Writing Comics and All That Comes With It…

Comics have always been a part of my life. Rolling back the years to my childhood at my hometown in Madurai, India, I can distinctly remember the excitement I felt every weekend awaiting the delivery of the weekly comics magazines that accompanied the local newspaper.

giphy

Siruvarmalar and Thangamalar, the literal translation beings “Kids’ Flower” and “Golden Flower,” provided a mashup of a children’s activity book mixed in with folktales, fables, and short stories presented in the format of a comic book.

           

(Left) Sample cover of a Siruvarmalar  issue, and (Right) a sample comic strip from within detailing a mythological tale of the Hindu God Shiva. The characters observed are of my native language, Tamil.  

I would spend hours on end pouring over the enormous collection of said magazines that my grandfather stored away in his closet, and that would be a weekend well-spent.

My family’s departure from India to Egypt would result in a break of sorts from comics and my full-fledged introduction to their animated counterparts in cartoons and anime. A few more years down the road, and following the commencement of my post-secondary studies at university, I would rekindle my love for comics in Japanese manga, and other Western staples including DC, Marvel, and an assortment of graphical novels.

As an avid comic-book fan and as an aspiring writer, the goal of kick-starting my own comic-book had always been on my mind. Now, two weeks into writing the script for what I hope will be my first graphical novel, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the diverse challenges that seem to crop up on every front as I try to bring my story together. A large part of these challenges originate from my unfamiliarity in tackling not only a new genre of writing but also a new medium.

giphy (1)
It’s a steep learning curve, but one worth embarking on. 

So, what have I learned so far:

1. Writing a comic is not exactly the same as writing a novel. They say a picture is a thousand words. That has become the driving motto of my work thus far, being that I spend a lot of my time imagining the outline of my story before settling down on the script. It is like constructing a silent motion film in my mind.

2. Attention to detail is important, but so is also being concise with what you want to convey to your readers. In writing the script, I found my greatest challenge in getting used to the fact that my dialogues would remain in a world separate from the art work that will serve to provide the emotions to my story. Thus, I had to keep my dialogues effective, concise, and kind of resonate with the emotions I wished to convey in the scene.

3. Writing a script may seem relatively easy ONLY at the start. This was somewhat of a lesson in humility. I began with lofty expectations, assuming that I would be able to complete the script to my comic over the period of a weekend. Boy, was I wrong! Let’s give it at the least till the end of summer, or maybe the end of the year.

4. Don’t overthink. Every writer has a quirk that makes them unique. Overthinking may be a popular category for many writers, and I can certainly be counted in that special group. It’s difficult but sometimes the best way to go about writing a script, not to mention a story in general, is to not overthink to the point where you hinder your own writing.

5. Temper your expectations. This is more of a personal challenge, in that I’ve always been the greatest critic of my own works to the point that my expectations get heavier and heavier. In writing my script, on several occasions, I had to step back and tell myself to relax and not place lofty expectations on myself, especially when it was my first outing in a new medium. Most importantly, I’ve learned my lesson in patience and perseverance. 

What I’ve said thus far may make it seem that resultant process of writing my novel script has turned me into

tumblr_mi2fwmDfza1ql41ypo1_500

The reality is quite different. As frustrating as the process can be, I’m relishing in the challenge, and it has only motivated me towards my goals. In 2 weeks, I have written 2 chapters, and that’s great while trying on one hand to balance my PhD studies. I hope to keep up the pace, maybe even go a little faster, and keep the ball rolling. Once the script is done, my efforts will be fully directed toward the necessary art work, but that’s a story for another day!

Advertisements

So What’s Next?

In my latest post, I discussed what exactly makes my imagination click.I thought it would be most appropriate to now carry forward the discussion to where my imagination takes me next, at least in the current scheme of things.

Ever since I started my PhD back in September 2017, my focus has largely been towards completing my course requirements for my degree. This has taken a predominant amount of my time, barring me from any measure of progress in my personal writing goals. Now, with the academic year having come to an end, I look forward to a summer extravaganza of writing and a revival of my previously planned projects.

The prior summer I had published my second work in A Little Bit Of Everything, a spiritual successor to my first work, Our Last Summer.

Authorgraph

Both books shared a similar origin in that the foundation of their plots were largely based on my life experiences. Having written the two books, I felt a great measure of happiness in coming to terms with various significant events that had occurred in my life over the span of the last few years.

Closing the page on my personal experiences, I wished to set the stage for my next writing challenge in a series of projects I had envisioned covering the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and politics etc. Intermixed with my new passion to write comics, I’ve spent the last year gradually aggregating ideas on the plots for two different books I intend to write over the course of this summer, and possibly well into next year.

One of these books will be a comic while the other will be a novel, with both being relatively unfamiliar grounds to tread upon. Having taken an extensive course in figure anatomy, I have only just begun my journey in becoming an artist. It is a difficult path, most recognizable in the horrible doodles I have had to endure with far whenever I put my pencil to paper. On a similar note, I have never written a novel, and in the case of the one that I have in store, my goal is to get it published at a traditional publishing house unlike my self-publishing efforts so far.

As I have done earlier, I hope to share my progress on this new journey, amidst my other weekly posts,with everyone on this blog. Tomorrow will be Day 1, and hopefully in a year from now, I will be close to, if not, accomplished my goals with regards to these two books. Let’s see what the year brings!

With that being said, I look forward to entertaining everyone the following weekend with a new post. Until then, toodles!

Image result for goodbye anime boy

Getting Fired Up!!

Hi everyone, here’s a quick update!

The last few weeks have been intense, and I’ve been quite busy. Having finally completed the proofreading for my second book, I’m now all set to move into the production phase, beginning with some illustrations.

9b93514a555ac9fd0f92383454e9fe0a--studying-noragami

All art begins with imitation, and as such I have spent the last week pouring over a compendium of images, and ideas I had contemplated for this stage. While progress has been slow (thanks to my perfectionist ideals), I look forward to getting the book out by this fall.

In the meantime,  I also recently finished the three-part series covering various facets on the phenomenon of climate change. The first entry was posted almost a month back on June 25, 2017. Little did I know then that in the days to follow I would successfully secure a research topic for my PhD addressing the very issue I was writing about on my blog. As of now, I have begun my “doctoral” adventures focusing on interdisciplinary research involving “semiconductor mediated artificial photosynthesis…”

tumblr_m94iyfAbyu1rdkqt2o4_r1_250.gif

In simple terms, my research will involve studying, and creating technologies to assist in the mitigation of steadily increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, a major global scientific challenge of the 21st century. Carbon capture is an important issue in the context of climate change as well as the looming global energy crisis; my research, will take inspiration from nature, namely the process of natural photosynthesis (the chemical reaction at the basis of life), and mimic the same behavior through electro-mechanical systems of higher efficiency, or “artificial photosynthesis.” If I were to exaggerate slightly, it would be the same as planting artificial trees that are consistently more efficient in helping recycle the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Having spent the last few days reading an assortment of research papers on this topic, and looking like this for the most part of it,

fb3236b91d47dfa5be843834b5afae92--grey-man-otaku-mode

I’m hoping to put my brain to good use, and to a certain measure, come up with something awesome during my degree, so that one day I could celebrate like this,

tumblr_static_10i3c49kf0xcsk8sswc48g84w.gif

Beyond all this research business, I still intend to keep up to date with my blog despite my busy schedule. In that vein, my next post will be a book review on Luc Ferry’s,

A-Brief-History-of-Thought-Ferry-Luc-97800620742491

I’ve also decided to move along from my extensive summaries on Carl Sagan’s “Dragons of Eden.” Instead, I will provide a rich synopsis of the remainder of the book, while skipping on the gory details. This way I can encourage you, my readers, to read the book itself while not giving away the majority of its contents.

So when all is said and done,  I’m fired up for what’s to come in the next few months.

Carlos+you+unforgiveable+piece+of+if+you+don+t+shut+_5ecc4d3f9f03c6bdd7888f6fa1fc460e

The Pensive Reverie will also continually evolve as I intend to implement a few minor, but significant changes in its content organization. Once again, I thank you all for your patience. The next post should be up very soon!

 

 

Adventures in Drawing – A New Beginning

Previously on “Adventures in Drawing,” I discussed several matters of art. I specifically placed emphasis on the three valuable lessons of learning to actively see thingsthe value of repetition, and drawing what one sees, not what one knows.

The second half of the drawing course followed the application of said rules with a series of projects. I had the wonderful opportunity to test my skills with various mediums from charcoal, graphite, and conté sticks. Along for the ride came an assortment of healthy drawing techniques I had learned earlier involving the use of guidelines, the ability to delineate depth and active perception in objects, as well as blind contour drawing etc. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to test my skills with the various media (Figures 1-2).

Figure 1. Man’s best friend (using charcoal, and graphite). 

 

Having completed the course, I can certainly say that my knowledge, and library of resources pertaining to drawing has grown exponentially. If there is a takeaway message from my experiences so far, it would be the following: simply put, anyone can be an artist. All you need is an HB pencil, a sketchbook, and a little bit of incentive. Most importantly, practice makes perfect.

In my opinion, I view drawing, and art, in general, as a personal interpretation of one’s environment, and imagination; a realm of infinite possibilities. The uniqueness factor of one’s works is dictated not through the judgment of external critics but rather one’s own individuality. Thus, you have nothing to fear in the criticism of your own doodles. We are all artists in our own measure. As Mason Cooley put it, “Art begins with imitation, and ends in innovation.”

Figure 2. Unfinished swimmer (using conté sticks)

With every passing day, I get closer to achieving the same with my artwork. Once again, I’ve learned that practice makes perfect. (On a side note, it also helps to have an encouraging partner, especially one who goes out of their way to buy you a legit Japanese manga kit but I digress.) If I could briefly summarize the steps that I have taken so far in my journey in drawing, and that I wish to share to my fellow aspiring artists, they would be:

(1) Start with doodles, and doodle frequently. Sketch whatever you wish to sketch. Freedom of imagination, and action is important in drawing.

(2) Get a few guide books on the side, or even better, just parse through the overwhelming history of artists, and their works that we can readily find information about on the WWW (world-wide-web).

(3) Trying a short, and supplementary course is highly beneficial too. Learning drawing also involves the communication of ideas, and techniques. (Check out the arts center in your city. If you don’t have one, Udemy is a wonderful online resource for awesome, and cheap courses. And if that doesn’t work, then it’s even more simple, learn from nature, and become your own artist. There’s no limit to human creativity, and imagination.)

(4) Aggregate the lessons you learn in infinitesimal steps, and integrate them toward a full learning experience.

Moving on from here, I intend to eagerly pursue my dream of becoming a mangaka in the future. For those among my readers who are avid comic fans, and are particularly interested in making their own comics, I highly suggest the constructive anatomy, and figure drawing books written by Burne Hogarth, and George Bridgman (shown below) to get you started.

But after all is said, and done, remember to relax, and just have fun with it!

b213b41e0994cef2104f5f8dbff5fb00a437211b2eec08212df63096b798cee0

HAPPY EASTER!!

Hello everyone, it’s been a while since my last post. Life has kept me busy but what better occasion to return to my pensive reverie than Resurrection Sunday.

The past two weeks leading up to this day have involved a lot of work at my end as I have been gearing up for a productive summer of writing, publishing, and studying (Doctor of Philosophy in Robotics doesn’t sound bad). I’m now teeming with various concepts for discussion as blog posts in the near future. I can’t wait to get them all out soon enough, but for now, I will begin with a long overdue report on my read-along of Carl Sagan’s The Dragons of Eden. I finished the book a while back, and have brainstormed the ideas I wish to present on the blog.

skeleton_vesalius_2-white
We will begin our next course on Sagan’s dragons by considering the dominance of brains over genes!

Apart from this, I’m embarking on a grand new stage of adventure in my life as I immerse myself in the world of manga. I hope to retire as a writer one day, and my enormous interest in anime has motivated me to explore, and exploit the manga medium for my stories. With that in mind, I have begun my study of the arts, namely DRAWING! After a preliminary investigation of my neighbourhood, and a long haul at Michaels Arts & Crafts with a surplus list of required arts supplies, I’m ready to put pen to the paper, and crank out some really amateurish illustrations (which I may post on this blog too, as a beacon of my progress).

bakuman
It may take a while, actually a few years, but it’s going to be worth it. 

For anyone out there in my shoes, a great start would be the book by Bert Dodson, Keys to Drawing.

BertDodson
I was lucky to come across this book in the local library. It is a great read to get your imagination churning with an intuitive, and realistic approach to drawing. 

That’s all I have for today, and so I shall now take my leave, but before I forget, on this day of joy, celebration, new life, and a heck of a load of chocolate eggs, I wish everyone an amazing, and wonderful Easter.

Easter

Turning 25…

I am now officially 25 years old. I’d celebrated the annual turn of my biological clock (yesterday) which culminated in the usual exclamation (courtesy of a close “friend” of mine):

joey-30th-birthday-3.gif

I have a habit, on the eve of my birthday, to recollect, and contemplate upon the memories of the year prior. This year’s celebration came with a twist, as I found myself looking ahead instead to the goals I’ve committed to, and hope to realize by my 26th.

The shortlist would include:

(1) The completion of a new book (as well as the start of a bunch of writing projects spanning various genres such as manga, science fiction, and politics).

(2) The completion of my Masters degree (and the subsequent pursuit for a PhD, in Robotics).

(3) A family reunion in the near future, along with various opportunities for short trips around the world to exotic locations (time-permitting).

It’s an ambitious endeavor, but I’m more than ready to see it through to the end. Having saved up some money to gift myself on this occasion with a portable keyboard (a Yamaha PSRE-W400, to be specific), I’m hoping to play out the melodies of my life of the next year as a beautiful composition,

200_s.gif

that I could one day look back to, and just go,

Jokes aside, I’m very happy. I can’t thank my family, and my girlfriend Leina, enough. You have both supported me at every turn. You are the best! So how did I celebrate?

To be frank, it was quite simple.  I had a great time with Leina, during our Shakespearean date, to a live staging of Romeo, and Juliet by the FreeWillPlayers at William Hawrelak Park (a show I highly recommend to anyone who is in Edmonton.)

IMAG2490
The stage was set for the beautiful Shakespearean tragedy at William Hawrelak Park.

The play was a wonderful reminder of the literature study I had done on the same, almost seven years ago in high school. The project’s requirement was a critical analysis of the play’s major themes, in a report of maybe a few pages. I took things to the extreme, submitting instead, a 50 page act-by-act analysis, along with a personal statement, to my distraught professor.

2509492_1331687326180.42res_370_314
I “really” appreciate your enthusiasm, but really..?

Having thoroughly enjoyed the show, it wasn’t long until I took a leaf out of Romeo’s quips,

“If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”
KWKQEmYNMwkeEscjKhdb53fn
That’s what I’m talking about!
to woo my partner. Rightfully so,  I was bequeathed my gift, all thanks to your eloquent words, William!

kissing_chibi_base_by_catsoupbases-d599xxt.png

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the date. Walking back home from the park, against the backdrop of night, Leina, and I had an open view of the sky, bereft of urban structures, and the flickering dance of stars that grace the heavens during the summer season. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
The stars provide a sense of eternity, in their constant appearance.  I can’t say the same about my life, always in motion, and inviting change at every window of opportunity. Learning to accept this was a difficult process, and played a significant role in my struggle to come to terms with my identity. But, in the end, I’m well aware that without such a struggle, I would not be the man I am today, nor would I be surrounded by the people who have supported me every step of the way.
25?  It is an interesting number. I highly anticipate the adventures that lie ahead.
I’d like to thank my family, my friends, and my partner, Leina, for all their love. You all made my day.
original.gif
ARIGATO MINNA!!