Excuse me if I get self indulgent for a moment here.
Today I drew the two hundred and fiftieth panel of my experimental daily panel comic, The Price. That’s one panel, every day, with nothing pre-written or planned. It’s improvisational storytelling, on the fly, and it has really formed into something interesting, if I do say so myself.
What’s interesting is how I feel it’s taught me completely new approaches to storytelling. I’m guilty of overplanning, of assuming every project needs to be extremely thought through and nitpicked before even a single word of it is put to paper. As a result…most of these projects never get started.
But that’s not how life works, right? Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is certain.
I’m a storyteller…with The Price I’m trusting myself to simply tell a story. What has been very gratifying is seeing how elements that weren’t connected suddenly connect, or how themes develop naturally, or how characters form around their circumstances, based only on what has come before. Scenes grow out of single panels, actions are defined by settings or props drawn in the previous days, it’s reactive and always keeps my creative juice flowing. Every day I’m forcing myself to rely on what’s come before, and trusting that my future self can pick up the ball. It’s walking a tightrope, and I love it.
I printed the first 122 panels in a print issue this year, for Glasgow Comic Con. It was an opportunity to read it as a whole, like one would a normal comic. There are certainly parts of it that I would call “first drafty”, bits that don’t develop into anything significant, but reading it as a whole it’s striking how…coherent it is?
I know, I know, I’m really good at selling it.
People are natural storytellers, and my hope is that this will eventually read as a complete story. Not “isn’t is fantastic that you did this every day?” but “I really felt for Trent, and Beth, and Sofia, and everyone.” It’s getting that way for me. 251 days ago none of these characters or scenarios existed, and now it’s really forming into something beyond what I assumed it could be.
I’m really proud of that.
I’m learning about what happens at basically the same rate the audience is, and that’s interesting to me. I don’t know how long I can keep it up (it’s been especially difficult to continue while travelling), but I’m taking a moment to pause and reflect on what an interesting project this has been so far.
Eventually I hope to colour and print the complete story, but until then, read along with me, won’t you? I’m excited to see what tomorrow’s panel is.
Here’s to another 250? Although maybe that counts as pre-planning…