Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lisbon Girls, Oh The Lisbon Girls...

(Big Ups if you get the reference in the title of this blog)

Well, sorry.  I said weekly, but it happens.  A lot of stuff's going on!

Anyways. with a small vacation and other work coming up, we've had a little time, but we're still fully on schedule for the June release of issue #1!  So, still be excited.

I saw on our facebook page someone 'unliked' our does one do that?  I'm amazed by it and I say to that person, thank you for having the good sense not to just 'like' away on things!  But on a sad note, why did you leave us?

Anyways, last entry I wrote a lot about research and the kind of stuff we're doing...I know I told you we'd be interviewing high schoolers and well...on a fated Friday night, at undisclosed Chipotle in Southern California...we did in fact interview some high school kids.

High school girls in fact.  Six of them.  My fiance came with us to take pictures and also served as our, "We're not 25-year-old trying to hit on high school girls" cover.

Intrepid comic book creators we are.

But to preface why we did this...It had a lot more to do with just relearning a lot of it.  Evan and I obviously both went to high school, but we decided we'd been out long enough to be much more of the mind of "remembering fondly" than any other way.  We don't want "Youth" to be some piece of nostalgia.  From a writing perspective, I want this to feel the way it feels to be in high school, which could be anything from where you stand.  But what I don't want to do while writing is think to myself, "Man...that one time was awesome..." because that's not being true to you guys as readers and not trying to expand myself as a writer.  Remembering is cool, but nods to past are meant mostly for the geography of the book and for (totally shamelessly) cameos by our friends and teachers throughout the book, hopefully.

To start, we learned a lot.  It was crazy.  I was really hesistant at first when we sat down with these girls mostly because knowing myself, I don't want to divulge personal feelings about the life I lead, etc.  But these girls were great!  So insightful, even about stuff that I didn't think mattered in the slightest, which is so much.

Evan and I were enamored with just how they spoke, the fluency they had between several conversations and how they moved from subject to subject without hesitating.  I think in general, we all assume high school kids know pretty much nothing because they haven't "experienced" anything yet.  But if there's something they do know, better than anyone else in the world, they know themselves.  Even at a young age, these girls are willing to sit there and discover things about themselves.  Be adventurous, make changes and mistakes...learn.

No topic was off limits.  We asked everything, even stuff we had assumed we'd get false answers for (Boys, Drugs...the naughty stuff) and they answered with all the sincerity in the world.  It was everything we could have asked for and more.  And these girls were just so different, each one of them, it was the best demographic.

I asked them all to write something off the top of their heads into my notebook.  This girl wrote "I have Bieber Fever".  High schoolers with a sense of irony.

 A few things we learned about how it is now in high school:

1) Twitter and text are the big thing.  NOT FACEBOOK.  weird.  Did not expect that.

2) Very surprising: Guys are much more interested in the curvy body type than the "Keira Knightly" look.  I found that really interesting and kind of relieving.  Maybe all that self-image stuff is finally seeping down to where it should be...  Most of the girls Evan has drawn so far fit into that body type, with the exception of a couple characters who have the look of just being naturally skinny.  Good to know we're on the right track.

We found out this girl is the younger sister of one of Evan and Andrea's friends from high school.  Small damn world.

3) Text message talk is tough.  And people say these words out loud and just know.  I don't think of it as death to the English language...It's just a new version.  Also, no one's texting gossip like passing notes.  It's always about making plans, etc.  Gossip is much less prevalent than I expected, actually.  I was pleasantly surprised by that.
We asked for smiley faces  These are all used in texts.  Crazy.

This gal to the left was a fountain of information.  The one smiling was the quiet one.  Evan and I were astounded how much of a dead ringer she was for one of the characters we've already written.
4)  One thing we found really interesting was when we asked the girls to name specific famous people they find inspiring.  On a personal note, until that day I didn't find lady GaGa interesting at all, but then one of the girls pointed out, "I'm inspired just by her originality and her willingness to be herself".  What a cool answer from someone whose often considered "too young" to be listened to! Such an interesting answer.  It really got me thinking about the pop music and other things I don't understand, and how I can employ that into the comic.

 It was such a cool experience to have people on board with what you're trying to do.  From the deepest areas of our hearts, Ladies...Thank you so much.  It might not seem this way, but being open about hopes and fears and all that...just incredibly brave.  It was so cool to hear the honest truth.  Some of it was what we already knew but getting it fresh puts whole new spin on it.  I've been struggling to map out this third issue, and after these girls sat down and talked to us, I have a much better idea about plot points.  It's amazing what research can do for you!
This is my fiancĂ©'s little sister on the right.  She put it together.  Thanks Jules!

Now, what does this do for us?  We've got these scribbled notes, some audio interviews...where do we put this?  The answer is everywhere.  This kind of stuff, the research we do, helps put us in the moment.  From a writing perspective, when I feel like I'm not getting into the place these characters are, all I have to do is listen to an interview, look at pictures or read over my notes and it helps.

From Evan's perspective, it's a bit more complex.  We have these pictures, and the memories.  Evan can think of a facial expression, or some sort of fashion sense these girls put in front of us, and take it from there.  But Evan's visual research is as relevant hearing these girls talk.  It's all about the vibe we're putting out with the book, and that's what we're after.  The right vibe.

So a treat for you guys to get excited about...

Evan and I are going to release a teaser book!  We'll be putting the first six pages out at some point this month for you guys to look at, and get revved up for the rest of that issue and the whole series, really.  We'll have more stuff coming up, you just gotta give us time.  We're doing it all on our own, so it's gonna be slow.  But it's coming.  Thanks for being patient and sticking with us.  It's gonna be an exciting year and we'll keep you informed along the way.  Thanks for reading guys.

Until next time,


Monday, February 13, 2012

Commit This to Memory

Hello All-

Well, we've got some hopefully teasing images up.  In the coming weeks, you'll see more character sketches and other goodies we've been working on as we gear up for the big release in early summer.  Hope you guys are as excited as we are.

In the meantime, I am trying to keep up weekly blog posts, keeping you all in the loop on what we've got going on over here.  This week, I'm gonna talk about the research Evan and I are doing for this book.

Now, you might be wondering what the hell we'd need to be researching...we both went to high school, college even, and we were young once right?  Oh, sure.  But the thing is, we're not now, and rather than have every single teenager in the book sound like a 25-year-old, we decided that we needed to go back and figure out exactly what the deal is, because see...the world's changed since we were in high school.  Kids carry their phones around, text rather than pass notes, among other things.  I'm not saying we're dinosaurs ready with the, "In my day..." speeches, but life moves quick, and the kids these days do thing a bit differently.

For instance, from my end, I have no idea how kids do the text-speak this.  "OMG", "SMH", etc...I can't do it.  Call me the old-fashioned kind, but I use full sentences when I text.  So, for the phone promo image for instance (As seen below here):

...I had to ask my little brother, who's just finished high school, how to write like that.  What would you say?  What does this stand for?  What's the proper use for smiley faces?  These are questions I had.  It's research.  Investing time in learning to write like someone else, which from a dialogue perspective, can be difficult.  Hearing these voices is important as well.  Evan and I are interviewing high schoolers we know currently just to get a sense of what's important, the trends, the speech patterns.  It's all to get a sense outside ourselves, so we're not just writing about us, but more about people we can make up.

A huge portion of the research is also dedicated to location.  It never crossed my mind that Evan might have a hard time understanding what I was talking about in terms of location for the school because he went to a high school that had prominent outdoor facilities.  Being from the Midwest, particularly Northeastern Ohio, my high school was completely indoors, classroom-wise.  We walked halls, and only went outside to go to our cars.  

Last weekend, Evan and I (along with my fiancĂ© Andrea and my dad, Pat) went to IHOP.  We ate our pancakes and respective meals, and then I pulled my iPhone out, got Google Earth up and running and showed him my home town high school.  For those of your A-town alums and such out there reading, 'Youth' is set in the very non-fictional town of...Aurora, OH.  All people are fictitious of course, but the setting and geography is as close to what I can remember as possible.  Below are a couple photos of Evan and I going over the schematics via Google Earth of the geography of the high school, which is where most of the action in the book takes place.

My dad in the background there.  He's looking up AHS while I show Evan  the route Jim flys to school.

Evan draws from my description of the Interior of AHS
Basic mapping of a few miles of Aurora by Evan.  That's from the high school to the movie theatre, I think.

Explaining where the Movie theatre and Starbucks is in relation to the school, where Jim and Stacy live in relation to the school...It was a quick jog down memory lane.  Then, describing the interior of the high school. In the Midwest, it's common practice to add on to the facility existing to accomodate a larger student population.  My high school graduating class was around 250, so the ultimate count in the school was somewhere around 1100, maybe (no way of verifying that)?  But, additions to schools change the interior geography so much that it's hard to describe without it sounding like something from an MC Escher sketch, so trying to describe where certain stairwells go, and how they connect to other parts of the school was a challenge...but Evan is obviously a great visualist and understands the basic geometry of even a place as added on as good ol' AHS.

Research, in every avenue of creative work, is of the utmost importance.

Now before anyone throws a fit, no one from real life shows up in "Youth" with the exception of a teacher cameo from my high school days in Issue #2 (I'm not telling, mostly because I have to ask them for permission to use their name, perhaps likeness.)  But I picked Aurora because I wanted it to be a tangible place and I wanted to give Evan something very real to draw from.  It's my homage to where I grew up, and my thanks for the way it made me.

What we've tried to map out in "Youth" is a story that relates to very basic needs in the high school sense.  Whether that be acceptance of any kind, happiness, hubris, all the other latin words...I think that by and large these are not just high school emotions, but the basic driving forces behind any human personality.  We're hoping you guys latch onto any of that, and allow us to take you through this story from your perspective, and make it something as palpable as can be.

Alright...that got a little preachy.  Anyway, until next time friends, keep up with us on our facebook page and ask us questions and whatnot.  We like that!  Talk to you soon.


Monday, February 6, 2012

First Promo Image and some Ramblings

Hey Guys-

Well, we at least made it to a 2nd blog post.  Evan and I are proud to unveil the first of a few different bits of promo art for "Youth".  Here it is...

(c) Evan Peter 2012

Pretty sweet, right?  Quick, to the point.  Hope you guys dig it.  If you read the mini, you'll recognize the three characters.  If not:

Stacy:  The strong girl.

Jim:  The flying guy.

Louis: The guy going through the kid with the ball.

All will obviously be explained.  Here's the first page of that explanation!

But, in Youth-iverse news. Evan and I have mapped out the entire first ten issues for the series.  It's going to be a lot of fun, I think.  I hope you guys like it.  There's a lot of charm and wit in what we've got in store for you guys.  I've got two issues down, writing wise, and now I'm cleaning up out overall arc and figuring out exactly what's going on in issue #3.

Funny thing about Issue 3 is when we started mapping out the story, Issue 3 was glossed over for some reason.  We have the basic plot points and such, but it was far less fleshed out than the other issues.  Whereas we'd devoted entire pages to Issues 7 and 8, really getting to every single plot and how we were going to move through the story, #3 has, on my computer as I type this and look at it...3 plot points, in single sentence framing, to cover.  So, that will be what I'm working on in the coming weeks, fleshing out those ideas and getting details down on paper.

Speaking of what we're doing, have you guys seen 'Chronicle' yet?  If not, go check it out.  Seriously, one of the best movies I've seen this past year.  Evan and I cringed at some points because we feared that the plot of the film would almost come too close to what we're doing with "Youth", but luckily, where Max Landis veered, as did we the other way.  But it's not bad to know that we're on the right track, right?  That there are other like-minded cats out there?  Anyways, it's a fun flick.  Go check it out for sure.

That about wraps it up for this one.  We'll check back in as the other promo images emerge.  Again, if you guys have questions or anything, ask away!  We'll answer as they come in the blog posts here.  Check us out on Facebook too (unless you got here from already know that.)

Talk to you guys soon.