Monday, February 01, 2016

Knight School Process Post and Kickstarter Announcement

1001 Knights- A Massive Comic and Art Anthology

Over dinner in New York a couple years ago, Annie Stoll mentioned that she was organizing another anthology, and asked if I was interested.   Originally pitched as a Game of Thrones tribute anthology, 1001 Knights has evolved drastically over the years it's been in development.   It now includes 250 artists from all edges of the comic spectrum, and the development team doubled to include Kevin Jay Stanton.

1001 Knights is a people positive project that was designed to give lesser known artists a voice and an opportunity to tell stories.  As a comic artist, I naturally couldn't say no to an opportunity like this- I feel that benefiting the indie comic community at large will eventually benefit me as a member, and I'm excited to see a project geared at giving artists a voice.  I personally classify myself as one of those lesser known artists-despite my involvement in several other anthology projects, co-founding of How to Be a Con Artist, running this blog, and producing 7" Kara, I find that my career hasn't changed much in the past five years- and anthologies give me the opportunity to not only do something I love (make comics), but to earn a little bit of income doing so.

According to the Kickstarter, 1001 Knights is

...is a massive 3-volume anthology project focusing on creating people-positive characters with feminist overtones. Over the course of 3 volumes, 250+ artists explore themes about what it means to be a knight and what makes for a strong character through illustration, comics, poetry, and prose. The artists involved have worked long and hard to create meaningful art that will uplift and inspire readers. 1,001 knights will be represented between all 3 volumes, including fictional characters and the contributing artists.

You guys can check out the Kickstarter Pitch video below for 1001 Knights:




Knight School

My original pitch was intended to either be 4 full page illustrations of an elderly grandmother knight training her grandchildren over the four seasons OR a six page story of the same grandmother knight training a handful of village girls.  Annie emailed the artists about a month later requesting we all up our knight quota and reduce our page quota, so my comic ended up being 4 pages and 13 knights.

It's not easy cramming 13 knights (or knights in training) into four pages, let alone four pages of story-telling comic, so this was quite a challenge for me.  I wanted each of my girls to be distinct- individuals with their own personality and story, so although that never comes up in the comic, my concept art lists names, ages, personalities, and even nationalities. 



Concept


The main family consists of four members- a widowed lady knight raising her recently orphaned grand children.  When conceiving this comic, I'd recently been inspired by Bavarian clothing and architecture, so the setting is very loosely based on Bavaria, and the names are used in this comic are all traditional German names.

Grandmother- Isolde- Widowed knight and adventurer, Isolde teaches the village girls valuable skills in her knight school.  Recently Isolde lost her 54 years old
Eldest Granddaughter- Lenna is excited to spend her time around other girls her own age, and enjoys the lessons her grandmother gives.  12 years old
Youngeset Granddaughter- Adair- Adair is still adjusting to her new life with her grandmother, and hides her insecurity in looking after her younger brother. Adair would like to become a cleric or a healer one day, and is already studying hard. 7 years old 
Grandson- Cerdic- 9 months
(All African)

I liked the idea of the youngest granddaughter looking after her infant brother (who doesn't count in my knightcount, btw), so in many of the panels she's got him on her back, or is reading to him.
 

I wanted to include a variety of bodytypes, personalities, and ethnicities in my comic, as I'm very bored with how women are often portrayed as one dimensional in comics. 

Magnilda (Caucasian)- Magnilda is easygoing and kindhearted.  She and Philiberta are good friends. 13 years old
Halfrida (Korean)- One of the two oldest girls in the group, Halfrida is wise beyond her years.  17 years old
Philiberta (Caucasian)- a tomboy raised in a family of boys, Philiberta is quick to fights and is earnest and honest. 15 years old


Karlotta-Indian- The shy twin, Karlotta is sensitive and quiet, but always eager to learn.  5 years old
Bethilda- Indian- The outgoing twin, Bethilda enjoys practice fights and snacktime. 5 years old
Minetta-Hispanic- Minetta has a broken leg, so she utilizes prudence in which activities she partakes. 10 years old


Selma (Caucasian)- Although Selma looks feminine, she has no problem throwing down with the other girls, and takes her lessons in knighthood seriously.  She and Halfrida are the two oldest girls in the group.  14 years old
Hilda (Caucasian)- Shy and unsure, Hilda would rather nap than fight, but she has no problems getting her hands dirty cleaning the stables. 12 years old

Uta (Chinese)- Uta has difficulty paying attention and sitting still for long periods of time.  It takes her longer to grasp concepts and skills, and she sometimes needs one on one attention.  Uta is determined and perseveres where others might give up, and has a large heart.  8 years old

Story


Although the comic is a short one, I wanted to cover an entire day at Isolde's Knight School, while also covering the basic tenets of what it means to be a knight.  There are several somewhat conflicting lists online, but I opted to go with:

Faith
Hope
Prudence
Resolution
Diligence
Temperance
Charity
Liberality
Justice
Sagacity
Valor
Truth

As I felt like these were universal values that any reader could apply.  I wanted to use the girls' personalities to demonstrate how one situation might call for several approaches (like resolution vs prudence, charity vs temperance) depending on the personality involved.

Thumbnails


Bluelines for Roughs (Thumbnail Sketches Enlarged)


I don't usually letter at this stage, but since there were so many characters to account for, I needed to make sure there was enough room for text AND faces.





Pencilled Roughs

After making the noted corrections to my thumbnails, lettering, and resizing them, they were ready to be printed out as roughs.  I print my roughs on plain printer paper, and utilize a non photo blue pencil, graphite pencil, and ruler for this stage.


Like my thumbnails, finished roughs end up covered in notes for changes.





After scanning and correcting my roughs, I size them for 11"x15" Canson Montval watercolor paper, and print the bluelines out on my printer.

Pencils

Before I can proceed with watercoloring my pages, I need to pencil them.









This stage is a perfect time to add in additional details, tweak expressions, and try to add nuance.

Painting

As with my other watercolor comic, 7" Kara, I prefer to paint four pages at a time.  This allows me to work while other pages are drying, and helps me keep colors consistent. 































These pages were so dense that they took longer than usual- 6 days rather than 3-4.  Although these pages look finished, they aren't.   I opted to only do a light pass adding shading with watercolor- pages this busy can get muddy and difficult to read fast.  I decided to hold off shading and finishing touches for my digital stages.

Finished Watercolor Pages







Scanned and Color Corrected Watercolors




At this stage, I also added digital shading and tweaked with contrast to better serve storytelling.  I also added panel borders using a custom color pencil brush in Photoshop.

Teaser Pages- Lettering Added

I can't share the completed comic with you guys here, but I highly recommend you back the ongoing Kickstarter for 1001 Knights, where you can not only read Knight School it its entirety, but the work of 249 other fantastic artists.  1001 Knights is a three volume anthology that focuses on people positive, creator positive tales about knights.  The project has already hit it's $70,000 funding goal, and now we're on to stretch goals, which include awesome goodies like bookmarks, endplates, and artists' making more money. 
 
Where to Get It

Right now, 1001 Knights is ONLY available through the Kickstarter.   You can find links all throughout this post, and follow the progress in my sidebar. 

Who's In It

The Kickstarter's already covering some of the names you might recognize, so I'm going to mention a few of the artists I'm personally excited to see in this anthology.  You can check out the master list here.



Zoey Hogan (Caporushes)

Aatmaja Pandya

Alexis Green

Annie Stoll (co-creator of the webcomic Ode)

Candace Ellis (creator of We're All Starchildren, a personal friend of mine, and an amazing illustrator)

Carey Pietsch

Christina Major (creator of the webcomic Sombulus)

Hazel Newlevant (organized Chainmail Bikini, a female gaming anthology that I contributed a 6 page inkwash comic to)

Heidi Black

Hkezza

JD Benefield

laughingbear (Renee) (creator of the webcomic Clover Club)

Lindsay Cannizzaro (Fellow Hana Doki Kira contributor)