Once again, I let nearly a month lapse on The Great Grain Elevator. There I was with a great head of steam, hoping to finish the first draft in June, but suddenly I was engulfed by a sea of other work, including finishing up my new documentary, releasing the latest issue of Meth the Immortal (plus a compendium of all three issues), and various other side projects that I do to keep the lights on. At any rate, I started up again yesterday, and the manuscript now stands at just over 28,000 words. Typically, these books run to about 45,000 words, so I'm getting close, and now my goal is to have a finished draft by the end of August. We'll see. The good news is, I just went through all that I've written so far and did an edit, and I'm still super excited about the book. I'm also about to get Kierston started on the cover, which always offers a good incentive to keep slogging. On that note, back to my draft.
Just to give you an idea of what I'm up to on issue 3 of Meth the Immortal, here's a peek at p. 19 before lettering.
Now here's what it looks like after lettering is complete. Note that in panel 3, I also fixed an inconsistency in the moon phase with a well-placed dialogue balloon. It's fun to see the story come to life before my eyes like this.
Actually, it's more than begun. I'm about halfway through the third issue. It's a painstaking process, which involves constantly resizing and reshaping voice bubbles and captions, cutting dialogue that doesn't fit, choosing the correct font for various sound effects, sizing them and placing them on the page, and so on. It's a lot of work, but it's so much fun to see the story finally come together page by page. I'm on p. 17 of this whopping 32-page issue, so I have a ways to go, and right now I only have time to chip away at a couple of pages a day, but I will put in extra time on the weekend and (hopefully) get this off for a proof before the end of next week. It's been a long time coming, so I can't wait to finally get this issue out into the world.
Now all that's left is the lettering, which I should have complete by early next week. At long last, the immortal pig's adventures continue. Stay tuned for the release date!
Not only does this issue include 30 pages of story, as opposed to 24, I was inspired by some old comic book covers by Carmine Infantino to make the title part of the cover image. I just saw a peek at Kierston's progress on this, and I can't wait to share the finished cover. In the meantime, here is one of Infantino's covers to give you a sense of what I mean.
My schedule in June has finally let up a bit, allowing me plenty of time to get cracking on book four in the Milligan Creek Series, The Great Grain Elevator Incident. I just cracked 20,000 words, which means I'm almost halfway to the finish line (novels in this series are running about 45,000 words). As in previous books, my characters keep laying waste to my outline, insisting on doing all sorts of things that I hadn't planned for. Thankfully, they're all smarter than me, so I just follow them around transcribing their antics. If all goes according to plan, I just might finish the first draft by the end of this month, which puts me on schedule to release at the end of August or early September. In the meantime, here's part one of a documentary on "The Disappearing Grain Elevator" to help whet your appetite.
I just got another batch of pages back from my artist today. I'm hoping to release by the end of June. It's been a LONG time coming, but it'll be worth the wait. In the meantime, here's another sneak peek of a panel from p. 15.
I just got home from the final leg of my Water War book tour, which began way back on Jan. 8. Since then, I've done dozens of writing workshops for thousands of students at over 30 schools across BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and (for the first time ever) Manitoba. It's been a tremendous experience with many great interactions along the way. My thanks to all the teachers, principals, librarians, and students who made me feel at home and made the workshops so enjoyable. I was consistently impressed with the level of talent I encountered and the quality of the ideas we developed together. I could spend the rest of my life just writing those stories.
However, now that I'm officially off the road for the season, it's time to buckle down and focus on my other writing work, including finishing up my new feature-length documentary, completing my first draft of "The Great Grain Elevator Incident" (book 4 of the Milligan Creek series), and prepping the third issue of "Meth: The Immortal" for release. Thankfully, I don't have any trips booked until the end of September, so I can finally settle down and get to work.
"The Tree Planter's Survival Guide" was just featured on one of the biggest tree-planting sites on the web!
That's right folks, it's featured on the home page of www.tree-planter.com, one of the premier tree-planting portals on the internet, along with a little write-up by yours truly. The book was also endorsed by tree-planter.com co-founder and veteran planter Marcelle Chisholm, who said, "The book is so great! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it . . . you did a really good job condensing so much information and making it funny and oh so relatable!" Check it out here.
... the tables have just turned.
WAY back in December 2018, I had planned to finish the script for Meth: The Immortal issue 3, and then have it out by the end of February. Here we are in early May, and I finally handed in my final script pages yesterday. What happened? It's a bit of a story in itself.
At the end of issue 2, Methuselah and his buddies set sail from Kuwait to North America, but soon into issue 3, something goes wrong with their plans. I won't say what, but when that happened, it threw my brain for a loop, as if Meth had a completely different agenda, and he was being coy about revealing it to me.
The key to unlocking the mystery also turned out to be the cause of so many of my problems. It comes in the form of a child-sized coffin, which shows up on the back of a bike in issue 3. This was inspired by my own experience while in Kenya, seeing a man cycle past with a yellow child-sized coffin on the back of his bike. The more I thought about the comic-book-version of that coffin--which was originally included merely as background color--the more curious I became about knowing what was inside. The problem is, it took me nearly three months to answer that question, and then two more months to figure out how that would affect my fictional world.
The upshot is, all that time spent ruminating on this problem unlocked an entirely new dimension to this series that I hadn't anticipated. I'm talking about the mythology that underlies it all and the cosmic struggle in which Meth is about to engage. It's pretty exciting, and you'll get a hint of it at the end of issue 3, but it will really come into the fore in issue 4, which I'm anticipating will be a lot quicker and easier to write--if Meth doesn't kick my butt again!
In other news, once issue 3 is done (a huge chunk of the artwork is already complete), I'm planning to re-release issues 1-3 plus bonus materials in a single volume. That's originally how I planned to release Meth: The Immortal anyway, as a series of graphic novels. Kierston (my artist) already has created the cover for that. And we have a fun cover coming to you for issue 3. In the meantime, here's a thumbnail page from issue 3.
Brief thoughts and updates on writing, publishing, and life