One of the things that you quickly forget when you are not working in comics is just how much work goes into the process. My goal on this book was to produce eighteen pages of story and a cover on a bi-monthly basis. What that entails is understanding how much time you have and are willing to commit and what you can do in that amount of time. You can’t produce a fully rendered and painted illustration for each panel and produce a book on that schedule. You are always making compromises. As Jack Kirby once wisely commented, “Comics are a medium of unfinished art.”
My original goal on the strip was to draw it in a very loose storyboard style…but I quickly abandoned that. While there is a wonderful spontaneity in that approach, there are just too many weaknesses that show up in the process. So I’m still working in my traditional comic book style. The best news is that I have a young intern, Leyanna, working with me at present who is a major help in the process. Welcome aboard!
One of the first adjustments I made was adding a nineteenth page to the stories…but placing it at the beginning of the issue to act as bit of introduction. One of the lessons you learn in comics is to make sure ALL your readers are kept in the loop as to who your protagonist is. Adding the page at the beginning gives me a good chance to do that. Currently there are two issues in the iVerse/ComicsPlus library. The artwork for the third issue is finished and colored, and I am writing the script for it this week. The black and white artwork for issue four is finished and next week I’ll start the coloring on that book. Issue five is in the thumbnail stage and I’ll begin pencilling that soon.
The third issue continues with Atan Ra (now known as Adam Ray) settling into his new residence in the northern suburbs of LA with his landlady Agnes Harperly and her two kids Jeb and Jean. But things are never simple in life, especially endless life, and the Mad Mummy goes into full battle mode to solve his current problem. (As a side note, instead of doing the artwork the normal 10 x 15 inches for a page, I drew this issue slightly smaller at 9 x 13.5 to see if kept me from noodling too much. Nope…I’ve gone back my regular size.)
With issue four I’ve gone back into Aten’s Ra’s past after he is rudely awakened by grave robbers and tell the story about he meets his first instructor in his study of the occult and the mystic arts. It’s not a long relationship and it’s filled with manipulation and betrayal, but it is a beginning for him in his new life.
Issue five picks up his story several hundred years later when he is at the height of his mystic powers. And our narrator, the cat Mr. Ard, gets a break from his duties, as this tale is told to us by an English officer who is surprisingly similar to George McDonald Fraser’s Sir Harry Flashman. The location is China shortly after the TaiPing Rebellion. And of course we get at first look at Ming Yue/Ankesenamun’s father: a young Chinese doctor who will go on to become the world’s greatest terrorist of fiction in the early twentieth century.
The next two episodes will concentrate on Aten Ra’s reconnection with his estranged love’s reincarnation, Ming Yue. Everything starts at an the Egyptian Tomb of the Black Ape in l930 and ends in Malibu in the near present. And of course her father, the Chinese doctor figures in a large way in the story. And never fear, both Mr. Ard and the Harperly family won’t be completely neglected. And soon enough all of these folks will be in the middle of a muddle with Nefertiti, a scheming billionaire, and those pesky elder gods. Stay tuned.
And if that didn't keep me busy enough, here are a few of the illustrations I've been working on lately. Everything from a version of The Third Man (where we see everyone except the third man), Lady Gaga, Vivian Leigh and a Charlie Chan piece of The Black Camel with Bela Lugosi that I was commissioned to do.