I was never in a band. I never had the after-school garage practices, sweaty basement shows, or packed-van touring. No local fans or feuds among friends. But now, Swifty is right when he says that this Blacklight Comics collaboration is the closest approximation we have to doing the rock band thing. If that's the case, Frozen Dark is our first single.
Here's a LINK to the full comic as a Google Doc. We printed a number of copies for the Big Apple Comic Con and there is still the intention to include it in a friend's horror anthology. This doc is also a temporary home as we set up our main site.
As our first complete story, there's a lot being worked out on the page.
I soon discovered that a cast of young, bald, boys in similar dress was confusing in terms of identifying the players. Although the three main orphans are aged apart, I added a white shawl to our protagonist, Azuba, to better distinguish him with an iconic accent.
In terms of illustration influences, I was clearly looking at Asian brushwork, particularly the Vietnamese artist Huy Toan, to achieve a line that was as loose and descriptive as possible. I believe I succeeded in exactly one panel (which, from what I hear from other artists and on comic podcasts, is a pretty good ratio).
I had always pictured designing the page on biased grids to heighten tension, drive focus, and mirror the driving snow. However, I do think the layout can overtake the story at times and I certainly ran into a number of issues when resolving the design across adjacent pages.
We also started with the initial premise of having to make a midnight bathroom trip in a foreboding landscape. Then, the goal was to build to something more without losing the initial sense of dread. It's especially difficult to surprise a comic reader when all of the panels are already visible on the page. There's the added risk of being too opaque or corny or obvious when handling material that should be horrific.
Please take a look and come back to let us know how it read for you.
If you're interested, I've also discussed the story and toning of Frozen Dark in previous posts on my personal art blog.