BEHOLD: IN THIS POST I WILL TALK ABOUT MY SHORT COMIC THE TREE, IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ MY WAFFLE, CLICK HERE AND YOU CAN JUST BUY IT!

Its been a while since I blogged anything, been throwing myself into my work a little because I’ve been feeling a little upset, just a little for no apparent reason. Also, I had a birthday which I was generally jolly for and had a great time, AND I had a trip to London to see The Room with Tommy Wiseau doing a Q&A which the unflappable Christopher R Moore wrote about here. I also wrote about it for Raconteur Magazine, but that is coming later. Because Chris answers to no man but himself, he’ll always be fastest off the draw, if you follow me. We also got drunk, played video games, and ate noodles.

Just if you’re worried about me, even though I am “allowed” to drink now what with Dryathlon being over, I’m still swearing away. It was just a special occasion, alright.

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I’ve also updated my portfolio with some cool stuff. Check it out!

Anyway, cutting to the chase, in January I finally released The Tree, a short little comic about a tree in a forest that has weird properties.

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Its only short, as I said, and it was designed as a small comic to have on the table at conventions and at gallery shows so people can pick something up on a budget. I know for a fact when I’m wandering about a con I’m hesitant to cough up £3 for a full colour comic, even though it might be fabulous and have stunning art and story, but I’ll pick up any old bollocks for £1. Its unfair and dumb, but its how I think a lot of people work. £1 is just chump change isn’t it? I’m very interested to hear your opinion on it, so comment if you have one. When it comes down to it, $1 is as cheap as I could make the digital version of it, because when you remove the publisher’s cut, then website’s cut, there is shit all left for me. If it were longer, say 10 pages long, I’d still have it in the Dollar area, because once you’ve got rid of those overheads, its all gravy. I would say I’m under pricing myself, but I like to give an affordable product to people who can enjoy it. Original art is expensive, comics should be for everyone, dawg.

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During the conceptual stages of The Tree it was going to be a stone on a hill, and it was going to go far more into the fake history of this rock and what it does. Other than that, the story was always going to be the way it is now. I am fascinated by modern mythology, local legends and that sort of thing. I wrote a comic once about a Black Fox that was the spirit of vengeance for abused animals and it’d hound the dreams of the perpetrators until they went mad or met a sticky end. That never went anywhere. I may have to change that. I wrote a piece of fiction once about The Witch Elm story from Worcestershire, and this is a continuation of that project. That sort of English heritage ghost story stuff hooked me as a kid and I’m keen to ruin all your lives with it now I’m an adult.

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Did a lot of over thinking though. I have a tendency to labor far too much on story details and layouts and all this when making my own comics, until I’ve built such a wall of concept on myself I’ll never get over it. Actions speak louder than ideas when it comes to comics, it seems, because if it stays in your head, it’ll always just be an idea. So I just did it, on a big drawing board on my knee in one sitting for about five or six hours just drawing comic and making notes on dialogue as I went, so it all fit together. Its drawn on really, really shitty paper with a black biro. I wanted to try something different, and paper choice is important when scanning stuff in. The cheap stuff I was using had its own recycled texture and really made the thing feel earthy.

Then I lost it. For a long time the original art went missing, say about a year, so I had to redraw it. Taking it seriously I struggled to remember it and did it in dipping ink pen on watercolour paper and it really just didn’t feel right. It was almost as if in those 6 hours in front of the TV, staying up with my sister who was visiting watching Practical Magic (you know the movie was Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock) I’d chanelled something that MADE my story for me. The comic making process was as eerie as my story. It wasn’t until I fished out my Reggae Reggae Cook Book to cook a chicken stew that I found the pages again, tucked inside. I’d used the hard back book to keep them flattened out because the paper was so thin.

I had to rewrite all the words too because the notes I’d made whilst drawing had got lost too. The project seemed to be sort of doomed, just like the other one I’d undertaken at the time for Stu Perrins (Which will be released soon) which actually got stolen from me. I scanned it into the PC, and added the words over the top and added some more earthy tones in the background, so that it seemed less stark. You can make anything as rough as you like, but you sort of have to acknowledge that it looks rough, if you follow me. If people think its accidental it just looks cheap. I remember the Loading Ready Run guys talking on their podcast many years ago about doing a sketch about a dodgy TV station, and dressing the set so it looked like them doing dodgy, and not just looking dodgy. Trying to be crap, instead of just BEING crap. I don’t ever want anything to look cheap. I’m a professional.

Its nice to have it out in the world. I’ve been thinking about Becky Cloonan’s Self Publish or Perish essay recently, and how that the excuse that no one will publish your stuff anymore is no longer valid for why you don’t release comics. If you keep shoving things out into people’s faces they’ll have to take notice of you eventually. Its like this blog. If I had one post on it, I might get a reader a month. When you hit a hundred, you get far more, because people read one thing by accident, and if they enjoyed it they’ll look for more and read everything. If you put a tonnage of comics into the world people will eventually find you. You build it and they will come. That isn’t at all what Becky Cloonan said in her Essay by the by, its just what I think; Don’t sit around waiting for someone to give you the world, just take it.

I think I’ll cover that somewhere else later though. It’d make an interesting blog post on its own.

Once again, thanks for reading.
Please buy the Tree, its only short, but its cheap and I am very proud of it.

Nick

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