Monday, December 22, 2014

Chapter 7, Production Kickoff

Alright, it's time to put on the drawing glove, fire up Photoshop and... well, ok - of course I will have a break over Christmas first. BUT the preliminary version of Chapter 7 is finished and production will begin right after the Holidays. As you can see, Chapter 7 is way shorter than Chapter 6 and even a little bit shorter than Chapter 5. However, don't worry, there's enough happening in this chapter and due to it's moderate length I'm optimistic to finish it until late March/early April 2015.

Normally I would announce the chapter title at this point but I haven't quite made up my mind about it just yet. There're several candidates and I want to give it a little bit more time before I decide on the title.

So, another year is going to wrap up soon. Next year at this time the Wormworld Saga will have its 5-year-anniversary. Since 4 years I'm creating this graphic novel now and during that time I've hardly done anything else besides it. This blog started as the blog of back in 2009 but since 2011 most postings here have hovered around the Wormworld Saga. While that's basically ok, I feel the urge to stir things up a little bit.

Maybe it's a typical end-of-the-year-thing but lately I  had the feeling that I lacked a place where I could express things that are not related to the Wormworld Saga. I've pretty much stopped to participate in online forums and the blog isn't the right place to post small things like individual artworks or inspirational links. Therefore I've set up a new Facebook page where I'm going to post all the stuff that I don't feel appropriate for the Wormworld Saga Fanpage:

If you don't use Facebook you can follow my updates via where I've implemented a post feed:

Alright, now let's all have a relaxed time over the Holidays! I'll be back with Wormworld Saga production updates early next year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Dessins du Studio Ghibli" Exhibition in Paris

After my signing session at the "Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse" on Sunday I had the chance to visit the "Dessins du Studio Ghibli" exhibition at the Art Ludique museum in Paris. This visit was the absolute highlight of my trip to France. The exhibition features about 1300 original layout drawings of all Studio Ghibli films, many of them drawn by Miyazaki himself. These artworks are exhibited in Europe for the very first time.

The exhibition was an absolute eye-opener for me as I finally understood what the purpose of a layout drawing actually is. In the layout drawing the director, or one of his team members, draws every element that will be seen in a scene or cut. Every character and even most of the background details are drawn in their final form and for the production the different elements are directly traced from the layout by the animators and background painters. Therefore the layout is drawn in the actual size in which the animation and the backgrounds are also drawn (in most cases 35cm wide and 24 cm high for feature film).

One wasn't allowed to take photos at the exhibition but I've purchased the catalogue which features almost all exhibited artwork and here's some pictures for you:

The catalogue, available at the exhibition, costs 36€. The Jiji plush was a must have, too! :)

Layouts from "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind". Note the animation phases in the upper left corner! 
Layouts from "My Neighbour Totoro". For panning shots, several sheets of layout paper are put together with scotch tape like on the left.

Layouts from "Princess Mononoke"

Layouts from "Princess Mononoke"

Layouts from "Spirited Away"

Layouts from "Spirited Away"

In the following two images we can compare two layout drawings from "Spirited Away" with the respective background paintings (photos from the book "Making of Spirited Away"). It's fascinating to see how the drawing part of the background creation is practically fully accomplished in the layout phase so that the background painter "only" needs to take care of the lighting and colors. I would never have guessed that the work on the backgrounds is divided in such a way.

Comparison between layout and final background painting. They match exactly.

To see that the film in it's entirety is envisioned beforehand and that every little detail of a shot is defined by a single person is dazzling to me. And to see 1300 original drawings done by my personal heroes, for my most favorite films of all time, in one place, only added to my amazement.

A small personal highlight of the exhibition for me was that among the layout drawings there were some refined background drawings (done to add more precise detail to the layout) by Kazuo Oga and there even were some original background paintings from the end credits of "Ponyo". Kazuo Oga and the traditionally painted backgrounds of Anime films in general are among my biggest inspirations. Even to see only a handful of the originals, painted in mundane poster color (!), made my heart jump.

At the end of the exhibition you are able to take a photo of yourself and become part of a layout drawing. It's an amazing souvenir for this unforgettable exhibition.

The exhibition is open until 1st March 2015 at the Art Ludique museum in Paris.

Signing in France

I've just returned from a trip to France to which I was invited by my French publisher Dupuis. The central event of the trip was the "Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse" in Montreuil, a children's book fair in a Paris suburb. It was a big event and I signed many Wormworld Saga books at the Dupuis booth on Saturday and Sunday. I also met two fellow comic artists, Christian Darasse and José Luis Manuera and I had a wonderful time discussing with those comic veterans the future of comic book authors, editors and publishers.

From left to right: Christian Darasse, José Luis Manuera and me

A drawing I did for the Dupuis team

Before I signed in Montreuil at the weekend, on Friday, I traveled to Lyon where I was invited to sign at the comic book shop "La Bande Dessinée". It was a very interesting experience to see a French comic book shop from the inside and to talk to the people. Comic book shops in France seem to be quite different from those in Germany. There's no card playing stuff there and all in all it feels more like a normal book shop. All sorts of people come visiting it and you could clearly see that comics have a very different status in France compared to Germany.

"La Bande Dessinée" comic book shop in Lyon

Every artist who's signing at "La BD" is asked to contribute a drawing for the "wall of fame" of the shop. The following drawing will from now on be on permanent display among amazing artwork from many other comic book artists:

This was my first time signing in France and it was a wonderful journey. The city of Paris alone was absolutely inspiring and it is actually great timing that I visited it right before starting my work in Chapter 7. I'll be able to use a lot of things that I've seen and experienced in the upcoming chapter.