Well, she’s stopping alright! More of a crash that an gentle stop, really, but if it works, why not?
During my book week talks (which I am still hoping to screencast some day soon) I mentioned inspirations and works that have influenced me as an artist. I believe that a lot of material that speaks to us artistically or as storytelling pieces, wether we experience them as children or adults, become part of how we are. In that respect, Star Wars has had a big impact on me through the years.
When I was a kid, Star Wars was the forbidden fruit. When my older brothers got to go an see the Empire Strikes Back in the theatre, then came back with awesome stories that made my imagination run wild. All I had for visual reference was the double LP of the Star Wars (that’s A New Hope, officially but it will always be known to me as Star Wars) soundtrack. The LP sleeve was covered with high quality photos on the inside and I spent a few years listening to the music in my brother’s room while imagining what it all looked like on the big screen. By the time we got our first VCR, my brothers got to rent Star Wars and I finally got to see it, I must have been ten. My parents didn’t find out about it until later as of course, me being the “little one”, they were scared I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night!
We got to see Return of the Jedi in theatres in the summer of ’83 while on a trip to the US. Although my english was not very extensive by any means, I was transported to a galaxy far, far away and it fuelled my imagination for years to come.
The prequels came somehow unexpectedly for many fans of my generation. I think we never really thought about the possibility of those movies ever getting made. Star Wars was these three original films, all the events taking place before and after were part of the backstory and helped make the Star Wars universe feel more real. For me, world building is what George Lucas really excels at. There are very few fictional setting movies that offer such a sense of reality to the world the characters live in. Episodes one, two and three continued that tradition of creating a life-like world and really delivered as we got to see the prime of the Republic and the Jedi.
I own every Art of Star Wars book from all six movies and the artwork on display in each is nothing short of extraordinary and inspiring. Ralph McQuarrie, Doug Chiang, Ryan Church and the many, many artists that helped create the Star Wars universe of the years did so with very different artistic styles but they had a common vision, one that was fuelled by Mr. Lucas. Seeing how all these designs and creations evolve over the years is truly inspiring. I always make me want to draw and create worlds of my own. It’s a very peculiar feeling, I never feel I want to create something Star Wars-like; it simply triggers my own imagination and puts me in the right state of mind.
A couple of years back, I was reading reviews of the Art of the Clone Wars book and decide to purchase it. Another very inspiring book, packed with awesome art. I had never watched the show so I didn’t know an awful lot about it. Not so long ago I purchased seasons 1 to 5 on DVD and started watching it with the kids just this week. To my surprise, I’m hooked! It is very different in format and tone from the movies but it is still Star Wars nonetheless. It is both refreshing and inventive while staying true to the world it belongs to.
I love it for the reasons I enjoy all six movies: it’s not the same rehash every time around. Every story tries to tell something new. The prequels were never going to be the same as the original trilogy and gladly, they are not. It’s a bit like music. Certain bands or musicians go through their careers doing the same thing over and over, sticking to what they know or what they are comfortable with and that’s fine. Others go on a journey and explore within a certain style or in a more eclectic manner. I like that moving forward mentality, exploring unchartered territory and hopefully it translates into my approach to making comics!
As some of you might know, my day job is as web and graphic designer at the International School of Amsterdam (ISA), in the Netherlands. Last week was Book Week at ISA and it being a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school, we were lucky to welcome of some really great authors. They held many talks and presentations during the week and I was fortunate enough to meet and talk to some of them. Our school is also fortunate to have amongst its faculty and staff, a number of published and self-published authors. As an ISA Book Week first, we were asked if we’d be interested in talking to the students about our work and experiences as writers and artists.
As much as I find difficult to speak to a crowd, small or large, I thought this would be a great opportunity to recap on where my adventures in comic making have taken me since I started creating Captain Wayne. I had planned to hold a talk for high school art students anyway so, we all thought this was a good way to combine the two. It would also allow me to not solely focus on the creative process but everything else that’s involved in being a one man band.
On Thursday, I addressed a small group of high school eleventh grade students. These are kids that study visual arts as one of their six subjects of their International Baccalaureate. I managed to cram everything I had intended in the 75 minutes I had been given. The students seemed very engaged, asked questions throughout the talk and were even taking notes! I started with the origins of the Captain Wayne project, how it can to be and how it developed over time. Ideation doodling, developing concepts, writing, storyboarding, the importance of observation drawing, how human and animal anatomy relates to drawing imaginary characters and creatures, combining digital workflows with traditional techniques, those were some of the topics I covered. The first part focused on my process while creating my first graphic novel, as an artist but also as an author. I moved forward to elaborate on the reasons that pushed me to publish online, and how I went from a lonely, cave-bound creation process to one that involved sharing and learning from others. The idea of offering your art for free (to a certain extend) in order to grow an audience and a fan base still seems to be considered as unusual and weird. We briefly talked about social networking sites, my approaches, trials and tribulations and the importance of attitude as it influences how others perceive you. Students were eager to find out about a miracle recipe for meeting lots of people interested in your work. It somewhat came as a surprise that what works for one artist will not necessarily be as rewarding for another. I did mention that, in my opinion, the key to success is to be genuine and never negative.
I moved on to talk about how, as my online presence grows ever so slowly, I find myself contributing to collaborative projects and invited to take part in all kinds of projects. I was happy to be able to convey the idea of the never ending, ever evolving artist’s journey which comes with harsh challenges but the most fulfilling and unexpected rewards.
Ultimately, my presentation’s focal point was my personal artistic journey. The feedback I got was far more engrossing than what I could have anticipated: students and teachers alike found it fascinating and inspirational. My initial and principal two goals were: a) not to make a fool of myself and b) to do my best to keep my audience interested for most of the presentation’s duration. The morning of the first talk I did remind myself that what mattered more was to convey my passion for my personal projects and it seems I hit a home run on that front. Even the two ninth grade classes that attended the second session on Friday were all ears throughout and had plenty of interesting questions. That was really amazing and inspirational, for me!
The most fascinating aspect of this whole experience is that while there was at first a certain reticence on my part to open up and talk about what really seemed to matter, I somehow came to the realisation that what I do and why I do it were what my audience was after. It’s a strange feeling to see that my own work and artistic endeavours can inspire a crowd of young minds as well as their teachers. The last week has been a humbling experience, it required a leap of faith on my part but the pay-off was way more than I could have anticipated!
Finally, I’d like to thank our wonderful librarians, Michelle and Nathalie, for giving me and my colleagues the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and let our students see a side of us that they maybe did not suspect existed. I’m looking to put together a screen cast with a voice over of the presentation and post it on the Making Captain Wayne blog, so hopefully I’ll get that online soon for those interested!
Don’t forget to tune in on Thursday for the next update of Trouble on P57-Exodus. See you then!
It’s Book Week at my work place and I somehow got myself into a sticky situation. I work in a school and they’ve convinced me to talk to two classes of high school students about my adventures in comic making.
This should be straight forward but of course I want to do the best job possible and the more I’ve been working on my talk, the more complex it seems to get…
At this point I honestly have no idea how this is all going to pan out but I’ve been giving it my best. I believe that when Happy Hour hits on Friday, I’ll be feeling relieved. It’s not easy adding perspective to a venture that, at times, seems to resemble an aimless wander.
I guess the best way to approach it is set short term goals and focus on completing them, one at a time. Once I catch my breath, I’ll tell you more about a new project that I’m super excited about. Since I’m swamped, I’m going to keep this post really short. I hope you will understand. To make up for it, here is something that some of you have been asking for: a Captain Wayne colouring page. I know my kids love it so I figured it wouldn’t hurt if I shared it here.