From art block to comic launch

Today I share some exciting news and I will talk about what is next for Pencils & Stories.com

Recollection City launch

Recollection City, my fantastical adventure comic about friendship and stepping up and taking the risk of being seen and making decisions, is finally online! You can read the first five pages here and after this week I will upload it every Monday with a new page!

Five years ago I was stuck in a huge art block. I didn’t draw, couldn’t write… I had always made stories but it seemed that ability had dried up. But the passion for story, and the dream of telling my own and starting a webcomic was not over. It was eating at me.

Slowly getting back up

Then, in 2012 I found the Oatley Academy. I gained new insights, learned about how to properly build up an image. Learned about visual storytelling. And most important, maybe: I connected to other artists and learned that my feelings were normal. And everyone struggles with this from time to time. A friend encouraged me to start blogging and I started pencilsandstories.com.

I let go of the story that was giving me so much trouble. I found a new one, a story that got me excited again and that I wanted to make without all the pressure, and in a setting that I loved. Recollection City began to form in my head, and on paper. I got new ideas. A fresh start turned out to be just what I needed.

First beginnings

When I started making the pages I was so rusty. I had a blank page on which, somehow, a comic page was supposed to form. Over the course of weeks, maybe even months, I build a list of specifics: size, fonts, gutter thickness, brushes, colouring styles, how crazy you will go with panel shapes etc. There is a lot to think about and research and you will tweak a lot as you go on. It can feel like you’re swimming but you don’t really know what you are doing. But eventually all these things are decided and ironed out and the process will go faster. As a fellow comic artist told me: “the awkwardness will go away.” And she was right.

Rinse and repeat. Step after step. The first page took weeks. The first panel took hours upon hours to make. And I have tweaked that page many times since. But the last page I have done at this moment only took a day in total. (Spread over a few days)

Launching

So step by step I continued, always focusing only on the next action and slowly but surely the pages were made. The prologue got finished, then the cover of the first chapter, then the first scene. I am almost done with scene 2 to 4. And today arrived, I was ready to launch.

A year ago I wanted to have a date to launch on to give myself some time pressure to work on a buffer of pages and to see if I could really finish one page a week.

I picked today for a special reason as well. Not only is it pretty (17-7-’17) and on a Monday even, (my preferred update day), but my father, who passed away in 2010, would have been 75 years old today. I thought it would be a nice way to honour him a little with this, as I’m sure he would have loved this undertaking.

My online comic, the dream that started years ago, has finally become a reality. It is now online for people to read on a brand new website, and I have a buffer of pages. If you want to be kept in the loop of the progress and receive free behind the scenes material, like sketches, concept art, a video about making the first five pages and a preview of chapter one, consider subscribing my email list and these free files will be send to you!

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The future of Pencils and Stories.com

I know the making of the comic meant that the blog was put on hold. But in the years of making the comic I have learned a lot about making bigger personal projects, how to stay focused, how to truly work at something. And now I am much clearer on what I want to do with this blog and what kind of message I want to spread. After the Recollection City launch and after I have settled into my new workflow of updating and promotion I will start focusing on relaunching the Pencils & Stories blog.

The idea is this: share ideas on how to take small steps to more creativity so you can overcome roadblocks, grow your confidence and productivity and finish the projects you undertake.

And how can I talk about projects if I’m not doing them myself? This is why I think the combination of comic and blog will be mutually beneficial. I can share what I have learned over the years and I can remind myself of the things I learned when I am making comic pages, haha.

I will keep my email list subscribers in the loop of what happens here as well. Here is the link to sign up for that again.

Follow the journey of the brand new Recollection City comic. But also stay tuned here, because the Pencils & Stories blog is next!

 In the comments, please share: what is your biggest struggle when working on your personal projects?

2 comments

  1. Smar says:

    Super inspiring as always!
    Congrats on the launch! :’D
    How did you manage to just work on the next step without all of them coming to overwhelm you all at once? I have so much trouble with this. I keep thinking of everything at once and it gets too much so I end up overwhelmed and unable to make the next step x_x Or what ends up happening is that working on one aspect feels like “cheating” because I’m not working on another. Even good planning can be a trap, if you keep planning and not actually working (and then have all the disappointment that things didn’t turn out as planned. Did you have setbacks like that?

    • Hi Smaragda! Thanks for commenting and thanks for the congrats! 😀
      Oh, yes I used to have this problem all the time. I recognize it well. It’s partly what kept me from creating for so long….the overwhelm! And then doing nothing. And then beating yourself up that you’re not doing anything.
      I am now more aware of my own pitfalls, I recognize better when I am overwhelmed and need to take action on that. And I have a method that works well for me if I stop and think about things for a little while. (This doesn’t have to take long, sometimes 10 minutes is enough) I grab a sheet of paper and write down all the things I want or need to do and define some actionable next steps. It’s important to get everything out of your head, or you’ll feel the need to do things as they pop up in your head.
      Then determine what’s the most important. (Some things might feel important but they’re not, or they’re not really the most relevant right now but might be later) This is a hard choice sometimes. Me working on my comic right now means that I can’t work on all the blogpost ideas I have in my head as well. But I found that working on them both at once is cutting both short. So I focus on making comic pages now mostly, and I give that priority over the blog, or social media for example. In the evenings, when I’m tired, I can do those things. You can really do only one thing well at a time, and it helps to know exactly what task is the best to do right now. This counts on a micro level as well. It’s easier for me to do thumbnails or writing and I can subconsiously let that take over instead of focusing on drawing the current page or inking. So I look at my progress chart, say to myself that I have enough thumbnails for now, and I tell myself to go start drawing. That doesn’t mean that I never do tasks that I didn’t need to do now, or that I regret because it seemed like a time saver and it was actually a time suck, later on. I still have that. We all do. Sometimes it just doesn’t work and you waste a day. That’s only human.
      But overall, if you make a consious choice of what you feel like is the best action to take right now, the feeling of “cheating” might be less. But also give yourself a little grace, because we’re not superhumans. No one is, they just look that way sometimes. 🙂 If it helps, I heard Jake Parker talk about his schedule once, this doesn’t work for everyone (I tried it and it’s not totally doable for me), but he sets aside whole days dedicated to just one of his projects. He has a freelance day, a comic day, a social media and email day, etc.
      Working on one thing means, by definition, that you’re not working on other things. And that’s ok.
      What tasks do you have the most trouble with right now? 🙂

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