Before we get started, The Gift of the Firebird is free to read online at the link below:
give it a whirl if you haven’t yet.
A few years ago english subs of Urasawa Naoki no Manben started popping up online. From the first note of the theme song I felt something strong. As I watched each different artist work and speak, I started to remember what it was like when I used to work and speak. I still had my pile of reasons and excuses not to do anything, the best life of a comic artist who bears down all their will and every hour of their day on their work is closed off to me. I don’t want to stupidly burn myself out like I did last time I tried to make comics either. The pied piper melody of the Urasawa Naoki no Manben theme song kept at me though. Find a way to get back to work.
OK. Over the years I’ve watched probably way too many things scroll past my face online that I didn’t take part in. One of them being the Comics Workbook Composition Competition, run by Pittsburgh artist Frank Santoro. In 2015 the contest format was 9 panel grid. I didn’t take part in that competition, but I wanted to. I went so far as to print out the grid. I really thought about it. The fact that each panel of the grid was the size of an index card stuck with me. But ultimately I let it roll by. When I found myself on the other side of Manben, I remembered the index cards and the nine panel grid.
I also remembered that before my burn out, I wanted to make a comic of a story that I read from the copy of Edmund Dulac’s Fairy Book that I got for myself because I wanted to look at the illustrations. I only read one of the stories in the book – I put up a pdf scan of the story here:
I’ll leave it up for a while unless it starts to cause a problem. I’d say it’s worth reading, it has a sweet clarity and sparkling humor at times, I think it’s really meant to be read out loud to someone else for best results. I wanted to make a comic of this story from the minute I read it, but wanting to do something and figuring out how to actually do something are pretty different. There were a few lackluster efforts launched, but burn out is real, so nothing ever got rolling.
So it came to pass, when I started looking for a way to get back to work, it was pretty clear what I could do. But how could I do it? I don’t want to break my life over comics. How much time do I really have in a day to work on something extra like this? How much can I do without hurting myself and others? As an experiment, I decided to participate in inktober 2016. October is a busy month. There’s parties to go to and costumes to make and fun times to have. Could I really work EVERY DAY of a busy month? I guess I could! Inktober 2016 was a full success, and it was fun as heck too. Now I knew what I had to work with, and I had something to work on. I found a way to get back to work! Thank you Urasawa Naoki no Manben.
I’m extremely grateful that I was able to make this comic. I do hope I can use this work to make some more work happen. Now that the fire is burning again, I want to keep it tended. If you’re a writer out there who wants to pitch something to somewhere that pays, and you like how I draw things, please do drop me a line – there’s a contact section on the site here. In the mean time, I’m gonna keep working. Thanks for coming along for the ride!