Unseen art – a deleted scene from Unflattening! I’ve been asked frequently how the published version of Unflattening differs from the dissertation. After I defended, I submitted the work to HUP and went up to Cambridge to work with my wonderful editor Sharmila Sen. We trimmed text throughout to tighten it up and keep a consistency of formatting. At that point, I noted some minor changes I wanted to make and later did make in the artwork. Mostly things I wasn’t quite satisfied with and wanted to revisit – only the final page got a significantly changed composition (though the exact subject as in the previous version). And finally, in that marathon session, we ended up cutting two pages – both from Chapter Four. While it’s always hard to let go of these things, especially pages that took a few weeks to figure out and execute, ultimately I think it was the right call. I think they worked on their own, but as Sharmila convinced me – they stuck out from the rest of the narrative flow. And this speaks to the beauty of having a good editor, whom you trust! Even though they didn’t make it into the final work, they were finished pages, so I’m pleased that I can share them here.
This time around, I’m sharing a page explicitly (though metaphorically) about my process itself. It was the only one that I make a direct appearance in, which was something I was never quite sure about doing. It also ties into what I mean by Spin, Weave, and Cut. (You can see some earlier writing about that and development of the logo – by my dad! – in this post from way back.) I delved into DJ methodology, DNA, and weaving – and referenced the three Fates, who spin, measure, and cut (whom I first came across in the pages of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman).
This page had a particularly difficult constraint – trying to weave that logo in – which stretches wide, but still find a way to move the narrative through what became a narrow space in the vertical direction. I struggled. Furthermore, the concept of the page itself was all about how the creative process generated surprises even to the maker – but it’s hard to surprise yourself when you’re trying to design a surprise! It happened that in the midst of working through this, we went for one of the earliest ultrasounds of my daughter at T-5 months (whose feet are in the dedication!). After coming home from that, I made a quick sketch of what I’d seen, and pieces fell into place. (I wrote a bit about that at the time here.) It’s a page I’m mystified somewhat by how it all came together.
A bunch of new reviews this past week:
Down the road: On May 26, I’ll be doing a book event at the super cool independent bookstore Book Beat in Oak Park, MI just outside of Detroit! It’s a trip home to see family and excited to be able to share the book in a store I’ve spent so much time in over the years and get a chance to see Detroiters I haven’t seen in too long. (My copy of Understanding Comics and Thierry Groensteen’s The System of Comics were both purchased there!) Info here.