I just finished the last of the Harry Potter books this Friday (there will be no spoilers here so no worries) and as I approached the last page it became difficult to imagine that this would be the last time that I would hear from Harry, Ron, and Hermione with whom I felt as though I have spent the last seven years trapsing around Hogwarts, learning spells and fighting off Death Eaters. My reaction was one of sadness as the journey finally came to a close and I think that makes sense.
JK Rowling created a world filled with such rich detail and wonderful people, that its almost impossible not to become immersed in it. Rowling shows her ability as a storyteller by creating a world so seamlessly that the reader is no longer focused on the form the author has chosen to use to convey the message but becomes so involved in the story that they feel as though they have walked amongst the characters and know them personally. The feeling of closeness to the characters runs throughout Rowling's books so much so that I almost feel a loss as though I will be losing connection with people that feel as though they were once friends of mine. Its rare that a book, much a less a series of books is able to allow its audience to capture this feeling and its this quality that continues to draw readers to these books and really enables them to succeed as more than just children's stories but as works of art.
As a person drawn to the art of storytelling I find these books to be very inspiring and yet also sometimes a source of huge intimidation. I look at these books and think about the characters and their interactions and the human-ness that feels like it oozes off the page and I want to create something like it, something that will grab readers and capture their thoughts and emotions. At the same time I am torn with the idea of not wanting to create a derivative work but create something unique, something never experienced before and the enormity of that task. Either way Harry Potter has left me with a lot to think about, but mostly I find myself deeply appreciative to JK Rowling for allowing me to share in these Hogwarts adventures.


Page 9 (a different perspective)

Last weekend I meet with Judy Zachs, the person who sponsored the grant that enabled me to pursue this project. It was great to get to meet her in person after having so many great conversations with her on the phone. During our meeting I received one of the best critiques I have ever gotten from her and she is not what some would call "traditionally artistically trained." I was showing her my rough draft to illustrate how far my finals had come and she pointed out that she liked the raw quality and the emotional feeling of the rough pencil sketches. The final pieces felt flat to her. When she pointed it out I saw it immediately.


Page 7

This page is a good example of the silent scenes that I mentioned before. Its tough attempting to create scenes that can stand alone without dialogue and still say something specific.


Mixed Feelings

Page six was a strange one for me. I was the most motivated to draw the first panel and every other panel suffered as a result. As I created the book I chose not to draw the pages in the order that they would appear in the book so that the quality of the content would not appear to shift as the reader approached the back of the book. I drew this page during the beginning stages of the creation of the book. At that point I hadn't learned that it was not only important to vary the order of the pages I drew so that the sequence in which I drew them wouldn't be painfully evident but it was also important to vary the order in which I drew the panels as well. Either way I think the page is a bit uneven.

Also as promised here is one of the reference photos I took to help in drawing the railroad bridge.



As you may have noticed its been almost two weeks since my last post. There are two reasons for this: Moving to a new apartment which doesn't have internet access yet, and getting married. Big life changes=no posts. Hopefully we will have internet access at the apartment by the end of the day and then I will be able to make with the images. Once we have internet again, it is my goal to post at least something everyday or two so keep checking back.


A New Experience

This was the first page in the book that I colored. It was an interesting experience because I had never used a pen tablet to color before. Until last year I colored in photoshop the low budget mouse way.



Originally I was planning on posting some of the photo references I used for the railroad bridge and forest but right now I am in the process of moving and thus don't have access to my external hard drive so the reference shots will have to wait. Instead I will mention something about the rules I set for myself that I used as parameters for creating these pages.

Here are some of my previously unspoken parameters in no particular hierarchical order:
1. No thought bubbles or narration.
A few months before I began to work on "Sour Grape Candy" I had worked on an autobiographical comic about faith for my senior year illustration project. Looking back on it just about every page had large blocks of narrative text. This ended up saving me a lot of drawing time which was absolutely necessary due to the extremely tight deadlines I was pressing up against. The trouble was that it slowed the read significantly and in some ways took away from the overall experience. This was pretty frustrating to me so I decided to focus on writing dialogue and selecting imagery that would enable the scenes to stand without the 'know it all' 3rd person explanation.

2. No black shadows.
The story doesn't have a lot of emotional high highs and low lows it seeks to stay much more in the mid range and I wanted the feel of the pages to mirror that so really contrasty compositions and heavy black shapes were out.

3. Always reference reality.
Drawing is one of those things that I am alright at with reference. Without it my characters often look ridgid and uninspired. Some people can create fantastic realistic looking scenes straight from their heads, I am not one of them.