As I move towards the end of my long running webcomic, Star Trip, I find myself thinking back to the ways this story has evolved from its beginning to its end. Star Trip is a laboratory where I learned the craft of making a comic, as well as how to be flexible in my writing and art so that I could survive doing so.
One thing that working on Star Trip really taught me, along with writing and drawing, is editing and how in order to write a satisfying story I would need to learn how to let certain things go. Past ideas that I thought were great no longer meshed with the type of story I was telling. What more, I needed to take my energy levels into consideration. How long could I keep working on this story? Could I finish it before I got tired and/or lost interest? The last one was an especially big question that needed a big answer. I wouldn't be able to keep working on Star Trip for another 2 or 3 or even 4 years, which was my projected end time with the old script that included Act 3.
Act 3 of Star Trip was interesting to say the least. It stretched out the story line into a whole new world with a whole new set of characters and new questions that needed answers. I thought Act 3 was very cool, and I was emotionally invested in it when I thought it up a year after I started the comic. But as I got older, read more books, and got to work more in comics editorial, I saw how clinging to that story line would be both unhealthy for me and the comic as a whole.
Webcomics are such a tricky and beautiful thing. They are the pulpiest of pulp media (in my opinion), allowing creators to play with ideas and storytelling structures that wouldn't normally fly in traditional print publishing. The pulp nature of webcomics is also what allows creators to construct thousand page long behemoths without any roadblocks, and this is supported by the fact that webcomics are digital publications.
But for me, revelling in this pulp with Star Trip, I couldn't help but bump up against what I was becoming as a creator. In creating a pulpy story that spanned almost 1000 pages and 10 years of my short life, I couldn't keep myself from changing. I'm no longer in my early twenties, dealing with student loans and joblessness, and living with my mom. I am not the same person who started Star Trip, but I became the kind of person who could finish it. Just like how I used Star Trip as a lab to practice my comic making skills, I now want to use it to learn how to finish one.
In changing I've also begun exploring the other kinds of pulp media I want to make. A long form story shared as a webcomic is fine as one path, but I now want to try others. I want to make multiple pulp stories. In particular I want to give illustrated novels a go as an alternative to this kind of long form storytelling, since it doesn't require the same level of labour a long form comic demands.
I have finished shorter comics in the past, and I have even left a couple unfinished, but finishing a comic that has been a part of a third of my life definitely feels like something else. As of typing I have been approaching new ways of colouring the comic pages to make the process even faster and hopefully get back to consistent updates. I have been trying to let go of overthinking my colours and just run with it. In fact, finishing Star Trip requires that I approach it with the same mentality I did when I started it. Be free with it. Let go. Reach that ending no matter what, just like how I took my first step at the start.
I had originally wanted to have this post up for the 20th of January, which is Star Trip's birthday, but I was caught up with other projects and day job work. The feeling of letting Star Trip down by not being on top of its birthday hit me like a brick to the chest, but then I took a moment to understand that this was simply the fact of my life now.
Star Trip isn't, nor has really been, the core aspect of my life. I have always had other projects going on, Star Trip just happened to be my longest one. Missing its birthday by a day or two isn't a problem, and regardless I will always remember that I posted my first page of this comic on that fateful day in winter. I will have so many other first pages for other stories posted on other days of the year.
Happy Birthday, Star Trip. Hopefully this will be your last.
Hello again to returning readers and a regular hello to new visitors! This week I felt like sharing some more analog sketches I had scanned out of one of my sketchbooks. I've been using this HJ Canada permanent black sketchbook for a lot of my offline sketching and I really like it. I liked it so much I bought 3 more of them when I saw they were on sale.
These sketchbooks are pretty cheap (imo) costing between $12-15 CAN for the 5x8 inch ones and have 284 blank pages and a stitched spine that allows the book to lay flat. The paper is acid free with one side being more rough and the other smooth. They're fun to sketch in with ballpoint pen and can take watercolour, to an extent (I have suffered some bleed through though haha).
Drawing in this sketchbook has been freeing for me because it is so cheap and innocuous looking, with some nice mid-grade paper, but it can take a beating. My current sketchbook has seen the horrors of having half my water bottle leak on it, and then later on got caught in my bike spokes while they were in motion. I don't feel afraid to draw in this sketchbook and can freely scrawl wonky sketches in it.
These featured sketches were more of a test. Normally I would sketch right to ink using ballpoint or a black Pilot fine-liner. I enjoy sketching or drawing right to ink because it forces me not to overthink what I'm drawing. But recently I've been thinking about how I want to approach texture with my analog inking, so I've started doing a pencil under-sketch and then inking over top with the fine liner.
I still consider these sketches, because I kept my lines loose and rough in order to retain that good illusion of motion a sketch has. Making them too clean can take away from the energy in the under-sketch. From this I let myself have fun losing myself in the texture of the sketches, from Nyx's hair to Sol's wings.
I've been on a long path towards learning to enjoy analogue inking and having this intermediate stage which is still technically low stakes sketching, but also not, has been helping a bit. By doing this I have been discovering what kind of inking style I would like to adopt when using my dip pens, and honestly the style I like is one that has rough and loose line art with lots of texture. I want my inks to look like they are vibrating.
Hopefully once I do more with my dip pen I will scan and show those to y'all tuning in. Otherwise, thanks for stopping by, and have a nice weekend!
Oh boy! It has been a bit!
I spent most of what remained of summer and the start of the autumn getting out and touching grass, going for bike rides, spending time with friends and around my community, and focusing on my day job. It's been nice! I've also been taking this time to think about my relationship with art and drawing and how it has changed over the past decade.
When I would draw as a kid/teen/young adult it was this very spontaneous thing. Who cared what the final result looked like? The act of drawing felt so good. Building anything out of my hands became a triumph. But as I improved at drawing and to an extent writing and could make money off of it, something started to shift and I felt myself losing that simple joy I got out of just drawing.
While getting out and about this summer one of my frequent trips would be bike rides to the many parks around the city to sit down to draw, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. I had allowed myself the simple pleasure of drawing what I saw and playing around with the shape and colour of the thing by laying down texture using lines or just slapping wet blobs of watercolour everywhere.
I felt like I returned to the primordial source of art, how it just feels good to make a mark on a physical surface. It feels nice to look at nature, at the physical world, and interact with it in a un-intrusive way by drawing it. Letting myself scribble sketches of bushes, tree branches, and a couple messy sketches of an inchworm that had crawled onto my pencil case made me feel like the metaphorical chains clamped around my wrists had loosened.
It's a weird thing making art for money. Artists deserve to be paid for their work, and please don't take this as me saying that they shouldn't, because I do like being able to afford groceries, but it does feel weird when art becomes a source of income. Creating art is such a natural human thing. Art is communication. It is one of the ways we say to the world "you are here!" and one of the ways we say about ourselves "I am here!" I also think it can also be translated further to "I love the world and I love that I am in it!" It just sucks that capitalism says back to us "sell this love so you can keep living."
And with that proclamation art becomes something that is ranked, that has a hierarchy. What kind of art makes more money over the other determines what kind of art has value. It then becomes harder to enjoy something as simple as drawing because there are now all these new variables to consider like speed, and polish, and detail.
But I guess that conundrum could apply to most forms of labour under capitalism, because even though art can be a pleasure to do it is still a skill and a form of labour. We want to get better at knowing the world and ourselves through art so we practice at it, at least that's what I think. Learning and practice can be a pleasure. Drawing has gotten me to learn things I don't think I would have normally. I've learned about the way some trees grow, the way the human body moves, what makes light reflect off of fish scales the way it does, and I feel full with this new knowledge.
There is also so much to learn about the drawing process itself like the way water flows off of a brush, or how much pressure to put on a ballpoint pen to keep the line light enough to replicate the kind of gradient you can get with a pencil. I've learned about what my own body can do to get across the message I want to send, be it to myself or to the world.
When it comes down to it, no matter how our relationship to art is influenced by social structures, and how well someone draws within those structures, drawing just feels good. The past couple of months helped me remember that.
Hello, my name is Gisele! I'm a cartoonist, editor, and writer living on the cold shoulder of Canada. You can support me and my work through Patreon.
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