Here is the straight poop. (Wait a minute! Not poop metaphors again!) Okay, better idiomatic expression… Here is the truthful statement about work habits. (Better! But that was idiomatic not idiotic, right?) Right.
Sometimes I mess up. I am working slowly and steadily on the next story burning to be told, When the Captain Came Calling. In the illustration I am working on, you can probably see the mess-ups already. I very carefully blot my black ink pens when I am doing the pen and ink work. Even ball point pens can blot. I will admit I press entirely too hard on both ink pens and colored pencils. I break a lot of colored lead and make a lot of black pens bleed. I have arthritis in my hands and often push too hard because I am pushing back against the pain. I can sometimes use a lighter touch with the colored pencil, the area being covered may require a more lightly penciled mark and have more paper whiteness showing through. Black pen lines are never like that. To get a steady, even line, I push with pressure to get things dark and full and even. The pen that I was using had developed a leaky ball and had to be blotted with every use. When it made the first smear, I changed to a new pen. I cussed a little too. (Cussing makes it better. I learned that from Mark Twain.) But I didn’t panic and throw the drawing out. I can fix it up a bit when I add the color. But the second pen I was using was a pen I switched out earlier for bleeding. That’s how I got the second smear. Dang me! It almost ruined what I think is a very promising portrait of my main character Valerie Clarke. (Valerie, whom you may remember from Snow Babies posts, is based on a girl I once had a crush on, and my own daughter, the Princess.)
Now, ink smears are not the only thing that had to be twisted and worked around to get this project underway and at least a little bit tamed. The title was originally a problem. I tried to call this story The Captain Came because of the primary antagonist and the fact that he is returning from the South Seas to the little Iowa town of Norwall. This was a problem because Captain Dettbarn was running from a bunch of psychotic little Juju men (animated Tiki idols) who were chasing him because he made the witch doctor’s chief’s daughter pregnant. That made the title an R-rated joke that I hadn’t intended even before I considered this story a YA novel idea.
The Juju men themselves are problem. In this time of unintended racism, I had to work on them to make them be something other than a racial stereotype. They were not originally made entirely of wood. I had to eliminate cartoonist’s shortcuts in depiction that made them look like little black men or little dark brown men. They are of an indeterminate South Seas racial stock. Their language is mostly Tagalog (because it is a language I have tried to learn due to Filipino relatives). Their culture is mostly movie fiction that comes from the Captain’s own liar’s brain. Most of the information about the witch doctor and the mysterious island come from the Captain’s logbook which is a work of fiction written by a drunkard with a vivid imagination. So I am trying to be fair to a people and race that don’t actually exist outside of the story within the story. Whew! I’ve got to stop explaining complicated things now before my brain melts. Smoke is already coming out of my ears and making it hard to see here in my studio.