Overtures: the Graphic Novel

Saturday, March 21, 2009

So, among the numerous personal projects that I fantasize about completing one day, I have a graphic novel in the works.
It is a joint project between a friend of mine, Tom, and myself. Tom is a writer, and has created a wonderful little fantasy setting dubbed "Altair." He wrote a spiffy story that takes place in the Altair setting, and I liked it so much that I wanted to make a graphic novel of it.
The project has created an interestingly symbiotic working relationship between Tom and I. While Tom has taken up the title of "Writer" and I've taken up the title of "Artist," we've got the tips of our fingers in one another's pies, so to speak. Tom created the setting, plot, and characters, while I brought to life the story's protagonist, Flynn, whose existence forced the events of the story to change slightly. At the same time, Tom's descriptions of places, things and people is the driving force behind my designs, and he continues to give me feedback as we develop the visuals for the graphic novel. Collaboration is awesome!
Anyway, the comic is part fantasy, part historical fiction, part political adventure.
The story follows our hero, Flynn, who unwittingly walks into the palace of Éndora just as a heinous series of events is about to take place! Distrusted by many of his fellow politicians due to his country of origin, can Flynn gain the allies necessary to untangle the already well-established web of deceit that is about to encapture them all? You can find out, but only in...

... Okay, I've had my fun now - back to business.
Below are descriptions and development sketches for a number of the characters in the story. Not all of them are huge players in the plot, but nonetheless add to the setting.
Flynn comes to the palace of Éndora in hopes of patching up the poor relations between his race (the Changelings) and... Well, pretty much all of the human race. Generally well-meaning and friendly, he does have a bad habit of coming off as a clown from time to time.

An extremely charismatic man from the Island States, Sveringen is one of those fellows who puts up an excellent front, but still leaves you feeling a little on-edge. Was the last thing he said a complement or an insult; a simple stating of the facts, or a hint of things to come? Only he can tell.

Sveringen's secretary of sorts. He's small, shy, and afraid that everyone is out to make his life miserable - the matyr-like star of his own drama. Having previously lived and worked in a monestary, Drummond finds secular life unpleasant at best.

Originally intended as a caricature drawn just for laughs, this drawing of Drummond eventually became the basis for Overture's character design.

A sly gypsy woman and Sveringen's "maidservant"... That's about all anyone knows of her, really.

Assigned to work for Sveringen by his uncle, Bruno acts as a body guard and "muscle." He is rather well-known for his excellence on the battlefield, but has a personality rather unfitting for a man of violence.

A long-time veteran of the political game, Logan acts as Ambassador for the people of Branduin. He has assigned his daughter, Lillian, as his secretary, so that she might gain the knoweldge and know-how to become Branduin's next Ambassador. He and Sveringen are at odds with each other, though they both put up a front to suggest otherwise.

Daughter and secretary to Logan, the Ambassador of Branduin, Lillian is just a sharp young woman trying to find her way in the world. Though very loving and caring of her father, she probably sometimes wishes he'd worry about her a little less.

A Baroness from Ardendora, Bianca has the interesting conflict of wishing to be the top social butterfly of the court while stimultaneously realizing how silly and preposterous it all is. Deceptively elegant, she's likely to get one past you if you don't keep an eye on her.

Duke of Ninendora. He has a cat-like aloofness, and has no qualms with using his perceived social status to get what he wants. Though supposedly courting Speranza, the most popular lady of the court, he seems questioningly disinterested in her - and all other women.

Ambassador of Tundrad, a strongly theocratic country. Naturally, he is a very pious man, and will find the culture of Éndora's court to be quite a shocker. Though quick to point out the morals faults of the severe self-indulgence that is courtly life, he never comes off as unfriendly.

Here are some random odds and ends, and the beginnings of wardrobe design.

Two line-ups showing the change in style that happened after the Drummond caricature changed the direction of character design. The top shows the old, less exaggerated style; the bottom the new, more 'toony style.

An attempt to tell, through images alone, that Drummond, who is easily the shortest human member of the cast, has finally seen someone inside the palace that is shorter than himself. I'd like to insert this gag into the graphic novel, but the delivery needs work - I don't think it "reads."

Freelance - with an Emphasis on the "Free"

Yeah, so... I did some freelance for a guy wanting to create a television show based off a product he created.

Unfortunately, he ran off with the $1,300 he owed me after I created a great deal of artwork (noob mistake on my part - should have had a signed contract before doing anything.) However, there is a silver lining to this otherwise dark cloud: I never signed a Non-disclosure, Work for Hire, etc.

Hellooooo portfolio pieces!

He had some pre-existing artwork from another artist (whom he mysteriously lost contact with), and asked me to translate the currently "Nick Jr."-like art into something for a slightly older audience.

Here are some sketches and a color illustration of the main character:

I think he was also considering the idea of redesigning the main character's "body" or something like that, so I did some thumbnail sketches for ideas:

Extra Ketchup

Apparently, I need to schedule myself to post something at least once a week on this thing... Otherwise, I'll keep having months between posts. Argh.

Anyhoo, I went through the ol' computer, and found some things I can share from the months past.

First up, Olivia's Weekly Sketch Challenge. A buddy of mine from school ran a weekly sketch challenge on Deviant Art from November '08 to January '09. Each week, she would give us an "assignment," and we would have to create a sketch based on it.

Week 1: Draw yourself as a Steampunk character.

Week 2: Pick a song, listen to it, and draw what comes to mind. ("Cheatin' on the Church" by Graveyard BBQ)

Week 3: Draw a recent dream, or one you remember from the past.

Week 4: Draw a scene from a book. ("The Cyberiad" by Stanislaw Lem.)

Week 5: Draw an evil version of yourself. (Beware of Lady Lederhosen!)

Week 6: Design a monster using things around you as inspiration. (I was eating cheesecake at the time.)

Week 7: Design a character that represents an emotion. (I did three... It was too fun to stop at one.)

Week 8: Draw your pet as a human. (My old, jumpy, arthritic cat, Blanco.)

Week 9: Draw something in celebration of the up-coming Chinese New Year! Must contain an Ox, since this year will be a year of the ox. (I added Old Man Rat to represent the past year.)

Week 10: Draw yourself with your favorite cartoon character, doing an activity that the character normally does. (I don't have a favorite, so I picked one of my favorites at random: Ren from "Ren & Stimpy.")

It was really, really fun. I'm thinking it would be great to get a group of people together to do this ALL the time. Each week, everyone would submit an assignment, and then one would be pulled at random to do that week. It'd be awesome!