Jenn Manley Lee


Why I do the things I do

I ruminated a while back in an entry on my main journal that if I realize that a panel of a yet to be posted page doesn't do it's storytelling duty, I am feel obliged to hold up production and fix it post haste. If that means delaying updating, so be it. Well, that just happened to me this past page. Thankfully I was a bit ahead for once and so it didn't postpone the update.

Here are the last two panels, before and after I changed the last panel. I was already having some trouble with the last panel--I had started with a close up shot of Molly and Theus which I wasn't happy with as it made things too dramatic and struck the wrong tone. So I pulled back and focused on Molly, which I thought it was the right way to go, but became less convinced by the time I started coloring. I was about a half an hour away from being totally done with the page Monday evening when I realized it just wasn't working, that my original instinct that Theus needed to be in the last panel as well was correct. And so back to the drawing table I went.

And I'm glad I did. Not only do I feel the storytelling is better, but I like Molly's posture and expression lots better. Not my best drawing ever, not my best page ever, but it does its job now.

I'm always learning and re-learning again to trust my instincts in how to portray a moment. Not necessarily the first image that pops into my head, but the elements and content implied. When I first wrote this scene, I had a very strong image of it ending with both Molly and Theus in various states of concern and befuddlement looking at Griffen departing. But I also had the last two panels combined into one in my head, with Theus sitting forward, Molly sitting on the ground, arms folded on the bench. Then I decided I really wanted to show Griffen departing and that Molly wouldn't respond so quickly to Theus' question. The other thing that muddled this my initial impression of that last panel was my decision of having Griffen hold the baby after acknowledging Molly a couple pages earlier.

Originally that whole stint of Molly laying in Griffen's lap happened with both of them on the ground, Griffen leaning against the bench; I took a couple dozen reference shots of Dylan and Erika enacting that interaction. But then, as I was laying out page 16, I realized that my original plan to have Griffen hand back the baby right after the "heartbreaker " line would have her holding the baby for a scarce moment, possibly giving people the impression she didn't like babies. Which is far from true; newborns to twelve year-olds are Griffen's favorite people. Molly, on the other hand, is kind of freaked by babies, which Griffen knows and respects. And as soon as she moved to return the baby to Geet, it made most sense for her to then sit on the bench next to Molly, putting everyone off their marks for what followed. (The reference photos were still useful even though I needed to extrapolate more than a few things)

And there you have it, a peek into how my mind spins and whirls