Friday, December 27, 2019

WE FEED ON CRUMBS OF SHADOW (CREATING COMICS: UK Edition! - ENTRY #006)






























We Feed on Crumbs of Shadow is the most fun I've ever had making comics. It felt spontaneous, energizing, and personal: a reminder of the way I made comics when I was younger.

And I am certain the reason for this lies with the process of how it came together, for which I can thank 24-Hour Comic Day! It's an international marathon event I've taken part in many times before, the goal being to create 24 original comic pages in 24 hours. I was fairly certain that (being a creator in his early-late thirties) I'd had my fun with the event and had moved on, certain that my fragile constitution could no longer handle these sorts of challenges. But it was a great opportunity to spend some time with my fellow students in Dundee, so I couldn't pass it up.

About eight hours into the event, I realized that the only way to finish by the 24-hour deadline would be to cut corners, get sloppy and phone it in. But I was so happy with the story, and so invested in it, that I decided to spend the remainder of my time honing the plot and creating finished pencils that would leave me with a satisfying comic that I could later ink on my own time. This was a story I'd had in mind for about a year now and because of its fast-paced, almost leap-frog style of plotting, it made the perfect choice for the event, guaranteeing I would always have something cool to draw and I wouldn't get bored!

The title is a reworking of a line from Sylvia Plath's poem Mushrooms (the line is featured in its original glory during the dream sequence, spoken by the Creature).  The idea was influenced by the book Man and His Symbols, edited by Carl Jung (a book which fuelled no less than four of my latest projects) and acts as a sort of Rosetta Stone for the story, though I hope the dream-like events of the comic are entertaining enough on their own to have given you an enjoyable and chilling first read. 

Alongside my constant horror influences like the Davids Lynch and Cronenberg, the other essential inspiration to the tone and visuals of the story came from the dance performance de.Vi.ate, performed by Alberta Ballet, and featuring the music of composer Andrew Staniland. This was an incredible event and it absolutely BLEW... ME... AWAY. I never considered myself a fan of dance but it was a huge inspiration to all my following work, which is a huuuuuge lesson for me to continue searching for inspiration outside of the comic world. I was literally listening to Staniland's score as I pencilled the comic like a madman, and it helped to immerse me in scenes as I imagined them. It was exhilarating!

It took three weeks to wrap up the comic after that first 24 hour stint, which was perfect timing to debut at the UK comic festival phenomenon Thought Bubble! It was my first time there, as visitor and exhibitor, and it was an overwhelming yet wonderful experience. It felt amazing to have new work to show off to a new audience.

Doing the inks on my iPad was a real thrill, allowing me to gets it all done quickly, and helping me to nail down my digital process. I was worried the stylized, cartoony look of the art would be at odds with the horror so by adding simple values and texture in Photoshop, I was able to give the comic a gritty feel. The expressive nature of the gestures, expressions and action help add intensity and emotion as well. I've talked a lot about my love of horror and about the research and analysis I've been doing of the genre, so it was quite a treat to finally "put my money where my mouth is'" and make some horror comics of my own.  Now that I've got a taste of what I can do in a short amount of time, I cannot wait to jump into the next one.

I'll wrap this all up by saying there is a high-res PDF version of this comic available on my new store at Gumroad, so if you'd like a nicer copy in its original formatting, head over there! Now, it's winter holidays so I should probably get back to work. I've got some serious relaxing comicking to do...


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