Sketches for Tart issue 03.

Here the sketches from the TART issue 03, updated next week.
You could see the first design of new characters, so if you want be surprise in reading don't look at this message.

see you next tuesday!


An insight into how Tart comes together

It's Monday night, the evening before we usually update the site with the next chunk of Tart pages. But since we just finished issue 2 last week, we like to have a little breather for a week. It gives Ludo extra time to work on any posters or adverts he dreams up (I wish I could take credit for them, but the extra art he delivers is 98 percent him).

Since I received Ludo's art for issue 2 months and months ago, I've wanted to point out something unbelievably cool he did. But I had to wait, so I didn't spoil anything for you about how the story ended. If you haven't read issue 2, I guess this is where I should type SPOILER ALERT (Though honestly, just click on the cover to issue 2 on the upper right of this page and read it, then tell 9 of your friends, then come back).

I'll get the the cool thing in a moment. First, a bit of explaining.

The overall story: who Tart is, who she works for, what they do, what they do not do, etc is decided in Cross-Atlantic emails with Ludo. It's a very cool process where the time difference seems to me to be a great help, instead of a hindrance. Often times, I'll stay up late finishing a script or a rant about a character, or story idea and email it off in the evening. At some point while i sleep, he receives it and answers. Which means, when I wake up, there's the answer to any of my questions from the night before just sitting there: He likes this, he doesn't like that, maybe we could try this instead, type of stuff.

And I'll email him back in the morning. Sometimes we go back and forth all day, sometimes we come to an agreement immediately. As soon as consensus is reached, he'll usually turn around a stupidly amazing piece of artwork that accompanies the idea in a matter of hours, which gets my juices flowing again to work in the evening, and it all repeats itself.

We don't do this all the time, there are plenty of times where I just spend the day gorging on Oreos and playing with my daughter's dolls (sometimes even with my daughter).

When it comes to scripting though I get sort of secretive, even with Ludo. He knows pretty well what's coming. She's gonna be in New York City in the mid 50s. She's gonna be in snow-covered mountain landscape, she's gonna be in... wait, I'm not spoiling that one. Pretty much I want him to read the script the way you all read the comic. The only difference is he literally, and figuratively, has to draw the issue from my words. And I'll be honest. I want to wow him. If I wow him, then he can wow you.

I won't speak for him, but I know from the work that eventually (much quicker than I can understand how it's possible) comes back to me that he's accepted the challenge and is ready to wow me right back.

I'm going to assume that some of you reading this are new to comic books and comic stories... welcome. I really hope you're enjoying a new way to immerse yourself in a story. In that case, I wanted to give a little peak behind the curtain so to speak. For those of you who "know" comics, the rest of this post is just me bragging on Ludo:

First of all, the rule to end all rules. The artist has a better sense of how something should be drawn than the writer. I try to remember to add this to every script I send. I have ideas for things, but his visual sense is trained years and years ahead of mine. So though I give him a layout, he ALWAYS has full authority to draw it anyway he feels it will work better. In film terms, I'm the screenwriter and Ludo's the director. Directors can literally urinate on screenwriters without worry of any retribution.

So I never worry when the layout looks different than I envisioned. Now if an important piece of information isn't represented, of course we fix that. But if I ask for a close up, and Ludo draws Tart from the back looking up at something, I usually find that what he's drawn is more interesting anyway.

That said, He's also always writing. Adding. Contributing to the story, and to the character of Tart. I've got two cool examples of Ludo completely adding something that I either never envisioned, or didn't take the time to even think up, much less describe.

From Issue 1. Here's the original script for the moment when (SPOILER ALERT - seriously, if you haven't read issue 1 yet, get with the program) Tart wakes up after her less than stellar attack on the demon:

Page 15 panel 1
The room comes back into focus as Tart regains consciousness.

Panel 2
The Demon and the boy are back at the table. Tart is in a steel cage hanging from the ceiling.
Tart, “Let us go!”

Panel 3
Demon, “You make boy eat!”
Tart, “What?”

Panel 4
Demon, “Boy no eat.”
Boy. No! Want Mommy!”

Panel 5
Demon, “Me Mommy. You eat.
Boy No.
Demon. Must Eat!

Panel 6
Demon. “No boy starve. Me love boy. Me mommy.

Panel 7
Tart is realizing what is happening.
Tart, thought balloon, “Oh my lord.”

Panel 8
Tart, “His name is John Martin. He can’t eat here.
Demon, “Must eat!”
Tart. “Yes, but he can’t eat here. He’s human, it will burn him.

Panel 9
Demon, “No burn boy. “
Tart, “No. we don’t want to burn him. We want to save the boy.
Demon, Yes. Save boy.”

Panel 10
Tart, “I can’t save him here. I’ve got to take him home.
Boy. “Wanna go home to Mommy.”
Demon, “But this home. Me Mommy!”

Panel 11
Tart. “No. His home is on earth. On the human plane.
Demon. “But I love him.”

Now here's the page of art:

Now the thing I wanted to note is happening in panels 6 & 8. Nowhere in my script, nor in my mind, was I contemplating what Tart was doing in the big metal cage. When I looked through Ludo's pencils 

- - in case you're new, the first drawings are made with pencil, so they can be erased if you don't like them and redrawn. Thus, they're called, "Pencils." When the artist is happy he or she (or often enough another artist entirely) uses a pen or a brush and black ink to "Ink" them, which pretty much makes the art permanent. Finally a colorist takes the black and white pages and (nowadays) uses a computer program to color them. By the way, three or more distinct artists often do these different chores, and on Tart, every one  of these jobs is completed by Ludo. Which is why I have a sneaking suspicion he doesn't actually exist and I've either been working with magical elves or a sentient - most likely evil - supercomputer with the dream of being Jim Lee.- 

Wow that was a long parenthesis. Long enough I'd just better repeat the sentence I had started with.

When I looked through Ludo's pencils, I noticed in Panel 6 that Tart was fiddling with her hair. And in panel 8, she was fiddling with the lock. You see, as the writer, I knew full well the demon was going to break the cage for her, so I didn't give any thought to her trying to escape. But Ludo knew Tart wouldn't give up like that. He had her working to create her own escape even though one would be forthcoming. It's something I should have come up with in the beginning, but that I'm awestruck by whenever I read that page.

The second example I have to show what Ludo brings to the story as artist is a little more straightforward. It's in issue 2 at the end. Here's the script:  

Page 21 panel 1
Tart is sitting cross-legged in the snow.

Narrator box: The family was so obvious. I just assumed they were the mission.

Panel 2
Tart, “Shin, Henne. Holestae!”
A blue bubble appears at Tarts feet.

Panel 3
The bubble floats in front of Tart’s face.

Panel four.
She follows it

Panel 5
And She follows it

Panel 6
And She follows it

Panel 7
Narration box: I should have done this days ago.

Panel 8
Narration box: But if I had, that family would probably starve.

Panel 9
Narration box: I’ll make that trade every day of the week. 
Note the monotony of the script instructions "She follows it." "She follows it." "She follows it," compared with what you see on the page. I wanted a sense of time passing. Ludo gave us much more than that. Hours seem to pass. And miles. You almost strain with Tart as she climbs up that peak and hoists herself up to the edge (an edge I didn't even know she'd be climbing).

I'm sorry, but I just think that's so f-ing cool. I write this thing, and I still get surprised by what's in it!

I hope I've made this sort of interesting to any of you that might like to know a bit of how our comic is made (there's no real rule as to how a comic is made, so this is only a primer on how Ludo and I do it). And an insight into how the writing process continues to the drawing board (and beyond).

Good night,


PS - next week issue 3 starts updating. get ready people, it kicks complete and total ass.


Another inspiration

I'm knee-deep in the script to issues 4 and 5 and just realized something. I've known from the get go that big inspirations for Tart were Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sandman. But going through these scripts I noticed another: Burn Notice.

Tart goes through her situations, and escapes jams in many ways similar to Michael Westen. If you haven't watched, I highly recommend it. It's funny, often surprising and very entertaining. Start from the beginning, though, as the web of intrigue keeps moving up, and up and up the ladder.

Most importantly; it has Bruce Campbell and knows how to use him.

Now that this commercial for Burn Notice has come to an end, I'll just tease that some news about Tart in physical form may be coming soon. I'll let you know details as soon as they are concrete, and I'm allowed.


Where we're at

Things have been a little quiet on this blog between updates. The level of quiet is directly inverse to the level of craziness that have been going on in my (and Ludo's) life.

I'll leave it to him to fill you in on the big event of his last few weeks, but for me it's been basically nonstop work and play and work and play and work and work and work.

Let me start over. As most of you know I have a 3 year old daughter named Vienna. When she was born I refused to acknowledge that The Disney Princesses would ever hold a place in our home. And when Vienna become OBSESSED with Sesame Street, I was fine with that. And when she got into the Muppets, I was ecstatic. But then something happened. We bought Beauty and the Beast. Everything else in Vienna's entertainment life disappeared. Beauty and the Beast begat The Little Mermaid, begat Cinderella, begat The Fox and the Hound, Begat Lady and the Tramp.

And then at Christmas her Aunt Stacie gave her over twenty Disney books, most of which emphasized The Disney Princess brand. It was done. I was defeated. But it really isn't so bad, because they're still books. They're still about bravery, family, confidence, individuality and morals. And the new ones, like Tangled, are also hilarious.

So my wife and I realize that in February there is a week long break in Vienna's preschool. I request off of work, we find a free place to stay in Orlando and bite the bullet: we're going to take our daughter to Disney.

And here's where this story becomes a Tart blog and not just a "I took my kid to Disney" post.

There is an up and coming comics Publisher name What the Flux Comics that is based in Winter Park, FL. The same little suburb of Orlando where we'll be staying. And the weekend we'd be driving up (if I can get off of work early enough Saturday) Orlando is hosting MegaCon. An enormous annual comic convention that I now hope to make a yearly ritual.

So I emailed What The Flux's CEO Larry Jarrell and set up a meeting for that week. We tweetered or twitted or whatever you call it and settled on Wednesday night of that week to meet up and discuss Tart possibly joining his growing list of titles.

I did get off work early enough Saturday, so I did go to Megacon. I brought hundreds of Tart fliers to hand out. And was able to give them out to lots of people. Personally, I found the greatest success giving them to large groups of people. When I walked up to a person alone, they seemed to be leery of me. But when I approached groups of 4 or more, they seemed open to the pitch. Maybe they felt that because they were with their friends, I obviously wasn't a threat. If you would have asked me beforehand, I would have assumed the exact opposite response.

If anybody came to the page from those ads, please let me know. And let me know what you think of the story so far.

At MegaCon I walked artist alley and found the What the Flux table to put a name to the face. Spoke for a few minutes and was on my way.

Oh, I forgot to mention, I also lost my phone. Getting off the bus which brought us from the distant parking lot I realized it wasn't in my pocket. I searched through my backpack, but couldn't find it. So I ran back on the bus and looked on and under my seat. Nope.

I figured it MUST be in my bag, so I got off, spoke to the driver, and wrote down the number of the bus.

Phoneless I entered the Con. That is why I do not have hundreds of awesome photos to show you. No phone to take them. I was happy to find everyone at the Con to be incredibly nice. They were all excited to be there, happy to look at the patrons who dressed up (I'd say a good 30 to 40 percent), or to pose for pictures if they were in costume.

I hunted down CJ from CJ's comics, a local comic shop who was nice enough to distribute Tart fliers for me (remember I was only there on the last day, and even that was luck). He was doing crazy business which is good, because I want my local shops to be there or I won't have a place to buy my Buffy, Angel & Faith and X-men titles if they aren't around. Much less a place to sell Tart when we get her rolling.

I then learned that Nicolas Brendon and Charisma Carpenter (Xander and Cordelia from Buffy) would have a panel. I passed out Tart fliers to people waiting for their panel, and went out to the buses. Still no phone, I waited a bit until Bus #711 came back around and searched more carefully. There, stuck to the side of the wall by my seat, the black of my Otter Case matching the black of the wall perfectly, I found my phone.

I jaunted back in to the convention center. I joined the Brendon/Carpenter panel already in progress and laughed my ass off. Those two are really funny together. Anyone casting a movie needs to get them to work together on screen again, because the dynamic between the two of them is still great.

I came home to the apartment we were staying in, and collapsed. The next day was exploring Winter Park with Janet and Vienna, and then Tuesday and Wednesday were Epcot and Hollywood "Used to be Called MGM but We Changed it just to Confuse You" Studios. I say we took Vienna to Disney, but all the Princess stuff is actually at these two parks. The most amazing of which is the Princess Lunch at Norway inside Epcot Center. If you have a young child that's into the Princesses this is the place. Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and (even though we were told she was too busy to attend) Cinderella all walked around and introduce themselves to your child and pose for pictures. Expensive, but check out the pictures below and you'll see it was worth every penny: 

So zombified by two days of Disney induced delerium, I drove off to meet Larry Jarrell. I talked with him and a new art assistant of his about Tart, comics, Tumblr, deviant art, my theory that if "Neil Gaiman said it or wrote it, it's right - Always," Truk Lagoon, the difference between inking with brushes or pens (ok I just listened to this part), digital distribution, tradepaperbacks, sweet tea vs unsweetened, was told by the assistant that she didn't like the way issue 1 ended (Spoiler Alert click the cover in the upper right if you haven't read it) it was a compliment, she was sad for the demon, and too many other topics to even remember, much less list.

The end result is, we're in close talks with What The Flux Comics. Nothing is signed, yet and I'm not counting any chickens. But there's an egg there. You'll be the first to hear if it hatches.

Oh and the other result is I'm exhausted. How was your week?


PS - tune in tomorrow for the next update of Tart issue 2 when we find out just what is inside that cave.