Monday, August 10, 2009

Number 100!

While putting together today's entry I realized that this is my one hundredth blog posting on! Hooray for me! I know there was some doubt in my mind that I'd ever reach such a milestone (being that earlier this year there would be whole months that would go by where I didn't post a thing.) But, a kick in the ass from a few friends and I'm back on track.

So, how do you celebrate a hundredth blog post? I could have put up some new art I've been working on or the new photo I just took of all the kid's book pages I penciled this week. But, no.

I decided to spin my chair around from my art table and take a photo of the massive stack of finished artwork that lives behind me. Every one of these pages has art on it. Stone Arch Books pages, work from advertising, kid's magazines, commissioned work, and, yes, OilCan Drive comic book pages.

I pulled this pile out last night and strewed it across the living room floor so I could make some order of it. My plan was to get everything in order, even to go so far as to put every page of the forty six Jake Maddox kid's books I'd done into order. I left it, for the moment, at just putting things in piles. So, while the Maddox books aren't in order, they are all together and aren't mixed up with any other jobs.

The odd thing is the various incarnations of OilCan Drive stories I found. It was interesting, sad, and a little sobering to find that the current version I am on is number SEVEN! Geez. Rethink things much, Sean? The good news is that the basic concept has never ever changed. There are just different versions and different stories. Some are finished. Some are half done. Some are just a few pages. Some are even fully finished first issues and then half, if not almost all, of an unfinished issue two.

So, how does it all break down? Well, something like this:

Version 1: A full color mini-comic. It was a ten page complete story with sketches and such to fill out the page count. This one I actually released in a short print run. It was one year after I came up with the concept and was released on the first Free Comic Book Day, 2002.

Version 2: The origin story! I have no idea how many pages this thing was supposed to be but it was the story of how the band met each other and got together. I think it was going to be a big fat graphic novel. There are about twenty pages pencilled but nothing inked.

Version 3: Another graphic novel attempt. I was trying to do a page a day, fully pencilled and inked. I think I got about ten pages into it before stopping. I'm not sure where the story was going but it started with Ryan on the run from a rival band named the "Ass Clownz".

Version 4: Another mini-comic story. This time black and white but still a ten page story. This one wasn't self contained but would continue from issue to issue. The first book was finished and printed in a short run. The second book is fully pencilled, half inked, but never finished. Even the second issue continued but I never knew what happened after that. I also, for some reason did a fourth issue (skipping the third story) that is fully completed. These books also had a two page back-up story featuring another character in the OilCan Drive universe named Lily. She was an exotic dancer that had ties to the band's past.

Version 5: The full color, double page spead, book! This was a mix of a comic book, children's book, and record album. I did it so I could enter it into a mini-comic award show. The book was square, 8"x8", full color, and had an album of music included with it. I sent it off to both the award show and to a bunch of comics publishers. While most of the publishers I sent it to never sent me a response I did get some kudos from the awards show. I was even told I almost won. But, in the end the book was "too slick" to be a mini-comic. The one publisher I heard back from said the concept wasn't strong enough to be a comic book. So, too good to be a mini-comic, not good enough to be a regular comic. Stuck in the middle again. Because I was enjoying this format I did start a second book which is just one page shy of being completed. Then I got the feedback and was probably crushed so I abandonned version 5.

Version 6: Another attempt at a long form story. This time I wrote and entire film script to draw from. The page count for the script weighs in at around 120 pages. It's the closest thing I've come to to doing a full OilCan Drive movie where I knew what was going on and wasn't making it up as I drew pages. I did about eight pages of this story before realizing that 120 pages of written script is about 300 or so pages of drawn comic book. If I could take a year or two off this might be good but I am always trying to do my personal work in between all this client work I have. So 300 pages felt like it might take me forever. I had to rethink. I still love the script and plan on revisiting it soon, doing a final polish on it and then maybe doing 20-30 illustrations for it and releasing it as a printed script book. We'll see how that goes.

Version 7: The current version. After realizing that the scripted graphic novel was going to take forever and, chances were given my track record, that I'd never finish it, I reassesed things. I remember it was around Christmas. I had just completed eight books for Stone Arch and had another four coming my way to complete over the next few months. But, around Christmas, I had some time off to think.

The beauty of having started and stopped six previous versions of OilCan Drive is that I could look back and cherry pick the things I really liked and that made me happy. I liked the idea of doing shorter stories. Those I could get done and didn't feel like I was climbing up a mountain doing a 300 page graphic novel. I liked doing both black and white and color. One of the things I loved about starting the Version 6 is that I went back to try and use the same techniques I had done by hand in Exit 6. Using zip-a-tone, splattered ink from a toothbrush, stippling, but doing it in an easier, digital way. I also really loved doing pages in a square format like Version 5. Going from doing pages 8"x8" and then back to a regular comic size felt awkward. I liked doing full spread pages that moved the eye horizontally instead of vertically. It felt much more natural. And, I really liked doing the music for the book. I liked the idea of doing an OilCan Drive album.

So, the new book is going to mimic an old 7" record. The book will be black and white with a full color cover. It will be 6.75"x6.75" in a 7" full color record sleeve. It will come with a full album of music. And, with any luck, I'll actually finish this one and put it out there into the world. Right now, I am three pages shy of having the whole thing inked.

So, we'll see how it goes.

I think I have enough people and support behind me on this one that it will come out. I feel, after six attempts, that I've found the format OilCan Drive can exist in. Or, maybe not. Maybe there will be a version eight.

Only time will tell.

We'll see where things stand when I hit the 200 mark on the blog! But, for now, have a great day!


rob! said...

Congrats on #100!

Sean Tiffany said...

Thanks Robbo! I am still dwarfed by your massive blog output. But, at least I'm doing it more often than once every few months. Thanks for the kudos!

Josh said...

'm very familiar and fond of that art stack. You should just compile everything oilcan you have and print it. Show them there is plenty for publishing. Humberto only had one version, and still has no second book. All the comic ideas I've had are monsters in story, I'm scared to even try to organize my thoughts with them, also been too busy.