Posts Tagged ‘drawing’

Writing Gray Characters = fun! (Character development of Orin)

Fans of my writing tend to love (or hate) the characters. Or dislike them and learn to like them during the adventure. Or hate them but just “have to know what happens next!” so I am going to be writing on how I create these types of characters without being too fluffy over the next few posts.

I will admit why writing gray characters is so much fun is simply they will do things I will never do. No, I am not just talking about using a sword, great battles or reading minds. I mean in the everyday level: they live a life so different than mine. They have different view points, they have different sets of morals.

Note: neither Lark or Orin are helping the man who is literally being eaten alive by the ghost.

Specifically in this post, I am going to introduce you to Orodherthin, Son of the Lady Nora and Master Bowyer Calafas of the House T’Ralom. He is older brother to Lady Meadowlark (Lark) and Calthal. Writing and drawing him has been a blast. Why? Because he is ultimately a villain softened by the eyes of his little sister.

Coming up with the leading male protagonist of Faminelands (depending on your point of view, he also might be considered the antagonist)  was so much fun. While Lark came fully formed in my head, Orin was much more of a cypher. I was playing DnD at the time and what sparked the story was the relationship my friend’s character and my character shared. They worked well together.

The first question I thought about: What was his relationship to Lark? While, I wasn’t sure it would be familial love in the beginning, but I knew that love would be a major component to his redemptive character arc.

While I did not know that they would be brother and sister, oddly, I always knew Orin and Lark were never lovers or romantically inclined towards each other for a few reasons. She was simply too young and romantic, if Orin seduced her, the reader would hate him–and Lord Malak would have killed him!

Originally I tried to write it with them just as friends in the Crua –as I said like the friendship between the two characters in the game–but that didn’t work either. Otherwise, every time it got tough, Orin would just bail.

When they were friends, there was simply no tension. No reason Lark wanted him to be redeemed. I tried writing a back story about how he protected her a few times, but it felt trite. Ultimately  it was two people just skipping along on an adventure. Fine for a DnD game, not okay for a book. Because when it all comes down to it: making them siblings makes it easier for them to be cruel to each other without dire consequences. That was when child abuse slithered its way into the story.

Here is a little backstory for both character: Mom was often gone supporting the family with their adventures, which meant Dad raised them. Then everything else began to click into place. Calafas was a father who had no idea how to control his wild son. Because Lark and Orin are bastards, other relatives could only do so much for the kids. Since this is a fantasy faux middle ages story: the idea “spare the rod spoil the child” was meant literally. Orin becomes sympathetic.

This next image is from page 32 of the Carp’s Eye. Orin’s memories of childhood.

But child abuse is passed on and we also see Orin hit Lark. Mainly he does it, because he is terrified if he doesn’t punish, she will face a worse fate. And (this is key to how I kept him a sympathetic character rather than just an overbearing jerk) he has no idea what else to do! FYI: No matter why he does it, I make it clear, what he is doing is VERY WRONG!

In this scene in Living Stone, Orin just slapped her, she kicked him to get away and now he has her.

Orin is larger than his sister–he is a grown man while she is still an adolescent–this tension rules the first two books. Making what might have been fairly stereotypical characters into what I hope feel realistic ones. Flaws make these characters real. Don’t apologize for writing characters with real problems! Orin gets mad, he gets scared, he makes huge mistakes.  The very best comments I have heard is “They are more human then elves!”

When Carp’s Eye opens, Lark has discovered her brother is in debt to the Crua and he tortures people for a living to pay for that debt. Still what makes Orin specifically a great villain turned protagonist?

1) Orin is not a sadist. If he was, he would not be a very good companion on this adventure. It simply would not be fun to see him derive pleasure from hurting people–if that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere. Any character arc that follows a road to redemption can not be an easy one. If he was a true sadist, could he be redeemed? Would he want to be?

Perhaps, but not in the eyes of the Daoine or in the eyes of their family. And most importantly, not in the eyes or heart of the reader.

2) His relationship to Lark. Even in his most evil moments, there is never any doubt in the reader’s mind that Orin loves his little sister.

3) The relationship to women. As with many fantasy protagonists, Orin is a lothario. He is roguish, without being cruel. See # 1 above. He tends to pay for sex since this is a fantasy realm where prostitution is looked down upon, but legal trade. Still he ends up being a favorite customer rather than one the girls dread.

So that is an introduction to how I wrote Orin’s character. How do you form your characters?

Also if you like what you see consider investing in the Print Faminelands: Mareton’s Curse Kickstarter Campaign which will be running mid October to November. More information to follow!

Drawing: The Shepard

I created this drawing after visiting the ruined castles in Wales. I am going to be coloring it this week.
Check back on Monday morning to see my progress!

Jet City Comic Show Wrapup

So I had a wonderful comic book show. As I said in the previous post, Maria couldn’t make it due to a nasty bug, but I soldiered on and had a great convention.

This was the commissioned sketch I did.

I was in Artist Alley table 48 right next to Jonah Charney who is the creator of Espresso City. IT was his very first con.  And the fine people from QEW Publishing a small press who creates comics and novels.  Choosematic Books was across the hall from us. They are bringing back “choose your own adventure” style books for geeky grownups.  We always have a great time and saw all of our comic book buddies from Dark Slinger Comics who creates horror comics such as Ghost Assassin and Van Helsing.

I did a commissioned sketch for a themed sketch book  and sold some books. I had two lovely people mention how really excited to see that I have continued slowly building my writing and artistic career. I admit we had a few disappointed folks for the fact Faminelands #3 is not out, but they were all thrill to know it was done and scheduled now to come out for Emerald City Comic Con. That’s right, we are going to be elfing out at ECCC ’13! I also had a short interview which I will post a link to as soon as I get notification it is up.

I admit, I wanted to sequence how I set up my table, and I took the first photo of my open suitcase and then forgot, because I got busy setting up.  If I remember at Bellingham I will do a post on it, if I don’t, well then I guess I won’t.

GeekGirlCon Wrap up!

Dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the contribution of women in all aspects of geek culture, Geek Girl Con was August 11th and 12th at the Conference Center in downtown Seattle.

Many moms and their teenaged daughters or even little girls enjoyed the convention together. Lots of young kids and it definitely had a “safe place” vibe. One reason for this vibe was the lack of certain costumes (Princess Leia as a slave girl and Poison Ivy) Most of the costuming was pretty, rather than revealing. Or flat out fun. I saw someone dressed up as Red from Fraggle Rock and the Marauder’s Map. There was a five year old Darth Vader.

Of course what is interesting while there was more women in attendance, but there were plenty of men there.

Maria and I were at Table 417 in Artist Alley handing out sample chapters of Other Systems and selling our comics. A few people seemed excited that we have a release date for Faminelands #3 Mareton’s Curse. Our neighbors were Real Gone GirlsAmy HevronBob the Angry Flower, and Erin Middendorf.

Maria found a huge role of raffle tickets at a garage sale. We’ve wanted to try to do a raffle for some time, so we raffled off one of my pen and ink drawings: The Champion. This drawing was an experiment in hand coloring, but I really like the lady bug on the elf’s knee.

I was so happy that the lady who won it, was nearly moved to tears she was so excited to win. Apparently, she loves red heads and fantasy.

This afternoon, I presented  an hour-long workshop called So You Want to Write (and Finish) a Novel that discussed how to start, slogging through the murky middles, concluding the work and common pitfalls each step along the way. I had a Powerpoint presentation so Dennis came to be my technology assistant and take photos. When I got there, there was so many people, I thought the previous panel went long. So I slipped in at 3:22, and Dennis and my room attendant, set up my power point presentation. By 3:30, it was standing room only. Talk about terrifying! This was a terrific convention.

Wow all these people came to hear me speak about Writing (and Finishing) a novel.

Five Common misconceptions that people outside of indy comics have…

Misconception #1: I’m going to write a graphic novel and be rich and/or famous.

Answer: Nope, Indy comics are a grand adventure, but they will never make me rich and famous and probably not make you rich and famous either. The only reason to do an indy project is the level of artistic control on the project. If you want money, go through traditional chanels.

Misconception #2: I wrote a graphic novel, now where is my movie contract?

Answer: See my answer for the previous statement. If you want to make a movies, why are you making graphic novels?

Misconception #3: I will fight against prejudice when writing/selling my books. Or if I don’t then men will face prejudice when writing/selling books.

Answer: Nope. Indy Comics is a tight community. Every other artist and writer–male, female, or transgendered–I’ve run into has been encouraging and friendly.

The only “sexism” I have ever ran into is whiny people telling me that sexism keeps them from creating their opus. People probably won’t like to hear this, but women who want to do comics but are too chicken to pick up a pencil say, “There is a male bias.”  And from the cowardly men I have heard, “It’s easier for you because you’re a woman.” That’s BS.

It is the other person’s problem if they don’t like 30-something white women. Not mine. I draw my books, I let my artwork and writing speak for me. I make sales, because I have a good pitch and not afraid to use it!

Misconception #4: Conventions are one big party.

Sorry, folks, but I am working my butt off. They are fun so don’t get me wrong, but ever tried to spend three to five days: selling, sketching, and informing people about four different titles while trying to be funny, charming, but at the same time not bragging about the books where you have placed your very heart and soul? Welcome to my world.

My advice to have a great con: ABC: Always Be Closing and Always Bring Cookies. Also wear comfortable shoes and stand on an anti-stress mat.

Misconception #5: I don’t work. I goof off and write a few words a day and call it good. This misconception is also known as the “myth of the magic artist”

Sorry folks, but there is only one way to finish a graphic novel or anything for that matter. Work on it each day. Rework what needs to be changed. Redo that ugly panel. I work 40 hours a week as my minimum.  On a week of a major con, I work sixty to eighty hours. I don’t regret this. I love the work. I love holding the artwork in my hand and knowing that I created it. It is very rewarding, but there is no magic bullet or magic artist.

Here is a photo of me  at ECCC 2011, right before opening bell, opening day. Taken by Maria. I know it’s opening day by what I am wearing, and pre-opening bell because no one is in the hallway. You can see my 2011 catalogue by the banners behind me.

Does this get any easier? An author/artist’s guide to utter insecurity.

Someone has finally called me an author. In public. And in the context of differentiating between an author and a writer.

This was true complement to my work. It was not accompanied by a coy smirk, subtle eye roll or adding “she draws comics…” In fact, it was one of the most rewarding words that I heard. Something I have been waiting to hear most of my adult life. It’s true. I am an author.

It’s also true that I am artist. My best friend and I do fantastic in the world of indy comics. We’ve sold out complete runs of books. However beyond the sales, every year, my work gets better. (Practice makes perfect) so I don’t know why my tummy rebels at a word.

Outside, I felt flushed. I was in a restaurant, in a booth, surrounded on all sides by people, so I wasn’t getting away. Still I cannot deny my flight response. I was ready to leap across the table and get the heck out of there. Of course since that would have spilled a few beers, two iced-teas, and coke plus ruined some perfectly good tacos and quesadillas, I tried to act calm. Confident. I casually mentioned my book is under contract and my comics–oh yeah and did some murals. I painted a church ceiling a couple years ago. Blah Blah Blah.

So I considered why I feel this way, beyond that it makes for great blog material…

It might be because I have stood smiling while someone ripped into my artwork, characters, or story more than once, at conventions. I just say, “Well, art is subjective.” (I still don’t understand why people stop if they are just going to be mean. See the great big banners behind me. That’s the artwork, why stop if it not your thing?)

Or it might be that all of my work has faced rejection.

However, in my case: it is more often the quieter slights. They are not my imagination. I have seen the subtle disdain and it’s not a real job attitude from people I care about. I shoved my hurt down deep inside me. It quietly whispers when I feel weak. Sometimes it has enough power to shout: I am not good enough for what I have worked for.

Yet if I turn it around, even my insecurity reminds me how to get past my self-indulgent pity party: Work.  For better or for worse, I earned the right to consider myself an artist and author. I do the work.

First of all, I do consider writing and creating artwork my primary means of employment even when it isn’t making money. So does my husband. Know why? Because I work when it isn’t fun. On the days, I don’t love it. Or am confused about a character. Or find a huge hole in my plot. I work when it is sunny and my feet tell me to wander. I sit down at the computer and write or I sit down in my living room and draw panels. When against a deadline, I work weekends.

Secondly, I still love the work. I love throwing new ideas on the page, slashing out the good and keeping the bad. I love fleshing out characters. I love picking out the perfect word. I love designing page layouts and panels. I even enjoy the other design work. I have created a website, postcards, book cards, and mini buttons to help market the book. I have also created two trailers. I joined Google+ and actually have been paying attention in face book specifically to help Other Systems succeed where the comics have not done so hot. During all of this: I have been lettering and coloring Famine Lands 3: Mareton’s Curse.

Thirdly, I’m never getting a “real” job. When times are hard, I get a part time job that will enable to continue my artwork and writing. Currently, I walk dogs. I have also worked retail.

Fourthly, yes, the rejections can pile up, but if I am not getting them (or acceptance letters) I am not submitting my work. It’s part of the job.

So that’s how I get a handle on my insecurities.

How do other people handle it?

July’s Jet City Drink and Draw or the best pretzel in the world!

Last night was the Jet City Drink and Draw at Pillager’s Pub.  I have to tell everyone that they make the best pretzel in the world. It is soft on the inside and fills you with all kind of goodness. I took the first bite and then told everyone at my table they had to try it. Pillager’s serves it with a grainy mustard which is good, but honestly the pretzel is so buttery soft that it doesn’t really need it. Then because I still had to finish my drink, I ordered another pretzel to share.

Last night, I drew seahorses. I don’t really know why. Perhaps, because when I am not sure what to draw I tend to draw cute, perhaps it is because we were in a pirate themed bar.

Fun with Markers, my Dragon has been colored.

So here is an update of the artwork I created at last week’s drink and draw. I colored the dragon and my husband said we should call him Apricot.

Though on my monitor he looks more orange-red.

Drink & Draw Social Club Sketch

So last night was a meeting of the Drink & Draw Social Club. We met at Pillagers Pub in Greenwood. Between networking with other comic artists: I drew this.  I like cute dragons who may or may not be evil.

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