UPDATE: 1.31.10

Aaaaaaaand… color.

This two-week system is not really the best, I have to admit.  Frankly, it’s taking some of the fun out of the whole thing, because each page is getting labored over for twice as long, and though the quality of the drawing has improved slightly, it’s losing some of the spontaneity I’d hoped to maintain.  So I’m going to try to get the next one out all in one week, to see how it feels.  And this will be zero to sixty this time, as I have NO idea whatsoever how the next page should look, only where the story has to be by the end of it.  It’s a very odd, seat-of-the-pants kind of writing that I’m not used to, but which I’m rather enjoying overall – it’s only when I stop, or take too long on any one part, that it stops being fun.

Now on the point of the overall storyline, we’re quickly drawing to a close on chapter one.  There’s still a lot of action left in the chapter, I assure you, but it’s at the point now where my mind is starting to turn to “the next step,” vis-a-vis editing, printing, etc.  This project is, overall, an exercise for me in how to actually complete a graphic work like this, which I’ve never done at length before.  In that sense, whatever I produce will be a success, as long as it’s actually finished.  However, as I’ve never done this before, I’m still working out my procedures as I go.  The plan at present is self-publication, likeliest online, and I’ll try to punt the thing at comics conventions or whatever, try to gain readership.

However, people have begun to ask me how I plan to actually sell a book if I’m giving it away for free online, one page at a time.  Well, frankly, the answer to that is twofold.  First, I’m not really aiming for this to be a huge commerical success.  That may not be savvy of me to admit, but there it is.  It’s an exercise for me in story, art, technique, and process.  However, this does lead to the second part of the answer, which is this: what you see online will be different from what goes into print.  The print version of 6-Commando will be fully remastered, with updated, edited and refined artwork at resolutions not seen online.  Some chapters will receive special “director’s cuts,” with extra pages never before seen.  And there will of course be additional bonus material that will ONLY appear in print: sketchbooks, full glossaries, background material, maps, technical information on the vehicles,  full, step-by-step “director’s commentary.”  So I think that, as an item, the book itself will have a level of desirability that elevates it above the simple web-based version.  And of course, as mentioned by some posters here,  in book form, you’ll be able to see the whole story as it was intended to be seen and read, in a way that no online presentation can match.

As of now, I’m of two minds whether I’ll release each chapter individually, or if I’ll set them in pairs, or if I’ll even wait and only release the whole book.  I may even do some combination of the above, but that will depend on the economics of printing, and the demand.  So we’ll see.  But I do have it in mind.  And as this chapter moves towards its exciting conclusion (nothing like cinematic hyberbole, huh?) I’m compiling a serious list of edits to be made prior to print.  Whether I’ll take a hiatus to fully edit the first chapter or whether I’ll try both the edit the previous and move forward with chapter two at the same time remains to be seen, though I incline towards the latter.

In any event, one last thing: I have one gracious offer of guest art for posting here during my hiatus at the end of this month.  I’ll get into specifics later, but this is just to say a preliminary “thank you,” and to remind all readers that one slot is still open, and all are welcome!  So contact me!  Really!  For real!

Be well, folks, and I’ll see you next week!

[Original Post: 1.25.10] What I wouldn’t give for a 36-hour day.

Yes, another week and another black-and-white update.  Things have gotten incredibly busy at work and I’m rusing around trying to tie up loose ends for this trip I’m taking next month, so we’re still not back up to my ideal one-page-per-week.  But the project keeps rolling along, and so do the tanks!  And as to this point, I have a special announcement to make, but in the tradition of the evening news, I’m not going to make it until the END of this little blog-o-matic of mine this week!  So read on!  Or scroll to the bottom.  Whichever.

At any rate.

This page and the preceding one were really great fun to draw, I have to admit, and they really just fell in place pretty much exactly as I wanted them to.  They stand in contrast to compromise pages like pages 10 and 11, which are first on the block for redrawing when editing time rolls around.  The UNA tanks on this page look pretty intense, grinding through the underbrush, and Colonel Haulley has found his level artistically in this last panel, which really came out just right with the foreshortening and the expression and everything.  Granted, it’s still, in the greater scheme of things, sloppy hackwork done with magic markers, but as we’re over halfway through chapter 1, I feel a certain momentum I’ve always wanted to feel with a project like this, and it’s really getting to be fun.

Overcoming one’s own doldrums is the biggest challenge in comic art, I believe.  You tend to be your own biggest critic, to use the cliché, and in the end my biggest lesson in this has been in how to let something be and just move on.  “The whole project does not hinge on a single panel,” I keep having to tell myself.  ”You can go back and fix it later.  Just keep going.”  I actually weighed in on this subject over at another comic artist’s page, Project Waldo, by Nate Simpson.  The guy’s work is super-terriffic, by the way, but epitomizes the “own biggest critic” syndrome with his latest post, Phase One: In Which Doris Gets Her OatsIn it, he unnecessarily tears down his own spectacular early work and analyzes what he “did wrong.”

Wrong?  Nate, please.

But it just goes to show you, we all have our moments of artistic vulnerability.  Comic art in particular is a very involved and very personal kind of artform because it has to be done in such a personal vacuum, and you never really know if you’re creating something poingant and insightful, or just adding to the trash-heap of junk literature until the story is done.  Not to mention the fact that in every drawing there’s always a moment of terror when it seems that you’ve totally ruined a proper idea, and the only thing to keep you from tearing up the paper and forgetting the whole thing is your own sense of passion and self-control.

Ah, well.  We all have our ways.

Now, if you’ve read this far, you are either very polite to have waded through my chatter, or have scrolled here directly to see my special announcement.  And here it is: I NEED SOME GUEST ART!

While I’m in Switzerland for two weeks next month, I’ll once again be in need of some side-art to fill the gap, just so this site doesn’t go totally kaput while I’m away.  On this point, I’m very easy to work with: Joost was already kind enough to fill the gap for a week back in October, and I loved his take on the story and characters tremendously; hopefully he can vouch for my openmindedness and desire to completely avoid railroading people who are doing me such a favor!

Now, I don’t know who among you who read this comic are artistically inclined in any way, but please – I’d love a little help on this!  And as an inveterate Capitalist, I have no desire to ask for somthing for nothing.  I am unable to actually commission work for money, but as a little incentive, I will make THIS astounding and super-cool offer:

If you produce a piece of guest art for 6-Commando that I subsequently use for one or both of the posts to be dated 22 February and 1 March 2010, I will give you an official cameo appearance in 6-Commando, in the affiliation of your choice (UNA, FSR or CONASUR)!  Think how cool!  You’ll be a part of the science fiction world of 6-Commando!  And when it goes to print, you will also get an official byline in the credits, indicating your location in the story and expressing my heartfelt thanks for your support and comraderie.

So there it is, guys!  Maybe no-one will bite, and we’ll go dark for two weeks.  Or maybe, MAYBE, we’ll have a super-special guest artist who will then be part of 6-Commando history!  I hope the latter!  So get those pencils moving, and shoot me a message posthaste!

See you in a week, with color, rants, raves, and more unbridled enthusiasm!

Oh, and P.S.: Since Joost already did this bit for free back in October, he already gets a cameo!  It’s coming up soon, fella, so keep an eye out for it!  Not to say I wouldn’t love another bit of guest art, if you’re up for it, but just that you already WON the prize!