10
Nov
09

Greetings and welcome to my world

Convention Blonde World Poster  copy copyMy name is Sid Vane, I am a graphic artist and illustrator, creator and (for now) self publisher of Blonde World, a graphic arts novel which is the culmination of 10 years of work and development.

The central character is Blonda, seen here on the right.

This is an advertising poster I designed for use when attending conventions.

Blonde World is the end result of many changes to another concept I began in 1998. I developed characters for what was then to be espionage spy stories of intrigue, a female James Bond eye candy feature, running less than a dozen chapters. Now, far removed from all that it’s an elaborate 2 world story following the life of Sheila, a blonde trying to make sense of her live(s).

The following is how I describe what Blonde World is :

Blonde World is the story of Sheila Marlen, a blonde living on Earth working as a sales support agent by day, by night….she goes to sleep. No alter ego, no super hero duality, like everyone else she just goes home to bed. But, upon falling asleep, she dreams of another life in another world where she is a powerful Blonde born named Blonda, who wields the Staff of truth and knowledge. With it she can fly, go through walls, cause massive electrical discharges and has unlimited strength.

Blonda’s world is a nightmare of Hitlers and genocide caused by prejudice and bigotry based on hair color instead of skin or language. She fights terrorist efforts on small and large scales designed to cause another war.

Subsequently when Blonda goes to sleep, she dreams of another world, a free world, where she leads a simple life, Sheila’s life.

The question is, what is their connection, and who is actually dreaming?

B World 1 Pg 20  copyBlonda waking up

Blonda frequently awakens with her life still in progress, aware that she has blacked out, loosing consciousness in favor of her dream life. As stories progress this complicates her life, and her objectives of trying to make a difference in her world.

This Blog, details my efforts as a graphic art novelist/comic book creator to get published.  I have gone through many experiences of frustration, achievement, and discovery. Perhaps the journey I took can be of inspiration to others who dare follow in the footsteps I took, (and many others who came before me, Jeff Smith, Frank Cho to name a few) to realise their dream of seeing their creation come to life, and see their work being read and appreciated by others, even having developed fans. So, here is my dream child, my life in Blonde World.

I was at work at a car wash when I first drew Blonda, in between serving customers and washing cars. On the slower days I was able to draw and doodle. I also created Delilah, a brunette with a dominatrix look, and Savannah, an unscrupulous virtual social path Red head. This was 1998.  I had no idea where I was going with these characters.  In the years 99 to 2001 I created support and filler characters Nuance, Blonde Raven, Blonde Heart, Black Eagle, Techno Blonde,  Suicide Blonde, and other Brunettes. Savannah was the only Red I came up with. (Pics of these originals are at the end of this blog entry. )

In 2001 while working at a telemarketing company I developped the story base of spys, intending this to be a realistic ‘spy vs spy’ with female secret agents, with alot of flash, gadgets , high tech cars and other weaponry.  Some of the costumes, were “little” excuses for outfits, hence the eye candy approach.  Somehow, this went from this, to life on another world, a world with out men. An all female planet. I thought it was getting to ridiculous, knowing how I thought at the time this would end up in an adult only read with lesbian emphasis-eye candy indeed!  So I shelved the whole thing for 3 years.

In 2003 I picked it up again, creating the dream angle, this mundane blonde dreams of being a spy, is she really a spy and she has amnesia, forgetting sometimes who she is, and actually leads 2 lives, each vaguely aware of the other, chalking up the whole thing to wish full thinking, the spy wants a normal life, and the normal life person wants excitement yet they are the same person.  Then the other planet approach came back, and the story took on a life of its own, mushrooming out from there.

Ok, enough history on the story, on with getting it printed; I completed a 40 page story of chapter 1, starting things off in the middle of the action, which is the best place to begin an action story. The very first Star Wars is what we know today as Episode 4, A new Hope. George Lucas began what was supposed to be his 9 story epic in the middle trilogy. It was of course very effective as we all know, and I took my cue as to where to begin from that.

The art work was B & W images, no color, no shading, figuring this would be cheaper to reproduce on a somewhat large scale. I found out otherwise.  Cheaper than color yes, but cheap enough for my nickel and dime budget? Flash forward a bit to the present;

In the last year, I was able to take the original inked black and white drawings I did on paper years ago and put them on the computer and use the magic of photoshop and illustrator to enhance and “color” (shade and grey scale) the images, to give them a sense of depth and realism not possible using only stark B & W contrast images.  I decided to do this because the look is fantastic, and printing in black ink is no different in grey scale or straight contrast, it comes to the same thing! It may use more ink coverage wise, but its one color, one print pass through the press (well, more on that later) The grey tones and shading I achieved really brought out the artwork, the images come alive and the stories can be told with greater dramatic emphasis. I liken using photoshop to ‘coloring with light.’

Bonfire background

The power and realism achieved with these effects are indeed superior to straight linear black lines on white paper, not taking away anything from Frank Millar and the great work he did with Sin City, I appreciate however the ‘full’ look the grey shading and what looks like real light as seen here.

Looks great, but getting to this point was an ordeal of unbelievable proportions. Going back to 2007,  I completed 40 B & W pages of the first Blonde World story, or chapter, and I was astounded to learn that it would be impossible to print up a book digitally from conventional copy machines, such as those in use at Staples, or Bureau en gros, (as they’re called in Quebec) or even professional digital copy centers, that use 20,000 dollar copiers.

Problem one, the art work was on traditional 11*17 comic book page size format, in many cases they were a bleed image, meaning the artwork would take up the entire page, with no border around them at all. I would first have to scale them down to the

actual finished copy size of 6.65 ” * 10.25″, (standard comic book format size) and have the correct pages pasted together, 1 with 40, 2 with 39, 3 with 38 etc, that’s how comics and magazines are printed, (take one apart and you’ll see what I mean, page 1 and 40 are on the same side of the same page, and on the back would be page 2 and 39).  Even after doing that, I was told that digital machines are not capable of getting perfect registration, meaning that you would not have an exact line up of page 1 and 40 in relation to where pages 2 and 39 would be placed on the other side, so if you try to cut your book down, as your going to have to print this up on 11 * 17 paper, you may be cutting into the imagery and even dialogue on the other side of your page.

Apparently, you can’t direct or INSTRUCT ANY digital machine as to WHERE on the page it will print the image. On a single side of a page, yes, but that’s concerning an image that is smaller than the full-page size. A double-sided page, where your images fill up nearly the whole page, (These machines enforce a border, whether you want one or not), will print an image ‘somewhat’ in the center, but if the paper was fed into the machine or ‘pulled in’ differently than the one before, the image will be printed position wise on the page differently than the last. There’s no way to command a copy machine, “print all images with a quarter inch margin on all sides” astounding as our technology today is, no one who manufactures photocopy machines considers this to be of any relevance. Even the most top of the line digital printers, which the average Joe Blow would be able to have access to, cant do that.

So I had to look at Offset printing.  this is real professional printing, the type needed to pull off comic books, magazines, paper backs, and brochures, and anything colorful and visual needed on a mass reproduction scale…you may want to sit down for this. Just to get one sample book done, I was told would cost around $350 – $400. One book! I was told by the larger

companies like Quebecor World who prints for Marvel comics, they wouldn’t even look at me unless I was ready to commit to a print of 10,000 or more. A straight B & W job like mine would cost me about a dollar a book at that size run. I don’t have 100 lying around let alone 10,000.

Long story short, I decided to see what and why this stuff costs so much, what the heck is the big deal of getting registration that it costs so *#&@! much! I went back to school. First, to learn computers, I used Word and Microsoft office in office type jobs, but I had no clue as to how to work with images on computer, and if I wanted to even think of getting work in the now graphic arts world, formerly the commercial art world, I had to learn illustrator and photo shop and whatever else was required. Enter Rosemount technology center, where I indeed picked up this knowledge, at the cost of going to school full-time in the day, and working at night as a telephone survey person. (When people asked me what I do for a living I tell them I bother people professionally). This made for an 18 hour-long day with transportation, and that was my life for 13 months. I still don’t know how I did that, well, I do, but thats another story for another time. I wasn’t alone when I went through that.

So, with what I learned, I was able to print Blonde World myself, and I saw first hand, how much technology goes into getting images lined up from one side of a page to the other, the process is ridiculously detailed and intricate. Understanding the procedure is one thing, but to actually do it, and know what you’re doing to be proficient at it, I was in my 12th month and I was still learning on how to get registration properly. I used a Gto Heidelberg offset press which was built before I was born. This post is rather long, so I’ll begin the next post with some pics of the copies I produced of Blonde World chapters 1, 2 and 3, once printing was completed. I will also have some pics of the school and the machine I used.

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