Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sweeping panoramas! A cast of thousands! In technicolor!

When Jonathan and I first started work on Battle Lines, our editor told us the book would be printed in black and white and in portrait orientation. We expected that the object itself would be pretty unimpressive, to be honest, at least as graphic books go. So you can imagine our surprise and delight when, about eighteen months ago, we handed in the first draft and the wonderful people at Farrar, Straus and Giroux said, “Oh, we think this should be printed in full color and in 8.5″ x 11″ landscape orientation.”

We were all like, “Yeah, whatever. Obviously.” I mean, we played it totally cool, because, in the words of a friend of mine, that is the manner of our rolling. But we were positively giddy. Like, Snoopy-dance happy. Until, that is, we realized that redesigning the book meant re-scripting and re-drawing almost all of it. Landscape orientation provided us with so much more room, which became both a blessing and a curse, and so we reworked all of the chapters, making the stories more expansive and the art more panoramic. We produced another draft and then another after that, trying to capitalize on the space to improve our storytelling. And the added space, despite all of the work it created, mostly was a blessing. Or whatever less loaded word you want to use instead of “blessing.”

But in all that time we pretty much ignored the issue of color. I mean, we understood intellectually that the book would be printed in color, but we kept producing stories and art in black and white. Thinking about the story in color seemed overwhelming somehow. I wish I had a better way of explaining what I mean, but there it is. Anyway, about a month ago we finished the penultimate draft of the book, which some of you have seen, and we realized that we couldn’t avoid the issue of color. And we sort of freaked out a little bit.

Again, we had produced a book in black and white. Would color make our work look like a comic book? Would it become too garish in color? Would color undermine the stories we were trying to tell? Would certain episodes become too dramatic, too over the top, or perhaps even cartoonish? We didn’t know. And so we freaked out some more.

Well, Jonathan, having returned from Antarctica (yeah, seriously), finally colored a couple of pages of the book the other day, and I’m totally reassured. He still has to figure out how blood is going to look, but the palette so far seems spot on to me. Here it is.

Sample Final Spread1

If you have any thoughts, please feel free to let me know.

Penultimate draft bleg.

A bunch of people were kind enough to read an early draft of Battle Lines and then to send along some very helpful feedback. If you were one of those people, thanks again!

That said, we’ve now got the penultimate draft done, which means that the script is far tighter and there are no more chapters with missing art. If you’d like to take a look now, please just send me an e-mail at my work address or a message at facebook.