Thursday, February 27, 2014

Behind the Scenes: 1 Night On Earth

sketch by Giovanna Terrone

skottie young ‏@skottieyoung Jan 17 I wish more creators would do podcast style commentary on their own work. Would be fun to hear more on the craft of making the books.

Well...a blog should do. Let's start at the beginning. I wrote five short stories between the months of January and April 2013. After that I set out to find artists to bring the four page comics to life. With each story requiring a different creative team meant there would be different deadlines. The order that was posted on Tumblr is not the same order that was printed mostly because of delays; artists dropped out and deadlines got pushed back. As the editor of my own anthology it involved reviewing art, coordinating, organizing, proofreading, note-giving and basically putting out fires. But hey, that's all part of indie publishing.

*It's also good to note that every short comic had a working title 'cause I hate coming up with titles.

So the first to be posted on Tumblr was Sydney (working title: Sister Love). Writing it was pretty easy. At that point I had recently come back from traveling in Australia and wanted to get something on paper about the overall vibe of that one city. Hell, I wanted to write much more about both New Zealand and Australia but again, Sydney was my main focus for this particular project. Here's an excerpt of the script:

WIDE ANGLE: Janie sits on a stool next to a guy (both backs are turned towards us), holding her whiskey glass close to her lips ready to sip. Jasper, the guy sitting next to her is Janie's friend. Both are slightly facing each other.

Nothing but an overbearing, self righteous, 
pedantic ogre woman with a fungus foot. 

She is your sister.

For this introductory scene, I kept it basic. You get to know these characters right away through their dialogue. Movies like Diner, When Harry Met Sally, Love & see what the person is like when they open up about their issues, how it affects them, how they react to friends trying to help them etc. With Janie she's just venting her frustrations about the person she loves. And that's okay. We all can relate.

by Jen Weber

Jennifer Weber has a strong grasp of characters with expressive faces, hence I thought she'd be great for this. She had done a short for Womanthology and has an ongoing webcomic so I'm glad she was game.

For Los Angeles, I probably went through five different drafts before finalizing the script. Run Lola Run was my go-to example. Although nobody runs or walks in LA (heh) I still wanted to show action in a very tight time frame and limited page count. The purpose was to have the protagonist chase something before a certain event unfolds. It almost seems like a life or death situation at first but the reveals throughout (Will, the texting friend bound to a wheelchair and Peter marrying his much older professor) were certainly meant to be lighthearted. I originally called it "Noho" since I was living in North Hollywood at the time, but changed it to a more recognizable city.

by Sarah Elkins

LA is a pretty big place and has been my home for the last ten years. This was my nod to the great things like tacos, vintage cars, punk bands and Circus Liquors.

Now for Hong Kong--it was special. I was dead set on getting the story right because it was rooted in something greater. It's grounded in this reality that is absurd and horrific but it's been happening for years. The original title was "Cage Man." I came across an article with these pictures of old men, mostly, living in caged homes in the middle of Hong Kong. Some of them were stacked on top of each other like animals, living with rats, poverty and sadness. It certainly put my one bedroom apartment in perspective.

Since the other stories were somewhat related to me with familiar instances and places, Hong Kong was completely different. I had to think as a person of a certain generation living in poverty in a foreign country. This required research. I notice that there's this way most seniors try talk to younger kids, there's this interest in what they're doing. Kids generally don't reciprocate in the same way. They don't ask their grandparents about their day or really their past. From a generational POV, Zhi (the main character) grew up in Hong Kong at a different time. He wants to pass that on, to expand his granddaughter's imagination; rather than complain about his current living situation.

Page 3: On this entire page, we see a rat is crawling above the resident's rooms. They are in a cage, but the rat roams free in the background. 

Panel 1: An old lady brushes the hair of her 8 year old granddaughter. The rat crawls above them, along the exposed pipes.

Your mother even wore the exact same uniform you're wearing here. I'll try to send pictures of that.

I looked on YouTube for old videos of Hong Kong back in the 40s/50s. The Super 8 footage I found was remarkable but I hit the jackpot in the comments section. A lot of people shared their memories of that time and place. It really set the tone and helped me get into that world.

by Shari Chankhamma

Shari Chankhamma was working on Sheltered at the time so I was stoked when she was able to fit this in her hectic schedule. When I first contacted her, she was already familiar with the issue; she had seen the same photos I had seen and contributed a lot to this story. This is as much hers as it is mine.

Miami Design District

I have a love/hate relationship with Miami. I was born and raised there so I have lot of conflicting feelings of what it was and what's it's known for. It's not all trendy pretty people walking around South Beach but rather lots of spread out residential areas and some sketchy don't-go-after-dark areas (like parts of Little Haiti, North Miami west of the 1-95, get the point). Back in my college years, the Design District was becoming popular with all the low-key cool clubs but it was still in that part of Downtown that was seedy. So naturally this is where I wanted the noir/revenge story to take place. It was originally planned as a longer series but I decided to cut up a few scenes to make the short. 

by Francine Delgado
Page 2
Panel 1 - Long panel/profile view: Open floorplan, like a studio still under construction. The windows are blacked out and tagged with graffiti. Shards of street light are sprinkled throughout because of the broken roof. Reed, with his hand in his back pocket, walks straight toward a portly MAN (European, 50s) tied to a chair. A florescent light hangs down over him.

To get my son back.

Panel 2 Medium Shot: The man looks up at Reed and we see a gash over his brow.

I told you, I don't know anything.

Maybe I'll come back to this story at a later time but for now, it resides in this anthology.

San Salvador, originally called, "Las Palmas," originated from a conversation I had with an old friend/roommate. She went back home to Mexico and found out one of her grade school friends was working for the cartel. I asked if she tried to hang out with him, she said, "Oh no, no one does. Don't want to get caught up in that."

by Anissa Espinosa

I researched other places where gang/mafia/cartel life is prevalent. Living in LA, I am aware of that culture. I looked up local gangs where some have originally migrated from El Salvador many years ago. From there I was able to develop the characters and motivations. I asked myself if I had caught up with any of my childhood friends in the same situation, what would I do? Not much. I'd wish them luck and go back to my safe world. I mean, everyone makes certain life choices--and they all lead to something (either positive or negative).

by Giovanna Terrone

I had seen Giovanna's artwork on deviantART and thought she would be perfect for the cover. She asked me for the themes of each story in the anthology. She had these ideas for the cover where the buildings in the background would be from each city and the girl ("like a knight driving a sword into the ground") drilling with a jack hammer.

Hi Giovanna,

I love the sketch/idea. I would like it to be night time but I don't know if the sky will be too dark. Maybe dusk?

Otherwise, go with it.

As far as the themes, I believe all of these stories are about reliance (either on friends or the hope of happiness). 

The breakdown:
San Salvador - A woman finds out that her friend is in a gang, but he helps her and keeps her safe.
Miami - a man is seeking vengeance for his kidnapped son, he finds out he's alive and well.
Hong Kong - the old man in the cage relies on his grand daughter's letters--her happiness.
Los Angeles - a friend asks another friend for help 
Sydney - a friend asks another friend for advice.

And that's how the cover came to be.

As for the small icon used for the Tumblr site, it was this photo. One night, back when I was living in Mar Vista, the ocean mist rolled in and you could barely see the end of the block.

Venice Blvd - Mar Vista, CA

Monday, February 3, 2014

And we're back!

Our first post of the New Year, woohoo!

Back in January, Comicsbeat gave By The Slice a shoutout (which is now available on Comixology).

Golden Age got reviewed by Bag & Bored and Comicbooked.

Emily is a fan of Golden Age!

More to come in the next few weeks, stay tuned....