1. The Making of A.D 1997
A.D 1997 is pencilled and inked on DIN A 4 sized paper, then scanned and toned/lettered via Photoshop. I do not use a tablet for toning… just a mouse. The font I use for lettering is based on my own scanned handwriting.
2. Character Info
Please see here.
3. Production Schedule
1998 - Feb. 2000: Work on “mr Sandman”, a 76 page graphic novel, the first comic I developed and completed.
mid-2000 - today: Conceptual work, plotting, scripting, sketching “A.D 1997”
mid-2002 - Mar. 2003: Work on “A.D 1997 episode 3”
Apr. 2003 - Jan. 2004: Work on episode 4
May 2004 - Mar. 2005: Work on ep. 5
mid-2005 - Apr. 2006: scripting ep. 1
Apr. - Sept. 2006: Drawing ep. 1
Sept. 2006 - Feb. 2007: Work on ep. 2
Feb. 2007 - today: Remastering eps. 3 to 5
4. About the Episode Production Order
As you can see above, A.D 1997 was not produced in chronological episode order, mainly for plotting reasons: I wanted to test the waters first with a story arc which wouldn't need as much background plot as other episodes. While working on said arc (which is comprised of eps. 3 to 5) I tried figuring out which information would be necessary to be given in eps. 1 and 2. Upon completion of eps. 5 I took a year off drawing, solely preparing the script for eps. 1. Once I was satisfied with the script I began drawing, one page a week, uploading pages weekly. Previous episodes had been updated irregularly.
5. The Initial Idea
The initial idea which would spawn A.D 1997 came to me while I was putting the final touches on mr Sandman, around the second half of the year 2000. There was not much writing left to do for mr Sandman, so my mind was free to wander off and plot something new. Having worked on a pretty sinister comic for years on end (about three or four years actually) I yearned to do something brighter. I also wanted to expand my scope, writing a longer, more complex story, starring more characters, exploring them in more detail. The fact that I graduated from school in 2000 and that I did not know for almost a whole year what to do afterwards must have influenced the initial concept in such a way that it reflects both the positive and negative aspects of freedom: the heady feeling of possibilities opening up and leaving your old self behind you, but also a frightening uncertainty, the feeling that you might lose your identity, things you hold dear and that your future aspirations might fail.
6. Links to my Previous Comic
Since I had developed something of a miniature world in mr Sandman it felt natural to stay within that world but to adjust the view, telling a story in another part of that world. However, as the story progressed I moved further away from that notion. I still like to think of A.D as a sort of prequel to mr Sandman, but only in its subtext. Still I plan for mr Sandman's Friedrich Ludwig to appear in another episode, beside his first cameo I started the series with (in the first arc I produced, eps. 3 to 5). Michelle was initially modelled after mr Sandman's Kat, but as I went along the bonds between the two characters have almost completely been broken.
7. Story Structure
At first I envisioned A.D to be made up of seven larger parts, and I wrote an outline for the complete series. I soon realized that 26 short episodes would work much better than 7 long episodes, since I cannot spend nearly as much time working on the comic as I would like to, and I still want my audience to read a complete episode every now and then (mr Sandman was not broken down in parts and took an eternity to complete, and I hated the fact that while I was working on it I would always have to put off potential readers and tell them to wait another year). So I took the seven-part story outline and turned it into a 26-episode story outline, complete with titles and rough descriptions of what should happen in each episode. There will be major turning points in the series, but they do not reflect the original seven-part structure. In the original structure, the pilot and the grand finale combined would have taken much more space, but with a 26-episode structure I gain more time inbetween to develop the story itself. The structure which I work with now is still subject to change, I may decompress some episodes and compress others.
8. The First Story Arc (Eps. 3 to 5)
When I started the first arc I still intended it to be one episode told in several parts (or acts), but when I realized this episode would need three acts to complete I decided to break it up into three episodes, dropping the act-structure completely. I have worked on the first three-part arc for three years, from 2002 till 2005. Much of it was planned beforehand, but I did not calculate how many pages it would take me to tell the story, so I ended up spanning over three episodes instead of two. The only substantial change compared to the original plot was adding two subplots in episode 5 which were not really significant for the arc itself but for the series in general.
(more info coming soon…)
9. Turning A.D 1997 into a full-fledged webcomic
My way of progressing A.D's storyline had seemed quite tiring after three years of working on one single arc. Thus far I had written a few pages every now and then, drawn them during university holidays, afterwards going back to writing again. That way I would only finish some 10 pages every half a year. Not wanting to continue that way, I took some time off during which I threw around various plot ideas for the pilot. When I had finished a script I was satisfied with I started drawing the first pages, with my creative batteries recharged after a hiatus of almost one year. During that time I learned about webcomic communitities, and the possibility of having my comic read by other people than my friends. I had already uploaded finished pages on my homepage, but updates were few and far inbetween and feedback from readers was pretty much non-existent. Getting actual feedback on a regular basis intrigued me, so I took a chance and decided to change to a weekly update schedule, knowing I had a complete script for at least one episode. This decision made an artistic difference as well, since I wanted it to appeal to new readers as much as possible, so I became quite self-conscious about storytelling clarity and layouts. I also added grey tones (- the first comic on which I had added grey tones were three pages of a short comic called U.N.C.A. S.A.M.) and finally made my own lettering typeface.
10. The Pilot (Eps. 1 & 2)
(more info coming soon…)
11. Remastering Episodes 3 to 5
New scans were taken of the original inked pages by the end of 2006. I cleaned them up, applied gray tones and corrected the text shortly before uploading the pages, which I have done twice a week. The first version had been lettered by hand, for the remastered version I used the same font (scanned from my handwriting) as on the previous two episodes. Text corrections were done both for clarity and overall story integrity.
(more info coming soon…)
12. Moving to drunkduck.com
Around the time I started uploading the 5th episode I decided to open a new account here on drunkduck.com, so I could upload daily and gain new readers. This was influenced by Nepath's “Energize” comic here on drunkduck, since it was one of the webcomics I read regularly. I don't know much about webcomic servers, and I don't purposely look for them - I prefer spending that time on the drawing table. Still, I like my comics to be read, so once in a while I'll try something new to that end. And here we are.
(more info coming soon…)
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