Finally a new look for the site and a few pieces up for your viewing pleasure. Nothing too major–mostly old, old inkwork. But there are two character sketches up as well–one of mine and one by Peter John. Check them out and expect more soon.
Also coming up in the near future–a look at my new writing methodology–lovingly called THE OUTLINE: for friends and family, a solid excuse for why the new draft is taking so, so long.
It’s 7 PM and it’s at least 10 degrees hotter in the dining room than it is outside. The dining room, now full of the brain cell-eating tang of very, very strong markers and a cup long emptied of ice water.
Louis is ready to start hallucinating. He feels it’s the next step after the lightheadedness. But it does not come. Of course it doesn’t. Because hallucinating would be an escape.
He looks down at the picture he’s finished inking already-the one he’s attempting to color now, although you couldn’t tell from the fresh square of bleedproof paper beneath it. It’s not even a main character, that’s the thing. Louis will return to this and know that:
a) he cannot post it before posting a finished picture of Lethe, a picture that he hasn’t inked yet.
b) although this character is one of his favorites from the book (and his artist’s favorite overall), he’s still just a side character. A side side character even; he doesn’t make an appearance until around page 140.
c) tragically, although he’s completely ready for Tron, Louis cannot take another Tron: Legacy teaser break and be completely entertained.
And seeing this, Louis decides it’s time to give his world of distractions a little nudge, via text, like so:
“Dude. Will you be on tonight for gaming?”
“I know what I’m making for your Can You Smell What the Rock Is Cookin’? party.”
But these do not work. So he pops open Warm Grey #3, and sighs.
But then he looks down at Exelel. Exelel. His artist has done an awesome job and the inking is done. It’s done because Louis did it. And it’s not a hallucination-he’s certain.
But he leans in close to the inked cell anyway. When he’s satisfied that it’s really real, that he did it, he smiles.
I was sitting in class at City College once, not taking notes – drawing instead. One of my peers looked over and asked what I was doing. I turned my book so she could see a sketch of one of my favorite main characters.
It wasn’t enough for her. “Who’s that?”
I told her and she asked, “You draw your characters? Why?”
Now it was my turn to be confused. “Why wouldn’t I?”
Writers are taught that in prose, it’s a clever tactic to leave the physical appearance of characters to readers. Give them guidelines – simple descriptors that create an image of the kind of person someone is. You could say, for example, that Rock Stout had golden hair, perfectly curled, and wide teeth that almost glistened when he smiled they were so white, and from that we’d generally get that Rock Stout was an ass – or probably an ass.
The same occurs in Fantasy writing. The simplest description in the world is “he had a chest like a barrel.” I’d almost be worried about quoting someone specifically, but this has been said in so many ways in so many stories that I believe it’s impossible to quote anyone specifically with this, and – furthermore – I’m not saying this descriptor is a bad one. The point is, we get everything we need to know from that phrase: this man drinks, laughs loudly, probably uses an axe or warhammer, probably likes wine and whores, is possibly a black smith. It’s simple – about as simple as Rock Stout’s description. Likewise, our hero can be simply described as “usually the tallest head in a room” and again, we get the idea.
The question then is, why bother doing more than this? Why devote as much time to character design and artistry for a media that barely needs it?
The answer is simple. Because I don’t want this to happen:
This is the US cover of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s The Gathering Storm. And, sadly, it’s probably the best cover for the series so far, or among the best.
Now, let’s see what happens when, Seamas Gallagher, who takes his time and, more importantly, cares, renders Rand Al’Thor:
So, what am I saying here? Is it that all fantasy writers should spend time trying to draw and design their characters? That even if they do, the artists assigned to do their cover art somehow will – or will even try to get it right? No. What I’m saying is that when War of Exiles is released, if it has a cover that looks as off base as this –
– you can come back here and look at the awesome character sketches and art that I’ll have up by then until the pain stops and the tears go away. Mine and yours.