If I had storyboards, this would be a paid SubscribeStar update. But I do not.
Last week, I got to the end of a story arc on Hat Trick and instead of trying to push ahead, as is my wont, I decided to go all in on making kids’ books via zettelkasten. The idea is I work on whatever I want in the form of little note cards (which in my case are literally playing cards),
…and when a cluster of cards develops to the point that I can turn it into a book, I turn it into storyboards and kick off the process.
So I got started on Awesome Moments. But because A) I don’t trust my printer/scanner, and B) I’ve always wanted to illustrate a kids’ book by painting over 3D models, I spent a few days re-teaching myself how to sculpt in Blender.
During the process, I unearthed some reference pictures I drew for character proportions, and attempted to use them, but decided they weren’t right for my needs: I need big hands and feet, for a more cartoony look.
So I produced a new set of proportions, which I have yet to try sculpting or modeling in any way.
Yesterday, the thought occurred that it would be better to make a story that had only one or two characters, so that I can produce a finished book as soon as possible.
Making Awesome Moments 1 is going to take 3-6 months no matter what I do. The idea of picking a project that allowed me to build incrementally toward it was more a joke and an excuse because having a list of all my potential projects is extremely useful to me.
But… then a thought occurred to me. And I already spoiled it at the beginning of the post.
John Michael Jones learns the Lord’s Prayer! I sculpt JMJ and his dad, I make a room with a bunch of stained glass windows, and I make the windows illustrative of the prayer in question. Bam.
Yesterday I smart noted the Lord’s Prayer and Luther’s large catechism on it. And this has me a little worried…
A Little Worry
Historically, I have not finished projects I’ve started. I like to jump around. Last year, I turned that around by picking tiny projects and committing to them come hell or high water.
The Smart Note/Zettelkasten approach is founded on the belief that jumping around is actually the right way to go — if you do it smart.
I have reason to trust it. But now, having jumped twice in a single week, trusting the process is getting hard. There is no intrinsic limit on it.
I’m going to give it 3 months. If I don’t have at least one book storyboarded by December, I need to reconsider.
Yesterday, I went through my old attempts to build a 3D basis for book making and extracted a new proportion set:
Big feet, big hands, big heads gives a cartoon/toy feel. Sculpted forms plays into my prejudices also. I think it will do. I won’t know until I model a couple of characters, and ultimately make a book with them. But I have a good feeling about this set.
The single, most efficient way to test this idea of using lego people to make books is to design a book that only has one character. At most, two. Preferably a constant background. Preferably a blank background.
Basically, The Monster at the end of this Book.
Although, come to think of it, making posters would be a good intermediate step. Just having finished, printable pictures would tell me a lot of what I need to go to keep, cancel, or modify the project. So, my prior contention that I should just use this as a way to do the Original Character challenge is probably the way to go. And that is probably what I’ll do.
But I started this blog post with the intention of listing as many potential projects as occur to me in the off chance that one of them will have an obvious “Monster at the End of this Book” story I can tell. And having that list will be useful. So I’m still going to make it. In alphabeticalish order.
Last time I spent any time on the Awesome Moments project, a few months ago, I came up with some drawings and a concept for proportions based on the drawings.
The idea is to make what I call “lego people”. Not that they have any physical resemblance to legos, but that I have hands and torsos and legs and heads and hairpieces that I can mix and match to create several different cartoony characters.
And the art style is an art style I can be happy with for most of my projects because, using them as a basis for paintings, I can produce higher quality books faster than if I were drawing them.
Mind you, I’m not 100% sure I don’t want to draw them yet. Only 90%. I’m sculpting and sketching away secure in the knowledge that I don’t need to make that decision until the book is ready to harvest from my deck box.
Thing is, this is not the first time I had the idea to do lego people for a project.
Awesome Moments is sitting at 14 pages, 4 of which I mapped today.
The goal is book 1 is the Gospel, but with a brief bit on Eden, and a brief bit on the Resurrection to provide context. AM1 is the framework for all the other AM books.
All the pages thus far are Creation/Eden. I expect to get 4-6 more pages out of Eden, so let’s use that to estimate final book length:
20 pages Eden
40 pages Christ
10 pages Resurrection
At a rate of 3 pages/day, that means 13 weeks before the cluster is ready to be harvested. That puts me storyboarding in November, aiming to release the book in January or something. Yikes.
But we’re going for max quality, so…
Hat Trick has 32 pages, zero new.
Aiming to make the final story about twice the length of the intro story, for a total of 100ish pages.
At this rate, it’ll be done when it’s done. Which is sad, because I was aiming for October, but unless I get bitten by a Hat Trick bug, it’s unlikely.
Trying to sort out what I’m going to do with Anvor
Trying to sort out what I’m going to do for “Trad Berenstain Bears” (that is, a series starring a large yet functional family).
John Michael Jones is a candidate for this, though he presently has a small family.
I had also hypothesized a family of space doggos on a star-faring houseboat.
However, for maximum functionality, we want people tied to land, and not sojourners.
Although… sojourners does work well as a metaphor for this life, as we await our True Home…
I have previously hypothesized a spacefaring family that was designed to be my favorite things about Star Trek. These two concepts could be rolled together.
A bad candidate is Anvor. Anvor is a bunch of stories I told as a kid that could or even should be reborn as kids’ books. None of them fit this archetype. However, Anvor and its existing lore would be a good candidate for the backdrop.
The final good candidate is V-Knights, another series of stories I told when I was young. This one would be extremely simple to convert into a functional family piece.
At the moment, none of the card clusters here have any pages.
Every now and again, I yearn to code.
I’d like to make some mermaid thing for my kid. Right now is too late to have it done for the next birthday, however.
So we’re looking at two or three months before I produce another product. Ouch. I’ll have to see if I can expedite the process. However, I do have a commitment to make my next book the absolute best product I can, regardless of the time investment.
I don’t think that’s ultimately a good plan. I think there needs to be a balance between quality and getting the products out where they are doing some good. But to strike that balance, I need to know which extremes I’m balancing between, and thus far I’ve only tried to work quickly rather than qualitatively. So, at least one book is going to take a loong time to make.
I’ve got the first book of John Michael Jones storyboarded in its entirety. Now…
Now I’m going to take a break.
If I wanted, I could begin production proper on the first book and produce it, but with John Michael Jones, I’ve decided I want to map out the whole series before I produce the first book, so I know the end while I’m producing the beginning.
I’m trying to summon up the will to work on book II, and it’s not coming. No big deal. Why not produce another Jump the Shark book, or my numbers book, or something else entirely?
Hat Trick was an error. I’m still proud of what I made, but I should not have cut it in half. I should have done the whole story as a single book, or planned out a series and then produce the series once it is already planned. I’m not making the same error with John Michael Jones. We make new errors in these parts, not old errors.
I have begun production on a series of comic books. John Michael Jones Gets A Life.
This is an experiment on many levels. It will be my first comic book. It will be my attempt at LitRPG, as John Michael Jones gets sucked into a video game.
John Michael Jones is a flat-arc character, like Solomon Kane, or Goku. So this story will be testing out many of the ideas I’ve been absorbing from the Pulp Revolution, and seeing whether I have the chops to execute them.
Here’s the storyboard of the first few pages. This is all very much subject to change.