Last Autumn I was contacted by the Sunday Times Style Magazine, & asked to create a comic strip to run for 10 weeks & featuring a strong female character for them. My suggestion of a story which was a cross between Sex In The City & a female James Bond seemed to excite them, so I recruited writer pal James Peaty, & we set about thrashing out a premise.
It was my intention to do another major art dump in the style of the earlier Agent Provocateur post, with all the art from the full 10 episodes of the strip. However, there it soon became clear that there would be simple too much material, so I'm going to split it up into a few smaller posts.
So first of all...here is my initial sketch of the character that I did to give the editors at STYLE a basic flavour of her..
After this & James' initial plot synopsis & first script were approved, I did a basic pencil layout of the first episode. James & I felt that we needed to start the strip with something which was as close to a splash panel as we could, in such limited space, something to establish the look of the character. Hence the full figure opener. Since I was to be both penciller & inker, I didn't feel the neccessity to do a more finished pencil stage, prefering to take this 'layout' & do much of the actual drawing at the inking stage.
I had decided that since I was dealing with editors who had little or no experience dealing with flaky comicbook artists, that I should continue to get approval at every stage of the process, so as to avoid any nasty surprises later on (oh the best laid plans......).. I took the pencil layout, & printed out a copy of that as a blueline, & inked directly on the copy. Once this was approved, I went ahead with the coloring.
This was the stage where things got..'interesting' for me. Up until that point, I had never colored any kind of comic strip using Photoshop, sure I had done one off illustrations, but never an actual strip, so I was on the steepest of learning curves. The process never feels natural to me (when it comes to artwork, I'm only really at home with pencils, ink, paints and a piece of paper), & as a result, it took me a lot longer that it would have taken a professional colorist. But I was fairly happy with the result.
It was right about now that everything went a little 'arse over tit' (to coin an old RAF phrase). It appeared that due to a breakdown in communication in the STYLE office, I had been given the wrong dimensions for the final artwork, which meant the artwork had to be re-formatted to some extent. Now that wasn't too big a problem, however what was a significant issue was that despite the artwork being approved at every stage along the way, someone now decided that they didn't want the full figure shot of Magenta in the strip. So at the eleventh hour, I went back to the original ink drawing, & started to add bits to widen the frames, in order to fill the space vacated by the removal of the full figure shot. Since I didn't have time to re-color the whole thing, I just dropped this new black linework layer onto the existing color layer, & just patched the color up around the edges. Again, not an ideal situation, but given the circumstances, the end result was satisfactory to me.
Which leaves us with this, the final version, which was printed in the magazine. Now is it just me, or does that seem like a helluva lot of work for five frames? That's ok, it's just a rhetorical question....
More Magenta Wilde shenanigans next post.