Okay, that’s got to be the stupidest subject line ever. Err… I mean EVAR!!11one1uno.
Sorry. Sandra says I’m “fizzing,” whatever that means.
In three work-days I’ve sketched 600 books. I can do 200 in one day before burning out. This time around we have pre-sold 756 sketch editions. Last time we pre-sold 220. Last time I sketched a grand total of 300 books so that we’d have extras just in case. We needed the extras — several sketch editions were lost or destroyed in the post, and there were lots of people to whom I owed favors. Having a numbered sketch edition on hand was a great way to say “BAM! We’re even.”
Anyway, this time around the denominator is “888,” which gives us a smaller margin of extras if you express the margin in terms of a percentage of the whole, but a much larger pool of extra sketch editions to work with. No, I’m not putting them up for sale anytime soon — I need to make sure that everybody who paid for one GOT one.
So… 888 books. That’s 17 and a half of the 50lb, 50-book boxes. It is time-consuming. It is almost mind-numbing. It is the sort of project which you’ll never be able to even START, not if you don’t wrap your head around it in just the right way. I started by saying “I need to do 200 books a day each work-day before the party.” Then I broke that down into “each work-day I need to do four 50-book boxes.” I further broke it down (after the first 150 books) by saying “I’m drawing the same picture 50 times in a row.”
I wish I could create a unique, single-panel comic for each of the sketch editions, but that would take about 60 days and I’d have to use up all the good ideas I’ve been saving for the strip.
This time around I’m using what I learned when sketching in Under New Management — I’m figuring out how to draw a few Schlock Mercenary characters completely free-hand — no pre-sketching and no construction lines. I just pick up the Sharpie and GO. It is extremely fluid, and it forces me to look at the characters in a new way. Instead of seeing Ennesby’s face as “eyes and mouth mounted on a sphere” I see it as a set of objects whose size and position depend on how I drew the mouth.
Today I did 150 Ennesby sketches and 50 Schlock sketches. Yesterday I think I did 100 Tagon sketches, 50 Schlocks, and 50 Kerchaks. Tagon has been my favorite so far — I originally tried free-handing him by starting with his eyes (which is where I start for Schlock) and some 25 practice pages came out uniformly AWFUL. Faces too narrow, faces too fat, hair too big, eyes too goggly… then I went to bed. While I slept, I dreamed the answer… start with the jaw. As I dreamed I watched myself do it. So I woke up and did it. The first sketch was perfect. The second was rough. The third was awful. The fourth was perfect. And then I was itching to get to the keep and draw him dozens of times in a row in actual books for actual patrons of the strip.
Kerchak was fun, too, because he shares a jawline with Tagon. Also, he’s naked (if you get a book with Kerchak in uniform, you’re one of the lucky ones).
Maybe next time around we’ll make it possible for you to pre-order which character you get in your book. I need to develop a repertoire, however. As of right now I can only free-hand Ennesby, Schlock, Tagon, and Kerchak. I drew a few other characters in the first 150 sketched books, but those all have construction lines and they took forever.
I hope you enjoy these sketches. They’re less polished than many of the ones I shipped the first time around, but they’re much, much more dynamic. If you’ve got an eye for it, you can almost watch me draw just by looking at the naked, free-handed lines.
I’ve said “naked”
twice three times in this post. Whee!
Tomorrow is Wednesday, and I need to color a week of strips first thing in the morning, and then sketch another 200 books. That will take me to 800, and I can leave the last 88 for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Yes, if you’re coming to the book-release party to pick up your sketch edition, I will be taking requests. (But I’m not drawing Bunni in a bunny-outfit, or Elf as a cat-girl so don’t ask. You know who you are.)
(And I’m absolutely not drawing any of the human females naked.)