I've been planning this section for quite a while now but seemed to have never got around to actually post it here or anywhere else online in this complete format. Shame on me!
1. What is Collector of Fairytales?
It's a fantasy-historical graphic novel set in the 19th century rural Romania (Wallachia). It is comprised of several short stories centered around the main character. The stories have little or nothing in common with each other otherwise.
2. Where can I read the pages?
Collector of Fairytales has three main outposts.
1. this very site,
2. collector-of-fairytales.smackjeeves.com - contains the pages in English
3. mangazup.com - pages in Romanian
3. How many stories are there?
+Fairies' Dance - complete 23 pages
+Water Rites - complete 42 pages
+Fisherman for Dinner - ongoing 72/100 pages
+Pig's Tale - storyboarded
+The storyteller - script
+Shadows - storyboarded
4. Why are the updates so rare?
At the level of detailing the pages are done the inking takes quite some time, other than that, I'm working at a more slower pace on purpose treating each page as an individual illustration. While I do have a self imposed deadline I'm not going to kill myself and my art over it. I consider the rate of 1 page per week relatively decent (this does NOT mean I draw a page every week. That's just an update average)
5. How long does it take you to make a page?
It varies from 5h to 24h depending on the level of detailing.
6. What is your general workflow?
It varies from story to story but it basically starts with a rough script idea. It's not too detailed, it's more like a summary of the story.
Once I set down the main storypoints (introduction, characters, intrigue, general action, climax and the ending) I go on and start thumbnailing pages. This means I write the dialogues on paper usually by the side of the thumbs of the pages that I'm going to draw. My sketches at this stage are probably a nightmare to read - unless you are me. That is why I roughly type on my IPod-Touch the dialogues so that later on I can modify them and actually understand what I wrote there. (Before I got the IPod Touch I used to work in a word file. Now I type it on the gadget and casually send copies/versions of the story's text via mail) Because this note file never ceases to be edited and redited until the time comes to typeset the story.
Next on I go about drawing the pages. Here I must admit I do not work in the order of the page numbers. I skip. I'll draw pages 1-5 then skip to 15 and then come to fill the gaps gradually. THIS is not normal or right BUT it acomplishes 2 things: keeps me interested in drawing pages that I don't particularily enjoy drawing or that I find difficult and at the same time blends in my drawing style changes.
Then I move onto the traditional inking process which goes about in the same manner, of course depending on the drawn material I have. After inking I clean the pencils and scan the image for further postworking
I do the clean up of the scans and typeset in Photoshop and that's it.
7. What tools do you use?
+Pencils: 2mm lead HB pencil holder. I like to sharpen my lead in a long and pointy fashion. I use a glasspapier to do that.
Rubber: Staedler cheap eraser. Works wonders without smudging
+Paper: A4 and A3 Fabriano 90gsm. NOT a recommended illustration paper. It's not even Bristol like or white (rather yellowish I'd say) BUT I like how it handles both pencil and ink and it's cheap compared to the professional paper pads out there for BD and manga. Sorry but I like to keep this hobby low cost-ish
+Ink: Windsor and Newton - black. I have a 500ml bottle of it and I've run through 1/3 of it already.
+Dip pens: Assorted, old and new but my most treasured possessions are some Japanese nibs I bought online 2 years ago when I started working on the series (I was experimenting with dip pens and I fell in love with them).
+Brush: Old Pelikan watercolor brush. Switched it from watercolors to inking.
+Feather: for the rubber litter I produce.
+4 A4-ish alucobond and plexiglass drawing boards
+1 watertank for cleaning all the tools after each use (not cleaning you brush or dip pens means a horrible death to them. Ink clogs on everything)
+ little inkbottle with large opening - I refill it from the 500ml inkbottle.
+A4 HP Scanjet 4370 - scanner. Old model but trustworth. Has scanned more than 10.000 pages by now...overall.
+ Photoshop CS3. I recently upgraded from CS2
+ laser mouse most of the times whenever it's not the mouse it's...
+ Wacom Intuos3 A5 Wide tablet. Underused as it shows.
8. Have you ever considered doing your pages digitally, since you DO have a tablet?
No. I work faster traditionally and besides I try not to sit in front of the computer all day. I do that in my field of work and I don't want to ruin my eyes more than they already are. As long as I can scan and clean by inks properly I'm a happy person without digital complications.
9. Why aren't there sketches and character profiles and all those WIPs other artists do, available, posted online?
Because I keep them hidden in a secret drawer. Actually because I don't deem them expressive enough to be scanned and uploaded anywhere online. I sketch horribly and you'll have to trust me on that.
10. How much time do you spend sketching vs actually drawing the pages?
50-50, sometimes less for sketching, because I have less spare time now for this hobby than in the past. An average would be 1-2hrs a day sketching something, even if just doodling random characters. Sketching becomes important when I have to draw something I've never drawn in my life. Then I go and do a thourough study of the object until I get it right. After I've pinned it down - after 10-15 A4 pages of messy sketching, I consider I've acomplish something. Otherwise an average of 8hrs of sketching a week would DO to keep my hand in drawing shape.
11. Where do you find your inspiration for the stories?
The Romanian mythology is a good source of inspiration other than that I use references from accurately historical sites and events happening during the time. I sometimes take up Romanian classic writers such as Sadoveanu (Hanul Ancutei, Vremea Ducai Voda, Domnita Ruxanda), Ispirescu (for the tales of course), Eliade (for the feel of the fantastic), Voiculescu (for the short and witty stories).
12. How much of it is it fictional how much is it real?
Characters and the storyline in themselves are fictional original. The settings, places, some events mentioned in the stories are real. The information on the mythological creatures and events/celebrations are based on the reference I manage to find in literature and on the net on the subject. Where there is none or too little to build a believable character I improvise. Because of this each story has something like a bibliography/reference folder attached to them. What you get to see in the final pages is like 20% of what's behind the story.
13. Will you be as kind as to put up some explanations for the better understanding of the stories?
Where I find it absolutely neccesary I make notes , in the rest of the cases, probably not - the idea of the stories is to make you curious and go searching for the information to complete your understanding.
14. Have you considered publishing it?
At the moment publishing is out of the question, though it did cross my mind and probably in a couple of years when I'll manage to get a reasonable amount of pages to be able to pull it out. Till then (a looong, looong way from now)you can read it online.
15. Graphically your drawing style has changed from your previous works.Why is that?
I've been told that several times. It must be because I'm taking so long to do each page and trying new things (technically)on them. Other than this, I don't think my drawing style has changed, just that I ink differentely and it's ok like this.
16. Why are there no illustrations (color, shiny, eye-candy ones) on the series?
Because the current style of illustration I have does not match the story. That is to say, I haven't found that special kind of color ilustration the series needs. The stories are special to me so I'll try my best and come up with something as visual-special as the pages in themselves.
Will be updated as more relevant questions pop up.
Page 41 of Water Rites from pencil to ink in one go.
Typesetting guide for a BD
Old livestream of me inking - september 2009