August 8th, 2008

  • smuu

THE WAR AT ELLSMERE - out in December from SLG Publishing

X-Post from my personal LJ ... so y'all have been wondering what I've been up to, what with the updates disappearing ... now you get to find out!

So anyway, announcement time! This is always fun. I've mentioned this project in passing in a few interviews here and there, but haven't come out and jumped up and down and waved my arms about it yet ... and now that time is finally upon us.

The War at Ellsmere is my next graphic novel, which will be out from SLG Publishing in December, barring accidents or my hand falling off or something. I'm completely excited and terrified SLG has given me the chance to do this book, as it's a story I've had ruminating in my head for years now, and I wasn't sure if it'd ever see the light of day. BUT NOW IT WILL HURRAH.

The War at Ellsmere is the story of Juniper, an aggressively self-sufficient 13 year old who wins a scholarship to the prestigious (and slightly creepy) Ellsmere Academy, a girls' school which Jun hopes will gain her easier entry into ivy league post-secondary schools. While at the school Jun makes friends with a crazy girl named Cassie who thinks there's a mythical monster living in the forest next door, and offends the school's alpha student, a dead-eyed, probably dead-souled girl named Emily. Jun's defiance of Emily leads to an escalating war between the two of them, which finally results in ... well, you'll just have to read the book to find out, won't you?

I have to tell you, this book has been kicking my ass since January. When I started I was pretty terrified, sure I wouldn't be able to properly convey the school setting and manage the multiple plotlines, and I took everything I learned from doing Zombies Calling and applied it to this book. I think it is a big step up in terms of storytelling for me. I tried to pay attention to all the legitimate criticisms I received from Zombies Calling and address them (the most common being that Zombies Calling was a bit short; Ellsmere will be nearly 40 pages longer).

Originally I wasn't sure I was ready artistically for this book, as it required a TON of research into background settings (as opposed to Zombies Calling, which only had ... uh, one setting? This book was SO MUCH MORE WORK), but I'm so glad I've had the chance to challenge myself at this stage of my career. I've seen my art grow a lot throughout the course of this book. There are parts I'm very pleased with.

So let's see some pictures, yeah? Here's our cast:

When Jun met Cassie and things weren't always so grand ... Cassie, I thought, should look a bit like the love child of Spongebob Squarepants and Izma from The Emperor's's New Groove.

Our Villain, Emily, and her minions. I kind of love writing Emily. She's probably the most vicious villain I've had in a comic since Lethe ripped a heart out of someone's chest in Demonology 101. Fortunately there will be no heart-ripping here! I feel the book is appropriate for ages 10 and up. Which means no discussions about virginity like in Zombies Calling. Alas.

Here are pages 14 to 25, in which June makes a huge mistake ... but doesn't realize it yet. One thing: There is grayscale toning on these pages. I would really like to do some VERY SIMPLE toning on this book, just to accent the school setting, but I'm very unfamiliar with toning for a comic book. If anyone wants to give me suggestions or link to a site with tutorials, I would be very appreciative. At this point I have not settled on a look I want. Other than the toning, please feel free to leave comments on the preview ... I love comments. Really, who doesn't?

Fun Stuff!
-"Ellsmere" was named after a Toronto subway stop. I saw it on a subway map while riding with a friend. However, it was spelled "Ellesmere."
-Emily was named after a horrible girl I knew in university. Recently while catching up with university friends, I found out she'd completely changed her ways and now works for non-profit organizations. Hilarious!
-Want to see some very old Ellsmere artwork? Here are early incarnations of the characters: Jun. Emily. Cassie. Man, they look different.

So I hope that preview whets your appetite for more! I'm really excited about this book, and I really hope you guys will enjoy it. If you enjoyed Zombies Calling or any of my previous online comics, I think you'll dig this book too.