Page 8 lines complete. Click to enlarge. More below.
Here's how it looked at the thumbnail stage (witness the moment when I realize diagonal panel boundaries exist):
Talk about your trench warfare drawings -- this one was the battle of Verdun. If I have a nemesis, it's multiple panels depicting the same complicated object from different angles. And man, that saddle... Why, oh why, did I put netting around two of the barrels? Why would I do that, except to add even more time to the already interminable barrel-drawing task? I suppose it goes without saying that the bottom panel was a little cathartic. I think I may have put a little extra stink on that impact, just out of spite. Take that, pagoda-with-infuriatingly-complicated-beam-placement!
If this page seems difficult to read, please join me in my fervent and possibly naive belief that color will make everything much more legible.
Also adding to the long turnaround for this page was a week of thumbnailing for the rest of the issue. It's all there now, just waiting for a liberal dollop of barrels and elaborately-knotted ropes. Having some certainty about the layout has taken a bit of the edge off of my completion anxieties -- there do not seem to be any un-drawable things lying in wait at the end of the book (though the last page is going to make this one look charmingly simple).
Drawing lots of barrels gives you time to ruminate on the future, and my futurey thoughts on this project fall into three categories: dreams, plans, and goals.
My dreams for Project Waldo are embarrassingly opulent. They involve winning Eisners, having the book turned into a movie, and palling around with Michael Cera. Of course these are ridiculous notions, as that sort of great luck has never befallen anyone, ever. I don't really have illusions that anything of the sort will actually occur, which is why these kinds of thoughts don't fall under the "goals" category. But they do help my mental rowers to put their backs into it when I'm becalmed in the barrel-doldrums.
Planning is much more wheel-meets-road. I've made a schedule, complete with deadlines, and set a ship date for myself. Of course, this was before I fell down the bottomless pit of page 8. So after two weeks, I'm already a week behind schedule. Still, I've discovered that being able to put a number on my lateness has added some urgency (some would say "abject panic") to my work day.
I've only got one concrete goal: to get the first issue printed. I'll have crossed my personal finish line when I'm holding Project Waldo number one in my hand (which is not to say I won't do the next issue, but that I'm not spending many cycles thinking about it right now). My prospects of getting a "real" publisher interested in this are probably hindered by my propensity to brag about how slow I am, but that's all okay because Ka-Blam exists.
I've mentioned Ka-Blam here before, and several people have chimed in with positive impressions of the company. It's starting to look like my safety school. Their site is a little confusing, as Ka-Blam is only the printing arm of a three-headed entity that also sells your books online (Indyplanet) and distributes them to retailers (Comics Monkey). It's basically a one-stop solution for the independent creator, with the (gigantic) caviat that the creator is still responsible for marketing.
Here's the ultra-rad part: you don't even need to print a single issue before posting your book on Indyplanet. You can upload your images and set your quantity to zero, and Ka-Blam will print each issue as it's ordered. That's right: you don't need any capital to get started (though I think there may be some setup fees).
I can only see a couple of potential drawbacks. First, the per-issue cost is relatively high compared to a four-color press. I did the math for a full-color 24 page comic on high-bright paper, and it comes out to $2.64 per issue (it goes up to $2.99 if I go with glossy paper -- is glossiness worth an extra thirty cents to you guys?). At $2.64, I'd have to price the comic at $4.50 just to have a chance of staying afloat. I've been listening to the House to Astonish podcast (it is hilarious and promotes accent envy), and from them I get the impression that in many cases, any price over four bucks can be a dealbreaker. If anybody has pricing advice, I'd love to hear it.
Drawback number two: Comics Monkey is a new and untested entity, and it remains to be seen whether retailers will go out of their way to set up accounts with them. CM certainly won't have the penetration of a company like Diamond, but it looks like they're very motivated to build solid relationships with stores. Sometimes the little guys show a little more hustle.
Wow, this post is getting epic. One last thing: I think this may be the last full page to appear here. I'm told that there should be some previously-unseen material in the comic, itself. That said, I'll continue to post individual panels and other development art over the coming months.
Here's one last barrel for old times' sake. Click to enlarge.