Sunday, September 18, 2022

Please Say It! The protest and advocacy

As I described in recent posts, my latest project has emerged due to three factors: 

  1. producing basic page art quickly using Procreate; 
  2. the development of a YA story at Oxford; 
  3. my interest in protest and advocacy in this gay moment. 

You can scroll back to refresh your memory about the art and the story. But, lastly:

The protest and advocacy

To prepare for summer school at Oxford, I reviewed a decade worth of sketchbooks, looking for ideas I still liked but had never developed. I was prepared for any assignment thrown my way! One of the "fresher" ideas I has stemmed from disturbing news.

A number of parental rights (aka "don't say gay") laws were popping up. I don't fully understand the rationale, but I do think the motivation is misguided at best. If you disagree, I will gladly sit down with you and explain my perspective. 

By the time I got back from Oxford, even more anti-LGBTQ+ stuff had gone down:

Whatever the motivation, the message to LGBTQ+ youth is clear: you're not wanted. You're not welcome. At least, I'm sure that is what is felt.

There is nothing new or special about Please Say It! It's simply a quiet story to add another positive narrative to the mix. It's not all sweetness and apple pie, of course, a good story has conflict! To me, it was important to launch it quickly, and for free. A story about the past for the right now. Content with a message, for younger readers who may not have the means to pay. It's not perfect, just my way of offering some
hope and encouragement.

I hope you stick with the story and support it if you can.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Please Say It! the story

Poison Press-style cover for the series
I'm still a little surprised this has come together the way it has!

The project sits at the confluence of three factors: 

  1. producing basic page art quickly using Procreate; 
  2. the development of a YA story at Oxford; 
  3. my interest in protest and advocacy in this gay moment. 

I've discussed learning Procreate in a recent post, so you can scroll back for that leg of this tripod. So, secondly:

The story

To prepare for summer school at Oxford, I flipped through a dozen years of sketchbooks, looking for old ideas I still liked, but had not developed. And, I brainstormed new ideas. For my YA class, I settled on what is now titled Please Say It!

Our primary assignment was to generate the first 1,000 words of a YA novel. To do that, you kind of had to know where your story was going. So I mapped out the story outline first--based on common themes and pacing of realism-based YA (as opposed to fantasy-based)--in a modified three-act structure:

In class, our instructor shared with us the common YA "template" which more or less followed along a classic three-act structure, in 13-ish steps. This translated well to the standard 26-chapter format of Webtoon. So I'll stick with the Webtoon format, but it translates back to the template, and back to the three-act structure.

This gave my first 1,000 words more heft and purpose. My instructor (Carnegie Medal short-lister Julie Hearn) praised my theme, pacing, action, and dialogue. And the zazz, which a major goal of mine and my friend-from-Oxford Daribha's. What Julie advised needed the most work (and kept me from first class marks) was my "mechanics of language." Fortunately for me, narration mechanics is less important in comics than the things she thought I did well! 

So there, I was confident that I could complete this story as a YA story for teenagers, which was important to me for reasons of protest and advocacy. 

I'll speak to that in my next post.

For now, please check out the comic!--the first chapter is live at Webtoon and Tapas, with exclusive content at Patreon.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Oxford Report


Trevor escaping Matt in his mother's new '86 Chrysler New Yorker

I am recently back from summer school at the University of Oxford. I didn't get much drawing in, because it was so great and I was so busy with school work and socializing with my classmates (though they razzed me for focusing so much on my assignments). Here's the breakdown:

THE OXFORD "EXPERIENCE" was great. I love holding my hand against some random building built in 1325 and hoping to feel some history. Gargoyles everywhere.

PLENARY SESSIONS were mostly great and on a wide variety of topics. I learned a bit and walked away with a lot of inspiration and a few new contacts.

CLASSMATES were amazing. Emerged with a few new friends (Fish-philes know I don't use that term lightly!) and quality feedback on my projects.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION CLASS really helped me focus and rework the idea I've been yammering on about. More on that soon. But the class was my "stretch" class and I ended up doing better in in than my other class.

SCRIPTWRITING was a disappointment. The original course plan was altered at the 11th hour and focused on screenwriting only. But I still managed to workshop my radio play with classmates outside of class, and in class in an altered format. And I gave my best pitch ever, yay.

Since my return I've been in scramble mode to meet my pre-submission deadline on my master's thesis (done! all that's left is to cajole my readers into sending their formal approvals to the office--they already gave me their informal approvals, so this may feel perfunctory) and deciding whether or not I can pull off my YA idea.