What seems a lifetime ago, now, I sent some sketches I'd done to a lady by the name of C.J. Cherryh. (You may have heard of her. She's written a novel or fifty.) She really liked the sketches and we exchanged a few letters about her work and the sketches. She was very encouraging about what to me was very much a hobby: my art.
|At the time, I was busily spinning my wheels, traveling every way but forward toward a career. Any career. In my eclectic life, I'd spent a couple of years peripherially involved in the graphic novel business and thought ... Wow, Gate of Ivrel is really visual. It'd make a great graphic novel. I wonder ...|
|I didn't wonder for long. Carolyn gave the
project her hearty thumbs up and before I knew what had hit me, I was working, between my
paying job and developing the graphic, an average of eighteen hours a day.
First came the black and white version---self published. I got one issue out before Donning Publishing contacted me to do a full color, proper-bound version. Wow (thought I, again) what a great idea! I just do all the artsy stuff and they take care of all the publishing stuff. This was, as it turned out, a highly mixed blessing, Donning closed out their graphic line before the complete novel saw completion, but it was sure fun while it lasted.
The good new for collectors of both C.J. Cherryh and humble self is: Volumes one and two are still available from several venues. I've seen them selling at conventions for collectors' prices (as much as $40 a piece!), or you can get them at original issue price from Amazon.com. Or, you can contact Carolyn and myself directly for order information. From us, you can get the entire set, (even signed!) of both color volumes as well as the original black and white for a grand total of $12. Such a deal!
But you don't need to order them sight unseen. Just keep scrolling...
|The first Donning volume came out disastrously late in the fall of 1986. Thanks to some strange scheduling at Donning that put other graphics novels, which I worked on after I turned in Claiming Rites, ahead of mine in the printing queue, by the time it finally shipped, it had been put on backlist and the solicitations were out for the second volume. Not surprisingly, many of the orders for Claiming Rites were cancelled, shipments refused and very few orders were even placed for Fever Dreams.|
|This marketing decision turned out
to be SOP for Donning, so it's not surprising that, ultimately, the company stopped
production on their graphic line altogether. The demise of the graphic, though
frustrating for collectors as well as myself, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
It's production had taught me not only about art, but about writing, and had
brought my untrained skills to the attention of one of the industry's greatest talents.
In the fall of 1988, C. J. Cherryh suggested I try writing my own stories. I
started writing October 24, 1988, and I've never looked back.
On the other hand, four years playing in Morgaine's sand box left me with all kinds of fun web page fodder. There are the layouts for the rest of the book, cartoons and cards "the kids" sent to Carolyn, the "Making of" slide show . . . Gathering the bits and pieces to put this page together has been quite a trip down memory lane...
|Even though only the first two of an eventual
six segments were published, I have the layouts for the entire novel, plus a few for the
subsequent books. Personally, I've always had fondness for pencils, and half the
time the silliest images of the characters never make it into print.
This is where you'll get to see some of those "in progress" images.
In addition, ultimately I plan to start finishing these pages and posting them here. Publishing would be nice, but for now I just want to finish them for my enjoyment...and yours.
|One of the things I rapidly learned with these
two characters was not to let them take themselves too seriously. Once they relaxed,
I relaxed and the project moved along far more smoothly.
I worried, the first time "the kids" sent Carolyn a card that she might be offended. Boy...was I wrong. To my delight, she ended up to have a matching attitude---sometimes silly, sometimes maudlin...and frequently more than a bit demented.
The result: lots of little cards and cartoons ...think of them as outtakes for the graphic novel.
The Slide Show
After the first volume of the graphic came out, I put together a "making of" slide show for Science Fiction conventions and anywhere else I could find a captive audience. Not surprisingly, it got very little exercise before the great collapse of Donning, and so, rather than let the pics languish in their drawer, I offer it here now.
The text varied with each presentation and so I imagine I'll edit this over time as I remember bits and pieces: anecdotes, some insights into the creative process...mostly, it's just fun.
This section is, not surprisingly, graphics heavy. It takes a bit of time to download, though I've tried to find a balance between a pleasing overall page look and thumbnails. Take your time, catch a bit now and come back.
It's not going anywhere.