Like I wrote in my last post, HowlCon was cancelled so I got just back to work on my book. If you haven’t heard me mention my book before, it’s a Christmas children’s book that I have written and illustrated myself called Kris & Krampus Kringle. I came up with the basic idea for the story sometime back in 2013, but I didn’t actually start with the writing of the manuscript or any of the illustrations until January 2015–so pretty much exactly one year ago now. Despite being freshly moved to a brand new state on the other side of the country and all of the adjustments that inevitably follow, and also working full-time at Trader Joe’s until the end of 2015 (a job that can really suck out all of you energy), AND all of the other random weekend trips and vacations, costumes, commissions, and other weird projects and events that I’m forever interrupting my life with, I still managed to get quite a lot done on my book in just one year. The manuscript is nearing its final proofreading stage, the storyboard sketches for each page have long been figured out, and I’m currently on around page 25 of the final illustrations. It’s a classic 32 page book, however as you might have realized with other children’s books not every single page is illustrated, and once you count all the publishing info, title pages and end papers the first actual page of the story with illustrations doesn’t really start until like pages 4-5.
Oh, and a little disclaimer–I do know that as far as the traditional children’s book illustrating process goes, you are TOTALLY NOT supposed to illustrate a book from start to finish completing each final illustration one after the other. I know that it’s supposed to go something like read the manuscript, figure out the pacing and the rhythm of the story by plotting out each page of illustration and text on a storyboard, rearrange and edit everything as needed, take a long time designing specific elements and especially the main characters, draw out each page as many rough sketches, which eventually morph into a few tighter, more detailed sketches, which then maybe can eventually form a dummy book and then the final illustrations if they are very lucky…and then redo and revise everything all over again. I’m somewhat familiar with the real process and once made a dummy book of another one of my stories as part of a college course to learn about how its done and to know what you would submit a publisher if you were doing that whole thing. Still, for some odd reason working on this book has caused me to just throw most of my prior knowledge out the window and go with whatever felt right. For instance, using this same example that I know I’ve used before in a previous post: when designing each of the three main characters in my story, Kris Kringle, Krampus Kringle, and Mama Kringle, I drew each of them just once and knew that they were absolutely perfect just the way that they were. I inked and colored them in without screwing them up. I am using the very first drawing as final illustrations in the very beginning of the story. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen, and probably will never, ever, happen to me again. I’m definitely not complaining; in fact I’m doing just the opposite. I’m just going to roll with it and make this book like it wants to be made.
It certainly helps that at the end of the day, I can do whatever I want because plan on self-publishing my book. I figure this way I can guarantee its release date without having to wait on anyone besides myself to finish it, and also I can maintain complete artistic control. As it will be my first published book I have likened it to my weird “debut album” as a new artist, something that holds the express purpose of showing everyone what I’m all about, a portfolio piece or a personal showcase I suppose. I’m still open to the idea of shopping around for publishers and will probably be doing some of that this year…if nothing else it probably couldn’t hurt to introduce myself to some people and possibly meet up with some illustrators agents along the way. A finished book might help me to get future work or just show people what sort of thing I am capable of. Mostly though, I just want this story to be told already and I don’t want to have to wait for it any longer. I actually tried my best to publish it this past Christmas but found that it was not possible with my workload and the time it takes for the book printing and distribution process to commence once everything is finalized. I’m now shooting for Fall of this year at the absolute latest. So anyway…without further ado, here’s a few in-progress pictures I took in my art room over the weekend!
The latest page on my desk, surrounded by previous pages for reference:
I’ve taped it off like that because this page is going to be arranged in four comic book style panels. Because of the way the tape happened to be set up in the beginning, I went ahead and finished the first panel on the top left before adjusting the tape border and starting on the next panel. When the above photo was taken I had just finished the pencil drawing and started inking over the lines.
Here it is after I finished inking that panel:
And here’s one last picture once I colored and finished that second panel:
Stay tuned…the other two panels, and some more in progress illustration photos are coming soon!