AT THE BEGINNING it was as most of the comicbooks-related things are supposed to be; my 'partner-in-crime' and me considered a comics serial and asked ourselves, who should our special heroes be and I said 'superheroes'. My partneresse, a lady teaching English and quite good with writing, video shooting, editing and directing supported my enthusiasm but insisted on special qualities which would make our ultra-humans different from the rest, fighting good or evil fights or plainly struggling to survive in the overcrowded world we common people call 'comics market'.
So, surprisingly quickly we came to the idea of children as superheroes, with a female lead based on the younger version of the co-creator lady & writer/partner plus her puppy-love, athletic teenage blonde boy and the pudgy brain of the group with glasses, unkempt brown hair and the looks borrowed from me when I was but a boy, only a geek and not a nerd. We went after the cliche of disfunctional ordinary orphans accidentally put together, but who realize they got special individual powers which function marvelously - only if they are together and NOT bickering, which was a herculean task to achieve, we envisioned.
The above design W.I.P. was successfully used as a Tee-shirt design for a local charity project concerning children at foster care, we relentlessly shared it a lot online for the breathlessly awaiting world and...
... and that was it. Not a single splash nor narrative page was even sketched out, the cover illustration ideas were elusive, but not as the very root problem -- The Script. No, we weren`t exactly in trouble not knowing what to tell as a story, but the coherent whole of a narrative eluded us, just action fragments sparked in our discussions every now and then...
In our creative Dynamic Duo, I happen to be the one giving up easily - 'Oh, it`s all in vain, we`re all gonna die, what`s the point, what shall we have for dinner...' so the multi-talented partneresse proposed I illustrate test papers for her school of English; I started to envision even a booklet, like a classbook for inspirational teaching and after several ideas were transformed into a treatment-form it hit us like a ton of bricks: why would we use the project as a textbook for a limited audience if we can turn it into a...
... illustrated picturebook for young readers..?
So, we worked further on those treatments, two of which were transformed into a storyboard form upon which I was to base my illustrations for the book[s].
The 'superhero girl' lost [for a time being..?] her two partners-in-heroing, got a name - Ella - and gained a team of plush toys that come to life when the time is right for adventuring, detached from the originally intended action comics stories.
Ah, comics... far from being unhappy or creatively dissatisfied, I missed the form and specific storytelling nuances of the medium so I have to admit that I pressurized the inspiration for Ella into trying the Ella & ToyPalz concept in the form of a comic strip, with gags in single tiers like those appearing every day online or still in the newspapers. The intrepid English professoresse and business partner budged in and offered several ideas that I have dully shaped into 8 tiers - strips that I only penciled and skipped the inking phase thanks to the Photoshop magic, darkening the lines digitally and cleaning-up the messy result, adding the old-fashioned 'Ben Day' dot-screen effects and computer lettering into the drawn balloons as the part of the original art. See, I am resistant to the modern practice of leaving 'mute' panels and/or pages with lettered balloons added digitally at the later stage.
I have to admit that this was the kind of art in general - and for Ella in particular - that I enjoyed the most, but the Doom Of The Gag Ideas loomed above us, as did the mutual agreement that we must not spread ourselves thin without assistants we couldn`t have afforded... so we decided to leave the done strips aside after sharing them online and exhibiting them on several occasions printed out enlarged, along other art and cartoons.
The comic strip experience gave me more self-confidence and hints how to approach the art further down the path.
So, where are the restless Ella and her gang of toys..?
For a time being, only in one finished Christmas story published digitally on Amazon, with a summer tale almost finished and many more awaiting the decisiveness from Yours Truly engaged at the moment with preparing the second video-course about cartooning, with the first one alive, available and mentioned elsewhere in this very blog.
Yes, my business partner Danijela and me are signing our wee titanic tales as 'Veronica Lancaster', still dreaming that our Ella & ToyPalz shall find a way to the hearts of readers craving exciting tales of friendship, adventure and achieving anything eager honest mind could come up to.
Hope to see you in funnybooks, Stargazers... and who knows, maybe even in strips... and comicbooks too..!