40-something Karen Tash shares a story from her wonder years as a high school student 1976. She did well in school and hung out with her best friend. Her idiot boyfriend, however, had a mouth that got him into trouble.
For the record, none of this actually happened. Whenever I applied my untamed charm to Karen in real life, she found somewhere else to be, usually in a hurry and sometimes on the other side of town. But what good’s writing fiction if you can’t realize a dream or two?
Ronny Davis — the boyfriend who bears a passing resemblance to Yours Truly — was sort of an accident. The storyâ€™s was supposed to be about my last year at John F. Kennedy Junior High School. When pencilling, the main character drawings looked too old. Since I already lettered a section rooting the story in 1976, and I was stuck with the drawings, the only logical option was to base our protagonist on my fictional older brother Ronny Marshall.
Most of the details came from personal memory, wishful thinking and my high school yearbook. For more accuracy, I called my high school for permission to take interior shots of the building. Much to my surprise, the Principal said “sure” and invited me down that afternoon! One $18.00 Amtrack to Springfield later, I was taking photos for 2 hours. The wooden desks were removed in a 1998 renovation, but the general architecture was intact.
The first page was created as a content-free instruction tool for my Art of the Comic Book class. Back in January of 2009, I demonstrated basic cartooning lements of bordering, 2-point perspective, dialog and title lettering.
Weeks later, I started a new story, using this demonstration page as a jumping board. Staring at the page for a while produced the basic plot: a Simon and Kirby romance story. Using a modern approach, the story’s set in my teenage years at The High School of Commerce in Springfield MA. I wrote a complete script — as if writing for another artist.
This was my first traditional ink-on-paper comic in years. Looking at it now, the overall inconsistency is undeniable. In addition to inky clumsiness, I still couldn’t coordiante the elements of drafting and storytelling. After some trial and error, I eventually settled on the following materials:
- 10″ x 15″ live area on 14″ x 17″ bristol paper
- Speedball Super Black India Ink
- Short-handle round #4 sable brush
- Ruling pen (borders)
- Speedball nib #512 (straight lines, details)
- Speedball A6 and B5 (lettering)
- Ames Lettering Guide (setting 4.5 default)
- Adobe Photoshop (production, corrections)
The hand lettering’s all over the place. Started out using a Speedball #515 bowl nib. It produced a nice line, but doesn’t hold a lot of ink. Researched and adopted a more traditional approach of using calligraphy nibs and an Ames Lettering Guide. I then relettered the first 3 pages to match the later ones. The relettering didn’t match, possibly due to the inferior paper quality of the relettered words (Strathmore 500 vs. 300 Series).
— David Marshall, rewriting the past for a better tomorrow.