My time at nursery school in the 1970s

My week at pre-k in the 1970s page 1My week at pre-k in the 1970s page 2My week at pre-k in the 1970s page 3My week at pre-k in the 1970s page 4My week at pre-k in the 1970s page 5

My time at nursery school in the 1970s

FINALLY.

These 5 pages took way too long to complete. I don’t want to admit how long. Suffice to say that if you feel you work slowly, don’t be so hard on yourself.

This short comic is a small part of  the graphic memoir I’m working on, and making it served two purposes:

  1. It’s a dry run for the whole thing –  thus I put a ton of pressure on myself
  2. The only way to get better at comics is to make comics, and short comics are ideal vehicles for learning

Coincidentally, Greg Pak mentioned this point last night as practical advice for an aspiring writer:

But it applies to ALL aspects of making comics – especially when you’re doing the whole kit and kaboodle like me.

Here’s a few things I did intentionally while making the comic

I’ve been looking for narratives and making connections between my memories.

I’m especially looking for cause & effect relationships between events (hindsight kicks ass).

I’ve also been a little obsessed with Dan Harmon’s Story Circle (a version of which was also used for Regular Show). My memoir doesn’t have an overarching or strict narrative, so I’m looking at each sequence as being episodic yet self-contained. (Ah – I can write a BTS post about the story structure for my DIY Patreon…)

I scripted the whole thing first.

Previously I (you choose the word: half-assed or improvised) ________ everything. For my earlier pages I did a combo mishmash of scripting, thumbnailing and pencils. Completing the entire script was a first for me – even if I deviated from it during production.

I re-inked the whole thing to speed up production moving forward.

My intention from the beginning was to do everything, including coloring & lettering. Half-way through I decided that I didn’t like the inking brush I was using. The texture was great but coloring wasn’t easy due to many gaps in the lines.

I switched to a solid, more traditional inker and am evaluating more brushes to bring my closer to the Alex Toth/Chris Samnee realm. And I started spotting blacks (which I only learned of when researching limited color palettes).

I changed how I colored it to speed up production moving forward.

I love watercolors – specifically the Watercolor MaxPack. But it took too long to color. I need to be able to use a bucket tool to flat quickly and I don’t know how to combine flats with watercolors yet (or even if it’s possible to do well). So I ditched the watercolors for flatter colors.

I also switched to a limited color palette (inspired by Alec Longstreth), because I was lost on trying to create a palette that looked good. Guess who’s not a good colorist yet?

And here’s some things that I learned from the experience

I don’t like coloring.

I’m too much of a perfectionist and I need to focus on writing, layout, and inking. I do enjoy coloring art for fun, but I don’t want to color my own comics. It felt like arduous busy work because…

I didn’t close enough gaps while inking.

So I couldn’t drop colors in, I had to color it in by hand. To hell with coloring my stuff – I need to ink better so it can stand on its own without colors. And save coloring for special occasions or hire a colorist.

Deviating too much from the script slows things down.

You should always try to make the best comic possible, so changes are inevitable. But deviating too much from the script has a cascading effect on panels, layout, lettering, and spacing. Some of my captions are not optimally placed, some are too long, some panels are empty and feel like they should have a caption. Most of that should have been resolved before penciling.

Half-assing thumbnails and penciling slows things down.

Not planning out the layout with letters in mind. Making too many changes after other panels have been finished .

These decisions made me spend time figuring crap out instead of making the comic. I can’t let myself get to eager to start production without being prepared af the next time.

JFC I have a lot of baggage.

And I can see why I homeschooled my kids since institutions have failed me too often.

What do you think?

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About

Arp Laszlo

Hi, I’m Arp! I make comics and write about life as an Indian-American with late-diagnosis ADHD. I’m a self-taught and self-employed creator so I write a lot about art, learning, and entrepreneurial stuff that I’ve picked up along the way.

My stories are kinda weird, because that’s just how I am. My formative influences are Indian mythology, Batman, Tintin, 70s Bollywood, Ray Harryhausen, and Monty Python. There’s no way anything normal could come out of that, right?

2 thoughts on “My time at nursery school in the 1970s

  1. This was a really enjoyable read. The voice you use for narration is great. It was also a treat to see some of the panels & sequences you shared on KCI in a fuller context.
    I found myself wondering if the lettering might read more easily in all caps. I see that CSP does not auto-hyphenate either? I only mention this because of your comments about lettering I saw earlier today. You’re so thoughtful about every aspect of what you’re creating, it’s amazing.
    I was particularly visually moved by those moments where you added some texture to certain elements. Mother’s hand bag in page 5, the shadows under the desks. Using that sparingly was very effective, though I did want to see more of it. Maybe a whole classroom floor done that way?
    Nice ending too. Are there any panels you would recompose if you did this story again?

    • I do think that the lettering can be improved, but I’m not sure if I want it to be all caps or not. I like the readability of word shapes when lowercase letters are involved. I’ve been meaning to create a new handwritten font using my current inking brush so this might be a good time to do it. And maybe try to make my handwriting a little more legible.

      I did like the texture, and I will probably use it more as I don’t plan on coloring moving forward. Or I’ll create textures when inking, though I do love my halftones.

      If I did this over, I’d plan it much better – finish the script and then thumbnail with the text in mind. For example, in the second panel on P1, I’d much rather the caption be across the top of the panel than on the right; that was just done to accommodate the available space. I basically need to get better at understanding how much space text will be taking up and drawing that that in mind.

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