Above: My Life With Comics #1: Origins (CLICK ON THE ART TO ENLARGE).
Copyright Adrian Kinnaird 2011.
Hi everyone, welcome to my new regular comic-strip feature! Some of you may not have been aware, but long before I was a blogger, I was first and foremost a cartoonist. I've continued to work on graphic novel projects alongside my blogging for the last few years, but due to the long-form nature of those projects and the ins-and-outs of publishing, I've shown very little of that work publicly. Now for a while I've had people needling me to put something new out there, and I've been keen to do that, but it was just a matter of finding the right project and format...
I've never done a full autobiographical comic before, so that idea was really appealing to me. Comics have always been a part of my life, both as an interest and a form of expression, informing my view of the world around me in quite unexpected but profound ways. The more I thought about it, framing my formative years growing up in New Zealand alongside my experiences relating to comics quickly gave way to an avalanche of story material. From the amusing stories of backyard superheroics to the teen years of DIY comics creation, it will all be covered here. After a week working on this project I've already uncovered surprising memories of the unexpected effects comics have had on my life and development as a person that I haven't seen covered elsewhere, so it should make for an interesting journey.
I chose the Sunday Comic Strip format as it seemed like a good fit for short chapters and allowed me to publish it in a regular fashion (and one day soon print it in a cool large newspaper format!).
Above: My script/Rough for A Life With Comics#1. Copyright Adrian Kinnaird 2011.
Now for some behind the scenes extras: above is my script/rough for chapter #1.
Usually if I'm writing for a comic or graphic novel I write a full script, but for comic strips I find the space is so limited it's best to start by sketching out the room you have to work with first (in this case, I went with an A4 page space of two tiers). This way you can sketch in the panels you know you'll need to tell the story, and figure out how best to use the remaining space to fill in the blanks. The same goes with the dialogue, the space is limited so if you can't fit it on the page in the sketch you've probably over-written.
Since this strip is charting my way through comics history, I had considered drawing it in different styles depending on the content eg. drawing this first 'origin story' in the style of Superman artist Joe Shuster etc. I ultimately decided against it, as I feel it will be more interesting to capture my likeness growing up over time, rather than adjusting to the style of different comic artists. But I will try to capture the feel of those comics in pacing and style; in this one I looked to early issues of Action and Detective Comics for the description boxes, flat colours and balloon tails, so keep your eyes peeled for subtle references!
Above: Some reference photos of me from the early 80s (yes kids, that's what telephones used to look like!).
And of course reference photos from the time period were also helpful to recapture the memories as close as possible to the way I remember them (and having them on the drawing board generally helps put me in the right head-space).
Ok, well I hope you enjoy this first one, and come back for more soon!