“Hi! I know this is random and you probably won’t even see this but I just had to write. My son really loves your books, cartoons and video games. The most amazing thing is that he came home from school today and ran upstairs to read about the ‘Cardboard boy’  book he got for Christmas. My son is autistic, so getting him to read is s HUGE struggle…this is the first time I saw him not only do so without any prompting but he did it with joy and said, “I love Doug TenNapel” he’s awesome at everything!!” So thank you for being awesome and inspiring my son.

Sincerely, a grateful Mom

One of the strange benefits I’ve had to writing graphic novels is the number of reluctant readers, autistic kids and people who struggle with dyslexia that have written me about their love of my work. I never intended to write gateway books to reading, but I’ve had so much feedback now that I’m convinced this graphic novel medium is a top candidate for literacy programs everywhere.

I have another special joy in having these kids in my audience… it’s that I was never normal. I’m happy to call this audience my peers because I remember what it was like to feel like a bit of an outsider even in my own skin. I had a few comforts of my own to help me get through those tough years and they came in the form of The Bible, Ray Harryhausen movies and raising amphibians.

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We’re opening up orders for just one month to anyone who wants Volume 2 of my Sketchbook Archives through Paypal. After today, if you want this leatherbound volume you’ll have to buy it at the mercy of Ebay, where the few copies of volume 1 that are available regularly go for well over $100.00. After this month, the books will no longer be available unless I bring a copy or two to the San Diego Comicon. Good luck with that.

Click here to buy:

Last Chance for non-Kickstarter folks to get a Sketchbook!

 

I’m in the thick of it. Designing a game means there’s scraps of paper all over my work space. Chunks of dialogue scattered over Final Draft files, Word documents and strewn across three sketchbooks. I like creating in a complete mess so that it’s easy to make a quite note or thumbnail a puzzle idea and move on. There’s a North Star I’m aiming for, so there is a theme and a core cast of characters, but the details and connective tissue aren’t there yet… that comes last.

This is where game design is similar to every other medium I work within, I go from general to specific. Jumping to specifics early on is bad in my view because bad ideas can get locked in too soon, and it will often compromise the larger structure that needs to hold everything together. As an artist, we sketch the proportions first, and don’t move on to thick lines until that structure is nailed. If I’m drawing someone’s portrait and get the structure wrong, then adding detail to that structure will only emphasize a broken face… I’ll never reclaim the likeness of the person by adding detail. The same goes for plotting story or script writing. The outline is king, and I have to feel confident in the notecards before going on to scene breakdowns and detailed dialogue. Once the structure is complete, I feel safer to move on to the next step knowing all of the connective tissue must serve that overall structure.

Game design is no different. I don’t want to start by throwing down finished puzzles and plots or it the player might feel like a section is suddenly coming from a different game. I try not to fall in love with anything too early, and it’s those early ideas that want to scream for extra attention because anything put down feels more real than what hasn’t been developed yet. But the strongest structure of the game could come along later, so it’s wise to allow better things to come down the line that could completely undermine what is created early on.