San Gwynn #2 is officially in the can, and has been sent to the printer.
That’s a wrap. Twenty-four up, twenty-four down. I’ve got a day or so of tones, and then this book is off to the printer. #sangwynn #comix #comics #comicbook #comicbooks #indie #smallpress #roadtoissuetwo #drawing #makecomics #inks #selfpublished #foodcomics #chefs #roadtoissuetwo #sleepclaysleep #art
Growing up, and this was obviously pre-internet, one of the things I liked best about my favorite indie comics were the essays people would write. The comics were great, too, but before social media, the essays and letters pages were really the only way to peek into my favorite cartoonists’ minds. At the same time, I’ve rarely done those sort of essays in my own comics. I’d rather throw in a piece of unrelated artwork I’ve made than a page of rambling, I’d rather people enjoy (or not) my work free from having to deal with my personality. The flip of that is that I’m very aware I learned more about the nuts and bolts of cartooning from people like Dave Sim and Drew Hayes than any other source.
I guess that’s what the internet is for.
So let’s get into the business at hand – San Gwynn #1 was dated 11/15, #2 will be dated 7/16. How the fuck does it take eight months to make a comic book? Answer: it didn’t. It took me about three months. By way of explanation, I don’t have any real distribution for San Gwynn right now. That’s fine, that’s something that I’ll be working on. I do conventions, and occasionally put copies into local stores, but conventions are the main way I sell San Gwynn, so that’s what I use for deadlines. I finished the first issue in time for my last con last year, in early November. I didn’t do another con until May of this year. So that was really what I was aiming for, having the second issue done in time for the spring run of shows. In the time between November and May, I knew that I had a couple of annual printmaking commitments, and would need to devote some time to fulfilling those. I also managed to pull a pair of month-long killer colds (December and March). So, I had intended to sit down in March and start plowing through SG2, but that didn’t realistically happen until April.
So we’re looking at a little north of three months to make the second issue. Which is a little longer than I’d like, but a quarterly schedule isn’t crazy for a one-man show. But one of the things, as a self-publisher (or indie cartoonist), that you need to be aware of is exactly what your time-sinks are. I made a couple of mistakes this time around. The first was not doing the digital work on each page as I finished each page. So, once I finished drawing the book, I still had to take another full week or so to digitally touch-up things, and to do the tones. If tones are part of what you do, that still counts as time you need to account for when you’re producing a book.
This time around, my giant time-sink was tool-related. Specifically, the markers I used to letter and do the panel borders (Pigmas, so you know what to avoid) fade horribly when you erase over them. So when I would scan the pages, the files would be full of broken-up letters and borders that I would need to repair bit by bit, using a mouse. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this added about two hours to the production of each page, which is plainly absurd. That’s a time-sink that added up to something like a full work-week to the production of this comic book. I’ll be doing the lettering and all of that with different pens next time, which should help. But figuring out what’s bogging down your work matters a lot. Stupid things like bad tools can cost you an issue or two a year, potentially, and you owe it to yourself to figure out those problems and adapt.
In any case, I usually find that finishing a project is a bit of a let-down. People often ask if I’m excited to be done, and I guess so, but it’s more of a general slackening that leaves me a down for a few days. The best part of the process for me is the genesis of the idea, and it’s fun to see things start to come together. But by the time I put down the last ink line, I’ve been dealing with this story for at least a couple of months, and there’s no excitement left to muster. I enjoy seeing a printed, final product in my hands, and I enjoy seeing people laughing at the jokes they’re supposed to laugh at. Once a story is done, I have to force it out of my head, and start putting together whatever is next. Otherwise it’ll take another eight months to get an issue done.