Into Madness. Well that was a long year. May 10, 2016 is when I released the first part of Into Madness. Prior to that, the longest story I had done was 4 parts. Releasing my usual two pages a month, I figured 2 months was a long time to hold people’s attention. Normally when I wrote these multi-part stories I’d title them “Part X of X” as I’d have them all planned out. Not having any real idea how long Into Madness was going to take (maybe 10 parts) I figured I’d leave the “of X” out and see where it took me. One year, 25 parts, and an epilogue later…
All I really had was an idea of Life walking waist deep in a river and a story idea that both took from the movie Apocalypse Now. Around then I started reading a lot of HP Lovecraft, just really getting into the whole Cthulhu mythos, and wanted to do a story inspired by that as well. At some point (probably while in the shower or on the toilet, where I do my best thinking) I thought “Put ‘em together, dummy!” And so here we are.
I was also getting tired of drawing Life the same way, so I thought I’d have some fun, and put his bandana on his head, and get rid of his sleeves, elbow pads, and gloves. It’s weird to think that now I’ve drawn him more without these things than with, as Into Madness Part 1 was the 22nd page I had done.
The other weird thing is I hadn’t realized how much I relied on these pieces of clothing to hide things I didn’t want to draw. Like necks, wrists, elbows, and chins. Seriously, look at Into Madness Part 1, what the heck is going on with Life’s chin? When I started drawing Life The Necropolis, I had pretty much given up on drawing for FIFTEEN years (not that I ever bothered to learn anything before that mind you.) I decided I was going to hide things I didn’t know how to draw, and draw everything else stylized and exaggerated rather than learn the ‘rules’ of drawing. I had read an interview with a comic artist before where he said you have to first learn the rules before you can break them, and this proved true. I really didn’t have (and still don’t have) any idea of what I was doing. So by the time Into Madness came around, I figured my art was pretty crap and I was going to make an effort to get better at things like backgrounds, basic human anatomy, and overall consistency.
Take a look at the picture above. Drawing 1 is from part 1, and you can see Life’s face looks pretty weird/bad because I was so used to drawing it with the bandana around the lower part of his face. #2 from part 2 is worse. I tried to draw the nose as more than just an L and do more with the eye shape and eyebrows; this face is probably the most out of place of them all. But I was practicing and learning, so screw it. #3 from part 3 is where I finally got on the right track, and #4 from part 6 was based heavily on it. #4 is what I consider the gold standard of Life faces. This is the picture I refer to the most for consistency. #5 from part 10 is still on track, but I start getting lost with #6 from part 11. By the time I get to #7 with part 20, I’ve tried a bunch of different things and angles, but feel like I’m getting back to the gold standard. Although as you can see with #8 from part 24 that I’m struggling without the bandana and a really strange Judge Dredd-inspired mouth choice. But I feel like I made up for it with #9 from the final part 25, which I feel is one of my stronger drawings.
I’ve been asked by a couple of friends if I’m going to collect this story in a physical book, as 25 pages is about the length of a normal monthly comic book (although it took me a damned year to do.) And this face study is the reason why I say no. The whole story was a massive learning experience where I kept revisiting certain elements, like trees, buildings, cultists, and caves, to see if I could do them better the second or third time around. So the whole thing is horribly inconsistent. And not just my anatomy style, but look at how I changed inking styles three times between #1, 5, and 9. #1 has a few lines here and there on Life and the background tree, while #5 has a lot of small lines and dots. #9 is where I’m using a brush pen to do longer and thicker curved lines, particularly on the rocks in the background, and much thicker outlines on Life. Hard ripping off those Moebius lines.
So yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to.