Sunday, July 31, 2022

Decisions and Revisions That A Minute Will Reverse

I LOVE the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. It is about a middle-aged guy who is paralyzed by his fear of what others are thinking, or of making the wrong choice, or of going in the wrong direction. He'd rather stay where he is than take a risk, because what if it fails? What if things get worse? I will stay right here, thank you very much.

Do I dare disturb the universe? Do I dare, indeed.

It's such a great poem. I don't know that the 15- and 16-year-olds that I read it with can truly understand what it means to have a lifetime of plans that didn't quite work out how you planned. I do. That's why I love it.

That said, decisions need be made or no progress can happen. I've already spoken about my art flow and layout issues, and I'm happy with how that series of choices has panned out. I'm happy to keep working in Microsoft Paint. I've learned how to maximize it, and I think that the limited options force my hand with creativity a little bit; I have to push it to see what I can get out of it. There's something artistically... noble(?) about that. I don't know. But I like it. I like the limited palette I've decided on (black and white linework with grayscale backgrounds). I like that I'm thinking in half-page increments, 2100 pixels wide and 1500 pixels tall. I like that I'm thinking of varying between short character-centered stories and longer narratives that move some sort of story forward.

I hate a grind. I cannot do a grind. I've tried grind. I cannot do it. But I like a regular schedule. I want to keep a regular schedule. I think that a regular schedule is a good thing for everyone.

Plus, my childhood. Everything comes back to my childhood. I knew when the new issue of GI Joe was coming out, and I knew when I could expect it in the mail; it often appeared at the grocery store a day or two ahead of making its way to my mailbox, so I sometimes ended up with two copies of an issue because I couldn't wait the extra day. I finally canceled my subscription when I realized that the guy at the flea market sometimes sold new issues as much as a week ahead of the newsstand. 

I like the idea of a monthly publication. So, I'm not sure what it looks like yet (okay, I know that it's not print but will be some sort of either pdf or web site or comic forum or something that is available online). I want to release something on the first of every month; it might be a chapter from the longer narrative I'm working on, or a shorter complete story. It might be a greatest hits collection or the complete handbook of the Army Ant Universe or I don't know what. But, it will be something that is somewhat COMPLETE. It will be a satisfying read on its own. It will move the needle 'forward' in some meaninful way. It will be a 'complete issue' of 'comic book'. 

I'm thinking that, minimally, this will be 8 pages (4 full pages in print) with a very short story on the order of one of my earliest stories, 'Food Fight'. More likely, it will be on the order of 'Slab Smash', which is 16 pages (8 full pages in print), that tells a longer story. Sometimes, it might be as long as one of my original comics (which were 16 full pages, so that would be upwards of 32 half pages). I doubt that I can be that productive, but I also know that I have sudden bursts of creativity sometimes that allow me to pound out 30-ish pages in a week or two. So, it could happen.

This commits me to SOMETHING. It commits me to telling a story of some size once a month, but that's it. My stories don't lend themselves to the drip-drip-drip of regular one-page updates, and I'm not going to try to force them into a format they don't feel like they belong it. 

If this is going to work, I need a few quick victories. I need a handful of short stories 'in the can'. I don't necessarily want to release these right away, but if I have a tough month or need a few extra days to get together the story I really want to release, I'll have a few 8-pagers in my folders that I can draw from to publish that month. I need at least two or three of those at the ready so that I don't fall behind in the first six months of this endeavor. I would like this to build some momentum, but I'll have to build in some security to ensure it will. 

One more decision before I go: The new "Army Ants" should launch on September 1. That gives me thirty days to get all of my ducks in a row and get some work done. I think if I can end the month with a plan, a place to publish, and at least three stories ready to go on September 1, I'll be in good shape.

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