My first graphic novel: Tangled Pines



  • Hi, SVS crew!

    I’m here to gather feedback on my first big comic project. I’ve made a lot of progress on the finished art this year after finally getting the hang of my digital painting process. My pace has fluctuated now and then, which I suppose is to be expected given the kind of year it’s been, but at my best I’ve managed to get through one page a week.

    This is a collaborative project between myself and a super-talented local writing partner. We’re both new to making comics, and figuring things out as we go. Our story is an urban fantasy for kids 9-12 or so, featuring an autistic protagonist (drawing on my own lived experience), and themes of home and belonging. What I have so far is 20 pages of finished art out of 34 in this first chapter - my writing partner has a script ready for a second chapter, and plans for four more after that.

    We haven’t thought very hard about how we’ll approach publishing just yet - for now I’m still kind of proving to myself I can get all the work done! I haven’t shared much of it publicly before either, but I think it’s just about ready for professional feedback and advice on next steps.

    This has been my sole focus over the past year or so, and it serves as a record of my growth in that time. It’s also taken me in a completely different direction and pushed my skills a great deal harder than anything I’ve done previously, and I’m hoping it’ll give me a good foundation to build on when I eventually return my attention to freelance work.

    My first priority going forward is of course to keep production going - I still have fourteen more pages to go on this chapter, then a cover design and other bits and pieces before it’s a finished book. I’m wondering whether there’s more I should be doing now, though.

    I suppose the first thing I’m looking for is some serious critique of my style and technique. I’m...painfully aware of some flaws, but on the whole, is my work pro level, publishable quality?

    And while I continue chipping away on the remaining pages - what else should I be doing? Is it time to start putting some of this in public and growing an audience? Should I split my time with other little projects, building a new portfolio that matches what I’ve been up to with the comic? Or is that a rabbit-hole of distraction I’m better off avoiding for now?

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  • Hi @blamillo, I think your work is great and on the pro level! Congratulations on getting your graphic novel this far! That’s a huge undertaking!

    I suggest you look for an agent that specializes in graphic novels to pitch your book to the publishing houses.

    Or, you might grow a following online by sharing some pages to build an audience and excitement.

    Have you agreed to terms with your writer friend on copyright and royalty split?

    Best!



  • Thanks, Jeremy!

    Things are pretty loose and informal with my writing partner for the time being. We’ve been doing a handful of other things together, so it’s been mutually beneficial even before we’ve gotten to the business end of this project. I’m eager to take good care of him once we get to that stage - I’m guessing agents would be able to offer guidance on that?



  • Oh wow! Awesome work so far!

    @blamillo said in My first graphic novel: Tangled Pines:

    and it serves as a record of my growth in that time. It’s also taken me in a completely different direction and pushed my skills a great deal harder than anything I’ve done previously, and I’m hoping it’ll give me a good foundation to build on when I eventually return my attention to freelance work.

    That's EXACTLY how I went about upping my skills and it paid off. It looks like it did for you, too 😃

    @blamillo said in My first graphic novel: Tangled Pines:

    I suppose the first thing I’m looking for is some serious critique of my style and technique

    Are you looking for some critique in this thread? There's definitely one mechanical point I'd have some feedback on 🙂



  • @Braden-Hallett go for it, dude! What’s your feedback?



  • @blamillo Cool! My biggest concern is that at times the speech bubbles are placed in such a way that it takes a moment to decode which bubble is meant to come first. We read left to right, and top to bottom. When things are a little off, (first bubble at the top, but on the right, or first bubbles on the left, but neat the bottom) It's no longer an instant read.

    Examples 😃

    This panel the bubbles start at the top, but the first one's so far right I don't instinctively wanna read it first.

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    Same here

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    It happens one or two other places as well 🙂

    Seems nitpicky, but bubble order is the FIRST thing people would comment on in my webcomic 🙂 (unless I had a spelling error. Spelling errors drive people up the wall, lol)



  • @Braden-Hallett Ah, yes. It’s something I was aware of while typesetting, but I felt like I didn’t have much wiggle room, given how I composed those panels. I guess I’m counting on top-to-bottom taking precedence over left-to-right?



  • @blamillo said in My first graphic novel: Tangled Pines:

    @Braden-Hallett Ah, yes. It’s something I was aware of while typesetting, but I felt like I didn’t have much wiggle room, given how I composed those panels. I guess I’m counting on top-to-bottom taking precedence over left-to-right?

    Yup 🙂 It seems like it SHOULD work, but sometimes it doesn't. The thing that helped me with bubble placement was having the speech bubbles in place during the thumbnail stage, and finished (like, finalized on the page) when I start sketching before anything else is done.


  • SVS OG

    @blamillo I have no skills in this area (besides recently starting to read graphic novels)but I did want to mention that I did stumble over reading those speech bubbles that Braden mentions..I read from left to right - my guess would be most folks would...it is a strong instinct to find the left most speech bubble and start from there...super impressive that you finished this! Really nice work!