Tuesday, December 16, 2008

 

My New Project

Yesterday I sent in the script for the sixth and final issue of Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, and barring rewrites and tweaks (and there will be rewrites and tweaks) I'm effectively finished with the project, for all intents and purposes. Took a little longer than expected, starting the first issue in early September and finishing the last in mid-December, but still respectable.

I'm spending the next few days getting my head back in Warhammer 40K mode, to work on the outline for my next project for Black Library. The book hasn't been formally commissioned yet, so I don't know if I can talk about what it is yet, but for those following along at home I suppose I can say that it features an established Chapter of Space Marines. (And I just got an early copy of Dawn of War II yesterday, and I'm really pleased how it turned out. More on that later.)

After I finish the Space Marine outline, I'm spending a few weeks working on some fantasy stories, that will ultimately be part of a sprawling epic fantasy project that I'm not sure I've talked about here. The first one will probably be titled "A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows", and feature a group of kick-ass ghost-hunting ninja-monk-morticians fighting zombies in a graveyard. Probably. More on that later.

But in the meantime, I thought I'd share with you some samples from my other new project.

See, my daughter Georgia, who turns five in a couple of months, loves to color and draw. I've posted a few examples of her work over the last few months. Coloring and drawing is great for parents, you might say, because it is this completely self-directed activity that kids can do on their own, freeing parents up to do whatever needs doing around the house--dishes, cooking, straightening up, checking Google Reader, what-have-you. You might say that, but you'd be wrong. Georgia loves to color, but she loves company while she does it, and so is always begging me or Allison to come color with her. Since Allison is the real breadwinner in the family and is, subsequently, often busy actually working, it most often falls to me to sit and color with Georgia.

Well, for most of the last year I've been busying myself coloring pages out of her coloring books--Littlest Pet Shop, Tinker Bell, Curious George, Bolt, Wall-E, you name it. A few weeks ago, Georgia and I were digging through an old box of my papers and such that I'd brought down from the attic, when I happened to find a gold mine--a half-dozen or so coloring books I'd bought between the ages of seven and nine, or thereabouts. A couple of Flash Gordon, and one each of Spider-Man, Battle of the Planets, Disney's The Black Hole, and Batman. In every case, as kids will, I'd colored a few pages with great care, a few others partially completed, and most of the pages completely untouched.

And that's when I hit upon my new project. No, not a project, but a mission. I would finish all of these coloring books. Since I'm sitting at the kitchen table coloring several times a week anyway, why not use this time to finish the work I started more than thirty years ago, rather than just coloring another page of Littlest Pet Shop animals?

I'm starting with the Batman book, for no particular reason. Here it is.



Batman: Tent Full of Trouble. I mean, come on? How can you not love Batman at the circus?

I quickly had to establish a few rules for myself. My goal here is to maintain consistency with the work of my nine year old self. (I'm guessing that I did most of the work in this one in 1979, having purchased it at a school book fair in that year, if the "Central Cyclone Book Fair" stamp and indicia are any indication.) That means that I can only use Crayola colors that I would reasonable have had access to as a kid. And that, as much as possible, I would try to adopt the same coloring style I used back then (ie. a single color for each bounded space). And, perhaps trickier, I would try to match the colors used on the already completed pages when doing the unfinished pages.

Here's me at age nine, for reference.



Yes, that's Robin capturing a clown. This is a story about Batman and Robin foiling the plans of a group of crooked clowns to steal the jewels worn by the circus bareback rider, Lady Adele. Really.

Okay, so here's the image from the opposite page, begun and finished this last weekend.



(Parenthetically, this is the kind of thing that Batman doesn't do enough of these days. Wrestling bears, I mean, while evil clowns try to slip away. Of course, for all I know that could be the plot of next week's Batman: The Brave and the Bold.)

As you can see, I'm dating each new page in crayon at the bottom, to keep track. Undated pages are those I finished thirty years ago.

In some cases, though, there are pages that I began but left unfinished at age 9. In these cases, I finish the work, trying to make it as seamless with the original colors as possible.



Here's the next page in the book, for example. In this instance, I had colored all of Robin but his right glove and shoes, with the rest of the page undone. (As you can see, the dating at the bottom reflects the amount of time taken to finish--in this case, almost 30 years.)

Georgia has been wanting to color a lot lately, so I've gotten quite a few pages done in the last two weeks. But at the rate I'm going, it'll still probably be another month or so before I color the last page of Tent Full of Trouble. After that I'll probably move on to one of the Flash Gordon coloring books, more than likely.

And if anyone is concerned about what happened with Robin and the bear (and don't try to figure out how the bear escaped the clutches of Batman--it's left vague in the original narrative), here's the next page.



That's right, it's the circus's animal trainer, briefly glimpsed early on, come to the rescue. As tasty as Robin might be to a bear, clearly a bucket of fish is that much more appealing.

In any event, that's my new project.

Comments:
Wow, talk about a true life project.

But I find it fascinating. Not only you re-discover re-connect to your inner child, or the child that you used to be, but also on a "Up 7 Up 49" kind of level, but with a twist. Can you see what I mean, or is it just me understanding me here? Anyway, it's fascinating, and maybe, after you finish them all you could do something with it. I don't know what yet, but if I'll think about it before you do I'll let you know.
 
No, Rani, I think that makes sense. What's funny about the whole thing is that Georgia seems to think that it's absolutely normal that I should be finishing a coloring book I started thirty years ago.

I'm not sure what I'll do with these books when I'm done with them. Something, I'm sure. But it's strangely relaxing doing it, I can tell you!
 
In an ideal world, MY ideal world anyway, finishing a colouring (there, another extra "u" ) book you started 30 years ago would be the normal thing to do. A few months ago I found an old box of Lego in my mom's house, one that used to be mine when I was a kid. I brought it to my nephew and started building houses with him, and I didn't feel the time go by at all, and it was extremely relaxing. I used to love Lego, and I still do. I think that the perfect heaven for me will have a huge Lego room with a limitless supply for me. I'd be happy as a clam. I guess you'll be next door colouring books. Then we can have a drink in the bar.
 
Sounds like a dandy afterlife to me, Rani!
 
I actually remember that coloring book. When you posted it on FB I thought oh, that's the one about the circus. No idea where the memory came from, or why my brain kept that top of mind for all these years.
 
Clearly, Tim, the mere notion of "Batman wrestling a bear" is just so right that your subconscious mind refused to let it go.
 
Greatest. Project. Ever. I salute you, sir.

I have a Jem coloring book in the closet, but I bought it in sophomore year of high school (ahem). Although, it is unfinished, hmm... I am very impressed that you saved those coloring books for so many years!

And yes, coloring is very relaxing -- one of the reasons I took it up again in high school. That and the Jem coloring book was too cool to pass up.
 
Surely there's a scene with Batman wrestling a bear in Frank Miller's All Star Batman & Robin..? =)
 
That is a great project! Also, I love your Tom O'Bedlam reference in your epic fantasy title.
 
Thanks, Jen!
 
Chris T, if there *is* such a scene in ASB&R, it will sadly have to remain a mystery to me. I made it through exactly one issue of that thing, under duress, and I wouldn't go back even if Batman were wrestling a thousand bears...
 
Thanks, Orrin! And yeah, I've been wanting to use that title for ages, and I think this is finally the story for it. Maybe.

Of course, now that I think about it, the title might better suit another story I've got in the works, that is related to the first. Hmmm....
 
ninja-monk-morticians fighting zombies

That might just be the coolest string of words I've seen in years.
 
Rob, does it make it more cool or less cool if I add "telepathic" and "dimension-hopping" to that string?
 
Well, it depends where you add those two, it might be overkill. How about dimension-hopping zombies?
 
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