Which one am I after all?

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How do you move on and genuinely forgive someone when the person who has hurt you has never apologized, shown regret, or even shown awareness that they’ve done you wrong? How can you heal from a profound betrayal where the person shows no remorse for what they have done to you? This question has haunted me for years. It’s a hurt that I never understood how to heal from.

When I originally started on the Singing Bone, I saw myself as the younger sibling who was killed by his brother. I was the victim. As time went on, I discovered that the lines have become blurred. In actuality, was I the one who failed my friend? Despite his bad choices, was he ill and in need of help? Instead of understanding the complexities of the situation, I ran away because I was afraid. I casted my friend out, just like the evil brother in the Singing Bone, because he hurt me. For me, Simpleton dies a symbolic death as he is simply cast out of the evil brothers’ realm of consciousness. This repression comes back to haunt him, but not before he comes to understand the path he needs to take to heal from his wounds.

So what is the answer as to how to forgive? To answer ‘love’ would feel incomplete. The only answer I could come up with is empathy. Seeing that you are part of others and they are part of you. So many things can factor into the choices we make. The potential for anything is in all of us, at any moment, depending on so many external and internal factors. Maybe it’s more about a coming to a certain understanding than forgiving. Of course, time plays a role as well. At the end of the story, I hope to have the ‘evil’ brother shaved by the king’s soldiers before his torture only to reveal that he physically resembles the very person that he killed and disregarded.

The Singing Bone Brothers

Brothers of the Singing Bone

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To distinguish between the two brother in my first rendition of the characters, I simply added hair and moustache to Simpleton. The idea was that Simpleton, in the end, was his own worst enemy, and he is killed by an extension of himself. The idea still appeals to me, but it felt a bit too rushed of a reveal.

The understanding of seeing part of myself in the evil that hurt me comes further along the journey. After all, how can I learn to forgive someone who never sought to express regret? In these early moments of the story, a clearer distinction still needs to be made between the person being hurt, and the person doing the hurting. I also found a new opportunity to highlight Simpleton’s naivety by making the brother much more menacing in appearance and having Simpleton seemingly oblivious to it. When he presents the boar’s head to his brother, it is with a big smile, despite the brothers’ aggressive charge and demeanour, he is not the slightest bit afraid. After all, at this point in his life, he has no reason to believe that was is traditionally a source of love and support (brother, family) would turn out to hurt him.

In the end, perhaps I can have the ‘evil’ brother shave off his hair only to reveal a striking resemblance to Simpleton underneath. Only with empathy, and seeing parts of yourself in others, can the story be complete. I have grown to understand that this story also reflects my own struggles and feelings of betrayal from a person who was once my closest friend. I still hold onto that hurt, and I need to work through it.

The Singing Bone

Where a new face can come from

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Sometimes I can get ideas for drawings in the most unexpected places. In this case, a simple workout at the gym and noticing a sign on one of the machines I was using yielded a new face for one of the dwellers at the inn. I ended up naming her “Jana”.

My approach to this part of the story was a little more emotional. I started to give name to the characters I was drawing and assigning them stories in my head, even if they were not hugely important to the story itself. I did not want the drawings to be purely visual, I wanted something behind it that had life and a belief in the existence and importance of this world beyond the physical. That, in turn, I believed, would feed the visuals.

Close to finishing

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After working on the Singing Bone very hard for the past few months, I’m happy to say that I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel for the first poster (or mini comic) that I have been working on depicting Simpleton’s confrontation with the wild boar. I have mixed feelings about the future… I anticipate excitedly the freedom I will gain (like possibly moving away from vector driven art) but I also have some reservations about making changes that would depart drastically from what I have already created. One thing is for sure is that once I am done with this phase, I will probably enter a period of considering various approaches going forward. I doubted myself along the way a lot, but I’m glad that I seem to be on my way to finishing what I started.

I think my drawing for the last panel was a reaction to an early draft that I mocked up of the whole story that I had compiled so far. The grid that is created by the rectangle drawings was starting to feel a bit rigid. I wanted to end this part of the story with the same ‘openness’ as I started it, and I decided to get rid of the border around the drawing. also, I am growing attracted to black, and I liked how the darkness felt like it was swallowing the subject of the piece, almost fading away. Instead of having Simpleton present the boar’s head to his brother as I had originally done, I decided to leave their part of the story off with a little cliffhanger as to what Simpleton might be starring at.

The Singing Bone by Jimmy Tigani

Revisiting, revising and reworking

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I’m still not sure if my persistence in revisiting older drawings is constructive, but once again I felt the need to revise this drawing in the hopes of making it closer to what I hoped to achieve. I finally came to the point where I could create a ‘first draft’ of this part of the comic, and in doing so, I quickly realized that when the drawings were combined together, the overall effect was confusing and producing a very busy composition. Revising this piece was an important part of adjusting the tone going forward and achieving a more desirable overall effect.

The colour is now being used to set up the tone of the image which is more ominous and further highlights Simpleton’s obliviousness to the ugliness that surrounds him. Simpleton’s face is not as goofy-looking in over-committing to the scene. Instead of treating all of the areas of the piece with the same emphasis, the tones are now more controlled in the hopes of focusing the action of the story and moving it forward.

The Singing Bone – Fatal Blow

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I finally finished the initial drawing today for this scene where Simpleton kills the Wild Boar. I started it back in the winter of this year. When the year started, I would create drawings randomly for various scenes of the Singing Bone without committing to one in particular until it was fully realized in my head. I knew this particular drawing, that I called “Fatal Blow” would be an ambitious one and I went back to it many times before finally going “all-in” when I finally figured out the angle I would take with it.

Captain Haddock and the Singing Bone

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Again, Herge has been an inspiration for me in my approach to the Singing Bone. What can I say about this beautiful panel that he drew? So much talent. I’m almost shy to put my work next to it, but I simply wanted to illustrate a point. The idea of duplicating a character within an image to show movement is something he did beautifully, and I figured what better place to use that device than the climactic moment when Simpleton kills the Wild Boar? I initially drew Simpleton in a way that was much closer in appearance to the Haddock in the panel above but it did not work. Simpleton needed to stab while haddock was swinging. Also, it felt as though I was borrowing too much and forgetting the essence of what I was trying to do. Still, the birth of my approach for Simpleton came from seeing this panel for the ‘Secret of the Unicorn’.

The year so far

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We are now about halfway through 2016 and despite not having finished a Singing Bone drawing in a few months, it has been a very productive year. Multiple drawings have been started in parallel. Unlike the last 2 years, my attention has not been split between various drawing styles. I have no exhibition to deal with, and I am not pursuing illustration contracts or dedicating time in exploring more realistic visual approaches. Whenever drawings do not turn out the way I like I simply redo them, without a moment hesitation and with much less frustration than in the past. I’m also not rushing through the drawings with an eagerness to get them out and I am enjoying the process of creating them and feeling the story. It takes the time it takes. I’m not questioning the path I am on as often as I used to and I’m grateful for this new found focus.

For some reason, perhaps because it is a bit foreign for me, it feels so fragile. Part of it self esteem issues, and I resent that fragility in myself, but the important thing is the I have grown aware of it and I am thankful for that. It helps me avoid familiar traps, and change. This is the longest that I’ve focused on any project without deviating onto something else. I can be my own worst enemy, and several things have lead me to deviate from a project, whether it’s seeing something that inspired me, a desire to step away and focus on something new or simply questioning myself and the worth of what I doing. I think I’ve reached the point where I just want to finish what I’ve started.

When I had less time to draw I would talk about it more (as though I was trying to keep that part of myself alive or relevant), and I didn’t like that. Keeping the process of creation to myself has been nice. Talking about it with others can take away from the intimacy that I need to create. Things need to be expressed visually and processed through my feelings. The shifting between accident and conscious realization is beautiful. All the small moments get lost when forced to verbalize. A feeling or impulse to do something is a true gift, and I’m thankful for it.


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I was very happy with this drawing when I had finished it but I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t quite fit the story that I am telling. I don’t like the fact that the ‘complicated’ or ‘evil’ brother is grabbing the woman that way. It was originally meant to reflect his corrupt or questionable nature, but it feels too vulgar and it doesn’t add to his character. Most of all, I don’t like the fact that simpleton carries the boar’s head in front of everyone to see. For the eventuality of the story to be believable, it’s important that no one sees that he was the real hero of the story. Despite this drawing being a step forward at the time and a lot of fun to do, it will have to be redone. The credibility of the witnesses may be questionable, but I do not want to have to explain something like that as it feels like extra baggage that is not really needed.

The issue with color

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My biggest challenge since starting to draw the Singing Bone story has been trying to figure out the best way to colour the illustrations. In honesty, I have spent very little time trying to figure out the colours in comparison to the time I spent drawing the various scenes and characters. Part of it might be that I am more curious about drawing and I take more pleasure from developing that aspect of the illustrations.

If I choose not to spend more time considering my colours, perhaps I should make less bold choices. I think I have improved in this regard with time, but perhaps there is more that I could do to make the colours less distracting. I see a lot of people today using colours very boldly and effectively and I might have allowed myself to get pulled into that approach without fully understanding my choices. I also feel that my use of bold colours can be a bit of a distraction from the narrative and atmosphere. I was looking at some old Lucky Luke comics the other day and really admired Morris’ use of colour. Some scenes could have several characters in them but he could colour them all in a flat red, simply and quickly. I like that. Since my lines tend to be a bit agitated, perhaps I could use my colours to offer a contrast and as a means to rest and focus the eye, instead of agitating it further. I think that once I finish the illustrations for the first part o the story, and I see them all together, I will go back and adjust the colours keeping in mind the overall effect.