I learned about the SAW grant one day completely by accident. There was a website that had a feed that posted up Twitter tweets from writers and artist who do sequential art and I clicked on the wrong one. This click took me to Kate Beaton's Twitter page, where she had just tweeted the link to the Sequential Artist Workshop's web page, specifically the page that listed their grants.
I had not really given any thought to pursuing grants. I'm sort of 'old school' in thinking that, a man puts in his hard work, "pays his dues," and eventually gets things to a point where he can do the dreams he knows he must do. The idea of seeking some funding to help along my plans (besides, ya know, working and saving up) just never really registered. I never was one to have many heroes to sort of mold my life after. I did have some people I admired though and most of them went through the long process and worked hard until they kind of "made it." For me, that was pretty much the only way to do it. So, seeing what was required for this grant in front of me and realizing what that cash could do to help along some stuff I had stewing, change my perception. It struck me as an opportunity I had to go for.
The SAW grant is awarded twice a year to projects that the Workshop feels are creative and interesting, done in any form of sequential artistic styling (comic strip, graphic novel, illustrated kids book, etc.) As long as I have been doing graphic design (either as my main or secondary job, about 12 years now) I've had the desire to do varied sequential art projects. But, as stated before, I had not really been thinking about full investment of time in them, because I needed to build myself up so I could focus considerably on them. Finding this possibility of funds being received SPECIFICALLY to go into a project, was fantastic.
But, there was an interesting catch.
The deadline date for the submission was 1 month and 2 weeks away, by the time I discovered it. If I didn't go for this one, I'd have to wait nearly all year long for the next opportunity to submit for a grant.
Thus, I decided to take up the challenge and go for the March 15th deadline.
Now, with such a narrow window of opportunity, the race was on to get it all together for the deadline. I had to fill out an application, create a website for the submission committee to view, and write a working script to draw up. (I'll make sure to explain that, for anyone who doesn't know about the way a sequential project works, in the comments below.)
On days where I'm in the middle of a design job and waiting for emails back on layouts I've sent in for approval, I write short stories. Most of them don't go for many pages nor are that fully fleshed out to be worth showing. I had a few concepts I was fond of and just wanted to stretch another creative muscle of mine. With the deadline being so near and me being a bit unprepared for it ( story development-wise) I decided to dust off one of these shorts and convert it from prose to script.
The particular piece I selected, was a story called "Thanks, Jules!"
"Thanks Jules!" (the title partly inspired by both the TV show "Psych" AND an in-joke with a few people I know..which is a bit long to share in this posting) is at its root, a straight-forward story of a young man who meets his truest love...at the beginning of the last year of all existence. It also happens to be somewhat of an allegory for, the futility of people seeking love and acceptance, while their view of having a future of any sort, is bleak and quite skeptical. A LOADED story, to be sure, but my meager goals for the submission were simply this: The first 6 pages, intro-style, of the first chapter (which would end up being 16 pages.) My thoughts were that if I had about a month (likely less due to obligations I had that weren't work or personal related) I could AT LEAST get that initial set-up of story in the first 6 pages.
It looked easier than it ended up being.
I'll refrain from all the gory details but, besides a few hours during my church's annual retreat, every single day of that month working on the project was sporadic and disjointed.
The quality of the art didn't suffer, though. It flows together nicely and I was actually far more meticulous with my approach at the drawings than ever before (especially due to the images needing to tell a story, as opposed to my usual design work, which is normally a static image). I think each page was...drawn twice? And there were two sets of thumbnails for them as well (mostly due to some script tweaking that happened in the mid-month.)
Despite all that, though, I can't say the whole time working on it was wonderful. I had to push myself further than I ever have and really approach my work ethic from some intriguing new angles. There were moments that, due to those obligations I mentioned before, I had to stay up very late, miss meals, not get to do my regular exercise regiments, etc, etc.
Still, I loved the process of creation, waking up every morning to put together something that I came up with, from initial concept to final pages.
Hopefully, I'll get another season in which I'll be free enough to try for a grant. I've got a taste for it, for creating a story with my words an images in hopes for sharing it with all of you.
- Conduct Lionhardt
Ink rough, for a panel from page 2
close-up inks of a panel from page 2
Ink roughs of a panel, for page 3
Ink roughs of a panel, for page 4
Ink roughs for a panel on page 4