A Brief History of My Comics

This is a semi-brief history of the comics I’ve drawn in my time, from age 10 to age 28. I’ve had fun reminiscing and going through all these old comics to type up the descriptions.

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2000 – age 10 or 11 – “Squadron Six”

This is the first comic I have saved that I made myself. It was to be a continuing comic book series about anthropomorphic cats in space. (Hey, I watched a lot of Star Wars, and I was That One Girl Who Loves Cats.) It got about 3 pages in before I abandoned it. The ink was done with a semi-nice ballpoint, and the color was cheap colored pencils.

Obviously the art is…not where I’d like for it to be, but that actually just goes to show where I started: ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN’ NOWHERE. I had zero inborn talent. But the important thing is that I just. kept. making. comics.

I don’t think I had any reference books or tutorials at this point; I just read whatever comic books I could get my hands on, usually superhero series borrowed from friends.

2002_2

2002 – white wolf comic, ver.1 – age 12

This was a black-and-white, pencil-drawn and shaded story about semi-anthro wolves. The general concept was about a white wolf rejected by her pack for her white fur. I actually really like the expressions on the characters here. The one thing I think I was born with, artistically, was the ability to draw expressive features.

2002_3

2002 – martial arts comic page – age 13

I clearly remember drawing this page. It was late September 2002, and my family was on vacation in New Jersey (yes, New Jersey). My great-uncle, a professional medical illustrator, took a look at the comic for me. “Well, you certainly have talent,” he (generously) said.

Honestly, this is my least favorite comic page I’ve EVER done, but I figured it should be in here, because it’s the first one I really showed to people other than my fellow comic-book-loving, comic-book-drawing peers.

2002_4

2002 – “Destiny” – age 13

I did this comic in December of 2002, and it was going to be several volumes and probably at least 75 or 100 pages. It was to be an “anime graphic novel.” (I didn’t like the word “manga” because I thought it sounded like “mange.” True story.)

I had begun using “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cartooning,” 2002, and it had one – yes one – chapter on manga. I read that chapter endlessly. It inspired me so much.

“Destiny” only reached 15 pages or so, but it was the closest thing to a manga I’d ever made. It was sketched in pencil, inked in cheap ballpoint, and shaded in pencil.

2004_1

2004 – “Stowaways” – age 15

Another attempt at a sci-fi. My art skills had somewhat improved, but I still didn’t really know what I was doing with panels and lettering. I didn’t know how to ink, so a lot of my work was in pencil.

I do like the concept here, though, and it was *slightly* less cliche than my previous works. I wish I had written down the backstories I had for these characters – I know I had some. I do have the names (Tris, Selana, and Corin), written in tiny print below the corresponding panels, but their stories are lost to time, a mystery even to me.

2004_2

2004 – “The Eyeliner Epic” – age 14

“The Eyeliner Epic” is the first “comic book” I ever completed. Not quite a manga – it was more in the style of a collection of comic strips, with a little gag at the end of each one. It ran 10 pages (each with 4 comic strips, like this page), and was inked in Sharpie, I think. Maybe some kind of nice smooth ballpoint? Gel pen? Again, the details are lost to time.

The characters were clones of me, my younger brother, and our best friend. Renamed Kelly (me), Nick (my brother), and Joey (our friend), these characters had an adventure involving mechanical snakes, boy geniuses, eyeliner, and creampuffs.

2004_3

2004 – “Itakobu Academy” – age 14

This one is a bit embarrassing. I came up with “Itakobu” by smashing syllables together and thinking it sounded Japanese and therefore cool. (Does it mean something? I have no idea. Frankly, I’m afraid to google it. I certainly didn’t google it back then…) Cultural appropriation/casual racism/language generalization much?

Anyway, it was sort of a middle-school/fantasy story. Later on there’s the “weird kid who’s into UFOs and telekineses,” Rei, who quickly diagnoses a case of mind control and sets off an adventure into the world of psychic phenomena. Not a bad premise, but still…meh. Inked in Sharpie, ran about 4 pages before being abandoned.

2004_4

2004 – generic teen girl comic – age 14

This was some silly “girly girl” comic. I guess I was going for shojo manga, with one small problem: I didn’t know what shojo manga was. I wanted to draw a story about teenage girls and the woes of high school. (I was homeschooled. Everything I knew about high school was from TV, movies, or books – and it all sounded terribly romantic.) This one I inked in ballpoint and colored in colored pencil. Several of the character designs were more or less stolen from existing series – I think Roxanna’s design was nicked from W.I.T.C.H., if that was around back then.

2004_5

2004 – shojo manga page – age 15

I actually kinda like this page. I like my attention to detail, especially in the hair, and the chibi fight still makes me grin. It was only ever this one page, but I still like it.

I think at this point I had started going to Amazon.com and  looking at covers and sample pages of actual manga. (I had finally let go of “manga sounds like mage” and “all manga is porn” and had come to terms with it all.) I took inspiration from “Alice 19th” and “Inuyasha.” I remember looking at volume 4 of Alice 19th by Yuu Watase, with an image of Frey, and wishing I could draw like that.

I now own all of Alice 19th. I still wish I could draw like that.

2004_6

2004 – “Trace Recon” – age 15

Here was when I started to go to PolyKarbon.com (then dot net) and look at the tutorials. The main character here, Trace Recon, is a terrible ripoff of Poly from the old PolyKarbon tutorials/art. But I’m pleased with how I had improved. Having those tutorials (some of which are still available HERE) helped so much. I had them all printed out and bound in a binder with sheet protectors.

This is when I started to actually study anatomy and proportions, at least very basic cartoon versions, and I think it shows. Shoutout to Patrick Shettlesworth for putting up PolyKarbon and for hosting those tutorials to this day.

This comic was just two pages.

2005_1

2005 – “Coralie” – age 15

Whoa. Those lines. Those LINES. What the hell happened?! Well, Mr. Patrick Shettlesworth (of PolyKarbon.com) said that you should use Sakura Micron tech pens. At that point, I was ready to jump off a bridge if Shettlesworth said it would make me better at art, so off I went to Michael’s and got a set of Microns. I never looked back.

I was attempting perspective in panel 2. Panel 3 was an interesting choice (no frame). I like Coralie’s pigtails. They look like little wings. I might reuse her design.

This comic ran less than 5 pages before I gave up on it.

(Have you noticed the pattern of unfinished comics in my past?)

2005_2

2005 – “Alone” – age 15

” – you really are alone…”

To this day I love this page. I like the narration, I like the framing, I like the layout, the bird, the lines…I should put this in my portfolio.

Anyway, more Microns and more work on line weight and shading. I think this is when I really began my Love Affair with The Line. I really just love working with lines. It’s why I don’t often color or even shade my work – I prefer the stark contrast of dark and light, thick and thin, how much you can do with just lines.

2005_3

2005 – white wolf story, ver.2 – age 15

Another attempt at that white wolf story, this time with Microns and somewhat better art. The wolves here are so thin that I joke that they’re “shojo wolves” (shojo manga characters do tend towards disturbing thinness). I loved wolves from a young age, and I still want to do a decent version of this story someday…if I can improve the premise and make it a little less boring.

2005_4

2005 – the experiment – age 16

I think I must have just read Firestarter by Stephen King when I drew this. It was a comic about a winged girl with fiery superpowers who was created in a government lab and escaped. Despite the cliche/ripoff/trope nature of the plot and premise, I really like this page. You’ll see later that I really, really love characters with wings.

2005_5

2005 – alone in the woods – age 16

Why is this one so very dark?! I don’t know! I do know that it was originally hosted on one of my first art pages, which I will not name, and that the girl was going to be rescued by an angel named Seraph.

I like this page because I did some good shading and the panels are half decent. I think the plot is somewhat easy to follow, at least in this early page.

2009_nj2010_nj

2007-2009 – epic angel story – age 18-20

This webcomic ran over 100 pages. I need to repost it somewhere…perhaps it’ll be available here someday?

I don’t remember if I worked on any comics in the 4 years between the previous angel comic and this one; there was one other webcomic that was more cartoony, and then this one. It was to be an epic, full-length manga about angels at war with humanity (and, later, with God).

Also, the main angel characters were all gay, so yeah, I was using comics to explore those aspects of myself back then.

I learned a lot from this project, and while I don’t exactly have great memories from it – it was essentially an exercise in extreme artistic burnout – I don’t regret it at all.

The first example here is traditionally inked and digitally shaded; the second is entirely digital.

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2011 – “Sparkplugs” – age 22

My Chemical Romance, my teenage favorite band, came out with “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” in November 2010 and suddenly every single fan on deviantART (which seemed to be most of the users of deviantART) wanted to make a Killjoy OC (original character).

Well, I was not to be outdone. So I made a comic.

Okay, I tried. An attempt was made. I only got like 5-10 pages in (5 inked, 10 sketched), but I tried. Again, I just. kept. trying. I should have finished at least one of these at some point, but i just hadn’t learned to NOT take on huge, 500+ page comic projects and start small. I needed to try something shorter.

[STRONG THEMES BELOW]

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2012 – “Love The Way You Lie” – age 23

This was my first attempt at a song comic. It was based on “Love The Way You lie” by Rihanna (the piano version, without Eminem). It was pretty damn depressing, and when I started to attempt song comics again in 2017, I had to close the files when I looked at them. Too upsetting, even to their creator.

But, I had started a song comic, and I had begun to plan more manageable projects – this one would have been about 50 pages. Yet again, I didn’t finish it. But. I just. kept. trying.

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2017 – “You Are In Love” – age 27

I finished this one just a few months back. It’s a song-comic based on “You Are In Love” by Taylor Swift. It took me 15 years to finish a manga, and it’s just a little ~30pp one-off, but I am so freakin’ proud of it. You can read it here.

Now you see why I reiterate that I kept drawing and trying?

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2017 – “The Cheyenne Line” – age 28

I’m having so much fun with this one. Read the previews here.