Helping Mitch is an experimental short story and comic. Mitch, who just turned 40, used to run a successful manufacturing business. At the height of a typically stressful week, he was struck by a delivery truck and was never the same again after sustaining brain damage. The story explores the relationship between Mitch and his mother, Sharon, who has taken it upon herself to bring the old Mitch back at any cost.
Reflections on process
I think this has been the longest I have gone without posting so far and for that I feel terrible. I’ve been mentally beating myself up for falling behind, not getting it together in time and not keeping my word of keeping a consistent posting schedule. The delay of the last two weeks has been largely due to rewriting Helping Mitch, dealing with personal issues as well as what I am starting to notice as a pattern of “burnout” at the end of each month. During these burnout periods, I feel rather hopeless and unable to do much else except watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV series on DVD) from my bed (and eat cookies). What I’ve come to realize is this: although I loooove working on comics I need to pay attention to other areas of my life and start integrating little things that recharge me on a more regularly basis. As the weather gets warmer, I’m looking forward to running outdoors on the trail and going for walks with my friends while having long, meaningful conversations about life. For now, I’ll stop beating myself up because the important thing is to just keep at it despite getting off track.
In the interest of keeping this post short, I’d thought I would give you a glimpse of the process in pictures rather than ramble on and on in words:
- Thumbnails (aka my embarrassingly bad scribbles) – the goal here is not to make pretty drawings but to layout ideas as quickly as possible. I usually generate many, many versions of how I want the page to look before picking one.
- Sketch – give form to the scribbles. This is done in a sketchbook with toned paper. At this stage general values are blocked out and because I want a bit of grit for the story, quick textures are applied sometimes using a toothbrush. For some reason I mapped out the speech bubbles at this stage, rather than in the thumbnail, and then covered it up with paint. I have no idea why I did this to be honest.
- Draft – sketch is taken into Photoshop for clean up and ComicLife to add the speech bubbles. When I looked at the final composition I was unhappy because the page was rather static. I did not like what was going in the last three panels.
- Final – The final compositional decisions were made to fit what was happening in the story. Mitch is going for an MRI check up and this is a good opportunity to bring in some flashbacks to explore Mitch’s character prior to the accident. It made sense to expand the top panel and blend it into the background to visually separate it from the flashback panels as well as imply that the following scenes are his memories. It seems like such an obvious solution now but I struggled for days trying to figure out what wasn’t working. I even tried making fuzzy memory borders around the flashback panels but it made the page look rather cheesy.
Gah! I just noticed, as I type this, that I missed the opportunity to put Muriel’s reflection on the car window and the reflection in her sunglasses to describe more of the surroundings. Definitely something I will come back to and update!
I truly hope you enjoyed reading the fourth page of Helping Mitch and the process behind it. If you have any questions, suggestions and/or comments, please feel free to connect with me through email or in the comments section below.
Happy scribbling 🙂