Back when I started out doing this stuff professionally I noticed a bad habit. By the time I was reaching the end of any given project, my interest would wane and I would be thinking about the next gig a lot, which meant that the final pages (almost always up against deadline as well) would suffer a dip in quality.
One way I tried to avoid this (if I could) was to draw the final pages earlier, so that any dip in quality of the real final pages would occur somewhere in the middle of the last chapter thus allowing the strip itself to end on a higher note. This wasn’t always a good solution, and it didn’t solve the problem of me subconciously devaluing the final stages of each job.
As I look at these pages here, in my penultimate post of the book, I can see that some fortuitous planning at the start helped me avoid this trap. Because the novel bookends the narrative with the same scene, I followed this structure faithfully. What this meant in practical terms was that a lot of the repetition in the panels (remember I told you that repetition is a comic artists BFF? Hell yeah) was already established with characters, settings, and even actual frames which could be modified and resused to create the exact effect the story needed.
So even though I had raced to the finish line in a mad 10-day dash to get those last 70 pages drawn, and despite the typical end-of-gig blues that I suffered a lot back then, the ending of this book kinda goes out with the right amount of craft and passion, maintaining a consistency thru the entire thing.
Since those days I’ve tried to plan stuff in advance (not always possible when scripts come in late, or I’m not told how stories end until I get the last part of the script) to give the strips a solid foundation on which to hang my doodles. The end-of-gig blues is a rare occurence as well, thanks in part to this planning, but to tell the truth, I haven’t drawn a project with this many pages since I finished Frankie all those years back. The true test of my artistic mettle is yet to come…and I can hear it rumbling o’er the horizon…
Tomorrow I post the last 9 pages, and then it’s back to the usual crap of quick sketches and brightly-coloured imagery.