“The Writer’s Block” in The Small Picture

It’s official – my one-page comic, “The Writer’s Block” is being published in Manta Ray Comics’ The Small Picture in Mint (India’s second largest and fastest growing financial newspaper) this Friday, today. Now that the story is breaking, you get some inside perspective on the process of creating this little story about the importance of letting the world in when everything seems awful. Too often, we let the rough spots in life define us and ignore all the little miracles — the miracle of being alive, of our friends, our family, and, most prominently in this story, our nonhuman companions and finding time for a good walk.

Here’s the really, really rough draft (and yes, I do sketch in lined notebooks sometimes):

TSP Rough Rough Rough

And here’s the character sketches I did after that:

Character Sketch Woman

Above, our leading lady, and below, the mutt in question.

Character Sketch Dog

After I knew the story had been accepted by Manta Ray, those awesome indie comics people (and publishers) based out of Bangalore, I came up with a better mockup for my own purposes. It’s still rough, as you can see…

TSP Rough Rough

Yep, I’m a messy sketcher — and I tend to have lots of notes, directions, and arrows for how to compose particular panels or pace specific moments. In any case, then came the actual, rough pencils. Here, you can see that a lot is still up in the air, but that I had a basic layout set up.

Stoll SP Really Rough

The main issue I had was that I had imagined piles and piles of books invading the page from the upper left, as symbols of obsessing over all the little details in our everyday lives. But I quickly found the books to be visually distracting and not as important as other visual information. Still, I shifted things a bit for the washes:

SP washed

SP washed 2

Then, came the full inks, with some revisions happening in the process. Notice how the books became prominent again, and the buildings in the cityscape below became a bit more prominent. I kind of oscillated, starting off with those two elements overly dominant, and then pushing them too far into the background, such that I wound up pulling them back into the foreground a bit.

SP Draft 1

After the final page came together, some editing had to happen. Mainly, I had imagined that, in the background, a pedestrian would be hit by an auto rickshaw, reminding the reader that life is randomly brutal, even when we try to take a deep breath — it doesn’t make the breath any less important. But the tiny details didn’t read well, and the point of the story veered away from that detail, so it got cut, as you can see in the final product.

I also had issues when I added in the title bubble and realized I had sized it all wrong. But by using the bubble, I had a fair amount of leeway and photo-shopped a differently sized bubble in to help out. There were also some issues with the text and other small edits, all of this being part and parcel of getting feedback from the awesome folks at Manta Ray pointed out. In any case, things got dealt with as you can see:

TSP Writer's Block 2b

And so it came to be – hope you enjoyed this little step-by-step investigation. And, while you await the next few posts (Yep, Battle #2 and Sadie Hawkins Ch. 6 are coming soon), let me know what you think of the final product in the Comments, eh?


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