I’m supposed to be documenting my work on making my own comic book, but so far all I've done is a lot of talking. But, well, for me that’s how things get done – talking to myself, really thinking about what it is I want to do. And in the actual timeline of how all this came together for me, I might have bought some pens in late September but I hadn’t at that time figured out what I was actually going to do with them.
In the last post, I talked a bit about the idea of FORM vs. CONTENT in comics. In my more traditional writing practice (poetry), everything I do is fueled sort of equally by parameters applied to both the form & the content. They’re linked up. What I want to say in a poem is determined, at least partly, by how I think it might look on the page. So, in the process of making this comic, my decisions about what I was going to write & draw were bound up in my initial decisions about format.
I’ve been making zines since I was a teenager, & in fact my whole poetry publishing empire (ha!) started as a single ditto’d zine. When I started this new project, I knew only that I wanted my comic to be something I could photocopy & staple myself because a part of why I was doing this was to get my hands dirty & have that kind of physical connection to the book itself. A recent book, Mark Todd & Esther Pearl Watson’s Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? brings together some great thoughts on the physical & ideological construction of a zine. It’s really a great clearinghouse for some of the best thoughts on every aspect of this, & there are some great comics in there as well.
But, actually, all my problems / question were solved in one fell swoop when I discovered Chuck Forsman’s Oily Comics.
I endlessly trawl the internet for indy comics, & I knew Chuck’s high octane slacker series The End of the Fucking World through some issues I had picked up who knows where. But I never thought to track back to Oily Comics, which Chuck runs. What you’ll find there is an amazing array of comics, most of which are a buck. ONE DOLLAR.
I got my first delivery just a few days after I ordered. They’re all quarter-sized, side-stapled, black & white. It goes without saying that the books themselves are terrific – James Hindle’s Close Your Eyes as you Let Go is detailed & full of character depth with great use of black & Max de Radigues’ Moose is clean & whimsical magical realism with a desperate heart. But even more than the content, what impressed me was the way Chuck had made a whole mess of design/business choices, had solved all these problems, & had created an amazing new platform.
For my own comic, I was leaning toward the half size fold but after seeing these Oily Comics, I knew I was going hardcore black & white at the quarter size. I loved the feel of these books in my hand. Making this decision – a very foundational decision that would dictate the look & tone of the art, as well as the overall size of the book – I was freed up to start thinking creatively…to write, to sketch, to start to figure out what the hell I was doing.
But that’s for next time. I actually just got some of the new October books in the mail today, so I’m going to stop writing this & start reading.