who the devil drew it

A few things this week:

1) I couldn't decide whether to do a post about Gene Colan, who just died recently. As I said on Facebook:

One of the great comic book artists. Underrated, but absolutely distinctive. He drew a million books over several decades, but I remember him best for a long run on a very good book called Tomb of Dracula, a book called Night Force that I really liked but apparently nobody else did, and, of course, Howard the Duck with Steve Gerber (hence the "Wauuggghh!" in my original comment).

Audry Taylor said: Tomb of Dracula! Wasn't that written by Marv Wolfman?

Yes, as was Night Force. They worked very well together, along with Colan's best inker, Tom Palmer. Their long run on Tomb of Dracula was the best of that era (IMHO), along with Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy on Master of Kung Fu.

What decided me to post about Colan here was that I discovered the wonderful cover gallery on this site: www.genecolan.com. Just click on any of the covers as they go past and you can see it larger.

Howard Hawks said, when being interviewed by Peter Bogdanovich, "I liked almost anybody that made you realize who in the devil was making the picture." (That's where Bogdanovich got the title for his book, Who the Devil Made It.)

You could always spot Gene Colan's art right away. He wasn't considered hip and cool back in the old days, but I always liked him and he told a really good story. He could draw any kind of book, but his best work was probably on non-superhero titles like Tomb of Dracula and Night Force. He was also one of the all-time great Daredevil artists. He was best on down-to-earth titles, not the cosmic stories that were also popular then. But he was a pro, and he could do whatever type of book he was given.

And you could always tell who the devil drew it.

2) I've written before about Dave Sim, but something else just occurred to me. I was thinking about how bored I'd get editing an entire draft of a novel at once, as opposed to the way I've done it in the past. What I've always done is draft a chapter, edit it several times, proof it, and then post it. Then I go to the next chapter.

I just remembered reading an interview with Dave Sim, back when he was doing Cerebus, and he said that he did the book in a very unusual way. He laid out the first page, then he penciled it, lettered it, inked it, applied Zip-A-Tone, etc. Then, when it was done, he'd move on to page two.

Nobody else does this, as far as I know. Obviously, in some cases those stages are done by different people, but even if not the artist usually lays out the entire issue, then pencils it, and so on. For one thing, you want to make sure it ends up working correctly for the number of pages. But Sim said he would get bored doing nothing but penciling, penciling, penciling without a break. That makes sense to me.

Of course, the general opinion on Dave Sim is that he's crazy...

3) I will be rewriting my third novel, the first draft of which was finished almost four years ago. I will make one pass through the whole thing first, to think about the couple of areas I've already identified that need work. Then I imagine I'll work on the first chapter until I'm happy with it and then I'll post it before I move on. I think that's just the way I work. And I take some comfort from the fact that Dave Sim produced a 3,000-page graphic novel this way over 27 years. So, there must be something to it.

4) One thing I've discovered on writing blogs is that pretty much everybody other than me is aware of word counts. I knew A Sane Woman was around 45,000 words because it is an actual book, but I had no idea about U-town. I was curious, though so I used one of those websites that counts the words in your web pages and it comes out to around 170,715 words. Which is quite a lot.

The new book will not be anywhere near that long. I'm almost certain of that.

5) Before I begin work on the rewrite of the novel, I will of course finish "The Mystery of the Quiet People." That should be done by next weekend. It's all written, except for a possible epilogue, but the story is so complex that I need to print it out and read it through again carefully to make sure it all works.

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