Friday, June 29, 2007

Notes from a Darwyn Cooke Storytelling Workshop & Some New Reviews

I'm currently trying to finish off my new mini-comic for TCAF and am having some problems ending the story. In going through some of my old notebooks I came across some notes I had made from a Darwyn Cooke Storytelling workshop at few years ago at a Toronto Comicon. Not surprisingly, there were some great words of wisdom in there that I thought I would share here. Also, if you ever have a chance to sit in on one of these from Darwyn - grab it!

Darwyn On Story
  • Describe someone's character through their appearance and mannerisms (don't have to spell everything out in narrative).
  • Learn how to get your characters to display human emotions through the physicality of body language.
  • It's possible to draw every emotion known to man with just a few lines.
  • Make characters relevant and make the resolution to your story satisfying for readers.
  • Everything in the story should serve or reinforce the theme.
  • Pacing is art + design + math which all comes together to break out a script.
On Staging
  • When breaking down a script, don't change the writer's dialogue to reinforce the theme, change the location if you can to something that is thematically consistent to what is being said.
General Tips
  • Move the eye through the page diagonally from top left-hand corner to bottom right-hand corner (an easy way of doing this is by using triangles - see example below which is artwork from a New Frontier page).

  • Never draw a floor if you don't have to! It's too much perspective work and you should pay more attention to the story. It will also cut 40% of your drawing time and the work will be compositionally stronger (if you are Geoff Darrow or Brian Bolland, please ignore).

  • If you're stuck in how to end a story, try to end it so that it's either happy or sad.
Some Recent Reviews
There have been a few reviews of my stuff recently that I thought I'd link to because they're so swell.
  • First off Rob Clough from Sequart did a short write up of both the Toca Loca Project and There You Were, where he says:

    "Tamblyn has been creating quiet, thoughtful stories for a few years now."
    Check it out here.
  • Then Sean Clement recently reviewed Writer's Block at Some of the nice things he had to say:

    "Diana Tamblyn continues to shine as someone able to make real life situations into comics worth reading about, as well. Her gift for storytelling, both as a writer and artist, is wonderful."

    Thanks Sean! You can read the review here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Women in Comics II/Toronto Comicon

Well, I've been terrible again with blog updates. I'm going to try to step it up this summer as we move towards TCAF where I will have a new mini available!

My excuse has been that I've been working like crazy helping with the planning, organization and promotion of the Women of Comics II programming at this past weekend's Toronto Comicon. We had an awesome line-up of guests this year that included: Shelly Bond, Cecil Castellucci, Svetlana Chmakova, Danielle Corsetto, Willow Dawson, Tania Del Rio, Janet Hetherington, Faith Erin Hicks, Joan Hilty, Liana K., Michèle Laframboise, Tara McPherson, Robyn Moore, Vesna Mostovac, Patricia Mulvihill, Christine Norrie, Emily Pohl-Weary, Nicola Scott, Gail Simone, Tara Tallan, Mariko Tamaki, Raina Telgemeier, Renee Witterstaetter and me!

This year we had a special focus on 2 imprints: DC's Minx line, and local Toronto comic imprint Kiss Machine Presents. Kiss Machine has a great line-up of comics, but they are distributed through the bookstore and library system in Canada for the most part (and not carried at all through Diamond), so it was important to me to try to expose the comic-going crowd to this great line that is here in our own backyard.

Besides having my own table at the show, I moderated two panels on Saturday:

12:00 PM: The Visual Language of Comics
Take part in an examination of the cutting edge language of comic book storytelling through the eyes of some of today's most innovative storytellers: Svetlana Chmakova, Janet Hetherington, Raina Telgemeier, Faith Erin Hicks, Tara McPherson, and Christine Norrie.

I'm always surprised at these things about how similar many of our background are. Many of us have a real shared experience and it's a treat to get together and talk comics. We stuck loosely to the theme, but mainly it was a great excuse to get an all-star panel together to talk about making comics. We got a great turn out and lots of questions from the audience. We could have easily kept on going... Matt Brown at BlogTO did a great write up about it here (pic courtesy of Heidi MacDonald and Patricia Mulvihill - from left to right is me, Raina, Christine, Tara, Svetlana, Janet and Faith).

Update: I just read this on a blog about the show and I had to add it here. There was a Marvel Comics presentation happening at the same time as this panel in a different room at the show and apparently there were way more people in our WOC group than in the Marvel room! Woo hoo! Power to the people.

4:30 PM: Spotlight on Kiss Machine
Kiss Machine is a Canadian imprint dedicated to publishing "graphic novellas" by top Canadian talent. Learn more about this dynamic line with guests Emily Pohl-Weary, Willow Dawson, Vesna Mostovac and Mariko Tamaki.

The Kiss Machine panel went very well, and we learned that author Mariko Tamaki is not only having a full graphic novel of Skim published later this year by Groundwood Press (with artwork again supplied by her cousin Jillian Tamaki), but also that she is working on something upcoming with Shelly Bond and Minx.

Highlights of the Weekend
  • Hall of Fame presentation at the Joe Shuster Awards.
    This part of the show was really well done. I really learned a lot about the inductees: Albert Chartier, Gerry Lazare (who was in the audience and accepted the award), Jacques Hurtubise (who came from Montreal to accept his award), and Gene Day. Dave Sim spoke about Gene and it was straight from the heart.

  • Touching moments at the JSAs.
    In fact there were a lot of touching moments at the awards with a number of people breaking up. A great moment was Jay and Shawna Bardyla from Happy Harbor Comics who happened to come to the show all the way from Edmonton were truly surprised at winning the Harry Kremer Best Retailer award. Jay mentioned that he didn't cry this much at his wedding!

  • Meeting Mariko Tamaki and Vesna Mostavic from Kiss Machine.
    Vesna has a new comic coming out this summer. "Summer Ink" features illustrations of letters between herself and Golda Fried (Governor General's Award Finalist for Nellcott is my Darling). Vesna is also working on a series of 22 animated episodes of her indie comic creation "Foolish Girl" for TV.

  • Meeting the high-energy Cecil Castellucci, author of the Plain Janes.
    The book was going over very well in Toronto and Cecil even did a signing on Friday night at the Indigo at Yorkdale. It's a great book and a great start to the Minx line. Below see me, Mariko and Cecil at my booth. I'm not that tall and it looks like I'm towering over them which is hilarious! (photo courtesy of Jamie Colville)
  • Meeting the wonderfully talented Faith Erin Hicks.
    Faith came out from Halifax for the show (her first ever) and she wowed people with her talent and great sense of humour in panels and at her booth. She was also nominated for a Joe Shuster Award for Best webcomic and her family was out in full force to support her. It was really nice to see. I read the preview of Zombies calling and it is terrific and hilarious. I think it will be a big hit. Look for it in the Fall from Slave Labor.

  • Re-connecting with friends and acquaintances.
    As with all shows, the best part is connecting and re-connecting with friends old and new. It was great talking to Svetlana, Raina, Christine Norrie, Noel Tuazon, Scott Chantler, J. Bone, Darwyn Cooke, Willow Dawson and of course my good buds Mike Cho, Claudia Davila and Ngoc and Frank Cammuso.