At the moment I’m thinking through how I want to use the narrative voice. On the one hand, using narration gives a scene or a story context, especially in short stories that move across times and spaces like these do. On the other hand, narration can give a ‘Wonder Years’ vibe to a story, which purports to offer a definitive account of events, a revisionist voice of twee sentimentality.
The problem is one I see in many teenage memoirs: that of the rose tinted glasses. I reckon teenagers can be the most wonderful, intelligent, imaginative, heartbroken, worldy-wise people on the planet. Those years can be vital and important - hence the book. At the same time, teenagers can be complete dicks (I know I was). Sometimes they can do be those things all at once.
I’d prefer the stories to be ambiguous in context and detail, but to carry sufficient information for the reader to work out what’s happening, without offering post-hoc rationalisation. I’m not sure any art is an objective portrayal, but at least calling attention to one’s own subjectivity might make for a more relatable read.
This weekend, I finished drawing my book ‘Plans We Made’. It’s my first ever full-length book of new material. It’s nearly silent and it’s about 160 pages long.
It’s about being a teenager, I guess, but probably more about coming to terms with the difficulties of memory.I spent about a year planning, thinking, sketching, drawing and coming up with ideas – at one point I had about 70 pages drawn that I ended up having to redraw. Then last week, I took time off my day job to turn all those rough pages, early versions and ideas into the final artwork. 160 pages in 6 days!
I used one 0.5mm propelling pencil with 4B leads, two 8B pencils, A3 printer/copier paper, and a lightbox. No erasers. I worked in spreads, so I could see how the page layouts would look when you were reading the book. I also drew it at 100%, which means the size at which it was drawn is the size at which it will appear in the book (many cartoonists, myself included, will often draw at a bigger size then shrink it down to fit on the printed page).
I even finished drawing the last page to the closing strains of Plans I Make, the Husker Du song after which the book is (kinda) named. That was a little emotional. But then I had to change the words on another page, so that dampened that profound moment a little.
It’ll be out next year on Grimalkin Press. Here are some pictures.