This week in Helping Mitch, we abruptly leave the glamorous yet unhappy memories of Mitch. In the first panel, we see the proposal – complete with Sharon’s head poking between Mitch and Muriel and she is looking quite pleased. I imagined the memory sequence ending like a TV screen that’s been suddenly disconnected. (I looked up a couple of onomatopoeia examples and “tschhh…” seemed to be the best way to spell the sound of static). The word ‘you’ is purposely cut in half to represent a life interrupted. Instead of returning to the sterile hospital environment at the beginning of page four, we are left with an abstract representation of Mitch’s brain scan and perhaps some words of hope. If you are new to Helping Mitch or need a quick refresher of the story, you can find all the pages here.
Reflections on process
I woke up this morning with Helping Mitch on my mind. Last night I was up late (mostly procrastinating) because page eight was a hot mess and I fell asleep with my mind racing. Last week I decided to cut the last panel from page seven to create an additional page. I knew what I wanted the page to be and with the first illustration done, I skipped the thumbnail stage and went straight to making the last two panels. The last few days were filled with the joy of splattering ink met with the struggle of integrating the panels. Thankfully the page finally came together this morning.
Page eight was a challenge conceptually as it took a while to figure out the best way to portray the brain scan. After looking at dozens of MRI scans (love ya Google), it didn’t feel right to just produce a literal drawing of the scan. Scientific accuracy was not the goal here. Rather, the aim was to enmesh the medical representation of the brain with how we might imagine the immaterial or spiritual aspects of the mind. The last panel is skewed to not only separate it spatially from the memory sequence but also to give a sense that the image is an object rather than a scene. The last panel becomes more vivid from the left to right to convey change, the state of becoming, and quite possibly Mitch coming into his own.
On the topic of change and becoming, I was reviewing the pages of Helping Mitch after having some distance from them. There are definitely some cringe-worthy panels, if not pages, that I am eager to redraw. I started the story at the beginning of February with no idea what I was doing or getting into. I like to make a mess and assemble things without instructions. Maybe you can relate as a creator or maybe you are exceptionally organized. I learn every week that each page of this story presents new challenges and much like life you often won’t find the solutions in a book. Looking back at the process, I see tons of mistakes but also enormous improvement and growth. I have a looooong way to go but I’m not afraid of trying again and again and again… And maybe, just maybe, in the next one I’ll get a bit better. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I really do believe that when you pour your heart into the work that you love anything is possible.