A Brief tl;dr
This is probably a lot to say for 20 unfinished webcomic pages and I know I can be fairly long-winded so if you just wanna skip ahead and click through the pictures I’ve put up, I understand.
The TL;DR is
Hello and welcome to Mage Punk Archives! My name is Tables and this is some of the work that I’ve done over the last few years and what I’ve been up to in my little corner of the world. This is the third and last of a series of posts, outlining a number of updates that I completed on the site.
Included are some of my inspirations and a little of what I’ve learned so far about myself as an ever growing artist up to this point.
After this, I want to keep the content more focused on the actual art and story.
I’ll post to this site as often as I am able.
Thanks for reading!
Long Ago, Before the miracle of handheld internet searches and Instagram
When I was but a young, internet webling, I was heavily into shitty online flash games and looking for anything even remotely related to my interests at the time. From Mario and Sonic to various comics, videos games, anime and things never to be said aloud (pornpornporn). My love of the likes of Super Mario Bros and Sonic the Hedgehog (big fandoms for me at the time) would later lead me to sprite comics. Today, my feelings for the little hodge podge collage strips of old video game sprite sheets and backgrounds are a little mixed.
(They were beautiful and I’m gonna make one someday)
Then, in Highschool, I took a basic Web Design class. It was a VVoid World Web of Notepad and Internet Explorer where a kindly old crone passed on to those of us there, some knowledge of the ancient runic language which forms the foundations of the World Wide Web: HTML. Tables, frames, css, oh my! This knowledge would eventually prove invaluable.
Throughout our studies we were occasionally allowed to venture out into the Wider World Web. It was during these little adventures and travels across the Web that I happened upon the magical land of Webcomics. It was also during this time that I began break free of the enchantment of sprites. Even though I would probably never return to them, they would always hold a special place in my heart.
The Internet is for [Comics]
Webcomics – Synonymous with “Masochism”
At first, I had no idea just how grueling webcomics could be. Most webcomic artists pump out pages one to three times a week. At the time I got into them, MegaTokyo, then still partially a video game webcomic, was just releasing its third printed book; 2-3 updates a week with a loosely set schedule. Evan Dahm was wrapping up his surreal fantasy epic, Rice Boy; with updates consistently going up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The various sprite and drawn webcomics that I was following at the time were updating all the time. Seeing all the great work going up, I felt encouraged to try it myself.
I drew these closer to the end of my junior year of high school.
Taking major inspiration from a lot of the manga and anime that I was enjoying then, I used pen and ink to make my comic pages. I liked working in black and white because it felt direct and skipping on color made it easier to finish faster. I figured I could work faster if I didn’t have to worry about the extra step. When I did want to use color, as is typical for the early pages of a new manga, I used markers.
At the time, I had no idea that mangakas used assistants. That’s messed up.
Not to say that it was completely unrealistic, but back in the real world I could only average one black and white page a week. If even. The spider webs I was drawing all over were so that I wouldn’t have to use a ruler to draw my panel proper borders. I thought it gave the comic an “old archive”. In the end, I concluded that the spider webs should have their place and not be all over.
This time, I decided to work a little more carefully and deliberately.
It was going pretty well but by the time page 7 rolled around, it was time for midterms and I had become too self-conscious and uncomfortable with the way I was drawing my comic pages then. Then, it was time to take finishing high school seriously and before I knew it, I was a freshman at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. I did a lot of growing in the next four years that I attended there. Unfortunately, I never revisited those pages. Instead, near the end of my sophomore year, I took a Sequential Art class where the Final was a full-color, 5-page comic.
These are the ink-wash versions of the 7-page Final that I submitted. I’d originally colored them digitally to meet project requirements but I don’t want to post those just yet..
In the End
I wasn’t satisfied. The truth was that I waited until the last minute, rushed it, and over-reached on a re-draw that wasn’t much fun for me to work on. During the course of that Sequential Art class my professor turned my attention to artists like Moebius and Mike Mignola. I also came across Katsuya Terada’s stuff around this time.
And school went on…
I worked on Mage Punk when I could between assignments.
Between thinking I could possibly work on a for-print comic…
…and a webcomic at the same time.
The End was Near
Most of these were actually made towards the end of my four years at Ai. Those of us graduating were tasked with compiling our work from the years past in accordance with the requirements for obtaining our degrees. I believe that we were given two semesters to gather our pieces and do any revisions to previous works to get them up to date with the rest of the portfolio piece. Illustration Graduates at AiFL were typically required to gather a required selection of their work into an on-demand printed book. The year that I graduated, my department decided to change things around a little. Specifically, we were given the option to collect the requirement work into a plain black binder portfolio and make the printed book more geared towards our pursuits. I opted to make a Mage Punk/Orbyss Archives “Zine” as my main portfolio piece.
And Then College was Over
I drew a few more pages of the comic until I became employed full-time. These days, there aren’t enough free hours in my days for me to keep up with any typical webcomic’s update schedule so for a long while I stopped working on the comic altogether. I’m squeezing as much work out of every second that I’m not there; with whatever energy I can muster. This includes planning, writing, sketching and drawing. Before I got back to work on the site, I was posting fairly regularly to my Twitter and Instagram; those posts took time to do as well.
Most of this post was written in separate sessions on my commutes to work.
Even though I always wanted to present Mage Punk as a webcomic, I always worked on it like it would go to print eventually. This created a confusing mindset for me when working on the comic, where I had to work on a whole book, but I have to rush to finish every page. If I wanted to put out pages more frequently I took shortcuts at any point I could to be done with them. Even if I created a good buffer of finished pages, I’d still run into that same pitfall eventually. I wasn’t enjoying my project because of a pressure I applied on myself to finish it in a way I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with. I didn’t even get that much done in the end.
It’s important that I work on it at a pace that lets me show the best of my ability. I would love it if I could be properly finished with the pages before I post them but if I wait before it’s all good and done I’ll just never get around to posting anything, forever floating, aimlessly, throughout creative internet limbo.
Instead, if I have to work on my comic in piecemeal, I’ll just post it up in piecemeal. Mage Punk will still be presented as a webcomic but, until the end of the book is done, certain changes are still a possibility. Editing is an important part of producing any book and I’m going to make its presentation reflect that.
A Webcomic in Presentation Only?
Those Two Images are the Same Page
Instead of trying to finish things at breakneck speeds, I’m going to work on the comics at a more reasonable pace. I’ll try to work on it mainly Chapter to chapter instead of page to page like how a webcomic normally is done (buffers aside) This gives me the opportunity to take a step back and get a broader look at the story while still putting out content in enjoyable chunks.
It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around drawing a comic on a start-to-finish, page-by-page basis. While I was working on the later pages in the chapter I kept finding myself jumping around and making changes to previous pages to make some things more consistent with later parts of the story. Instead of working page-by-page, I was editing the chapter as a whole to try to strengthen the narrative I’m trying to tell.
To that end, I still want to present it on this site as a webcomic; if only in name and archive.
At the VERY longtime behest of my editor, I’ll be presenting the comic as a work in progress at various points in the following production stages.
- I’ll post dialog excerpts here and there. Nothing that can spoil the story too much.
- This step will be kept largely behind the scenes.
- I do these on index cards in ballpoint pen to figure out the sequence of events that I most prefer.
- This is the step where I’m prone to overloading a page with information.
- First Drafts
- Full size roughs of the earlier thumbnails. This step helps me get a better sense of how crowded or unbalanced a page might be early on.
- This step also helps to prune out any strenuous scenes or dialog that could otherwise have their own pages.
- If it isn’t working visually at this point, it’s not going to work in the next step.
- This is where the real drawing happens. Drawings in this step are made by either digital or traditional means depending on when or where I’m working.
- This step is exactly like the drawing step but in pen and ink. Despite my affinity for real pen and ink, I’ll mainly be working this step digitally.
- This step is wrought with indecision but it also one of the faster, more fun steps to do.
- I’ve removed the dialog from all the pages currently up, opting to keep that out until a chapter is completed; it’s the thing I’m likeliest to change the most frequently until the end.
- All lettering is currently done digitally but I’m considering the possibility of hand lettering.
- Drawing dialog can be quite fulfilling but it takes a lot of practice.
- This part will be happening all throughout. Page re-orders, panel redraws, changes in dialog.
- Until the book is done.
Here We Are
I’ve already made some revisions to a handful of the pages that are already up; if you browse through the comics you can see the revisions noted in the comic descriptions. I’ll make blog posts for any major revisions or series of revisions that I do. I have a few ideas for some smaller projects that I can work on while I work on Mage Punk. Whether they be illustrations, stories, or even mini-comics like this silly thing down here.
I might have also mentioned before that I have a few other drawings that I wanted to make for the site. In particular I have a neat idea for some social media icon illustrations. I wanna make something that takes advantage of what I’ve learned with using CSS. It’s nothing too fancy.
All that said, future posts will be a bit more brief than these last three were. I’d much rather write and post about the work itself, but I feel like I’ve hit a personal milestone and felt the need to ramble on about it a little.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading!