Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eldritch: Halloween 004

So… it’s ramblin’ time!

It’s come to my attention that some folks don’t know Eldritch is a real word. (To those of you who looked it up, massive, super kudos. Research, ftw!) Definitions vary depending on what dictionary you go to, but the definition my father gave me when I was a little girl was “It means strange, in that elfin, or faerie sort of way.” The word is thought to have been derived from the Middle English word elfriche, which basically meant fairyland. In the comic, (as is seen in Layline) the main characters are generally referred to as ‘eldritch folk,’ as in beings from the fairyland, or magical people. You know, like werewolves and stuff.

With that out of the way, onto the main topic… I’m going to talk about how this comic is made. I don’t think everyone understands what goes into something like this, and some folks act like I’m making this up as I go. Honestly, I think it’s kind of a compliment. Why? Because there’s NO WAY I could keep this all straight if I was just doing it on the fly. I’m just not that smart, people. I mean… I’m not a moron, but I’m not brilliant either. But when the disclaimer says I have a lot scripted and planned… I mean it.

The first stuff done was research and preproduction work. Thankfully, since this basically ties in the stuff that’s been put together over years of development both in and outside of my gallery, a lot of the groundwork for the comic is, well, finished. But I have done, and heck, I still am doing, a ton of research. For instance, a lot of my books look like this: Full of highlighted bits, extra notes with translations or additional information, and tabs that mark important tidbits left out of the index. Some of the stuff I research, develop and plan out will never make it into the comic. But by having the Eldritch characters and universe all set up so I know how it works, it makes it easier for me to work in it. I mean, honestly, Seamus has been in my gallery forever, talking about everything from shapeshifter genetics to discussing varieties of dragon species. Maggie’s design begins at this old piece: : and Faith’s design started out as an old piece of mine, Lil red: Some characters that were eventually dropped, like Bobby made it to very late developmental stages.

In the case of Eldritch, much of what I worked out was initially going to be simply for my own benefit. The comic was going to consist of strips, and be much simpler. However, I realized the real comic resided in what I considered the “Backstory.”

And then the more exciting work began.

The first thing to do after that was make a very rough outline for the entire comic, from beginning to end, and divide it up into manageable chapters. Yes, I do know how this comic will end, and some day, it will be finished. That rough outline incorporates the ‘arc’ of the whole story’s plot. Then, I took the ‘arc’ below that, and wrote a more detailed outline of the chapters in that. From there, I defined and refined it more and more until I had concise, clean (though, admittedly, not spellchecked) guides of each chapter, so that I knew where all the little details were going. That way I can tie one thing into one another… the lack of full moon when she was bitten, how Maggie knew that Faith had been mauled and dumped outside a hospital, even down to little things like how the fennel in chapter one ties into stuff that happens later. After all, things like, say, establishing just how much Seamus rambles and carries on in chapter two makes it so Faith can reflect upon his teachings as the story progresses, rather than have endless scenes of her sitting in the Layline with Dylan’s subconscious version of his coyote self making faces behind Seamus.

However, after the outlines are all set to go, it’s time to script.

Every chapter is scripted before pencil ever hits paper for the cover. I will admit, that I rarely go back and fix spelling and grammatical errors, something I should start doing. Just, when I script, I’m more worried about the content of what is being said, how it’s being said, and what should be going on in the panel it’s being said in. For instance, I’ll include things like whether or not the moon is full, or whether there’s fennel, or a reminder that Todd has a bandage on his left upper leg from the bullet burn from the previous chapter. I usually clean up the typos a little closer to as I’m going, and sometimes, I make mistakes. However, while I will occasionally make minor edits here and there, but I generally leave them untouched as I go. Why? Because I’m not the brightest bulb in the batch and may mess up consistency. Randomly, I suspect the character that has the most edits is probably Todd. I sometimes change where he puts his RRRRrrrrs and such in his speech. In addition… sometimes I have what I want to discuss in the artist’s comments in the actual script.

Once the script is done, it’s time to start layouts. I’m usually a few pages ahead in the general layout of the pages. These are super rough sketches of what is going on, and I’ll draw in the bold borders in a layer overtop it, so when it’s time to start that page, it’ll be ready and waiting for me.

Next, I go to pencil sketching. I’ll print out the layout page, and draw inside the panels. It’s not how the pros do it… but dangit, I can’t afford the super huge super nice paper and ginormous scanner and stuff. So, I make do, and I don’t think I do too terribly. Then, the pencil sketched images are scanned and put into the page layout.

Then comes coloring, and coloring means layers… lots and lots of layers. Most characters require at least two separate layers to render, and when I first started, I was using more like four or more as a minimum. There are usually multiple stages of each character, ranging from block colors to soft shading and reflected light. Then, there are additional things, like the backgrounds, objects, and such. Here’s a little fun tidbit: Dylan’s blue spirit coyote ‘form’ is almost always done in the coloring stage, nearly entirely on the computer, with only very minimal pencil sketching beforehand.

Afterward, for the dialogue, I retype the script in all caps, and copypaste that into the comic page. Behind them, I render the word bubbles or text boxes, and I generally add in sound effects last, before I lower the opacity on them.

Then I save it as a .jpeg, post it, and there we are. After hours of work, and, well, years of planning… there’s the comic page.

Like I said… I’m just not smart enough to keep track of it just in my head. There’s just too much going on. Heck, I probably missed a thing or two in this explanation. But I have to get going on the next page. Aughggghhhghgg, too much to do!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eldritch: Halloween 003

So,  I kind of want to talk about a couple of the things in this page. The first of which, is, predictably, folklore. Many modern sources will mention that werewolves have a deep thirst; however, not all of them explain where that came from. Fifth century author Aetius discusses “Lycanthripia” in his work On Melancholy. While he lists several symptoms and behaviors of lycanthropists, such as excessive thirst, he does not actually list a physical transformation into a wolf as one of them. Seamus would have mentioned this… but Dylan isn’t as well read.

To be honest though… werewolves seem to like water just as much as dog would on a hot day… A LOT of the old means of becoming a werewolf require water in one way or another, be it as an ingredient for a ritual lycanthropic fumigation, or something you drink to become a werewolf, such as water from a wolf’s paw print, water from a lycanthropous stream, or water from the same stream three or more wolves also drink from. And of course, there are the Arcadian werewolves, and those of the Anthus family, who swim across a body of water and emerge as wolves on the other side. That’s just a sampling though… if you want to know more, you’ll have to do a bit of reading on your own (sources, as usual, will be cited at the bottom of the comments). Or, you can wait until I feel like getting chatty here in the artist’s comments again.

The other thing I want to address here is gore. I know. This is a bit bloody and gross. Personally, while I do like my steaks on the rare (not raw) side, munching on raw venison isn’t high on my priority list. Faith, however, thinks otherwise. I hope no one is too bothered by the blood and guts here, but I’ve warned since the beginning that this is intended for mature audiences, and will contain violence. I’ll mark it on DA for the gore as a precaution, but, well… What can I say? This is a werewolf story, and odds are, there will be gore worse than this later on.

Please also read:
The Werewolf in Lore and Legend --Montague Summers
Werewolves, Witches, and Wandering Spirits --Kathryn Edwards
A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture --Charlotte Otten
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Werewolves --Nathan Brown
The Beast of Bray Road --Linda Godfrey
The Book of Werewolves --Sabine Baring-Gould
Werewolves: The Occult Truth – Konstantinos

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eldritch: Halloween 002

Okay, so I bet you guys were wondering where I was last week.  Well...
Momma Nature kicked our butts.  Nothing was too badly damaged and no one was hurt, but as you can see, we… well, we have a lot of work to do around here, and we can’t do it all by ourselves, so… it’s gonna be tight here for a month or three. And… I honestly don’t know how this will affect the comic. The computer’s been acting funny, and I wonder if somehow something got through the surge protector. I’m going to try my best to keep the comic going every week, but… I never saw this coming, and I’m a bit overwhelmed.
With the exception of my friend Wolfie, everyone loves a full moon, be it the Greek Goddess Selene (I always thought that was a nice touch in the Underworld movies), the makers of the Wolfman, or the folks who wrote The Werewolf’s Guide to Life.  So, I hope you guys are enjoying yours! 
I remember someone once telling me that the full moon had nothing to do with werewolves in folklore.  Which… well, wasn’t entirely true.  It just isn’t terribly common; though is certainly common enough to crop up in our modern mythos: our movies and books.

For instance, in Perigord, it was once said that some folks, particularly the sons of priests are compelled to become werewolves during the full moon.  The Voukodlak (a werewolf/vampirelike entity) prowls “When the moon is at her full,”and Sicilian werewolves occur when folks sleep with the full moon shining on their faces.  The werewolves of Palermo are also affected at the full moon, one use of lycanthropus flowers is to be done at the full moon, and Gervase of Tilbery seemed to suggest that lycanthropy was somehow linked to the full moon.  The German tale of Her Hellen’s lycanthropic adventure in the Harz Mountains occurs at a full moon, and in the works of Pliny, there is a werewolf transformation when “The moon shone as bright as day.”  Heck, the Full Moon is even offhandedly mentioned on one of my favorite werewolf legends “The other side.” 
It’s not a lot.  But I can certainly see where modern filmmakers got full moon fever.
And, of course, everyone has their take on how the full moon effects lycanthropes.  Some say it’s the light.  Others (Like one of the folks in a video linked below) have connected it with the tides and how much water we have in our bodies.  Which is a tad silly in my humble opinion, since the amount of water in a human is so tiny in comparison to the ocean, and since all matter would be effected, not just the water. 

Curiously enough, one explanation for werewolf myths that I’ve heard tossed around is that it was started by people suffering from a theoretical condition called “Lunar Effect.” Opinions on it range from those who totally believe it, to those who think it’s hogwash.  For instance, this seems to sustain the idea: while this is less supportive: .  I don’t know myself.  But one of my good friends, who works at a pizza call center, says the crazies call during the full moon… and, well, I know my mom sure gets cranky when the moon is full ;3
Okay, joking aside… the moon does play a role in nature, beyond the fairly negligible effect on geomagnetic fields and gravity.  For instance, there are these fish that spawn just after the full moon: and here’s another article with birds: and yet another with frogs:  Conversely, the 15th kissue of BBC wildlife magazine says that nocturnal insects are less active on the full moon.
Last but not least, have a full moon diagram for further reference.

What do you guys think?  Does the full moon effect your behavior?
Werewolves (Around the world) --Elliot O’Donnell
A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture --Charlotte Otten
Werewolves --Dr. Bob Curran
The Book of Werewolves --Sabine Baring-Gould
The Werewolf in Lore and Legend --Montague Summers
The Beast Within --Adam Douglas
The Book of the Moon --Rick Stroud

Eldritch: Halloween 001

Another page?  But wait, there's more!

Eldritch: Halloween Cover

This is Halloween, this is halloween, halloween, halloween, hallo... okay, I'll stop singing now XD