Garrison the Stronghold is a story inspired by life events my wife Leah and I went through in late 2013 – early 2014. Up until that point, I’ve always had a passion for illustration, ever since I came to God it’s been on my heart that I wanted to do a children’s book, when these life events occurred it was like the pieces came together for the story that needed to be told. Through our experience Leah and I found new meaning in relying on God for his strength, fear comes in many different ways and can be at the root of the hinderances that might hold us back in life. The Garrison book will be, at it’s core, about overcoming fear and becoming “Strong and Courageous” as it states in Joshua 1:9.
Every couple years I feel like God is challenging me to take another leap of faith on the journey towards what I believe he has in store for us. This year with freelance work shutting doors in every direction and having built-up a cushion in my freelance work to float us for a small time, I felt the book was what God was telling me is next. So began 2016, the year of Garrison the Stronghold.
In late January, Leah and I, took a trip to beautiful Lake Chelan, WA where we stayed for an extended weekend to devote our time and begin the writing process of the story of Garrison. We were surrounded by snow-covered hills and peaceful winter sunshine, which was all very inspiring and comforting. The time there provided much needed rest, reflection, and a great kick-off to writing the story.
As I continued to work on the script throughout the spring, I also began sketches for the characters and environment design of the story.
In July I decided to go on an unplanned road trip headed south along Highway 101 in hopes to get some quality time to finish writing the story. I discovered beautiful beach side cliffs in Oregon which inspired the maritime themes in the first and second chapters of the Garrison book, dreaming of fantastic port towns, wooden ships and sea creatures.
Further south, I was able to experience camping in the Redwood Forest in northern California which inspired Garrison’s adventures in the Isle of Twistaway in the third chapter of the book. Mammoth trees along the cliffs and caverns with mysteries abound, it seemed like the perfect place to draw inspiration.
The trip proved to be a very eye-opening adventure and I was able to complete more than half of the script during the time. As I wound my way down the west coast, I found a “luxury” affordable writing environment at UCSB, just before heading south to LA where I would soon meet Leah, flying down to keep me company on the way home.
Efforts were ongoing throughout the year to redefine my art style in a way that could be more children’s book friendly, but could still be considered “cool” to younger audiences. I drew inspiration from animation and children’s books, as well taking classes through Schoolism to grow as an artist from acclaimed artists and mentors like Bobby Chiu and Steven Silver. In my early sketches, I found an affinity for Col-Erase red pencils, which when it came time to go digital, I translated the natural look and feel of the pencils into digital brushes to continue the style while working on my amazing new Cintiq “easel”.
In October I had the opportunity to have my own table at the Bellingham Comicon which provided me a goal to begin revealing Garrison the Stronghold to the public. We were happy to share an assortment of concept art, stickers, prints, and occasion cards at our booth, it was all a very big production, but with the help of my wife, we were able to finish it all in time and it was very rewarding. We received very positive feedback from the guests which was very encouraging after all our hard work. Even though the book published till late 2017, this gave me the chance to share the art and characters to the public and begin gaining support and interest in the process.
Over the next year I hope you will join us on journey as I develop the first Garrison the Stronghold book. The book will be a 100+ page graphic novel children’s book for middle-grade children and above. I also feel it will have a special place for parents and hopefully lovers of art and storytelling. We will be updating the blog every Monday and offer an email sign-up to follow along for updates. In the coming weeks I will be sharing more about the process, story, and lots of concept art goodness. Thanks so much for you continued love and support! – Be Strong and Courageous!