Sketch Fridays #75 – “Call Me Home” Concept Art

This is a strange image to share because it’s not a finished piece by any means and isn’t meant to be. If anything, this drawing is more of a look into the creation process of a story––one part of the answer to the question, “How do you come up with your ideas?”

I’m a writer who draws, or an artist who writes, I’m not sure––I’m both, I guess. The word I like––but I’m sure I’m the only person who uses it––is “comicker.” I prefer that over calling myself a “writer-artist” because it assumes a parsing of activities––you write and then you draw. In actuality, at least the way I do things, writing and drawing are one and the same. I bounce back and forth sometimes, while they literally happen at the same time in other instances.

Part of coming up with a comic is creating proof-of-concept or concept art, which is what this drawing is.

I’ve had a short story idea for a long time that finally clicked for me a few weeks ago. However, I didn’t really dive into it because, of course, I have Long John to focus on.

With the introduction of the iPad into my comicking process, I suddenly saw a path that could lead to making more comics. Long John is a comic made as traditionally as possible––pencil and pen and ink on paper. The only digital sides of the creation of the comic are in the coloring, lettering, and, ultimately, publication (on the website).

The iPad will be used in two specific ways for Long John––thumbnailing and coloring. Beyond that, it’s a doodle machine, meant to encourage more regular sketching and build familiarity. However, that means that there will be a lot of time when it is not being occupied by Long John-related creation.

What I’d like to do is, when I’m not working on Long John (likely in the evenings), I’ll be using the iPad to work on fully-digital short stories, the first (attempt) of which will be a story called “Call Me Home.”

I’m excited about this option because it lets me flex my English major muscles a bit more. I fear of getting pigeonholed as a comicker who makes “Westerns” or, at the very least, genre comics. While there’s nothing wrong with making genre comics, I have often said that Long John (to me) is less a Western and more a story that takes place in 1880s California and is about a gunslinger. The other long-form stories I plan to tell eventually, after Long John, are more stories that aren’t locked into a familiar genre, though there are some that do. Academia calls this “no genre” type of fiction “Literary” fiction (note the capital L), meaning contemporary realistic fiction––but, honestly, what is that definition outlining if not a genre.

For awhile I compartmentalized my more “literary” aspirations separate from my comic aspirations. But it’s completely possible or, at the very least, worth a shot. What I hope is that all of my work will make sense when you see my name attached to it. They may not look the same (but you’ll see a thread) and they may not sound the same (but you’ll hear a thread), but together they’ll build a body of work for a comicker called “D. Bethel.” I’d rather hear Long John described as a “D. Bethel comic” rather than a “Western comic.”

While this experiment may completely fail, I’m excited to try.