As many of you know, today is Free Comic Book Day! That once a year celebration when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE.
In the spirit of Free Comic Book Day and since many of you have asked about the Red’s Planet Preview from 2009, I’ve decided to share some of it here with you for today only. Until midnight tonight (pacific time), you can download the first eight pages of chapter four from the Red’s Planet Preview. Remember, these are from an earlier version of chapter four, but I think you’ll enjoy the sneak peek nonetheless.
Enjoy and happy Free Comic Book Day!
Thanks for coming by! Unfortunately, we’re all out of comics! But, the pages will be posted here online over the next seven weeks, so stay tuned!
I know many of you love to read about process and, as you probably know, I have no fear of being transparent about how I create. So after pulling a George Lucas and reworking a few pages in Chapter Three, I thought some readers might be interested in an exhilarating behind the scenes story.
One of the things that I like most about posting a weekly comic is the immediacy of the feedback and commentary that I receive — an experience in complete contrast to majority of cartooning history. In the golden days of comic books, it would be months after deadline before letters from readers began to pour in and the comic strip artists of the same era were usually months into the next story arc before a strip landed in the funny pages.
I’ve often imagined that doing a weekly webcomic is as close to the experience of performing for a live audience that a cartoonist will ever have. Having done a little bit of stand-up back when my hair was fuller and less gray, I can tell you it can be either exhilarating or demoralizing depending on — well, let’s just say it’s the luck of the draw. I find that stage experience isn’t much different from waiting for the first readers comments to come rolling in, but without the shaky knees and sweaty palms.
I like to call Red’s Planet a “graphic novel-in-progress” and for a long-form comic, it’s been invaluable to be able to judge how my audience is perceiving the story as it goes along; are the characters ringing true, is the plot point clear, am I revealing too much in a subplot that won’t payoff until act three, etc. And, occasionally, I find out that the way I set up a scene or gag isn’t playing at all. And that’s when it’s time to figure out how to fix it.
Working as a writer and story artist in animation, my scenes are constantly deluged by notes from the producer, director, or even an executive. It’s my job to take their concerns, fix the story, hopefully plus it, then pitch again in a week or two. At which point, more notes come in and we do it all over again until someone dies or they run out of money.
The great thing about notes are, in most cases, the story becomes stronger. With Red’s Planet, I think of my online readership as playing a key role in that note process. And when a scene doesn’t “play” and there’s a bit of a hint in the comment section, that’s a pretty good indication that I might need to step back, reassess, and maybe go back to the drawing board.
When comments started coming in on Chapter Three page 37, I began to realize that my concept of a large metal box with pre-dented edges that just happen to fall around Red’s legs without dismembering her, really wasn’t working. Not only did it become
a distraction for many readers, it drew attention away from the most important thing: the story.
So after, a little brainstorming (usually while taking a shower), I decided to rework pages 35 thru 37. The reworked pages not only make more story sense by replacing the metal monolithic box with a teetering pile of junk, but they are much more visually interesting as well. I’ve replaced the pages in the story, but I’ve included the original pages here for comparison.
Making changes is just part of the process. The story can always be stronger, and you should never be afraid to change something. Unless you’re George Lucas. Then, of course, you should just leave well enough alone.
My friend Tom Richmond (of Mad Magazine fame) is posting caricatures of all eleven incarnations of Doctor Who drawn as only he can. Starting last week with Doctor #1, the ever grumpy William Hartnell, Tom has followed up with the brilliant and affable Patrick Troughton, the actor who really set the tone for most of the Doctors to come.
Check out this week’s post and get a load of his nice plug for Red’s Planet! And, be sure to each week for a different Doctor — the next nine are sure to be just as much fun!
I swear, this is NOT what keeps me from updating the comic on a regular basis. Really.
It’s been on my mind for sometime as to what to call the fans of Red’s Planet — I mean, the word fan itself is somewhat of a pejorative with its origin deriving from the word fanatic. Some celebs have managed to create very successful brands around their fans. Of course, Lady Gaga has her “Little Monsters”, Katie Perry, evidently, has her “Katy Cats”, and long before they made the scene, Jimmy Buffett and The Grateful Dead had “Parrot Heads” and “Dead Heads”.
What I like about these nicknames is it creates a more familiar connection between performer/creator and fan. It’s the proper name as opposed to the generic. So, for Red’s Planet fans, how about the moniker of “Castaways”? I think it sums up what the story is about and I can maybe even relate to being a castaway myself. Any other thoughts or suggestions? I’d love to read them.
As most of you know, I derive no income from Red’s Planet — which is essentially become a part-time job, taking as many as 12-18 hours per week . On top of my current job as a story artist and writer on Disney’s Phineas and Ferb, that can make a good 60+ hour work week. My day job and family obviously take precedence; production on Red’s Planet tends to fill the spaces that are usually reserved for less important things like, say, sleep. Some weeks the day job just gets super insane and I struggle to juggle everything else. That’s when I have to put the comic on hold for a bit and try to catch up. And that’s where I am today.
Thanks to all the crazy, I’m putting Red’s Planet on hiatus just for the rest of November. Don’t panic (yes, reference implied), I’m leaving you at a good spot — having just ended the current scene — so you won’t be hanging too much. The comic will pick back up on December 3 and for the last 10 pages or so of Chapter 3.
See you in a few weeks…uh…Castaways? Ok, gonna take some getting use to.
PS — Wouldn’t “struggle to juggle” make a great indie band name!
I’ve run into some technical problems and have lost some data — nothing that can be rebuilt, but it’s going to take a little longer. Look for the next page will update Wednesday evening, 12/5. Thanks!