I try never to let the winter solstice pass unnoticed. Of course I was asleep at 5:30 a.m. or whatever ungodly hour the solstice actually happened, but today is one of my favorite days.
The shortest day of the year.
I’ve watched the days get shorter since the summer solstice (you really can notice it after a week or two). Once daylight savings runs out, it’s really noticeable. Suddenly I have to hurry to walk my dog before it gets dark.
And then you get to today. The shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere at least. And that means tomorrow it will be light longer. Today is not a day of darkness. It is a day of promise.
Tomorrow will be brighter.
With that in mind, I thought I would share the first bit of something from my next comic, SeaGlass. Because that’s my promise. I’ll finish another comic next year.
I haven’t put anything up here in a while, but I’m hard at work. I’ve been writing, poetry mainly, but the second comic book is starting to take shape. Rekka and Kat will be back. You’ll find out a bit more about them in the second issue. My poetry is getting better, I think. I can’t always share it because I’m entering poetry contests and the rules say “no previously published work” in most of those. My blog counts as “previously published”, I guess (rolls eyes), so I can’t share stuff I want to enter into contests here. Which severely limits me for both!
I wrote this one the other day and decided I’d rather put it on here than enter it into a contest. I don’t know why. It just seemed right somehow. Maybe something is telling me there’s someone out there who needs to hear it right now.
So goes one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite musicians. I’ve loved this song since I first heard it…well, last week. It took me a whole week to realize how appropriate this song actually was.
You see, I think those words are very true for most humans. We’re not called a “race” for nothing. All my life, I’ve been racing for one thing or another. To get an education, to get a good job, to have a family, to reach a point in my life where I’m totally fulfilled. Waiting to arrive. I’ve been lucky enough to achieve many of my goals. Some have escaped me. One in particular—to create a story that will capture the imagination of more than me—still dances just out of my reach.
But I’ve reached a point in my life where I wonder if maybe that might not be best.
Alan Shepard, the first man in space, emerged from his capsule and said, “Man, what a ride.” He’d achieved his dream. He’d been to space. Guess what he did then? He started trying to get back to space. In 1971, he commanded Apollo 14 on its mission to the moon, where he became one of the few who have walked on that gloriously inhospitable surface.
Man, what a ride.
I will never stop trying to string together words and now pictures to make that story that will suddenly become the story everyone wants to know. It’s my journey. I may never reach the end of it, but I have to believe there’s a reason I’m on it. Maybe when I reach my end, I’ll know for sure what that reason was. In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the ride.
The first review is in on Hourglass! And it’s good. As an author I can always appreciate when other authors talk about breathing a sigh of relief when they get the first good feedback on their books. I mean, we all know our creation is great. Fantastic, even. Doesn’t even matter what you think.
But we still wait for the reviews.
Well, my first one is in, and it’s five stars. Imagine, if you will, how relieved I was. Graphic novel/comic book is a bit of a stretch for me, a romance writer and poet. Plus, I’m just not sure what to call this thing, either. Too short to be a graphic novel, based on my poetry, not really a comic book… It’s like an illustrated poetry book with a storyline to tie the poems together.
Anyway, my very kind reviewer said this about my baby book: “filled with stunning art, photography, and poetry, and the message is lovely.”
Picture the big grin on my face when I read that! Actually, no need to picture it. Here you go:
I hope you’ll decide to try out Hourglass. Someone called it my “passion project”, and they’re not wrong. I want to be good at this. I want to publish comic books where every page is a work of art. I don’t know if I’m capable of that yet, but I’m gonna keep on trying.
In the meantime, if you read Hourglass, maybe you can give me an idea of how YOU think I should market it. But definitely let me know what you think.
And just like that, Flye Gee Comics is born. LOL. Mainly because, like everything else I do, it’s with a “just go ahead and do it” mindset (I didn’t steal that from Nike, btw, I’ve been like this for a while now).
It’s really funny the way this came about, though. The origin story is important in comic book lore, so here it is in a nutshell. I fell in love with manga (My Hero Academia in particular). It reminded me of reading comic books. I started thinking how cool it would be to have my stories illustrated that way and realized I always have a vision in my head while writing anyway. And those visions are often not scenes, exactly, but like a particular aspect of a scene. For instance, I might write a scene about two people having a serious conversation while one drinks water, and the picture in my head is of when that character sets the glass down. The ripples in the top of the water.
Like a comic book frame.
Not being an artist (at least not a really good one), I started wondering if I could do at least part of my comic book with photo manipulation. Yeah, that could work. I’ve been playing around with the concept of poetography (a poem paired with a photograph) for some time. And if I based my comic book story off some of my poetry, I could incorporate three or four things I love in one thing.
Okay then. Let’s just go ahead and do it, I thought.
I’ve shared some of my journey on here. You’ve seen early versions of the illustrations. I’ve improved some of those. I worked really hard to format it into a book. I treated each page like an individual work of art. I finished the ebook version first, then fought my way through the formatting of the print version. I proofread and marked up and printed and proofread again. I corrected margins and found odd marks on some of the illustrations that I swear I didn’t put there. I removed those. I learned how to do speech and thought bubbles. I played with different fonts and ended up using three different ones. I finally decided it was good, so I ordered author copies. And yesterday a box full of them arrived about two weeks early.
So I decided I’d just go ahead and do it.
And that’s the origin story of Flye Gee Comics. I’m playing around with ideas for Issue 2. Stay tuned because chances are I will go from concept to publishing with little warning.
We’re in the middle of autumn here in Eastern North Carolina. What does that mean? Beautiful trees and fire in the fireplace at night?
Most of our trees are evergreens, I think. We have a very few deciduous trees mixed in. But there are a few. And you catch glimpses of other color here and there. Temps are still averaging around 80 degrees although we’re no longer sitting on the Devil’s front porch (upper 90s). Still, there is beauty, and after living here for sixteen years, I’ve figured out how to find it.
By Michelle Garren Flye
A fall like no other
With colors streaming
Like wild things at a party
Look there and there
Crimson poison ivy scales
The evergreen’s bark
And the pink magnolia seed
Gathers a fuzzy coat
Before it erupts to scatter
Scarlet hearts to unsuspecting birds
Spring and summer linger
In lemonade lantana
And late roses
If tradition is what you seek
Look to the dogwood
As its leaves brighten and fade
Chrysanthemums will blaze
And you might find a maple or two
But don’t expect too much
Atypical autumns don’t behave
The way you want them to
You have to adjust yourself
To see the beauty that’s there
And not wish for what
This season cannot be.
And with all that said, I should also add that I have recently completed edits on my graphic novel. Yeah, I know, that was fast! It feels weird that it went so fast. I think that’s the way things are when you’re driven to finish. Being completely self-published, I don’t have actual “deadlines”. Once I wrote this story, though, I knew I wanted to share it and my vision of it. Being able to do that in a visual way was very exciting to me. I’ve never been able to do that before except with my poetography. 😉 So, I’ll go ahead and announce that the kindle version of my graphic novel Hourglass is for pre-sale now on Amazon. The print version may take a little longer, and I definitely think it will be worth waiting for. I mean, who wants to read a comic book on their phone, right?
It seems I just can’t NOT share my excitement about this ongoing project. I’m up to about eighty pictures now, and I’m still going strong. I’ve been experimenting more with drawing people as well as places and things. I think it’s working out…
Of course, my strength remains in the words, but I have had fun experimenting with drawing things like fire, too.
I know, of course, that my pictures will not be the works of art I see in other graphic novels. I am not truly an artist. Most of what I’m doing is photographic manipulation. My strength is really in the five poems that are in this book. And the story I’ve woven around the poems and pictures. I am hopeful that they will find a place in the hearts of readers.
I am about a third of the way through the pictures I will need for my graphic novel. I haven’t even started the formatting process, which I imagine will take a HUGE amount of time. While drawing, I’ve found myself rewriting, too, which is probably a good thing? Time will tell, I suppose. Anyway, I told myself when I got to this point, I’d share a little more with you. So here goes. Here’s a picture I drew with a tiny excerpt:
I know my art is very basic. 🙂 I have never claimed to be a real artist. I’m using photographs I’ve taken mostly, the little artist models of people in different poses for others. My imagination is supplying some of it, but a lot is simple photo manipulation. Although I am rather proud of this one:
That one started off as a photo but quickly became something different. I’m not even certain where it will fit into the scheme of the graphic novel, but you can be sure it will be there.
And finally, the slightly updated cover by Farah Evers Designs (cover illustration by Barb Williams) along with the actual blurb for the book. Remember, this is still months away, but I have made it this far…
Whatever else 2020 has done for me—to me?—it’s definitely forced me to take a serious look at what I’m doing with my creative life. Do I really want to continue writing romantic fluff for the rest of my life?
I’ve got something much fluffier in mind.
Actually, it’s not. That’s the other thing I’ve discovered. I used to adore comic books. During my teenage and college years, I devoured Micronauts. When I was a kid, Richie Rich was the bomb. If I wasn’t reading them, I was rummaging around my older brother’s room looking for his most recent purchases. I stole them quite often and returned them much the worse for wear.
Well, as I mentioned in an earlier post, my daughter recently returned me to this world rather forcefully by introducing me to My Hero Academia, the anime. Binge-watching all four seasons of that (and even writing a fanfiction or two in that universe) not being enough, I also picked up the manga. And something clicked.
Why not do my own graphic novel?
Oh indeed. Why not? Why not paint the Mona Lisa or sculpt Michelangelo’s David? Why not build a suspension bridge or a skyscraper?
For one thing, I’m not an artist. But my daughter is. Hey, daughter, want to draw a couple hundred pics for a graphic novel I’m going to self-publish and probably not make any money off of? For FREEE?
Yeah. That was her answer.
But the itch wouldn’t go away. I have the concept. I wrote the story (which, as a bonus includes some of my poetry). And guess what? I’m now drawing. It’s interesting to say the least. I’m using my photographs, some basic drawing techniques and making a lot of mistakes. My daughter taught me how to use Ibis Paint and is serving as my “Art Director”.
And, as luck would have it, a lovely and talented watercolor artist Barb Williams (http://www.findjoywithwatercolorpainting.com) came into my store shortly after I conceived of the idea. We started talking and she wound up painting the cover illustration for my soon?-to-be graphic novel. I sent that illustration on to my cover designer, the delightful and multitalented Farah Evers (http://faraheversdesigns.com) and I now have this to announce: