I’ve illustrated only a few graphic novels. There are cartoonists that can produce an astonishing amount of pages every year. On the flipside there are cartoonists who take a decade to produce their magnum graphic novel opus. I’m not the fastest, but I’m also not the slowest. Speaking from experience, I’ll add that having a child can slow you down your productivity a bit. The most important thing to do when you’re working on a graphic novel is to simply finish it.
There was an interview in The Comics Journal years ago with Aaron Renier – I’m paraphrasing of course, but he was talking to a fellow cartoonist, the talented Craig Thompson. He was offering advice while Aaron struggled with his debut graphic novel, Spiral-Bound.
I can tell you from experience, It’s difficult, grueling and daunting. The sheer amount of work is overwhelming. Craig Thompson worked on many comics that he abandoned before finishing his breakthrough, Goodbye, Chunky Rice. He realized that the most important part is to finish things. You have tosee it through. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There may be weeks where you get nothing done, or days you lose because you realize the storytelling didn’t make sense. Even though you may like the drawing itself, you’ve gotta throw out the page and start over.
To have a finished book, to hold it in your hands – it’s like crossing that finish line. You, can’t get there, however, if you don’t stick with it. If you’re a flake, if you don’t commit to the work, you can never finish. You simply have to chug along, do the work.See it through.
To find out more about my new book, PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, including how to order a copy, go here.
Ideas for books come and go, but I’ve learned that if you don’t write them down, they’ll fly away out of your head pretty quickly. If you don’t write it down, it just doesn’t exist.
Every idea I’ve had for a comic, I first wrote down in a small, simple notebook.
My favorite place to exhibit ( and buy ) comics is the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. I like to have something new every time I go – to be excited about showing people your new work is a great feeling. When it came time to exhibit in 2014, I wrote and illustrated a small eight page quarter-size mini comic called TURNPIKE. It featured a nameless ‘homeless guy’ and a lonely teenager named Julie. The story evolved from those few scribbled down notes into a story.
I received a lot of good feedback about that minicomic. One cartoonist I respect a great deal told me it was very good and ‘indicative of a larger story.’
That got my wheels turning in the weeks afterward, and in 2015 I put together a proposal for a graphic novel called NEVER FORGET TO REMEMBER.
It connected the two main characters in TURNPIKE and expanded on some of the themes and visual elements. I included the first ten finished pages of the book, as well as a synopsis, character descriptions, character designs, and a cover mockup.
It all started as a few hastily-scribbled sentences in a notebook, and soon evolved into a real project. NBM responded favorably and the title was eventually changed to PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN.
I’m looking forward to Invincible Days coming out this week. I wrote this book over a period of about 10 years so there are a lot of stories that didn’t make the cut. These are supplemental pages that I could quite fit in due to pacing issues. The book is divided into 4 sections each themed on a particular season. It is about growing up I use the change of seasons as a metaphor for the passage of time and the death of childhood.
INVINCIBLE DAYS by Patrick Atangan – in stores soon!