Early Development of Willie Nelson: A Graphic History

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Early in the pitching and proposal process of Willie Nelson: A Graphic History, the plan was to do every part of the book myself – the writing, drawing, and everything that goes along with that. It’s a daunting and intimidating thing imagining the work that will go into a project before you start it. In 2017 and 2018, the plan was still to do it all on my own. It wasn’t until really feeling truly overwhelmed by it all that I considered bringing collaborators into the mix. I spoke with Terry at NBM, and he suggested I bring in different artists for each chapter – similar to NBM’s recent Beatles biography. This seemed like a great idea to me for a few reasons, but getting to choose collaborators I admired and friends I’d made throughout my career seemed like a great benefit. I could also devote more of my time to writing the script. The rest is history! Graphic History, that is.

Here are some very early art pieces I worked on while developing the project.

For more information on Willie Nelson: A Graphic History, go here.

 

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Start Making

Afterword

I really like webcomics. My favorite part is how much you’re allowed to see the creator grow throughout the lifespan of the comic. That’s not something you get to see in most other mediums. Or, at least, it’s not as obvious. Watching someone master a craft little by little is really inspiring. Being able to, at any time, go back and see how they began was so powerful for me that it’s what got me to start drawing.

In other words: comparing a webcomic’s current art to its art from when it first started is mind-blowing to me. Everyone knows that “practice makes perfect,” but this is proof! Proof in a way that is rarely so easily seen.

19-year-old me saw this. He saw this, and he made his own webcomic.

Here’s my very first comic (with a caption added for my Best of Collection):

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And here is my 1000th comic:

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When I started, I knew I would be terrible. But it was okay! All these artists that I admired so much, these heroes, they were all terrible at first too. Of course, logically I knew that. No one is instantly amazing at something they’ve never done before. Of course! But I had proof. And I have proof.

Making things is hard. Getting started is hard. You know you’re going to be terrible, so why start? The answer is simple. One day you won’t be terrible.

Just look at the proof.

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

I Just Really Like CMYK

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I’m finally learning what my favorite colors are and how to put them together in nice ways!

I’ve always felt that coloring has been my weakest area when it comes to my art. The infinite rainbow of colors is extremely intimidating for me and I lock up when choosing colors for a piece. So I spent the last year practicing, exploring different color combinations, and studying color theory. It still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me but I think I’m getting close to unlocking color’s many secrets!

And I’ll share with you one of those secrets now.

Find your favorite colors.

It took me almost ten years to discover that I very much enjoy the CMYK color palette. I’m a huge nerd for anything even remotely CMYK. I don’t know what it is, but cyan, magenta, and yellow — colors I don’t even really super love on their own — just make me happy when put together. The K stands for black but I actually don’t often use a lot of black in my drawings?

Unless you count the lineart.

Finding a color palette that I absolutely adore has taught me a lot about how colors work. I always have a set of colors that I know will work together and I know how to tweak it to suit my specific needs without breaking it. I cannot emphasize enough how much this helps a person who spends an embarrassing amount of time picking the right shade of green for a tree.

Colors can sometimes be pretty neat, is what I’m saying.

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

So You’re Starting Your First Graphic Novel

I wanted to talk a bit about advice for new cartoonists and I thought I’d be fun to present it as a totally real and in all ways completely genuine interview that definitely happened! Exactly like my now year-old first post here on this blog. Enjoy!

Did you have your book completely written before you started drawing?
Not even close! I had the big bullet points, I knew every major plot hook, location, and character, but I did not have a full script. I’d finalize the scripts for each page as I was drawing them. Dialogue changed right up until it was put in a word balloon. And sometimes after.

I’m worried I’ll burn out halfway through and never finish my book. How do you deal with that?
I spent the last two years doing short stories just to avoid that exact problem! 15 pages is a whole lot more manageable than 150. I totally and completely recommend starting small. Start small, build your confidence and your skills, and slowly work your way up to bigger projects.

What did you do when you were lazy or had art block? What pushed you to get up and draw regardless of your motivation levels?
I think my motivation and work ethic came from updating a webcomic three times a week for nine years. Just funny gag stuff, low pressure, but it forced me to draw at least three times a week. I didn’t want to be that webcomic that missed updates. It held me accountable. And then all of a sudden one day you’re like “woah, I’ve written and drawn over a thousand comics.” As for those nights where I’m Just Not Feeling It, I try to set my expectations a little lower and accomplish something smaller. Maybe I was planning on getting a whole page done, but if all I get tonight is the sketches, that’s all right.

Do you recommend putting your pages online as you finish them?
That’s how I did it but I don’t know if it’s for everyone. I’d do one or two pages a week in order to keep the site updated and I don’t know if the book would have ever gotten done without that self-imposed schedule.

You’ve said before that LOOK took you three years to finish. Was that on and off or full time working on it?
Three years, yes. Drawing one or two pages a week. I did have to put it on hold for a few months somewhere in the middle because I was having a hard time juggling it, the day job, and my gag comic all at the same time. But there was a time where I was putting out five comics a week.

What advice do you have for someone starting their first graphic novel?
Don’t agonize over it being perfect and just start it. Your first comic isn’t going to be as great as it is in your head and that’s okay. It’s all practice and experience for the next thing which will automatically be better.

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

Watch The Making of Pedrosa’s ‘Portugal’

This video made during an exhibition organized by the Alliance Française of Washington around the book Three Shadows (published in the US by First Second). It was especially intended to be viewed by students at the Baltimore MICA Art School. That’s why the captions and commentaries are written in English (an approximate English, corrected in part by the friendly participation of Thomas Delooze).

The book mentioned in this document, Portugal, will be published by NBM this December.

The upcoming series of posts will show some behind-the-scenes images created during the making of Portugal.

#inktober2017

Not too far back I wrote about my first experience with Inktober. To sum up: it was a big deal for me! Drawing and posting one picture a day completely changed the way I work and, by extension, my life.

So when Inktober 2017 came around, I was totally and completely ready for it. For the theme, I thought it’d be cool to do what I did last year and draw every character from the video game Overwatch. So I did!

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Compared to last year’s drawings, I think I improved quite a bit!

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You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

A Visit to The Land of Eternal Clouds

This excerpt shares behind the scenes material from NBM’s The Mercenary remastered editions, available now.  To see all posts, click HERE.

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Here you can see two unpublished panoramas of the Land of Eternal Clouds. They are taken from an illustrated story version of this volume, published in France.

Look closely at the one above because it says many things. To start, it summarizes the first part of the volume that you have just read, but it also reveals, in some way, the size and way of life of this strange country. You can see that it is large and mountainous but has wide plateaus that allow for food to be grown. There are large cities and there is the lighthouse, necessary for nocturnal navigation in a valley full of cliffs and jagged outcroppings. Or the dragon bones that the Mercenary used to construct his glider: strong but hollow to lighten the load of the flying animals.

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Regarding the women of the Cult of the Sacred Fire, we will go a long time without knowing more about them.

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Only in the twelfth volume of the series will we discover that they ran out of gas and fell into a frozen land outside of the Land of Eternal Clouds. They will be near death, but will be able to save themselves at the last minute thanks to the monks from a mysterious underground monastery.

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THE MERCENARY The Definitive Editions Vol.1: The Cult of the Sacred Fire is available now.