Following the first two comics I made in the comics course I took at the University of Michigan (see here and here), we had one, final comics assignment — 6 pages again, but with a stronger story and style expected. Now, at first, I was convinced that I would be creating a story about some superhero characters I had been writing regularly about for several years (that’s right, Muse rears its possibly-ugly head as a story that I’ve been playing with since 2002).
The story I imagined would focus on one character named Wayne, who would remember his powers first manifesting in a fatal fight with his dad — while he was presently in the midst of fighting a super-villainess. His not-paying-attention was to end with his best friend getting killed and him flashing back to his past inability to stop bad things from happening.
But that story was not well-fleshed out, so I switched over to another story, about a werewolf who falls in love with an intelligent young woman who then falls for a young sorcerer who then falls for the werewolf. That story would eventually turn into The Great Lakes (which you’ll get to see soon — I promise — after all, Great Bear Month is almost over!), but I took the core idea to my professor, Phoebe.
Who basically pointed out that it was a much longer and overly complex story for 6 pages. She wasn’t sure about the werewolf thing and basically wondered if I didn’t have another story idea — so I brought the superhero thing back. So, I showed her some of the sketches I had already done for that earlier story — and she pointed out that, again, I seemed to be biting off much more than I could feasibly chew. So I randomly mentioned that I’d been thinking about a story where a lesbian couple fights about going to an activist rally — one wants to stay home and the other doesn’t.
Which leads to their relationship falling apart in a very respectful and ultimately kind way.
That was something I felt was lacking from most stories about love — where were the break-ups that people recognized as necessary and that would eventually be, even in retrospect, the right choice?
Well, here is one, for your enjoyment…presenting a few pages of “Tabula Selenographica”
Two things about this page — One, I loved having the blanket be the border for the bottom three panels. Second, see that map of the moon up on top? I used that for a screen-print I made around the same time — but it’s less narrative than visual, so I’m not posting it here — though if there are enough COMMENTS asking for a pic, I’ll be happy to oblige by adding it to this post….
Anyway, here’s the second page, which I really enjoyed making — especially having the washes help to define the speech bubbles as they appear over the white bed sheets.
A friend and mentor/role model would point out many years later that this story has a really nice sense of mood, but it’s not clear where these characters are — and place is a really important thing. At the time, I wanted the story to be really general — but in retrospect, I’d have specified the protest, where it would be, and added more visual detail.
Granted, on a deadline, I was fairly happy with how it turned out — and I think I really found my visual style (mainly in terms of how I use washes) with this story. Here’s one of the later pages…
I LOVE that BULLSHIT. It’s how I often wish my own words sound in arguments with people. I also love how that bedside table turned out — it originally wasn’t even there! I added it and the photo on it on a whim, and boy, am I glad I did. My favorite part about this story turned out to be the background details — photos of the characters, posters, etc.
The ending is a bit rough, but you’ll have to pick up Empty Pockets Volume 1 — available at Vault of Midnight Comics in Ann Arbor and elsewhere — to find out how the rest of the story goes.
In the next few postings, we’ll get back to Sadie Hawkins (with more illustrations!) and start looking at more recent comics stories.