Making the Moth City III

& Creation.

Last time we explore my idea of an animated series, and my sojourn to Asia. Now we find ourselves back where we started – New Zealand, Land of the Long White Cloud.

Having learnt my lesson from trying to be creative after working 50 hours on other people’s projects I decided that I needed to give Freelance design and illustration a go instead. Perhaps I would be able to completely redesign Moth City to reflect both the darker tone of the story and the new medium I had intended for it… well, kinda.

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Turns out grabbing a few hours here and there is harder than it looks from the outside. I slowly slogged my way through the redesign process, focusing on taking the characters I had and changing the style they were drawn in, without changing their personalities.

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I needed to set myself a design rule book. I looked at all my favourite comic artists, and stole the parts I liked out of all of them, jamming it all together into something new. I poured over comics from the 50s and 70s looking at colour palettes; I tried to digitally duplicate the inks of renowned artists like Bernie Wrightson.

I started looking at the best way to present my comic as well. I knew there would be an online component, and I hated the way most long-form comics were presented on the web. The vertical format often found in print comics translated horribly to the online avenue. There was nothing relaxing or easy about reading a long form comic online. I choose a landscape format, almost 16:9 ratio, similar to a widescreen tv and most modern computer monitors.

I found I was struggling with the nuance of design that I wanted. I needed to get in there with my hands and start moving things around. I’m not big on clay, so I began to sculpt my characters in a 3D Animation program called Maya. I built them bodies, faces and few select props. They would be naked, hairless and lambert-grey. I took forever. Then I rigged them (giving them bones and controls to as to pose them) which I had to relearn from scratch.

During this period I was re-re-rewriting my scripts. I know… just give up right?

Eventually I complete 4 pages of finished art, had a plot and 30 pages of finished story (not in script format this time, but prose).

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And it had taken forever… perhaps I wasn’t going to be able to freelance and do comics on the side. So I started looking around and found Creative New Zealand which is an arts funder here in NZ. I thought the chances were low, but I bundled up all my work, contacted a few authors I knew and begged for help, filled out a lot of forms and submitted them to the Literature Fund.


I called them – “why no love?” Answer – “get a publisher interested, then come back”

So began the hunt for a publisher. Not to publish the comic, it wasn’t even finished yet, but simply to say (formally) that they thought it looked cool and had potential and they’d like to look at it when it was finished.

I got one, a good one. A real good one.

I went back to the funders, they consulted and ummed and ahhed and then said yeah.

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Shit. I have to tell all my clients…

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