Okay, week one of our behind-the-scenes/hiatus extravaganza!
This week will mostly be the process and ideation that eventually lead to what we now call Roeke. Fun trivia stuff like, the comic was originally going to be titled "Mother Bear," but my girlfriend (and others) said that that title was "Stupid" and "didn't make sense." Haha. My reason behind it was that a mother bear is downright fierce when protecting her cubs, made perfect sense to me. I don't remember my reasoning why, but at the time my heart was set on not using the main character's name as the title, and that clearly worked out for me.
When college was starting to wind down and I was getting ready to commit a good chunk of my spare time to making some comics I was trying to think of what comic I'd like to produce first. I wanted to do something short and sweet so I could just start putting stuff out there (most my ideas to that point were for long-running or ongoing endeavors... so the fact that I got myself down to a 5 issue mini is progress!). Amidst a blast of artificial Megaman and Metroid nostalgia (I didn't play those games as a kid, but rather discovered them as an adult) I'd begin to fuel a desire to do something with that kind of video-game progression; where the protag would get consecutively cooler upgrades in order to defeat their foes.
So, with that percolating in the back of my mind, I eventually came to the conclusion that the main bad-guy force would have to be robots, because duh. So, what were these robots after? What motivated my as-yet-nonexistent protagonist?
Well, the robot's mission came to me pretty quickly, and will be better revealed next issue (sorry, no spoilers!), but their target wasn't originally our hero's daughter- or child, even.
I consider myself something of a feminist, so I think - even before I'd made the actual plan- I knew my main character would be a woman. Especially since my favorite game in my "newstalgia" binge was Super Metroid. From there, and this might be problematic, but I ultimately decided to make the baby her child because I didn't want it to be read as "ONE WOMAN'S QUEST FOR A MAN." So, making it her child, though some people might scoff "OH, so the only thing you think could motivate a woman other than a man is her own child?" to me, inspired the kind of motivation I needed for her perilous journey. So, if you're skeptical, stick with me, because I think I earned the child as motivator. Anything else I came up with beforehand just wasn't strong enough, and 90's games had no subtlety, so this felt more authentic. If you're gonna traverse a strange land and fight deadly robots, it's gotta be for something REALLY IMPORTANT.
So, Roeke must save her child from Robots, cool. I can make a fun comic with that! At first, the kid was going to be her son, but, following the same logic as above, I didn't want this to be the "my life is worthless without boys" book, though I think it wouldn't have been so bad as it's her child , but we've got Miri now, anyway.
After that, I sketched and brainstormed what kind of sweet upgrades she should get, decided what order to get them in (gotta escalate!) and worked out what/who my villains were gonna be. Upon reflection, I think that's where the robots idea really came from, they were cool things to fight AND a vehicle for Roeke's upgrades, it was a twofer! Thanks, Mega Man! And when it came time to plot, I figured the home invasion and 3 on 1 unfair fight would be a good way to set everything up: personal stakes for Roeke, establish the bad guys she can't hope to fight with just her fists- or all at once, for that matter, and show her doing better with an upgrade (Spider's arm) to establish my modular video-game hero. In a real video game, if it wasn't a cutscene, it'd have been a mandatory defeat first level (a la Mega Man X).
Well, as we wrap up this week's post, one more piece of trivia for ya: "Megamom" was a term coined by my then-roommate, Sifa, who used that as shorthand to remember what project I was talking about when I mentioned Roeke (as I have other things cooking and we'd discuss all of them, it helped him keep it straight). If I took myself just a little less seriously, and could get over having a title too close to Mega Man, you may have been reading MEGA MOM instead of ROEKE, heh.
Next week, I'll get concept art and page layouts up for y'all, then hopefully an interview with James or Amanda the week after that.
I made a comic once, it ended up being called "Roeke."
So, next issue, Roeke's getting out of the forest and into the concrete jungle, where there's trouble a plenty waiting. That, however, will have to wait until September while I work on coloring that stage (that is, I'm getting a head start) throughout August.
But, as I said last week, I plan on supplementing with more behind the scenes material, so you'll still have SOMEthing to check out in the interim.
So, those of you checkin' us out every week: THANK YOU! I really hope your enjoying this book, 'cause I got four stages to go and a lotta Robots to kill. And now that stage one is done, you can binge it like you do on netflix. Tell a friend!
Also, speaking of robots, big ups to my man James Lloyd-Knox who, I promise you, delivered way cooler robot designs than I could have come up with on my own. Particularly the Guardian, who I had the least grasp on conceptually.
Finally, three cheers to Amanda Brewer, the patron saint de los colores! Back when I was first writing and drawing this, I realized I kept imagining things in color when I coulda made it black and white. I knew jack squat about coloring, so, naturally, I passed the buck-- and boy, what a great call that was! Now the bots (particularly the Torch) really glow with energy, and we've got our 8-bit skyline keeping my early 90's action game aesthetic alive!
Anywho, see you next week for BTS, and September 3rd we'll find...
A SPIDER IN AUTOMATIC CITY!
Da Daa, Da Daa!
A pretty quiet page with a time lapse, and our penultimate update for Stage 01.
What I could barely manage in B&W, Amanda has made all better with her colors... namely, the transition from late night to early morning. That is one bright-ass moon, eh? I think we did a decent job of making Roeke look like she's about to transition into sleep-walking, too.
Next week, we will be giving you TWO pages! Mostly because I feel that the last page wouldn't stand very well completely on its own, as the page before it leads right into it. Storytelling! And that is gonna wrap up stage one, we did it!
I don't know if I told you guys this, but I'm learning to color myself now, so I can let Amanda get back to our other project, Autumn. I'm five or so pages through issue 2 on that front, and when that's done I'll just have lettering to do.
That being said, I'm new and slow and coloring is sometimes kinda frustrating! In order to be absolutely sure I can keep pace with my one-a-week schedule, we're going to be taking August off, and starting stage two in September.
But, I plan on giving you at least SOME excuse to come to the site in August, as I'll publish more behind the scenes for issue one! In addition to my own concept sketches and page layouts, I wanna get James' robot concepts in here with maybe some commentary from him. Ooo, and let's interview Amanda or something and she can tell us about her process and NOT killing me! :P
Other than that, we're just a couple months away from me tabling at my first con! Rose City Comic Con (RCCC) is September 20 and 21. I plan on having a limited print edition of Roeke 01 for sale there, and maybe some art prints or something? And Jenny bought me a card-reader for my phone, so's I can take credit cards for payment there, woo! I went overboard and got extra exhibitor badges for everyone so it could be a packed table at times, haha. Don't know what, if anything, James and Amanda will have there, but you can meet them and thank them for me :) I'm sharing the table with my buddy James Ratcliffe (dubbed "Sleazy James" to differentiate the two), so you should check his stuff out, too!
Interested in attending the con (and why wouldn't you be)? Check out more info and see my name in the exhibitor-artist alley list at http://rosecitycomiccon.com/
Well, that ended up being a long one! Come on back next week for the final TWO pages of Roeke 01!
Quiet page, Manda color good
TWO pages next week, end of Stage 01!
BTS in August, Stage 02 starts in September!
I do my own coloring in Stage 02 (and beyond)
RCCC's gonna be crowded Sept. 20 and 21
All those water jugs I drew and Roeke collected are coming in handy!
This page is essentially the mission statement of where the book will be taking us next. She's going to "the city," taking on the 'bots one by one, and finally assaulting Sky Base Zero to get Miri back from "him."
We also take a moment to show even the toughest mom's need to have a good cry now and then, as the adrenaline gives way to the crippling fear she must be facing.
Unlike some people drawing this comic, Amanda has proven that she pays attention to light sources, or the lack thereof. Her rings around the last fire dying out I think really turned that big mess panel into a neat composition, without sacrificing any of the "your home is ruined" detail.
Now, Roeke is all packed up and ready to start her adventure. Next week: moonlight and woods! Can you even stand the excitement? :P
Until next time...
I hope upon seeing the title of today's blog you all finished it in your head with "Never Surrender," because I did. :)
Well, the robots have won. Poor Roeke. Comic's over now, guys, you can go home. HA! Just kidding. If you think a little unconsciousness is gonna stop our intrepid heroine, you've got another thing coming!
Artistically, this is one of my faaaaaaavorite pages. Can you tell we had fun with it? I loved tilting the "camera" with Roeke's POV as she hit the ground. Then the drifting out of and then back into consciousness like a falling leaf. All of which Amanda nailed and enhanced with the color art. All to end with the super pulled back long shot, showing just how alone she is now. What a bummer!
Well, you basically have to come back next week, right? Who could leave it be on this note?
Until next time!
Born in California, Justin now resides in Portland, OR. He's had a passion for comics from a very young age