God’s Timetable

I’ve been putting off this post for some time because I knew it would be a hard one, and that is that the book is likely not going to be ready this year.

Coming Soon!
We make goals to have something to strive for, but I’m reminded that all of this is really up to God and his timetable rather than the times that we arbitrarily put on them. So what has been going on and why the delay? When I set out on this endeavor it was a new goal and a substantial one. The book would be approximately 120+ color illustrated pages to be complete within the course of a year which is an endeavor in and of itself. In addition to the book art there is the script, concept art, and business matters all which need a certain amount of attention. First the script.

Re-Writing at the University California Santa Barbara Summer 2017
I felt the script was about 90% there, good enough to start layouts for graphic novels go, but after some test readings by trusted friends they affirmed some thoughts that I had lingering in the back of my mind regarding character development and arc, things I originally tried to condense to keep the story within a certain page count but was doing the story a disservice. Right now I’m rounding third base on the overhaul rewrite of the script, and have found that reworking the script to be much more difficult than the initial write because it involves a lot more “fitting”– what pieces to keep in, what to keep out, how will the pages all fit together in pagination since it is an art book. Also this means the book has grown in length now by from 120+ pages to almost 160 and going, but I’m just going to let the story take it’s course then go back and see if there are any panels/pages I can “cut for time”. I hope to have the script done this week and heavy into layouts shortly thereafter.

Original Script Layouts at the Portside Suites in Brookings, OR with my wife Leah driving down the 101 coast early Summer 2017.
Next is the concept art. I set out to do a thorough work on concept art; character designs, environment designs, and key art when I first started the project to both make the book better as well as to sharpen my skills as an artist. The first pass at concept art was great and developed a style, but now it’s up to me to take a second look at it and see where to perfect and what I still must develop in order to press forward with the book as quickly as possible. All of the major characters now have had at least an initial pass, most of which have yet to be shared. Key art has been established to help give an idea for key moments as well as the style of the book. For those interested I have started a Gallery to hold the concept art in progress on the site,as well there is more art to see on my Etsy store Stronghold Art.

Luca Character Design and Style Explorations. Luca was added during the script revision process as a rival to Garrison in the second chapter to increase the drama.
Finally the environments have been started, enough to begin the layouts, locations such as as the cottage by the sea and Michael’s boat in Chapters 1 and 2 have been defined thoroughly, while other areas in chapters 3-6 still are a bit loose and need work. My plan is to begin pressing on the layouts and work on some of the environment studies alongside to help speed things up.

The Sea Wing Environment (Prop) Design First Pass

Cottage By the Sea Environment Design First Pass

Cottage By the Sea Environment Design Plans and Details
Finally the matter of the business work. There are several areas within here, looking into possible publishing avenues, marketing, marketing language which we have mostly narrowed down and just simply getting the word out. Part of this is getting to comic shows and begin sharing the work with others. It’s a bit tough for me in all honesty, but never the less going to conventions is a great way to meet new people and maybe the best way to be real about the book. Currently I’m booked for Jet City Comic Con on November 4th and 5th in Artist Alley, as well I’ve booked Lilac Comic Con in Spokane for next June. With this in mind, my goal is to have some great prints and in process visuals from the book to share with guests and I’ll definitely be giving away free sketches and would love to meet you if you come out. If you know a convention or other venue you think would be good for me a visit I would love to hear from you, I’m new to promoting but trying to book at least a show every month or two as the book ramps up.

One last update, this year I have also been dealing with some surprise medical setbacks, I don’t really want to share all of it now… but it’s a reminder that God’s in control. We can plan, we can make goals, stockpile finances, work hard and have it all taken away in a heartbeat. We must trust in the Lord and His will for our lives and sometimes submit that we have control of the rudder, but it is God who is in control of which way the river flows. I’m reminded of this scripture from James 4:13-17 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Self Encouragement Sketch early 2017

Thanks for following the Garrison book journey. Things have been picking up lately and I’m encouraged as we head into the fall and holidays. Be Strong and Courageous and I will to.

The Journey So Far…

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.

Lake Chelan Late January 2016
Lake Chelan Late January
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.

Writing Along the 101 Oregon Coast
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.

Sharing the Story for the First Time
Sharing the Story for the First Time

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!