G A N Z E E R . T O D A Y

What I mean when I say that THE SOLAR GRID fits nicely on the shelf alongside other books that aren't comicbooks. Fully acknowledging that saddle-stitched pamphlets aren't designed to sit on shelves at all, but that's why they are to be released in a boxed set collecting all 10 issues upon completion, in addition to a hardback compendium also produced in a 6”x9” package (the nature of hardback production though would make it sit at a slightly larger size, probably closeish to the size of that Pauline Kael book).

Over the past 6 some years that I've been working on THE SOLAR GRID, ideas for new stories constantly announce themselves. My response to which is to violently kick them out after making note of their appearance. And literally all the ideas are these tedious longform things and as much as I love working on THE SOLAR GRID, I'd really like to avoid trapping myself in another longform thing and instead land on a format better tailored to my way of being. So I've been looking at shorter things for a while as a way to try and unlock the structure of short episodic storytelling that can simultaneously comprise longish narratives.

Archie Goodwin & Walter Simonson's MANHUNTER is told in 8-page episodes, each largely self-contained. They condense a lot in each page, which is not ideal for the 6”x9” format I prefer, but still there is much to learn from what they are able to accomplish.

STRANGE DAYS by Milligan, McCarthy, and Ewins runs three 8-page episodic features of unhinged absurd imagination, none of which are quite self-contained enough though.

MIRACLEMAN by Alan Moore and Garry Leach also works in 8-page chapters. Not at all self-contained and wordy as fuck, but within this structure they basically create the formula for every single realistic/deconstructive/reinvented superhero comic that has existed since.

(V FOR VENDETTA also works in 8-page chapters if I recall. Which reminds me I ought to re-acquire a copy.)

Adrian Tomine's THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE CARTOONIST is told in self-contained vignettes of [mostly] 4, 6, and 8 pages. Each can be enjoyed as its own little mini-comic. Bound together in a single volume, it becomes a story of a cartoonist's life from childhood to middle age.

Each volume of Randy DuBurke's HUNTER'S HEART is 94 pages. If it were to be produced annually, that's 7.8 pages a month, let's say 8 pages. Which is 2 pages a week. Very doable.

There's a sweet spot between all the above that I'd love to tap into. A story of unhinged imagination told in self-contained 8-page episodes. Twelve months later, they are bound together in a 96-page book that miraculously tells one longer narrative.

#ComixEngine

Original art boards for THE SOLAR GRID #1's print edition cover:

The composition of the entire thing is very much informed by the underlying grid I have in place, which gives the entire wraparound cover its balance, with room for the “cover dress” anticipated from the get go, since it was actually “designed” before I even conceived of any of the cover art (see posts from Aug 30, 2020 and Sep. 1, 20202).

I will happily employ digital aids where necessary, while relying on traditional techniques where it matters, and I think it shows with how I approached this cover art.

Take for example the Safety First guys lined up behind Sharif Algebri. Poses all identical, could have drawn just the one and copied and pasted the rest in photoshop, but I knew the small unintentional variations in lineart would lend a kind of quiet dynamism to the final illustration, which I felt would be necessary for what is ostensibly a very “still” cover.

The newspaper text that kinda blends in with the lineart there. Again, another thing that would've been a real time-saver to do on my computer, but... if you look at the printed cover, you'll notice that bit of text sits rather closeish to all the “proper” typography of the cover dress.

A good way to differentiate the cover dress's typography from any other typography is to employ an entirely different “medium” in its creation, hence opting to go the hand-drawn-with-ink-on-paper route for the typographic elements that are essentially part of the cover illustration.

For the poster behind the feline figure, I decided to go ahead and print a miniature poster and paste it right on the board. This to give it a real pasted-up feel, which you can see affected the mark-making around its edges. And also, you see the little bits of poster illustration that are coming through the ink strokes for the cat fur? You can't see it so clearly in the final printed product, but you do see something, and it almost makes you want to scratch it off to see what's under. It's an effect you can't quite draw with any intentionality, and is purely the result of analogue “collaging”.

The fade on Mehret within the gun smoke was done digitally, because digitally does it better.

Same for the benday gradient taking up the bottom half of the cover and the shopping cart icon on the bottom left-hand corner of the front cover. As well as the Skyquench towers behind Algebri because they needed to be extra clean, accurate, and identical, like contemporary architectural blueprints. And also white, all of which Adobe Illustrator does better than analog.

Here are the boards compared to the final printed product.

I draw on 11”x17” Bristol Boards, but the comix themselves are printed at 6”x9”, smaller than the traditional comic but I've always imagined it that way. Makes for a handier, more intimate read, and not out of place with most other books of fiction on the shelf, with 6'x9' being the most common standard. Both the level of detail in the art as well as amount of text per page account for this size difference.

#work #comix #TheSolarGrid

Whenever a particular architectural feature catches my fancy, I make note of it, just in case I'd like to put it to use if ever in a situation to build my own abode (which likely means the thing will end up looking like an eclectic nightmare). In this particular case, it is the glass brick floor sections in a single screenshot from a new Gerard Depardieu film that Warren Ellis made note of on his blog for completely other reasons.

I run the image through my Rollo Wireless, a thermal label printer (I typically use for shipping labels) which automagically gives it the kind of stark black and white treatment I wish my drawing looked like, and stick it in my journal (no glue necessary, the label is already a sticker).

Inbox and feed-catcher both at zero. A cool breeze gently huffs through the office window on this bright sunny morning and a red jay announces its arrival at the birdfeeder outside. On the docket today are two TSG pages worth of inking, a couple emails, and beet kofta to cook later in the afternoon. Must also remember to step away for a little exercise in addition to a quick stop by my chiropractor, who is a short 10 minute bike ride away.

Already at the drawing table with cappuccino in hand and generic “coffee & jazz” instrumentals playing the background. It's that kinda day.

#journal

Also, in the back of same journal, where I utilized a bunch of pages for working out some TSG stuff:

Rough cover art/design for the printed edition of THE SOLAR GRID #1. Here it is alongside the actual produced version:

Pretty close.

#journal #comix #TheSolarGrid

Since posting about my “journaling” practice (it's not actually journaling, not in the traditional sense), many have wrote to tell me how they'd love to take a peek through some of my journals (sick voyeurs). I am but here to please; here's a look at my journal from November 2017 to 2019:

#journal

“And the strangest thing about the nightmare street was that none of the millions of things for sale were made there. They were only sold there. Where were the workshops, the factories, where were the farmers, the craftsmen, the miners, the weavers, the chemists, the carvers, the dyers, the designers, the machinists, where were the hands, the people who made? Out of sight, somewhere else. Behind walls. All the people in all the shops were either buyers or sellers. They had no relation to the things but that of possession.”

As much as I enjoy seeing Ursula K. Le Guin rip Capitalism to shreds, her prose has failed to captivate me. At least as far as THE DISPOSSESSED is concerned. 139 pages in so far, and I care not for a single character or any of the events that might transpire, which is a good reminder that ethos alone—however important it may be—is never enough to fully carry a narrative.

Still, there are a great many nuggets sprinkled throughout:

“To make a thief, make an owner; to create crime, create laws.”

#reads

Rome, September last year if I recall. Laura Mega conceived and curated this project in collaboration with Maurita Cardone and Chiara Mannarino. They called it DREAMERS and it included the work of over 40 artists in projections set up at multiple locations around the world.

Only now just got around to uploading a couple pics to Ganzeer.com, because I've been graphic-noveling and thus braincells are switching off too many too soon.

#journal #work

From Le Guin's THE DISPOSESSED:

“Sabul had ceased to be a functioning physicist years ago; his high reputation was built on expropriations from other minds. Shevek was to do the thinking, and Sabul would take the credit.”

And then later:

“Shevek's career, like the existence of his society, depended on the continuance of a fundamental unadmitted profit contract.”

There's a high concept nugget of a story there. An analogy for the rebellious independence of a small nation state from the tentacles of colonialism told through the microcosm of a post-graduate “rebellion” within a university setting.

Le Guin's story isn't that, but that would be a story worth telling, as it is my understanding that much of how universities operate is in need of complete reimagining.

I wouldn't be the one to tell it though. This would require the expertise of someone neck deep in university life and that ain't me.

#journal #reads

After a few days of thick impenetrable air, the skies have finally opened up this morning and the sun shines through. Though I am inside with two TSG pages worth of inks on the docket for today.

I am however resolved to step outside with a book at some point, and maybe even fit in some exercise and a visit to my chiropractor (it's been a couple weeks, not cool).

I need to get into the habit of treating my day the way I would a physical space. Like say, a closet or piece of luggage. It has a very particular capacity. Stuff it too much, and it just won't work.

#journal #work #comix #thesolargrid

Mystery Spring Packs packed and out to the post office. It is just after 4:00pm here, a little dead as a result of starting my day at 7:00am despite ending last “night” at 3:00am.

I've been graphic-noveling.

Prison Chart (a method I only recently picked up from Dave Gibbons' WATCHING THE WATCHMEN) tells me I am 7 pages away from wrapping up inks on this chapter.

But then there's scanning, lettering, and even coloring in some parts.

But after that I will only be 3 chapters away from finishing THE SOLAR GRID for good.

#journal #work

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