The Island and the Plough : Contact Sheets

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I am quite excited to say that I am nearing the very last stage of “The Island and the Plough.”  Editing and formatting proves to be quite an arduous process.  I had a first round of contact sheets proof-printed and had a few people review them.  One person in particular who is a writer/director (on the film side of things) had some really great final editorial remarks.  I decided to take a few into account and rework some small things here and there, adding one extra idea right at the climax of the story which I think will really accentuate the central tone and punctuate the climax better than what I had.

Here is my nearly completed, revised set of contact sheets.  I apologize for making them so small, but being so near completion of this project, I still don’t want to give away the story.  But there is something very interesting about viewing the pages at this size.  It gives a very clear sense of the progression of tone, contrast and balance, not to mention a great macro view of each page’s composition.  It brings the process to a full circle back to a “storyboard” format to really review it once again.

I am still in the throes of deciding how exactly to distribute this project as contacting/meeting with agents and publishers is a very slow process.  Many of the people I have talked with, even in the publishing industry, still suggest self publishing.  At some point I will be doing a small run of prints for proofing purposes as well as for family and friends, which I will make available to sale.

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The Angler Boys

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Lament the story of the Angler Boys.  Surprise and joy befell the Angles household when Mabelle and Hank Angles announced she was expecting.  The excitement grew further when Mabelle learned it would be twin boys.  But, at birth, something was revealed as strange.  The doctors called it “Acute Lophii-deformes” and it would seem the bouncing baby boys shared undisputed features of the Anglerfish.  The Angles were advised to shut them away, home school them, and to investigate special therapies and operations to remove them of these “features.”  Mabelle and Hank didn’t feel right about shutting them off from the world, so they decided to go on as if nothing was the matter.

Things were rocky, here and there, but the two boys lived together in a happy, loving home.  It then came time to enroll them in school.  Little Luke Angles did quite well; the other children thought his “lightning ball” was cool.  He was the best to have sleepovers with because he could keep the blanket fort lit nicely.  The girls thought it was cute too and they would sigh and dreamily stare, saying, “To be with Little Luke Angles was like being under the twinkling stars.”

All was not so well for Young Leopold Angles, who inherited the unfortunate features of an anglerfish teeth and tail.  The girls were all scared of him, and the boys called him snaggletooth, jaws, and walrus.  He was a favorite target for the bullies and often found himself escaping to the far end of the playground to be alone.  Luke would try to stick up for him and include him in their games, but no matter his efforts, the other children would shove him away.

One day, Mabelle Angles came to wake them for school, but Young Leopold was gone.  Hank, Mabelle and Luke looked all over town and asked everyone around, most of whom just laughed.  Days passed, weeks passed.  Leopold was nowhere to be found.  Luke would search through the night with the help of his lightning ball.  And thus, began “The Riveting Adventures of Angler Boy.”  (A follow up to “Flashback: Angler Boy“)

Bah Humbug

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The cantankerous old grump hobbled his way home through the blustering snow and dangerous ice, completely unaware his life was following in his wake.  A young weak flame, his past, hovered right behind him.  A giant lumbering man, his present, walks careful aside him as not to fall out of step.  Ahead of him, creeps the shadows of his future and into them he ventures.   A lingering cry haunts the alleys and the streets, chains clank and rattle of warnings to a ruined man as he bitterly  scoffs off the world, heading home to sulk.

    Here is this year’s rendition of Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge along with all four ghosts.  I stayed with the traditional flame character for the Ghost of Christmas Past.  I had to do three or four thumbnails, and a nearly full render of another drawing to get a composition that I liked since I wanted them stacked, using the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come as the backdrop.   I haven’t really seen Scrooge done with a beard, sometimes Victorian chops, but usually clean shaven.  I thought it might be fun to give him a cranky old beard and make him stout rather than long and lanky.  I had a lot of fun doing this one, hope you enjoy.

“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” – A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.

A Word of the Wolf

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    Say it a villain, but I like the wolf; I think he is rather dapper.  Fables, rhymes and fairy tales unanimously agree that the wolf (or fox) is a mean, shrewd, cunning, coy, heartless villain, a thief, a robber, and a murderer.  There, of course, are a few humorous attempts in looking at the wolf’s side of the story such as “The True Story of The Three Little Pigs,” but I declare justice is not served.  I do applaud Roald Dahl for allowing us into the life of Mr. Fox; however, he is still hunted and villainized by the farmers of the land despite being the hero of the story.  Certainly stories of the natives include heroic, god like wolves but American culture would much rather idolize the lion over the wolf.

    We have a lot to learn from the wolf, and not just about how to dress.  We see ourselves in him which perhaps gives reason to villainize him.  By some social mythology structure, the goat, or the pig has inherently done no wrong and even in mistake can be forgiven, actually idolized for learning a profound lesson.  The wolf, however, gains no such glory.  His very presence is greeted by hiss and boo.  Perhaps the sharp teeth, or sleek eyes have gained him no ground.  The story could equally be rewritten to warn of tattle tale little girls, men with guns, forgetting to look in the clock, and snarky construction working pigs.  Just look how regal, how clean and cunning, dapper and dashing, steady and stark, alert and acute is the wolf.  If he were human, he would be a knight, or a Robin Hood at least.

    Certainly there is an elephant in the room.  I may be carefully avoiding the fact that the wolf is, indeed, a predator and the goats and pigs certainly should be afraid of him.  He is their villain, I cannot argue that.  Yet, the wolf has a villain as well, as do we all, and despite the long held cultural structure of an innocent goat, perhaps we should write a story about The Three Grass Brothers, or The Daisy and the Tulip.  We will see how cute and innocent that goat remains.

A Drawing

I sit back in my chair to look at my work and the tuner crackles slightly from my movement disrupting its signal, and my flow of work.  That fat of my lower palm and the rounds of my knuckles shimmer from a sheen from a coating of graphite.  The joints in my fingers sigh with relief as I let them from their crumpled, curled pose and the tip of my thumb throbs around an indentation left by a pen.

Although I deeply love my computer and the tools it has to offer, I can never seem to replace the raw energy it takes to create a drawing.  The computer is clean and precise, and allows for infinite error correction.  A master of perfection, a king of magic tools.  There is something; however, raw and unfettered, real and with personality about the physical medium.   It’s as if the thoughts flow out of the mind, through the nerves, out the fingers and directly through the pen.  Nothing is sacred, no line is perfect.  There is a bit of wobble in every stroke, an extra dot, too long of a line.  Nothing seems to look quite right until you pull back from the final stroke and it finally takes on the life you had hoped.   With the pencil or pen and paper at hand, comes a bit of uncertainty and acceptance.  You direct the drawing a little one way, and it directs you a little this way.  There is no undoing and no refining the line once it is on the paper.  You have to be willing to accept where the drawing takes you; it is a bit like a wave.  You direct the drawing a little one way, and it directs you a little this way.

Somehow in the end, it is never exactly what you wanted, but it is always exactly what you meant.