layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Layla ([personal profile] layla) wrote2012-05-25 06:36 pm

Annotated Raven's Children - Issue #1: Page 8




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There's a style shift from the previous pages because at this point, we're past the pages that I relettered, rearranged and in some cases redrew in 2002 for the trade paperback, and now we've gotten into the unedited pages from early 2001.

The lettering in particular ... ouch.

Hopefully this doesn't come across as name-dropping, but I owe a HUGE debt to Steve Lieber, who gave me one of the most useful gifts I have ever received: a brief lesson in lettering that has served me ever since. I don't remember for sure which con this happened at, although it was probably Wizard World in 2001 -- the very first comic con I ever went to, period. I didn't have a table (the idea of getting a table had not even occurred to me at that point) and I was wandering around in a daze, meeting all these people whose work I had enjoyed for years and showing them Raven's Children #1 if they showed even the slightest interest. (Considering how shy I am, it's amazing to me to look back on myself at that time and remember how shameless I was about self-promotion. *g*) I don't even remember how the conversation came about, except that I had obviously stopped by his table and was nattering at him like a monkey on speed, but I very clearly remember Steve looking at my comic and then taking a pad of paper and drawing some letters for me, pointing out that you need to focus on the white space inside the letters -- putting the cross-stroke of the "A" as close to the bottom as possible, for example. The difference is really astonishing if you compare my wobbly and nearly illegible lettering on the above page to, say, the previous page, which was relettered a year later. My hand lettering has never become great, but it improved by leaps and bounds after Steve showed me a new way of looking at it, and I really owe him for that.

Otherwise, this page shows very clearly what I was talking about in an earlier post, with the use of contemporary and hence anachronistic speech patterns for my characters. Like I said there, it was a deliberate choice that I made and I don't even think it was a bad one, but I was still so inexperienced at writing that I floundered trying to pull it off. It gets smoother later on -- you can watch me getting more comfortable with my characters' voices -- but this whole issue is kind of wince-inducing to me now. I remember what I was trying for, and I can see little glimpses of it here and there; I was trying to bring a gritty, modern, Sin City-esque sensibility to fantasy. I think there are times when it does kind of work, but more often it feels to me now like it's getting in the way of the story rather than adding to the reading experience.

On the other hand, something I still appreciate about Raven's Children, especially in the earlier, unpolished issues, is that it's very unabashedly itself. I wasn't trying to emulate anyone else's work. I wasn't trying to be commercial. I didn't care if violence and language made it less marketable. I was just trying to tell this story that was in my head. There's a rawness to it that I still value a lot, and over the years as I've gotten more skilled and started working with more of an eye to making a career out of this storytelling thing, I've become more self-conscious about my work and less inclined to throw myself into it with the wholehearted, "who cares what anyone thinks" abandon that I still think is the biggest strength of RC.

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