Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pierre Speaks: Exil

Exil MagazineI mentioned how I got my first short story published in a magazine (or should it be called a fanzine??) called "Exil".

Around 1989, I started putting together my own world/universe.

Being a huge D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) fan, what I had in mind was to essentially make something not unlike D&D in comic form. But I wanted to be able to use that world to make any kind of story if I wished to. So I had my kind of D&D world set in some far post apocalyptic future, but I could make some super-heroes stories set in the "past", or even some sci-fi stories also in that far future.

Heck sometimes I think I was trying to make Battlechasers years before Madureira. ;)

Although seeing setting like Eberron, Arcanum, etc, it seems that it is a pretty common idea after all.

After a lot of head scratching, I decided to call it "Heroes". It would allow me to do stories in any time period I wanted to.

But then I got sidetracked into making a LRPG (Live Role-Playing Game). So I took my "Heroes" setting and used it as the basis/backstory for our LRPG.

We decided to call it "Les Plaines du Dragon" (Plains of the Dragon).

I had a great time while our LRPG lasted.

But when we started to make our LRPG, there was 14 of us.

Then after 1 year, there was only 4 of us left. Once we realized how much work it required to make such a game, most decided to simply participate as NPCs (Non-Player Characters) or something like that.

Then after a few more months, there was only 2 of us left. Because as I said, it was a lot of work, and only 2 of us were crazy enough to spend all our free time and week-ends working on the LRPG.

But after about 5 years, we had to take a break from our LRPG which was a lot of work just for the 2 of us.

But at some point, I started working in animation and pretty much left my LRPG days behind me.

While I was working on Bob Morane, I met a guy called Simon Dupuis. After some time, he told me that he was one of the guys making this magazine called "Exil". When I and another guy asked him when the next issue would come out, he told us that that was it.

No more "Exil".

But somehow, we were able to sell him to the idea of making a new issue of "Exil".

So I got back to working on my world/universe that by then was called "Les Plaines du Dragon".

So I made 2 short stories.

The first one was a silent story called "the Hunter".

Why silent??

I was under no delusion. I was not a writer. I was a guy drawing who wanted to tell stories.

So I came up first with a silent story.

Then with the contribution of some of my LRPG partners, we came up with another short story based on something that actually happened in one of our LRPG session.

Sadly, that story was not published.

I was under no illusion that the people behind "Exil" were not too crazy with what I was doing. So I was not too surprised when they told me that they were rejecting one of my stories.

"Exil" also published the work of Yannick Paquette and Michel Lacombe. Both who worked for DC and are currently working for Marvel.

So what after "Exil"??

I reworked my silent story and it was no longer a silent story. I guess I was becoming more confident in my skills as a writer.

I added two short stories to it so that I would have a comic book of about 24 pages with all 3 stories.

I wanted to bring back my original name for it, "Heroes", but everyone kept on telling me that "Heroes" could not work as a name. "Too generic" or "not distinctive enough" or some such comments that I was getting.

Strangely, now there is a popular TV series called just that.... "Heroes".

So I foolishly tried to listen to people, and I tried to call it "Zhen Dil Oloth's Heroes" to make it more distinctive.

Also since I was doing everything myself, I was looking for ways to simplify the creative process. For example, I tried to simply scan the penciled artwork and manipulate it with photoshop instead of taking the time of inking it traditionally.

I was hoping to save some time by doing that.

But at the time, I barely knew how to somewhat use photoshop. So it took me forever to ink the comic that way.

Then I experimented on how I could color the book without spending too much time. So I used some of my experience in animation to try to come up with a simple way to color the artwork.

Essentially, since I was doing everything myself, I was looking for a way to be able to make more than one comic every 10 years.

Although it took me forever making that one comic, it was great in teaching me how to use Photoshop.

I would not call myself an expert yet (I know how to use Photoshop..... but not enough to start making the equivalent of an oil painting or something like that...... yet ;) ), but I am comfortable working with Photoshop now which is light years ahead from when I made that "Zhen Dil Oloth's Heroes" comics.

Although pretty much everyone rejected "Zhen Dil Oloth's Heroes" (it was published in some form.... but I am keeping that for another Blog ;)), it was a great tool in learning how to pitch a comic to a publisher.

Before that, like many others, I had sent some blind submissions to various publishers, but it was usually some penciled or inked samples. This was the first time that I was actually pitching a complete project.

I guess I will have to share in a future Blog all that I have learned from submitting my proposal. ;)

Did I waste my time doing a full comic only to end up being rejected??


Not only did it help me learn how to use Photoshop, but it also gave me some comic book samples for people to see in my online portfolio.

And that is where Jim saw my color sample and asked me to co-create the Flashback Universe using that style.

So although making that comic did not give me the result I was aiming for.... it still was usefull in the end. ;)

Until next time.

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