Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Here’s a crowdfunded comic you might be interested in!

Jason Copland, creator extraordinaire, hockey aficionado, and all-around good dude, is ready to drop his magnum opus, Full Tilt, on us through the crowdfunding site Zoop. He’s trying to get the word out, and as I have been looking forward to this book for many a year, I told him I’d be glad to help! I gave him some questions to let him promote the book, and here are his answers, plus a link to the site!

1. What’s Full Tilt?

FULL TILT is a gritty, violent tale about a 23rd century crime family consigliere who must face the consequences of a choice he made between love and loyalty. It touches on eternal themes such as love and hate, family and power.

That says just enough without giving too much away.

In terms of being an object, FULL TILT is a 320 page oversized hardcover epic printed in glorious B&W. I will be crowdfunding it with the great people at Zoop.

2. How long have you been working on it? I swear it’s a decade, but I could be wrong.

I first started putting pen to paper in a serious manner about 5 years ago. But the book’s origin started with some rough pages I drew as I was working out what kind of project I really wanted to make. I knew there was something I wanted to say with my work but I hadn’t figured it out yet. I drew those demo pages almost 10 years ago, so you are correct!

3. Is this the first thing you’ve written? Is it something that’s been kicking around in your head for a while and you didn’t have the confidence to write it, or did it just come to you and you said, I can’t get a writer for this – I must do it myself!

Yeah, this is my first serious stab at writing. The story didn’t come right away, though. It started as an outline and a list of scenes I “saw” in my head but that was it. I was still doing work-for-hire stuff and didn’t have the time/energy to dig into the creation of the book. Once I put that work behind me, I decided to take the plunge and start writing for myself. It was the right decision.

4. Tell me a bit about your process, since you were writing and drawing. Did you do a big, long-form script, or was it a bit more loosey-goosey and you figured some of it out during the drawing process? I’m always fascinated by people who can draw and write comics, because I know some writers who can’t draw are so meticulous about their scripts, and I always thought if you could also draw, you might be a bit more flexible.

Oh man, my process was extremely loosey-goosey! Maybe too much so.

This being my first real writing endeavor, I had no sense of what my process was. I started with a rough outline, a loose framework of scenes that I knew I wanted to draw. I then began writing scenes entirely via the dialogue between characters in those scenes. This really helped me get a sense of who these characters were, what they wanted and how they viewed the others populating their lives. I was able to see them beyond their visual design.

I took those discussions and broke them down into pages and panels. Since I was drawing the book, I only needed to give myself minimal panel descriptions and minor blocking instructions.

5. On the drawing side, are you using pencils and inks or are you digital? How detailed are your pencils, or are you doing thumbnails and then the real work comes when you ink? How long does it take you to do a standard page? I know you’re doing some “special effects” digitally, so if you want to go into that a bit, that would be keen. And I assume coloring it would be too expensive, but did you think about it?

I’m mostly an ink on paper kind of guy however I do my roughs digitally because it gives me a greater amount of flexibility when designing the page layouts. I print those roughs out on my boards in blueline and then break out the ink and the various tools I use to draw with. I love making marks on paper so this is where the fun really starts!

Once the pages are inked, I scan them into the computer and clean them up. That’s when I do any resizing/moving of visual elements that I’m not happy with. After any alterations have been made, I apply some digital ziptone which helps give elements of the drawings extra texture and depth.

I would say that my roughs would fall somewhere in between most artists’ roughs and pencils. I give myself enough information to start inking but leave them loose enough to not be beholden to them. If I feel a need to, I’ll go in and tighten hands and faces in pencil on the board before I start inking.

6. What the heck is up with the fold-out pages? What are you thinking, man???? 🙂

Yeah, this book has a lot of two page spreads. Like tons of them. Some of the spreads are longer than two pages. Unfortunately, the cost of making them actual gatefolds in the book were too high but each spread was designed to work individually so that won’t affect the reading experience.

[I have to say, having seen some of the process of these many-page spreads, I’m a bit bummed they won’t be gatefolds in the final project. I totally get it, but dang!]

7. I know you focused solely on comics a while back, and I always wonder about the financial side of comics, as I know it’s not great. Are you happy with your decision? Has been tougher or easier than you thought? Have you been doing other work besides Full Tilt over the past few years?

I’m thrilled with my decision to focus solely on creating comics. I can’t see myself ever doing any other kind of work. The lack of money in comics is a real issue, though. In the early years of working on FULL TILT I took on a few paid projects, mostly for the sake of self worth. But with the love and support of my wife, I have been able to focus all my creative energy on finishing up the book. I just kept promising her that the book will be so successful that movie money will come rolling in and we will be able to buy a castle in Scotland and retire there so we can walk amongst the heather.

8. What did you learn about making comics throughout this process? Was it easier being your own writer or was it too much danged pressure? Did you notice your art changing as you went through the story? If so, did you do anything about it, either to stop it or lean into it a bit?

I learned a lot concerning how I should go about writing a book. Writing from the hip, like I did, is a fun way to work but has its drawbacks. Surprising, right? I did a lot of editing as I was drawing the book which caused me some problems. A few times I had fully drawn scenes that I had to scrap because they became redundant due to changes I made in previous/later scenes. Knowing what I know now, I’d take more time during the writing phase and really nail down the script before jumping into the drawing phase.

That said, the book is the accumulation of all those decisions, right or wrong, and I’m fully satisfied with the final result.

Artist Jason loved working with Writer Jason, missteps aside. Writing for myself does bring some extra pressure with it but I love how purely “me” the book turned out. I’m very excited to start working on my next solo book.

9. Tell the people how they can get Full Tilt into their eager little hands!!!!

FULL TILT is being crowdfunded via Zoop. The campaign goes live on May 9th!

Here’s the link!

As I noted above, Jason has been sharing a lot of the process on Facebook, and as you can see from the samples Jason provided, the book looks hellaciously cool. So bookmark that Zoop site and check it out tomorrow if you want to get a keen comic by an awesome dude. Don’t let his Canadian-ness stop you from getting an excellent book!

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