Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Everything I Need

Hello Gravagna Montale. I'd forgotten how much I loved you.

The picture above is my little studio space for the summer. It's a simple space that has everything I need for the project at hand and very little more.

There is a door, for coming in and going back out. There is a window that looks out onto a courtyard and the mountains beyond. The window is for daydreaming, but it also doubles as a light table for tracing (I've been doing more tracing and less dreaming lately). I have one big table full of pens and pencils and paper and sketchbooks. I have a computer, and a scanner and an internet connection that allows me to send the words and pictures from my table out into the wide world (or at least to my editor). I have a pair of quality headphones which, when the need arises, I use to tune out the distractions of my boisterous family.

I have a very specific task this summer. I'm working on a graphic novel called Mighty Jack. The book is completely written and I have a complete draft drawn out in thumbnail sketches -I had that part all finished before I came here. My job this summer is to turn those 200 pages of rough sketches into 200 pages of finished art. I'm fine tuning the story in small ways as I go, but mostly it's steady, quiet work.

Mighty Jack is the story of three young people and a magic garden. Here's some early concept art:

The style and characters have developed a bit and look a little more like this now:

I said I had everything I need here for the job I'm doing but there is one thing I'm missing. I used my own house as a model for Jack's house. I took plenty of reference photos before I came here, but it would have been nice to draw a scene or two from life like I did with Little Robot.

Anyway, here are a few more pictures from the past couple weeks:

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Ben, you seem to really be pushing out content recently. Looking forward to reading all of it!

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Have fun in Italy. Keep us updated.

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Any hints on when to expect Mighty Jack? I have some readers eagerly awaiting!!

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I work in a bookstore and as such I have plenty of time to read -- perfect for me since I've been an avid reader my whole life.
I am 40 years old but still I found myself completely riveted by your YA stories and artwork, especially the "Zita the Space Girl" series.
Your first "Mighty Jack" story is outstanding and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The story had many things in it that spoke to me personally.

I love Jack's sister, Maddy, and because I am also autistic I really enjoyed seeing a character like that portrayed in a positive way in a graphic novel series. She's totally adorable.

I also loved the scenes with Lilly, the home schooled Ren Fest girl -- I absolutely found her to be an awesome character. I am a Ren Fest nut also.

I'm also a Southerner and I loved the scene in pages 29-30 where Mr. Gooseworth (nice name!) told Jack and Maddy the story of Col. John Mosby the "Grey Ghost" and the Confederate gold. One of my ancestors served with Colonel Mosby too so that also put a smile on my face.

And finally, I could not help chuckling when I read that it was Piper from the Zita the Space Girl series that gave Jack the magical seeds. I am also guessing there will be a crossover, or tie-in with Jack and the ending to "Return of Zita" at some point.

I cannot wait to see the continuing adventures of Jack, Maddy and Lilly. You are an awesome artist and storyteller, sir. Thank you for bringing these wonderful literary gifts to life. God Bless you.

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