The Creative Endeavors Thread Is In It For The Long Haul

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Hey folks! The “Paper Chase” Guy here again, to talk about a long-term project.

Some of you will have already heard me go on about my webcomic, Fairy Locks. A month or so after I started drawing again (this would have been about Christmas 2015), I began to experiment with single panel gags and eventually serialization. In February 2016, I finally put together one page, and then another, and then another. Though partly inspired by a spooky early morning walk on my trip to Toronto in 2011, my town also has this uber-twee folk tradition I’ve never fully investigated wherein a semi-anonymous artist constructed tiny, elaborate doors and set them against various walls in our downtown (hence, “fairy doors”). The idea, taken literally, intrigued, and I used it as the springboard to start my story, for better or worse.

Everything was (and to a considerable extent still is) pretty ad hoc when it came to story construction. I’d been reading comics (almost exclusively Image) for a few years and rolling through one of Harvey Kurtzman’s old collections (I think it was Corpse on the Imjin!) was likely the decisive moment when I told myself that I, just maybe, could actually do this. So the story gradually evolved into a sort of post-classical urban pulp fantasy, more or less the kind of thing I liked to see but couldn’t really find in the comics I was reading (the recent—and sadly truncated—Elsewhere, by Jay Faerber and Sumeyye Kesgin, is probably the closest I’ve ever seen anyone else come to what I most want to see or do).

I started with weekly “issues” (more or less a twelve-page layout, each page initially based on the classic six-panel grid system), and then moved to biweekly, and then to monthly. The change in release tempo reflected a number of things. I was more or less learning “on the job”; opinions of my work’s quality will almost certainly vary wildly, I suspect, but I’m pretty comfortable in asserting that I’ve gotten a lot better since I started. On the other hand, the increased attention I paid to detail and story meant more time needed to plan and organize. I also started to shift production methods, moving to archival ink and mech pencils (the latter thanks to a blurb from the mothership’s own Nick Wanserski), and very recently moving to using 9” by 12” sketchbooks instead of 5.5” by 8” (this also helped to facilitate a probably much needed move against dubious methods like drawing the comic, as opposed to one-offs, in bars; planning to switch more decisively to other potential public spaces).

There was also the troublesome outside world. I decided to take a short break during the first summer in keeping with previous writing practice; I work a physical job involving a fair amount of semi-skilled manual labor, and at least one of my co-workers has suffered from tendonitis, so I wanted to make sure my mitts were properly maintained (on my recent trip to Chicago, MLA recommended Women and Children First, a feminist bookstore in Andersonville, and I picked up Kriota Willberg’s Draw Stronger, a fantastic guide to useful exercises for artists and cartoonists, and some of these involve the hand specifically; highly recommended). Then came the election; I freaked out along with everyone else and it took a while to get back to what felt like the fundamental silliness of writing a comic that, as far as I could tell, had little to no deeper involvement with social or political issues. Even once I got back, increased involvement with the world as well as more detail and care in the creation necessitated another break, and then another. Being drawn into the world of painting by friends and family late last year didn’t help, not that I’m complaining. It’s now been almost a year since the last issue.’

It’s been an ambition of mine to get back into writing Fairy Locks for some time, not least because I’ve got another webcomic idea I want to put into action once I’m done with this one, hopefully taking into account some of the lessons I’ve learned in the past couple of years. By the time August is over and done with, I want to be well into putting out the rest of the story. Advances in my own technique, as well as the editing possibilities presented by Paint 3D, suggest this might be both easier and harder to do (easier because I understand a lot more about the process, both my own and in general, and harder because of the temptations online editing offers). Given the serial nature of the format, and how I essentially fucked it up through such a long hiatus (though there’s a contemporary parallel—Saga‘s going dry for nearly a year, apparently), I’m thinking of making what could be the home stretch of the story a potentially standalone online graphic novel instead (and if that attracts enough interest, I might even look into a Kickstarter to release it). So there’s a lot going on, and I hope I’m worthy of it.

Long-term projects? Tell us about yours!