Writing can be a solitary process, particularly in the early stages when it’s all about you, the idea and the page. Working on Time Traders of Elegius has been something of a learning curve because it’s the first time I’ve worked on a project that required collaboration.
My drawing skills extend to stick men and that’s about it. In fact, even the stick men don’t look much like men. Or sticks. I can draw a mean stick dog though, so I’m not a total failure...
It was clear from the beginning that Time Traders would need an illustrator and I was barely a quarter of the way into the first script when I received an email from Mark at WP Comics to let me know that he had passed the outline onto a Cardiff based artist by the name of Leanne East. He asked if I could take a look at some concept sketches.
The images blew me away. Among them was the following image, early concept art of the main character, Nina.
It was such a bizarre feeling. She had been wandering around inside my head for months, moving the furniture and meddling in plotlines which were, quite frankly, none of her business. She had existed only for me and yet, here she was, alive and sparkling on the page. It seems amazing to me that a few words of description and Leanne’s incredible skills could produce Nina precisely as I had imagined her. More images followed...
It was exciting to know that I had been assigned an illustrator. It meant there was somebody else invested in Nina’s story. Leanne and I didn’t start communicating with each other until I had completed the final script. There’s no shortage of stories about writers interfering, illustrators carrying out their revenge on the page and the whole process becoming a nightmare for all concerned. I had no desire to fall into that trap. I had already seen the concept artwork and it was clear that her vision for the story was the same as mine. An important part of the collaborative process is trusting your team mate, giving them space and time to weave their own particular brand of magic. It seems to be working well for us so far.
I caught up with Leanne last week and she agreed to answer a few of my burning questions. Here’s what she had to say...
1. How old were you when you realised you could draw?
That's a good question! I can't really remember exactly when, but I think one of my earliest memories as a child - I must have been about six or seven - was when I started drawing characters from Disney movies. As I was drawing Jane from the movie Tarzan, I was thinking 'when I grow up I want to be an artist!'
2. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Absolutely anything. It used to be just other artist’s work, but now, I find myself getting inspired by everyday things like people, architecture, films, books, nature. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look!
3. How did you get involved with WP comics?
I had recently moved to Cardiff after travelling and volunteering for 18 months and I was looking to find new commission based art/illustration work. I came across an advertisement online for illustrators and writers to kick start a comic book company. After e-mailing and enquiring I ended up sharing my work and discussing ideas with the editor. He then decided to offer me a position as an illustrator and to be part of the team. I have never had the opportunity to really illustrate a comic before, so it was really an exciting experience for me.
4. What does your process look like-after you get a comic script, do you start drawing right away or are there planning stages you have to go through?
When I first thought about what sort of style I was going to use for the comic, and how the characters would look, I had to plan each page; where to place each panel, compositions, where the characters would go etc. The first couple of pages took the longest to draw and colour and get into but towards the end, I knew how to approach each page and was able to develop a quicker process. The experience as a whole has been a learning curve, which I am very grateful for.
5. Without giving too much away, who is your favourite character in Time Traders? Can you tell us why?
So far, it has to be the main character, Nina. That might change as the story continues and we find out more about the other characters, but I admire strong female leads. That's why, at the moment, I like Nina so much.
Take a look at some possible cover art, plus an exclusive image from the first instalment.
You can find about more about Leanne and her work by following the links below.
Check back soon for an exclusive chat with Mark Fluharty of WP Comics (if he agrees, of course!)
Until next time...