Writing Process Blog Tour

Greetings faithful readers! I've been tagged in a blog tour by the one and only Cara Bean who I met during several fantastic summers in Vermont at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

1) What am I working on?

At this very moment I'm working on several different things (as I tend to do), but let's start with the biggest and go to the smallest. I'm working on all the thumbnails for what is going to be an eight part comic series that I'm collaborating with my best friend, Kyle O'Connell, on called Half Asleep. I just finished drawing, printing and assembling volume 2 which debuted last weekend in Toronto at TCAF and have made my way half way through the thumbnails for volume 3 which I hope to have completed for the fall. Kyle is writing and I'm drawing but we edit and spend a lot of time going back and forth to workshop each others part of the process.
I'm also currently working on a few freelance projects including wedding invites, tattoo design, and anthology contributions. In addition to the freelance, this Sunday I'm going to be on a podcast that is all about telling stories, so I'm writing a story right now!

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Primarily, when I'm creating solo work, I'm making autobiographical work. Something I'm the most interested in with autobio work is how much of the story is fact and how much is creative license. When I read autobio work, I tend to get bored easily with the day to day things or more regurgitative responses to life. What I do that I think, and hope, is different is to approach my experiences in reality with the narrative control of a fiction writer. I nudge and rearrange stories as you might with an anecdote that someone is telling you. Throwing in hyperbole, metaphor and a dab of magical realism to balance out my internal fantasies. I think a lot about a quote from Alfred Hitchcock that a good story "is life with all the boring parts cut out." I also find that some my work tends to lean toward more artist book concept that the content will reflect. Book form and design is very important to why printed material still exists, so why not use it? I'm influences and swipe from scrap booking techniques, traditional binding techniques and origami forms. Finding a form that can be as mailable as a narrative is very exciting for me and I think is something really different that a lot of cartoonists don't do.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I think this is such a good question! I write the stories I do partially because that's what I'm interested in reading and enjoying. The other part of why I make the things I make is that something is boiling deep inside of me and the only way for me to process my thoughts, feelings, or actions is to write and draw until it is removed or better understood. Sometimes I think about the information I struggle to absorb as bowling balls. They're heavy and awkward and there really isn't a good way to store them. They just sort of take up space and you only ever need one, maybe, but how do you keep or get rid of the others? Until they become something usable, they're just bowling balls sitting around my mental space. But slowly and surely I clean up that space and am able to move these cumbersome objects out and replace them with stories and comics.

4) How does your writing process work?

This is something I'm still figuring out. I'm gonna let you in on a secret. I have a REALLY hard time writing. Whether it's autobio or fiction, I'm still figuring out my process with it. It starts with sketches, images, ideas, or making some kind of object or marks that I think are strange. These marks often will reoccur or I'll make the shape several times to see if it's still interesting to me. Let it bounce around in my head and if I'm still thinking about it and I still think it's weird or exciting, I'll try to build from it a bit more to see what happens before and after. For me image and text come at the same time after the initial interest in the project. I really value a well paced comic and I think to do that you need to constantly be asking yourself "Is this the best way to tell this?" and "What's the most important thing about this scene?" Without these two guiding questions I feel like my writing and storytelling really tend to wander off track. BUT once my story is mapped out, I have my thumbs and text at the same time, I can start penciling, inking and doing corrections. The other major part of my process is in the editing stage. I often seek out other cartoonists or readers to not only check the story for clarity but spelling mistakes (of which there are MANY quite often) and for enjoyment! I am from a heavy art background and critique is very important to me. I'll even change things from one print-run to the next if I think someone has a good idea of how to improve.

Next up I am supposed to tag three people to answer the same questions for next week. So here are mine: Tyrell Cannon (who also has an awesome Kickstarter up right now!), Andy Warner, and Laura Terry! Enjoy the rest of the tour!

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