Well, as some you of you get the weekly email updates, you probably know that we held off on giving you four pages of the comic last week because I was waffling. It seems that every time we make a change in the environment, no matter how slight, it raises new questions for me about how to best present the work as well as the methods I and Josh are using. We’re closing in on the end of the Telemachus chapter now, and I’m starting to miss Buck Mulligan already. This next bit is kind of a spotlight on Mercurial Malachi as we handle ‘The Ballad of Joking Jesus’ just in time for the holiday. Last week I decided to hold the pages we had so we might deliver an eight page update this week that pulls off the whole of the joke.
But watercolor, as some of you know, is a less than predictable medium. Pages will be in mid-week instead of Monday because, frankly, they look too great to rush through.
It’s a funny thing about this project. Try as I may to think of it as a comicbook, to think about the idea of a more rapid reading experience and how that might make Joyce’s work a bit clearer, there are certain times, certain scenes in my head, that I just want to take the time to paint rather than cartoon. For all of its Vaudevillian humor, ‘The Joking Jesus’ pages have been one of the best experiences I’ve had yet with striking that balance. They’re quite fun and well worth taking the time to do just right.
But how much time does worry me. Here’s some scary math;
-I spent nearly ten hours today on the water-coloring of one page. Nearly three times more normal time.
-When you include dissecting the novel, storyboarding the action, editing and arranging Josh’s hand-lettering, pencilling, inking, coloring and proofing, I’ve been working an average of ten hours or so per page for these first 55 pages of the adaptation (that’s my estimated time and doesn’t take into account Josh’s or Mike part of the production).
-Though it’s impossible to estimate with any detailed account at this point, this project should end up being over two thousand pages long by the time we finish. Think of it. Giving the dialogue the breathing room it needs to be a comic,two thousand pages is conservative estimate.
-At the current production rate, that’s 20,000 hours of drawing. Assuming I never break stride and do nothing else but 40 hours a week of James Joyce’s ULYSSES, that’ll be ten years of my life.
Sound crazy? Probably. Charles Burns BLACK HOLE took ten years. MAUS nearly as long. I’m not sure how long Eric Shanhower’s been doing AGE OF BRONZE now, but it’s certainly in the same camp. It’s not really all that unusual for comix to be a long, long labor of love and, of course, one of the great things about being a fan of this medium is being able to watch how these things develop. Watching the choices an artist makes along the way as he’s crafting these long narratives. It’s a much different level of involvement than one gets reading a completed and published novel, seeing a finished film or enjoying a framed painting in a white-walled gallery. Though I hate conception metaphors in art, comic fans are like mid-wives in the whole birthing process somehow as they watch the work grow with each new installment.
As quite a few of you know, one can never tell where following your own insights as an artist is going to lead or exactly how long it might take. But I do promise to do my best to make it worth the wait.