then Tryian arrives to invite Galen to see the King.

It is there the King discovers Galen is just a boy and probably a fraud. He steals the amulet and tells Galen he put the Kingdom in more danger then before. While Galen is locked up, the King was right. The dragon attacks the Kingdom thus forcing another lottery. Galen escapes, but instead of running away, he decides to right his wrongs and face the dragon. He isn't doing this for the Princess who was chosen, but because it's the right thing to do. He was inadvertently responsible for the deaths the dragon caused due to the landslide, and he is seeking redemption.

However his plan is interupted by Tryian, who again is charged with stopping Galen for the good of the Kingdom. Even the Princess knows this by voluntarily sacrificing herself to the dragon even after Galen releases her. In all, Galen is the only one who seeks hope in a hopeless situation. He kills Tryian and tries to kill the dragon, but fails again.

Now at his lowest he finally gives in and decides to leave with Valerian. He is now an outlaw for trying to save the Kingdom and no one else will stand by his side. However before they take off he has a vision. Much like the one Ulrich had in the beginning of the story. He then learns that Ulrich had a plan to kill the dragon all this time and he was too stupid to see it.

Galen and Valerian go to the burning lake in the dragons lair and spread Ulrich's ashes over it. He is now reborn. Ulrich then tell Galen to destroy the amulet, along with himself when the time is right. This is the true Climax of the story and Galen does as he's told when the dragon grabs Ulrich. The amulet is destroyed, Ulrich is destroyed, and the dragon is destroyed.

As a reward for his arrogance, Galen isn't given the credit for destroying the dragon. The Kingdom declares the King as the Dragonslayer. But that doesn't matter. Galen knows he did the right thing, and now he has Valerian with him. Knowing the Kingdom is safe is good enough for him, but at the end both characters have their mistakes corrected. Galen being cocky and Valerian hiding from the lottery all her life.


Is Dragonslayer the best story ever? Far from it, but it's a great example of how different personalities play off each other. High points and low points the protagonist goes through. Mixed into a totally made up world that is not normally seen or visualize in most medias.

It's a simple story that is surrounded by all those elements that make it a unique experience. So unique that in fact Dragonslayer was a box-office bomb. It was one of those movies that became a cult classics by being aired on cable for the years to follow that also sparked the imagination of a generation. A generation that saw a revolution in movie making only to see it be destroyed years later.

To be honest, I'm one of those who think movies have been on the decline since the 90s. And most of that decline has been from the storytelling point of view. Today it seems the movie industry thinks special-effects and actors come first while screenplays are crapped out as fast as they possibly can to start production.

It's more like they've become a victim of productivity. The process for filming a movie and added special effects has been streamlined compared to 30 years ago. If a studio has a 4 month opening for a film, they'll take advantage of that and the story is what suffers.

On the flip-slide there have been quite a few gems out there that went through the same process. Scripts that were rushed that ended up being good because they stuck to the fundamental elements of what makes a story work. Dragonslayer could be an example of that, although I have no idea how long it took them to write it, but what it doesn't have is a story full of questions that has the audience wondering about things.

It has realistic characters that perform with in their abilities. It has a cascade of events that are sparked by not only the overall plot, but the characters themselves. Plus it properly displays their motives for their actions. In the end everything is wrapped up in a tight package with no loose ends.

Although even that is becoming a lost art. Today movies are made with the intention of a sequel and audiences are given tripe in the form of The Golden Compass and The Green Lateran where they were made with sequels in mind. Something I believe the Star Wars prequels suffered from since they were billed as a trilogy before they were even written, where as A New Hope wasn't given that kind of guarantee. It was implied, but if it had bombed it would've been one of those mysterious things as to what would the other chapters have been like.

Overall I feel Dragonslayer is a good measuring stick for the amateurs out there who want to tell their own stories. You can have a large world full of magic and mystery, but in the end the story has to be character driven. The events have to make sense for that story alone, with nothing added for future stories. The ending has to be a full resolution with no loose ends or what ifs.

Otherwise you'll end up biting more than you can chew. It's hard enough to tell a good story, but to plan ahead and plan out more stories in advance, that just more work and wasted energy. It's good practice to focus on the now and make sure that's good enough. Let the sales or fan base make that decision for you.  Concentrate on making the project you're currently making the best one you've ever made.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Writing Structures and Blue Prints

I can't believe it's been 5 months since I started getting overly obsessed with writing, and I still haven't written anything, but it was something that had to be done. I cringe at my old comics ( even the most recent ones ) and other peoples work when I know it could have been better.

To be honest I'm not a guy who just likes great stories, I like stories that at the very least make sense. Something I find " professional " writers, producers, and directors mess up just as much as amateurs. It doesn't have to be that way. The steps to insure that are as simple as taking ones time, having a plan, and sticking to it.

Personally I love reading bad comics, watching bad shows, and bad movies. I learn what not to do. The good part about that is the more I know what not to do, almost everything left over is what to do. And it doesn't require a critique from a " professional " to realize this. Every person, no matter what their knowledge is on art and writing, is an honest critique. The trick as a creator is to make sure the limit of what not to do's is at a minimum.

Future posts of this will include character creation and art in general, but since I consider writing the most important part of any sequential art I'll be concentrating on that in this post. So let's begin...

Story Structure and Page Planning

I had the fortunate event of my cable being out for 8 hours the other day so I decided to read some more how to books. One thing I've known about is page planning. It is crucial that any comicker out there has their pages planned out ahead. I'm not talking about thumbnails, that comes later. I'm talking about what scene goes to which pages and so forth.

I touched on it here but even when I made that one, I knew it wasn't going to be final. Just as I discovered when I was trying a new art style, my writing style will take time, experimentation, and refinement to suit my needs. While that story structure will work, it didn't seem to work for me. So I made another one...

This one was geared for Action-Packed stories. Each Act has it's own little problem, solution, and climax with the final act being nothing but climax to finish it off. I got this Story Structure from my old GI Joe comics written by a real American hero Larry Hama. Most of those comics follow this type of structure where events escalate to their boiling point in Act 3 and works great for a comic where two sides are always in conflict. I thought this would be for me, but it didn't feel right. So I made another...

This Story Structure was ripped from Kolchak: The Nightstalker ( which not coincidentally is the same structure for the X-Files ). I thought a mystery structure would fit me more, and while I was piecing it together it did feel that way. However just like the Action-Packed one, it still didn't feel right. While this is more character driven than the previous one, it still didn't fit the characters and settings I'm currently working on. I needed something less mysterious, and more humorous to fit the idea I have. So I made another one...

The Two Story Structure was based off of tv shows. Basically American Dad, South Park, and How I Met Your Mother or any show where two stories intertwine and may or may not meet up in the Climax. At this point this one feels like it fits my characters and settings ( for now, lol ). I won't rule out I'll go back to the drawing board and make another. Unlike the previous two, this one is way more character driven, where the characters personalities, habits, and desires push the story. That's what I'm going for, so I'll see how it works.

Now all of these structures took a lot of time for me to make. It wasn't an excuse, it was a necessity. I've learned my own past mistakes that I need a plan in place before I even have an idea. I need to know where everything has to go and how it all works together before I thumbnail the first page. This information is usually buried in How To Books. In How To Draw Manga Vol 1 it's buried early on in the book. In Will Eisners Sequential Art it's in the back and written with a bunch of large words ( I always have to have my Websters Dictionary handy to figure out what he was talking about ).

However my experience as a CNC machinist has taught me I relate better when visuals are added rather than numbers and words alone. Which coincidentally is what a comic book is. Visuals, words, and numbers. The visuals are the images in the panel, the words are the dialogue and captions, and the numbers are the pages. That's why I drew out these structures after piecing them together in a notebook.

Why this is important

In the past I always did things off impulse with no plan in place. I may or may not finish a comic, and when I did it was rushed the closer I got to the end. I wanted that to stop and these structures prevent that from happening. They are the blue print for making a 24 page comic that makes sense. It doesn't matter what the content or plot is, it's about the math. It's about having every page reserved for a specific scene and having them all add up in a perfect package.

I've been around the block, I know when people rush their stories/comics and phone in the last few pages. They had no plan in place, and it shows. I'm more susceptible to this because I've been there. I've seen first hand what a lack of planning looks and reads like because I've done it myself. And this type of planning isn't restricted to comics. Animators have a plan in place called the X-Sheet, where every animation is planned out ahead of time.

A proper plan insures proper execution and every artist/writer needs to have this in place. Take my machining background for instance. If I was told to make a part with just handwritten instructions and spec numbers, I'd fail at making that part a good number of times before I get it right. With an image of what it is suppose to look like I have a better idea of what I'm working with. The instructions make more sense, the numbers add up.

The same goes for comics. As a writer/artist one has to know how much room they have to work with. Scenes have to be limited so they don't run out of control. And pagination is important if that person wants to print their book ( notice how the Two Story ends up being 32 pages total )


I'll probably never stop making these structures. They give me insight on the entertain I like, the stuff I want to emulate into comic book form. However when I made the Two Story Structure it felt like I was really making a comic book. That was the 2nd draft of it, I added the inserts in between the Acts to act as buffers ( i.e. commercial breaks ) where a scene is interrupted by a Cliffhanger only to be continued a couple pages later. Like the comic books I grew up with and still read.

When I was drawing it up I imagined my characters playing out certain scenes. Their discoveries and interactions while the structure was progressing. That was something that wasn't present in the other structures I made.

In the future I plan to dwell further into other things I've learned this past year. And what a year it's been. I went from making comics that took the Protagonist from point A to point B that barely made up 16 pages to constructively planning out 24 pages with twists, turns, and cliffhangers. In return my artwork has improved from being " I dunno if I can do that " to " no problem, we'll bang okay ".

A famous beta-artist once said you can't force improvement for improvement sake, improvement has to be natural. That's bullshit. Last fall when I was at my lowest I wanted to improve. I knew it wouldn't take overnight, it would take time. And I can say with confidence that it was all worth it.

The breaking down of story structures, proper character creation, working in a style that works for me, the 6+ hour sketchbooks sessions, the constant practicing of compositions, and format experiments have paid off. Sure it's not a monetary payoff, but some things in life don't need money to justify their existence.

I may never make a dollar off my stuff, it's a reality I've already accepted because after nearly 20 years I have yet to make a dime off anything I made. But that's not why I do this, that isn't why I push myself. It's because I love comics. I'm obsessed with them. And I want to make them the best way possible to at least satisfy me.

Money is one thing, but that feeling I get when I look at my past work and I'm surprised I actually made that. There's no price for that feeling, it's addictive, and I want more of it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

American Dad Break-Down

I've complained about how hard writing is for me before. Apparently I've become so cynical over the past few years that not only do I find my own stories boring, predictable, and illogical I also find most entertainment the same. I'll be honest, I watch a hand full of shows. My two favorites being American Dad and How I Met Your Mother. There are a few others, but those two shows share the same kind of story structure. It wasn't until I went through a marathon of both shows I realized it.

In my last post I created an early blue-print for a story structure I wanted to use for a 24 page comic book. I was already on the right path, but something was missing. It wasn't until I dug deep into my obsession of American Dad and How I Met Your Mother that I realized what was missing. Chekhov's Gun.

Both shows use this technique a lot. They also use its opposite, The Red Herring. Either way they introduce Chekhov's Gun in the first act of each show. And each show is broken into at least 3 acts, in some cases both shows will also have an A and B story with different characters, but not always. At each shows core is 3 acts, and that's what I'll stick with.

Chekhov's Gun is there for the writers to make sense of the Climax in each show. In American Dad's case I'll use this weeks episode. Roger's formula for X-tacy ( spelling? ), which Stan took, and gave to Roger in the past which got Francine to hook up with the guy who may or may not be Haley's father. ( confusing I know )

That wasn't the only one. Another Chekhov's Gun was when Roger told Steve how they take your Kidney out, which was acted out later at the end of the episode. American Dad does this a lot, and it isn't just in one episode. They reference old episodes more so than other shows. Archer is another that uses this technique a lot and the before mentioned How I Met Your Mother.

Now it seems like a cheap trick on the surface, but for a guy who only watches about 5 shows in total I had to wonder why I was enjoying them. Chekhov's Gun was one of the reasons. I like how stories have that completeness to them and force you to remember events that happened in the first act. Even drama's do this, such as Doctor Who...well that's about the only drama I watch now, but it isn't really a drama. It's just awesome.

This became an eye-opener for me. Especially since I'm really depressed because I can draw like a mad-man yet when it comes to writing the well is dry. I'd figure at this time I'd have my stories, I'd have something finished, but that little voice in the back in my head is always present saying " Not yet, you'll know when it's time ".

That's just who I am. I don't want to half-ass anything I do. I want whatever I make to be something I will enjoy, not something I shitted out so I could make a quick buck. The best way for me to get there is to look at myself, see what I enjoy, why I enjoy it, and emulate that into my work.

When most people do that, they usually end up copying what they like, but with a twist. In my case, I don't want to make something just like American Dad. I want to make something that utilizes Chekhov's Gun like American Dad.

By realizing this maybe writing won't be so hard for me and maybe my future-self won't be as cynical on my own material as I am now.

( see, I kind of used Chekhov's Gun right there, well maybe not, but it's practice )

Saturday, February 18, 2012

24 Page Plot First Story Structure

I had reservations about posting this because I'm eager as a beaver to try it out, but I figure what the hell. Information should be free in my opinion, plus I haven't posted in a while so why not.

The past couple months have been frustrating for me because I really feel I'm drawing the best I ever have in my life. However the frustration comes in transferring that flow of my artwork into a sequential story. Taking notes from my art-block of last fall, I felt the best way to get out writers-block was to just plow through it. So I buckled down and wrote about 4 scripts using Celtx. It looked like I was on the right path, but something wasn't feeling right. While I was doing this I was also doing my daily sketches. On average I sketch about 4-6 pages per day of heads, bodies, gestures, and sometimes even little comics.

The scripting method, of which I mentioned before, seems to be the industry standard so I stuck with it. It worked all right as I wrote a 32 page script, a 24 page one, and a 16 page one. With me sketching when I wasn't writing I felt that when I did have a script I was proud of it could be possible for me to draw 2-4 pages a day. Realistically I got my goals set on 1 page a day, but the amount of ease I'm drawing at is almost scary.

To give an example of why I think that, in the past I use to have a hard time just drawing heads, faces, or anything in general. One picture would take me hours. Not the kind of flow one wants to have if they want to be a comic artist. Because I sat myself down for 3 months and experimented with different styles, life-drawing, and  exercises that hard work as paid off. I'm drawing with no road blocks at all. No subject is too hard, no pose is out of reach, and composition is like signing my name.

Then came the scripts...

The first 3 were just me getting a feel for the process. I stayed true to my Story Structures I have posted here and unlike Celestial Chase I had fleshed out characters with unique personalities. It wasn't until I wrote the 4th script I felt I had something I could sell for $1. I was all eager to jump right in, but like the previous 3 I let it sit for a few days let it soak in. Unlike those first 3 I felt it was a good One-Shot to do.

Then I started drawing it...

This is where the frustration came in full force and I seriously thought there was something wrong with me. Either being lazy, uninterested, or possible suffering from a mental disorder that won't allow me to perform to my standards. I didn't get too far drawing it, I stopped after the 2nd panel. This was because I was already disgusted by what I drew. A-Big-Boring-Static-Panel.

I read my script over again, the one I thought was A-Okay. It wasn't. It was filled with too much nonsense. Nonsense a part of brain didn't want to draw. I sat there thinking about this. Maybe I wasn't meant to do this crap at all. Maybe I should give up. While I sat there trying to figure why I nearly threw up on what I drew so far I found I did something unexpected. I drew 4 pages of sketches in my sketchbook.

Now I was curious. Why can I draw for hours on end in my sketchbook ( the most I ever did was 12 hours straight ) but when it comes to actually doing a story I resort back to bad habits, get frustrated, and just give up? It was a mystery. Struggling to find an answer a quick Goggle Search made me remember the " Plot First " method. All of sudden my world didn't look so bleak...

" Plot First " in general

To start, Plot First is the method that was popular back in the hey-day of Marvel. To save time, and of course have one writer do multiple projects, they would give the artist the Plot First then add the dialogue later after the artwork was okay'd. The Plot itself was separated by pages so the artist had an idea of what to draw and where. This is what made Jack Kirby the legend he still is today.

With only the Plot, Jack would make each page a small story. Sometimes even adding more than the writer even thought of. Even Stan Lee said that Jack's layouts were so good that most of the time it didn't need dialogue at all. The sad part of this, is that I knew about the Plot First method 2 years ago, in fact I did it on  Celestial Chase, but I always use to think it was a cop out. A half-ass way of making comics. Writing a script gave me more control. With that control I could flesh out characters, get down to details in the story, stuff like that.

What I didn't realize, and what my brain was trying to tell me when I started drawing that 4th script, was that wasn't what I wanted to do. What I wanted more than anything was the artwork to tell the story, and the dialogue to fill in the details. When I wrote my scripts it was the opposite. The dialogue was telling everything while the artwork, no matter how hard I tried, was just static-boring-nonsense.

I also looked at the comics I was reading as of now. Batman Adventures, based off the animated series of the 90s, isn't dialogue heavy. In fact the only time captions are used is on transitions with the age-old " Meanwhile...". I dug deeper. TMNT, the comic that got me into comics back in the day, was also like this. The turtles were constantly moving and the art told the story. In fact all 4 graphic novels that I own could be read in less than a hour.

I also looked at how I sketched. When I was doing Daily Pages last year I was trying to let my artwork tell the story. It didn't work out that way, but I did them because that's what I was trying to accomplish. The last Daily Pages I did were exactly that. In fact they were precisely that. In a weird turn of faith I was sketching the way I wanted to draw comics, but when I draw comics I " play it safe " by limited myself to boring-static-panels. In the end the problem I had was I had enough. My brain stopped me from continuing that comic because I was doing something wrong, yet I drew 4 pages in my sketchbook because I was doing something right.

My New Process

I felt I was on to something, so I took what I learned from  Celestial Chase and started writing Plot First scripts. I counted how many scenes I wanted for a 16 page then a 24 page story. Yet something didn't feel right. They didn't feel like the comic books I grew up with. The ones that inspired me to pursue these endeavors. Frustrated again I remember a tutorial I ran into last year by Wise Sloth. At the time I felt it was an interesting concept, yet it felt too complicated to me. I also felt I wanted to experiment with taking 3 small stories to make them into one.

With a few days work I came up with this process...

Like WiseSloth's  process, this looks like a mess. But when I studied it and really analyzed it I got that feeling I found my method. Now this might not work for everyone, but for me it has to work. It has all the elements I want in my stories, plus it's divided up into 3 Acts so it feels like I'm making 3 short comic books that in the end will make a 24 Page story...that maybe I could sell for a $1.

I got the idea to break down one story into 3 short ones from a 4 page story I did last spring. It was one of the last Daily Pages I did, but I did it in one day. I also did it with having each page Plotted out first. Again the method was in my face, but my opinions at the time were that it wasn't right. After that I spent two months trying to make Celestial Chase which I ended up using the Plot First method anyways. ( I had 3 scripts for that comic I never used )

Even though I took the time to divide up the Acts, Pages, and even Panels, nothing is set in stone on that Structured Layout. It's there for reference so I know where to begin when plotting out the story. By knowing how many pages I want, I got an average count of Panels. Now panels I count as a drawing or picture if you will. If I stick to layout it comes out to 108 panels. Or 108 pictures. For fun I went back on those 4 pages I sketched in my sketchbook that night I gave up on my comic and counted how many unique images I had. It came to around 45 and were a mixture of head shots, bust shots, full body shots, panels, action scenes, and landscapes. 45 unique pictures that would be enough for one Act ( they average around 32 panels each ). If I can draw 45 pictures in one day, then in theory I could draw 8 comics pages in that time.

It was then I realized what I was doing wrong. I was thinking too much when it came to making a comic, but when I was sketching I was letting my artwork do what it does. Another thing I noticed when I was trying to draw my comic is I was trying too hard to do everything right. When I sketch, I never get things right the first time ( which is why I start with a light colored pencil. ) It isn't until I get a darker pencil the image starts to manifest itself. And if they get inked, it's finally finished to where I'm shocked I actually drew it.

In conclusion, I need my artwork to tell the story, but I also needed a path to get started. Nothing set in stone and no finished dialogue, just something to get the ball rolling. When I look back on this I realized I over-shot myself. I was pretty hard on myself for Celestial Chase, but in the end I did more good than I realized. I fixed my art style, I fixed my character creation, but I didn't know that Plot First was the method that was for me. So now I'll go into detail on how it works since a lot of the details are missing.

How it Works

Act I

In this section the Protagonist is thrown into a conflict right off the bat which is called In Media Res. All my favorite comics, mostly GI Joe, started off this way. That first conflict helps set-up Act II where the Protagonists actions in Act I set up a new problem/conflict that won't be resolved until Act III. The Climax in Act I can be a different problem. Or another way to go at it is to have it cascade into a bigger problem in Act II which leaves Act III as a bigger climax.

Why two Climax's?

Short answer, to keep the artist in me interested in the story. That script I wrote, it was 16 pages, but it had 1 climax and even that had 2 pages of action, the rest was all standing around and talkig. Action isn't necessary fight scenes. To me Action is when the Protagonist confronts the conflict of the story. It can be anything. For fun I made a short list of possible actions that can take place in the Climax.

  • Cat and Mouse/ Dangerous Game
  • Sex Scenes
  • Fight/Confrontation at a location ( for fun have it be a location introduced earlier in the story )
  • Debate
  • Chase
  • Confrontation of Fear
  • Confession of Love
  • Humiliation
  • Race for a Cure
  • Planting a Bomb
  • Breaking an Entry ( Solid Snake Style )
  • Stop a Confrontation
  • Race to the Finish
  • Escape
  • Public Execution
  • Trial
All of these examples are just a tip of whats possible for a Climax and will work with any genre. With 2 Climax's one could mix and match them. Climax I could be a Race for a Cure, while Climax II could be a Trial. Another reason for 2 Climax's is because the Acts are 8 pages each. In theory each Act could be it's own self contained story. The Climax in Act I is actually a catalyst for Act II and III. And if the author continues the comic book the Climax in Act III will be the catalyst for Act I in the next issue. Thus continuing the cycle of situations the Protagonist will be put through.

Act II

This section will be tricky, but by keeping it at 8 pages this should be enough for the author/artist to avoid Sagging Middles, the death for any story no matter how good it is. Act II is where the reader will learn more about the Protagonist. By having Act I as In Media Res the reader will already be invested in the story to see what happens next. Act II is where the author/artist go into details of their personal life, career, habits, or the setting. All while building up for the Climax in Act III.

This doesn't mean Act II has to be nothing but conversations. The Solutions that lead the Protagonist to Act III's Climax can also be auctioned packed. It's up to the author/artist if they want to bore the reader with walls of text or show through images of what the Protagonist does to get to the final Climax. Once all Solutions are met, the final Act comes into play.


This is where the story finishes, or it could be left open for another issue. I deliberately left Act III conservative with a 4 page Climax because this was the process I used for my new story. However the Climax in Act III can occupy the entire Act. The Solution in Act III can also be cut and added to Ending if one page isn't enough. This Act is meant for the artist in the author. This is where they truly let go and flood the pages with panels that pop without restrictions of preset dialogue.

The Introductions and Endings of Each Act

Again, each Act should be considered as a stand alone 8 page comic book. The only thing linking the 3 is the Protagonist and the cascade of situations that spill into each consecutive Act. For that I added the Introductions and Endings to keep with the tradition of a normal story. They can be used for scene transitions, changes in settings, mini-cliffhangers, or even be removed to make room for other scenes. In fact the 8 pages for each Act can be moved around as one sees fit, but for reference they're divided up that way to give the author/artist a starting point.

Nothing in that layout is set stone, but for me I need those Intro's and Endings to act as buffers so I can prepare for the next Act. What I'm doing is tricking myself into thinking I'm making 8 page comic books. Each Act is roughly around 32 panels. Earlier I mentioned how I drew about 45 images in one day. If I had something to draw about it could have been 8 pages of comic book. In other words, I'm attempting to play mind games with myself. Tricking myself into thinking I'm sketching, when really I'm drawing a comic.

That 4 page comic I did last spring was done in one day. And it was done in a method of drawing I no longer use. If I had taken my time, or done it now I still could have done it in a day, but it would have been more polished.


Overall the whole goal of this was to really sit down and see what I do right, and what I do wrong. I can't follow a traditional script, despite the fact I like writing them. I can't stand static panel, I have more fun when people are doing something. I like being challenged in both poses and composition.

I use to think it was laziness, but a lazy person doesn't give up on a comic then immediately draw what could have been 8 pages while they try to figure out whats wrong. So where do I stand today? Well I'm plotting out possible stories. In fact knowing I don't have to write any dialogue has flooded my head with all sorts of ideas. Will they be good? I'll leave that up to other people to decide.

All I know is I'm at that point where my standards are too high and that's probably the last issue I have to deal with. Every time I'm on the internet I'm amazed how people crank out material while I'm stuck in sketchbook land. But I don't consider that lost time. I had to have my art to my liking. And now I need the stories there as well.

In fact looking over that layout I made, any future projects I do following that might not be good. But that's the trick. It's up to the reader on whether or not it's good. All I can do as an author/artist is do what works for me and let the audience decide.

Personally I hate people who masturbate to their own stuff ( YOU KNOW WHO ) Artist and Writers who love to brag about what they consider their best work, despite the fact it's full of inconsistency's, Mary-Sue's, and unrealistic outcomes.

As for me, I hate everything I make. It drives me to improve. I hate Celestial Chase and every failed Tokyo Pop entry I made in the past. But they HAD to be made so I could learn from them. In Celestial Chase I thought I did more things wrong than I did right. 6 months later I realized I was looking mostly at the artwork. Yes it was horrible, it made me change styles. I also hated how I wrote it, but now I see that's how I have to write. And the character designs, well I'm amazed I actually finished that thing.

That's the key there. I finished it where as with all my character designs, a full script, and new style I couldn't even get started on my new project. Celestial Chase and every comic I made before then might have terrible, but they had the building blocks of the artist I was meant to be.

It's my duty to put that into practice and watch myself closely so I don't revert to those past mistakes and really make something I'm proud off. It's something to look forward too, and worth living another day.