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Jump to: Story and Characters Social Media and Career Advice

About this Comic

Q: When does this comic update?

I update TGS every Monday.

Q: What tools do you use to make The Glass Scientists?

I write this comic in plain old Google Drive documents (so I can edit them from wherever). I draw my thumbnail, sketch, and tie-down passes in Photoshop, then bring the image as a flattened JPEG into Manga Studio, where I make the panel layouts. I then export the file as a PSD and bring it back into Photoshop to do the final linework. Meanwhile, I roughly paint a color script right over the sketch lines, stick it in a folder with the linework file, and send that over to Tiina for the final color pass.

I use a Cintiq (which I love) to draw, but I used to use a Bamboo Fun tablet in school. I do almost nothing traditionally because I’ve gotten really used to digital tools and it speeds up the process enormously. I’m really, really bad at doing anything more than a napkin drawing on paper.

Q: Are you planning on printing/running a Kickstarter for TGS?

Yes! As soon as I have a couple chapters under my belt, I will be launching a second Kickstarter. It will probably be quite similar to my Bleeding Heart Kickstarter, save that this one will be in color and probably feature neat things like hardcover binding and those little ribbons they put in extra fancy books to keep your place.

Q: Can you make a tutorial on how to draw a comic?

I can make a tutorial about how I draw my comic! After I finalize the script for a new chapter (based on the outline for the entire TGS story arc), I start thumbnailing out my layout drawings for each page.

1. Thumbnails

I like to have all my thumbnails ready for the entire chapter before I start seriously drawing! These thumbnails are extremely quick and loose, focusing on staging, pacing, and visual storytelling. They are also basically incomprehensible to anyone but me.

Can you tell what’s going on? No? That’s fine! No one else sees this stage. I just need to be able to decipher the basic visual information in the panel–Hyde in the foreground, the Society in the background covered in smoke. (Uh, those are the squigglies on the right side of image.)

2. (Tight) Rough Drawing

Here’s where I make my scribble into a real drawing. It usually takes me at least two or three “passes” of a drawing to get it to this stage, gradually figuring out the poses and detail with each pass.  I don’t usually indicate shading at this point, but in this image I’ve shown where fire damage will go on the final image.

3) Inks

From here I trace over the my rough image to produce the final lines. This is a pretty mindless, if time-consuming phase–although I do have to be thoughtful about line width. I tend to ink when I’m tired after work and can just put on a podcast or audiobook to listen to! This is also the time that I add in the panel borders (using Manga Studio) and text/speech (using Photoshop).

4) Color script

This is a two-part phase! First, I block off any recurring characters in grey and indicate character shadows (on a separate layer set to “Multiply”). Then I roughly paint in the background colors and effects (including the white streak over Hyde’s hair–that’s caused by a sheet of glass in the foreground).

5) Tiina cleans up the colors the colors!

At this stage I hand off the page to Tiina, my colorist! She cleans up the background colors and drops in the base colors for each character (based on a color script I provide whenever a new character appears). Then she hands it back to me for . . .

6) Touch-up and Lighting Effects

For the characters, I adjust the colors of the shadow layer and add extra lighting layers (color washes and gradients set to “Hard Light” or “Overlay”). In this shot, I also tinted Hyde’s colors and faded his opacity at the edges to help him read as a “ghost image” reflected on glass. Finally, I tweak the background colors and add in any extra detail work. That’s all!

Q: Would you ever consider making The Glass Scientists into an animated series?

If I ever met an animation executive willing to greenlight TGS as a series, I would love to make it! But the animation industry here in America would have to change a whole lot before that could happen, so I’m not holding my breath on that one. Plus, I don’t relish having to answer the question, “So, what are the demographics for a show like this?” Haha. Oh God. Even thinking about that question is making me nervous.

 

Q: Why are you writing Jekyll and Hyde fanfiction? Can’t you just write a new story with all-new characters?

The Glass Scientists is fanfiction– in a very, very loose definition of the word. So is Wicked, Sweeney Todd, Romeo and Juliet, Dante’s Inferno, and (depending on how your read them) a good percentage of stories in the Bible. Stories are adapted and reinterpreted all the time– that’s just what happens when people tell stories. The stories of Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Frankenstein have been adapted so many times in particular (possibly the most of any story in Hollywood history) because they can be reduced down to a few simple, potent concepts and evocative visuals. Dr. Jekyll’s story in turn draws on any number of ancient myths and folklore on dopplegangers and duality. Plus, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is in the public domain, so. You know.

Seriously, though, TGS isn’t much of an adaptation, and if you’re hoping for a real adaptation of Strange Case, you may be disappointed. While some of my characters share the same names as characters from other books, they have been written through my own weird interpretation and follow plotlines that really don’t resemble their original stories at all. (Granted, almost no adaptation of Strange Case has ever followed the plot of the original novella, with its non-linear time and understated action. Most adaptations follow a theatrical adaptation released shortly after the book’s publication that established many traditions of the Jekyll and Hyde genre, such as- uh. sorry. Nerding out a bit.)

 

Q: Where did you get your books printed?

I got my art books printed at Burbank Printing in Burbank and Bleeding Heart printed at Nonstop Printing in Hollywood. Both are local LA printers, so if you’re not in the area, you may have to look elsewhere. 🙁 Sorry!!

 

Q: What did you use to make this website?

This website uses WordPress and the theme Comicpress. All the customization was done by tweaking individual lines of CSS and looking to see what was different. I learned to build websites in the early 2000s, when everything was made of tables with lots of bevelled edges and there wasn’t any mobile thing to be ready for. I can explain things to you if you need help but I will probably explain it all wrong.

 

Q: Did you mean to name this comic with the same initials as the show on 30 Rock?

Nope, but it’s kind of an awesome accident, right?

Story and Characters

 

Q: When and where does The Glass Scientists take place?

1885, London!

Q: Which voice actors would fit the TGS characters?

I have a really hard time remembering actors or what they sound like! My answer to this question changes almost daily depending on which actors I can remember at that particular moment. Let’s see what they are today: The actors I can remember right now are . . . Tina Fey, Tilda Swindon, and Rachel Bloom. Based on that list I would say Jekyll, Hyde, Rachel, Jasper, the Creature, and Frankenstein are all played by Tilda Swindon. (This is a joke–the point is, I really don’t know who would best fit any of my characters.) 

But in case you weren’t looking for the answer to “Who would voice all the characters in the Anomalisa version of TGS?” I would happily open up this question you readers! I’m more than happy to hear any suggestions you might have.

Q: What are the characters’ accents?

Jekyll has a native Glasgow accent but taught himself to speak standard Received Pronunciation (a.k.a. the most generic British accent). He can alter his accent to match his conversation partner (that is to say, he would speak much more casually with Jasper than with a wealthy patron).

Hyde has the same accent as Jekyll but often adopts a kind of East London accent in order to blend in with his surroundings–he wants to be perceived as a native of the London underworld, not some rich boy slumming his way through Whitechapel. He doesn’t have nearly as much practice with his new accent as Jekyll with his RP, and he slips up from time to time.

Lanyon speaks with High RP (posh standard accent), Jasper speaks with a fairly heavy West Country accent, and Rachel speaks with a mix of East London and something distinctly non-English that no one can quite identify. The Lodgers come from all over the place and have brought their native accents with them.

Q: How tall are the main characters?

Height charts are  one of one thousand things that I meant to do before starting this comic but forgot about! I am terrible at keeping track of character sizes. The best I can give you is a rough height guide in the form of a logic problem: Lanyon is the tallest. Jekyll is a little bit shorter than Lanyon. Hyde is shorter than Jekyll and about the same height as Rachel (not that he’d ever admit it). Jasper is taller than Hyde but shorter than Jekyll. The Creature is massive, about twice Jekyll’s height, and Frankenstein is a bit shorter than Jasper.  

Q: How old are the main characters?

Again, these are rough estimates because I can’t get my shit together: Jekyll/Hyde is 35, Lanyon is 38, Rachel is 25, Jasper is 21, Frankenstein is 55, the Creature is 37.

Q: What are your characters’ birthdays/blood types/MBTI types/etc.?

Oh my gosh that is way too expert level for me!! Sorry!! I don’t know!! If anyone has any suggestions, you are more than welcome to them, but I’m drawing a blank.

Q: Can I make original characters (OCs) for the TGS universe?

Go right ahead and do it! A good bunch of people have already created their own characters to inhabit the TGS universe. You can post about your character in our roleplay forum, and if you post pictures of your character on Tumblr or Twitter, I would be happy to reblog them on my Twitter or the Glass Scientists tumblr.

Q: I found an old piece of artwork / Tumblr ask where you refer to one of your characters as a different gender! What’s that about?

The genders of certain characters have shifted over the years I had been developing TGS. Unfortunately, I can neither confirm nor deny the changes I have made because Spoilers. I realize this is super confusing, and it and just goes to show that I am basically incapable of keeping important story information under wraps. Sorry, guys!

Q: I think you got some of your facts wrong about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. . . .

I have actually been obsessed with Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for over a decade now (embarrassing). I know way, way too much about this tiny little story. I’ve put a lot of thought into most decisions I’ve made regarding my interpretation of the characters, and I would be happy to explain my thought process if you want to shoot me an ask or an email.

Q: I think you got some of your historical facts wrong . . .

Oh gosh. I probably did get a lot wrong. I really suck at research, guys (I try! I just really suck.), and if you spot something that looks off, do let me know! But please also keep in mind that this is an “alternative history” story that does take certain liberties with the time period, especially in regards to scientific progress. This is not to say that real Victorian scientists didn’t do some insane shit, because they totally did and it was awesome.

Q: You do realize “Dr.” Frankenstein wasn’t actually a doctor of anything, right?

Yep! There’s a reason that Frankenstein’s history in particular is stretched and distorted in the first few chapters of TGS.

Social Media and Career Advice

Q: Is TGS your full-time job?

No way! Right now I work as a TV director on the show Star vs. the Forces of Evil at Disney Television Animation. I’ve also storyboarded on Gravity Falls.

Q: Can I use images from your comic on my tumblr/twitter/personal website?

Please ask me first! 🙂 In general, I’m fine with people using images from TGS as their icons, so long as they credit me and link back, but for contract-related reasons, I can’t allow people to repost entire pages of the comic on external websites. If you see anyone posting pages off of this website, please let me know!

Q: I tagged you/made a post about TGS on social media and you haven’t responded! What’s up with that?

I try to catch as many of those posts as possible, but every once in a while one of them slips through! Please feel free to message me and alert me of any piece you have made that I have missed!

Q: Why haven’t you responded to my tumblr ask yet? Do you hate me?? 🙁

No, I don’t hate you! The truth is, I’m terrible at keeping up with online correspondence. For some reason, even very light conversations seem to drain my emotional energy lately. Messages on tumblr are particularly tough, because whenever I post something publicly I try to be articulate and entertaining, which takes a few extra shots of energy which I rarely have!

Anon messages are also tricky, because I have to respond publicly to them. Every once in a while I get a message that seems particularly personal, and I wish I were able to respond privately! Either that, or it happens to be a message that is really only relevant to the original sender, and I feel bad about clogging up my other followers’ dashboards with messages they may not care about. It’s really helpful if you can send regular (non-anon) messages! Plus, I can usually respond to those a lot faster.

If I don’t get back to you, please accept my apology! But please know that I read and appreciate every message and comment I receive!

Q: Can you draw something for me?

You can always make a suggestion, but unfortunately I rarely have free time to do much drawing in addition to my regular weekly page, my day job, and any other side projects I may be working on. Sorry!

Q: Do you do commissions?

Every once in a while, I open commission slots (such as when I do a Kickstarter), but between my day job, this comic, and occasional freelance work, I rarely have time to accept commissions. Sorry! : (

Q: Can you look at my portfolio?

I will try to! But reviewing portfolios and writing up critiques takes up even more energy than anon messages, so please be understanding if I can’t get back to you! And please know that I am only really qualified to give critique on storyboard and visual development portfolios (aimed at animation). I can take a crack at animation reels, but I don’t have enough professional experience to give critique on comics, graphic design, or other art disciplines. Finally, please do not send “general” art portfolios without a focus on a specific discipline. Portfolio tips and requirements are entirely dependent on the specific job you want–a visual development portfolio for video games looks much different from a storyboard portfolio for animation–so the only critique I could offer to a generalized art portfolio is “please choose a discipline!”

(I’ve heard that some art teachers encourage students to develop general portfolios so they can “cast a wider net.” Please ignore these teachers!)

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring webcomic artists?

Not any advice I really believe would be useful! The main trouble here is that I don’t consider myself a professional comics artist. I was trained in animation and work as a storyboard artist, so all my skills in this area are cut-and-pasted from my “real” job along with a bit of haphazard self training. In my particular instance, the things that have helped me most are: Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Making Comics, studying storyboarding/film language/visual storytelling, reading up on story structure from sources that feel “right” to you– I like Film Critic Hulk and the book Invisible Ink– learning to analyze and deconstruct your favorite stories on your own, and finally, pursuing any and all subjects that fascinate you outside of art and storytelling. My personal favorites are history of science, Biblical history, mythology, and psychology.

I also believe that career advice is best given on a person-by-person basis. Everyone has different talents, weaknesses, backgrounds, and aspirations. I am happy to answer individual career/artistic advice questions, and the more specific you can be about your goals and your passions, the better help I will be able to give. 🙂

Q: Can you give some advice to aspiring storyboard artists?

It’s hard to give general career advice, as there’s no one right way to start a career in animation, and the best advice will differ from person to person, depending on their personal strengths and where they are in life. In the most general terms, if you want to become a storyboard artist, you need to develop a strong story portfolio (NOT a general art portfolio).

A story portfolio consists of anything that shows off your ability to do the work of a storyboard artist, but I typically recommend including about three storyboard sequences which can either be a full story or a sequence of a larger story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. You can play to your natural strengths in storytelling, but it’s not a bad idea to show some variety (one comedy-centric board, one action-centric board, etc.) You can fill out the portfolio with figure drawings, comic pages, and vignettes, but the bulk of your portfolio should be storyboards.

I also recommend following storyboard artists on social media, as well as any official blogs of productions you admire. Following the work of industry professionals gives you an idea of what kind of work studios are looking for and can give you a better idea for the kind of work you should be making for your portfolio. Finally, always have a strong web presence yourself! You don’t need to be a social media butterfly, but make sure to have the basics (twitter, facebook, etc) and keep it updated with new art. You also absolutely need to display your portfolio somewhere. It doesn’t need to be a fancy website–free sites will do–but make sure to use an easy-to-browse template so recruiters will have an easy time looking through your work.

 

Q: I’m in highschool! I want to go into animation! How?

At the highschool level, the most important thing for you to do is to build up your skills. You’ll want to take some art classes in the fundamentals of drawing–especially figure drawing. (A class with live models is preferable, but if you don’t have access to one in your area, online classes and resources are fine, too.) But you’ll also want to spend plenty of time figuring out what you personally enjoy drawing. If you like drawing anime, draw anime! If you like drawing your own characters, draw those characters! Developing your own voice is important for a storytelling medium like animation–even if your teachers tell you that what you’re doing isn’t “real art.” (It is.)

You should also try animating (or storyboarding, or concept art) on your own before considering going into animation. Animation in particular is a super work-intensive type of art that will take up the majority of your time as a student or animation artist, so make sure that you enjoy doing it! This is not to say that you won’t feel frustrated from time to time–especially when you’re just starting out–but if you genuinely don’t enjoy doing the work, you won’t enjoy working in animation (or going to animation school)!

If you are a junior or senior, I would recommend researching animation schools. Keep in mind that animation is an extremely niche type of art and that few schools really know how to teach it, even if they offer degrees in animation. This is not to say that you have to go to Calarts (which might have been the only real option a couple decades ago) but be sure to carefully research the program that you are looking into really prepares their students for a career in animation.

It’s okay if you’re not 100% sure if you want to go into animation right now. It’s very common for people in highschool not to know what they want to do for their careers. If so, I would recommend that you attend a regular 4 year college for the time being. You can always transfer to a school specializing in animation later–or just take classes on the side. No degree is required to work in animation (and I personally always discourage people from getting MFAs in animation, as it gives you no extra benefits), so don’t worry that you’ll have to “start all over again” with another 4 year program if you decide to go into animation later on.

 

Q: Can you give me some advice about how to get into Calarts/Pixar/Disney?

Again, I’m really awful at giving general advice! 🙁 I can tell you what worked for me, but every person’s path to college and career are different, so I don’t think it would be very helpful! Plus: The Calarts admissions requirements have changed a lot since I went there, so I don’t know much about what the admissions board is looking for right now. My guess is that you’ll still want to invest a lot of energy learning figure drawing. Also, if you can take AP classes (and think you can pass the tests), take as many as you can, because AP credits will translate into general education requirements.

As for Pixar/Disney, the application requirements change year after year! Your best bet is to carefully watch their websites. They should have all the information you need there! And for an idea of the kinds of portfolio you’ll want to build for these studios, you can look to the many, many current and past artists/interns who have posted their work–and especially their professional portfolios–online.

What was your experience like at Calarts? Do I have to go there to become an animator?

I super enjoyed my time at Calarts, mostly because of the way the curriculum is structured. For more than half of the school year, students–even first years!–dedicate their time to making their own short films. Making films was great for me because I learn best by making personal projects that I care about (like The Glass Scientists!).

But here’s the thing: I don’t think this method is right for everyone. A lot of people get overwhelmed by having one massive project per year and would learn much better spending their time elsewhere. Plus, the Calarts curriculum in general is very hands-off, which is great for people who are good at self-motivation and time management but terrible for people who are still developing those skills. In particular, it’s a big change for people coming straight from highschool. Finally, the cost of the school is prohibitive to many, many people.

A couple decades ago, Calarts was one of the few schools that offered a strong animation program. Luckily, this is no longer the case, and people have many more options if the cost or learning style at Calarts doesn’t work for them. If you think Calarts is right for you, I happily recommend it! But it is by no means the only path to a career in animation.