A Crossroads (not really)

So, while I am feeling creatively on fire, I still have that mentioned problem of not knowing what to commit myself to. I’m at this weird phase where I realize that, if I really set my attention, mind and energy onto a manga project, I could produce a story of a quality worth bringing live to dar intarwebs. I also know from my lack of interest in The Catcher (sorry Margaret) that I don’t get very excited about written projects, because when I finish them, there’s nothing to show for it but a whole bunch of words, that take a while to sound right anyway. But in the case of manga, at the very least I get excited by scanning clips in and saying lolollookwhaticando. And if I commit to a new manga project, then I could track down that widget/plugin/whatever that artists like Der-Shing uses (okay it looks like she uses LiveJournal but you get the point), and start a stupid little amateur webcomic of my own.

But the temptation to just continue a project that I’ve already picked up and put down multiple times is also great. In fact, there are at least four possible manga projects I could turn myself towards.
So, I’m thinking that maybe it wouldn’t hurt to explain a few of them, and, doing something I very seldom do, try to get some people to voice their preferences so as to boost my enthusiasm for one project or another.

If nothing else, I’m going to put up a few clips from the four different projects and ramble about them. xD Maybe even doing that will straighten things out for my own good at least.

All four of the projects have been completed in some form or another, at one point. They include Redefining Evil, Rebels, The Spirits and the Children, and The Catcher. OBVIOUSLY I’ve talked a ton about the first one. The second one is more of an inkling, because Rebels is a good story and has an array of fabulous characters. But it’s a finished story – I did it after I finished the first version of RE. The Spirits and the Children is sort of like how Rebels started – it was a project that I got into around two years ago, but it kept falling to the wayside of other projects, and then last year I refined the idea some more and actually wrote out a whole detailed plot synopsis, did another dozen or so pages, and then stopped again. The Catcher is from this summer; I started the manga version, switched to novel, and finished the novel a few weeks ago, with Margaret’s stamp of approval on the story and a few more revisions necessary. In this case, The Catcher would almost make a better manga, because it has many visual qualities, rather than literary ones.

So, now I’ll offer a detailed look at samples from each of these four.

Redefining Evil||Redefining Evil, which you can sample by clicking the image below, is a tale exploring the root of evil, and what it means to be redeemed. Following the misfortunes of a suffering family, it is full of drama, action, romance, and the weakening and strengthening of bonds. When the Evereaux family takes a trip to the United States so that the world-weary Julian can visit his dying father, they don’t expect the painful secrets of their past to be ripped open by the presence of a dark-eyed stranger. He calls himself the cousin of a man by the name of Danyil Kaehn, who at one point had purposely sought vengeance on the Evereaux family for the part that they played in the death of his father, Mihai Kaehn. But when this deranged cousin, Sotoka-Khepri Mioriu, begins to prey on the Evereauxs just as Danyil had before, they must accept Danyil as the only person capable of protecting them from Sotoka-Khepri’s attacks – and accept that he may, after all, have had a change of heart.

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Redefining Evil‘s revised manga is excellent. I am eighty-some pages into the new version. The first fifty pages are entirely inked. Sixty through to where I am now have inked lines and pencilled shading, a style that I think fits what I want to do and what I want my art to look like. If not for these inconsistencies in presentation, and the possibility of sending the novel version off to prospective agents, I’d readily put the whole thing online. (This is still a possibility…but I’d have to be sure.)
Of the pages I’m putting on here, this one is clearly superior, just because of the quality and clarity.
One problem, though, is that RE in manga just can’t stack up against the literary depth of the novel version (or I haven’t figured out how to make it, although some ideas are in the works).

Rebels||When the last remaining threads of police sergeant Erik Atwater’s sanity snaps upon the death of his pregnant girlfriend, he becomes the catalyst for momentous changes within his society. Living in a world where vampires and humans coexist as if it is just a matter of ethnicity, he goes head-to-head in a rather unorthodox way with the mounting civil unrest due to prejudices against half-vampire, half-human hybrids. Rebels is a story of sacrifice and ambition, of allies and enemies and the things in between, with a profound message about what it takes to make things happen.

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The thing is that, since it’s a relatively recent manga, the original isn’t that awful, and I’m not entirely convinced that writing it over again would be wholly satisfying. Kaleb (the brooding guy in the scarf) is honestly the only one whose look even changed that much, because I toned it down from the somewhat obnoxious, Zuko-esque hairdo with the bangs and the ponytail. And Myoku would be using his Micah Stillwater look. But the other ones would be unchanged, and so if not even characters are getting a facelift, the only thing that rewriting it would do would be to allow me to tell the story using clearer images than the original had.

The Spirits and the Children||The lines between the physical and the spiritual realm begin to blur in this story about transcending familial bondage and finding faith through fire. The Spirits and the Children follows the trials of the intersecting lives of a boy named Jeremiah struggling to understand God despite the crumbling chaos of his life, a young man whose hope is waning because of the stagnation of those he loves, and a girl who craves wholeness and healing for her heart and the heart of her closest friend. Everything changes when the angel Azrael steps in, following the stalking of a great, fearsome demon named Belshazzar, who seems to be preying on the growing chaos in the lives of humans. What will this angel risk, and what rules will he break, in order to rescue the humans from the ever-deepening chasms in their lives?

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The Spirits and the Children would actually be a really great story for me to write, and it deals with issues I’m still dealing with in a way reminiscent of a bit more of a fictional This Present Darkness (Frank Peretti).
The art is a little old now, but clearly I still did some things in a way that I wouldn’t change. xD This page cracks me up. And Micah would be epically complex in this, and he would embody all the trouble I’ve had trying to be a Christian without an abundance of other Christian friends.
Honestly, this one has the most promise to continue. But I’m just tempted to go back to the beginning and do it like RE’s done now. But that just sounds so tedious and unappealing to me. D:

The Catcher||When fairy-catcher Andrew Eckhardt’s controlled world is upended by the sudden death of his sister and the niece that’s left behind in his custody, Andrew must combat his growing unease with his somewhat unethical profession as well as the penetrating way that his niece, Evelynne, seems to catch on to what he’s doing. In a tale chock-full of magic, action and heart, The Catcher explores just how far your heart can force you to venture.

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The Catcher, like Rebels, isn’t reeeally in the running to become a manga that I commit myself to…but it’s one of the four that I kind of have hanging open right now. It’s more recently done, and it makes me not really pleased with my ebony pencil, after all, due to how grainy the pages are. Still – Karoh looks cool. xD

SO! If you, the reader, were to pursue any one of the above four stories…which would it be? I understand that some of them are not for everyone, whether because you aren’t interested in the spiritual aspects of RE and The Spirits and the Children, or because you’re totally over the vampire stuff in Rebels, or because you think the fairies in The Catcher are for pansies…but given the choice, which would capture your interest the most?

Honestly and fortunately, after writing out these pitches, I’m feeling The Spirits and the Children the most. I think it’s an unusual sort of story to find in the form of a manga, and I think it would be good for a Christian manga to make its way onto the web.

3 comments on “A Crossroads (not really)

  1. Well, in terms of which story, I think you should go with either whichever one is the most complete or the one that interests you the most. Which one has the most significance? Which ones could be improved (these are the ones you hold off on)?
    If it ends up being a long term comic, you’re going to have to be able to work on it as long as it takes to finish it.
    As for what you have as examples in artwork here, I would say that you say practice your consistency and anatomy a little bit more. You do good putting in details in the background though. However, you have a lot of excess and odd lines. I’d suggest cleaning them up and making them look much more controlled.
    The font is kinda odd, usually comics use handwritten fonts or just handwriting in general. You can easily get a font off BlamBot, which also has a good tutorial on lettering too.

    I don’t know what Der-Shing uses to publish Meek online, he might do all the coding himself. You might have to use WordPress and a plugin for it. A lot of webcomics might use Comicpress (and they usually look quite professional), but I chose to use Webcomic. It takes some working with coding to make it stand out and look unique but it quite user-friendly when it comes to publishing the actual comic. There are some websites that will host webcomics, but I’d suggest getting your own website if you’re serious about it.

    You have some good things going, but I think a little more practice would help you improve it overall.

  2. Thanks, James! <3
    You've given me plenty to think about as far as the directions I want to go. I will definitely work on making things look crisper. And continue the never-ending exploration of human anatomy!
    I actually do have the traditional manga font installed, and I used it on that first page listed. I just don't prefer it because my style tends to be more dialogue-heavy, and an all-caps font takes up a lot of space quickly. But that's really the only explanation I have. The rest of your comments are extremely helpful.

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