I am working diligently on Pashmina. As I completethe final art, I feel challenged and discover new ways to communicate the story through art andwords. Even at this stage of final art I continue to learn and edit. The evolution of a graphic novel is excruciating but also wonderful. I cannot believe how far I’ve come in what seems like a short time – although I’ve been working on this book for 3 years now. The above page was in thepitch to publishers. Originally page 1 wasan establishing shot of Priyanka’s home. After a few manuscript revisions, page 1 was her school for a brief moment, until I settled on a driving scene. I trieda “soft opening” which includeda series of shots of Priyanka enjoying driving – hand out the car window, wind in her hair, listening to music. I wanted to contrast her feelings of freedomwith her worried mother and end it with her mom yelling, “PRIYANKA”. After one of many long conversations with my editor he made the comment that it’s better to start with action. I thought about that and shifted the panels. I began with her mom yelling and it felt right. Instead of an establishing shot, a soft flowing opening, we dive into STORY and their relationship. My editor suggested that I think about how my characters hands can look more natural, and to act out what my characters are doing. For months during the thumbnail process I would walk around our apartment saying lines and acting. Nick would giggle at me as I repeated some lines over and over trying to put myself mentally in the moment. While working on the story and revisionsI was thinking about Pashmina so much that it felt like Priyanka and her family wereliving with us. And in many ways, they still are. Finally I settled on the right hand placement and after thumbnailing the entire book for roughly a year (which included many revisions small and large) I started on final art earlier this year. As I looked back on the pitches, I thought, “Wow! So much goes into just one page!” I’ve always wanted to make a graphic novel but I never realized the amount of work it takes to visually communicate a long form story. From panelling, character design and acting to story development, line work and shading (and color!) it exercisesevery creative muscle – and I love it more and more every day!
I’m back in the studio after a 2 month break to be with my daughter. It’s the longest break I’ve had from art in 5 years! My biggest project is working on the final art for my graphic novel, Pashmina. As I opened my completed pages I noticed my main character, Priyanka, looked different in a few panels. I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to keep her consistent throughout the book. As I revised the panels that bothered me, I thought about how much work isn’t seen by the reader. There’s so much pre-work – sketches, notes, ideas, drafts. Through the next few months as I work on final art I want to share some glimpses of the pre-work with you.
As I worried about character consistency, I pulled up a file with a bunch of Priyanka expressions I drew during the thumbnail process. This exercise not only gave me an idea of her personality, but also how to draw her face up, face down, and from the side. Once I brought this file up, I felt calm. I already did the work that could help me with consistency. I use the file for reference through each page.
This is my first attempt at a graphic novel. The whole process is a learning experience. By the time you hold a copy in your hands, each page will have been revised, redrawn and edited at least eight times. The manuscript had five drafts. The thumbnails had three rounds of editing. The final art will no doubt have at least two. Some pages are easier than others. I’ve read about other creator’s processes in writing and drawing. I’m sure I’m doing things wrong and I know I’ve made lots of mistakes. I’m okay with that. Once I finish, I will know what works for me.
For now, I must push forward, making mistakes and learning along the way.
I am thrilled to share the official announcement of my graphic novel Pashmina! You can read about the story, my inspiration and see 3 final pages here! I will be working on the final art through the end of this year and into the beginning of next year. As we move forward my publisher, First Second Books, has said I can share progress posts with you, so look forward to those monthly!
Thanks for all your support ^_^
I am super excited to share that I have signed with First Second (Macmillan) for my debut graphic novel, Pashmina.
This is the big project that made me pull back from daily drawings and I am happy to finally be able to share the news! I’ve been writing (and re-writing, mostly) the book for about a year and will be working on the drawings for the next two years. Thus far it has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my career and I’m nowhere near finished! The above drawing is one that I used in my initial pitch to publishers. It isn’t final art and won’t appear in the book but I believe it captures my feelings and the essence of the story.
(The official announcement was in Publisher’s Weekly)