I’m a pretty well ordered person. A place for everything and everything in its place. Well, almost. Things are not always neat but I know where things are. Everything might not always look in place but that’s because I need a lot of stuff at my fingertips. What exact stuff isn’t always easy to figure out because they change all the time. Other things always have their place. I’ve got my large paintings stacked in a rack, small paintings lined up on a shelf, and things drawn on paper tucked away in cabinets. But there is one place where things are not quite so ordered. The flat file of orphaned pages.

I have two tables in my studio. One is my drawing table where I get my drawing done (plus any other work that needs to be done on a flat surface) and the other is in the corner of the room and holds all sorts of supplies. I have brushes, inks, rulers, and other stuff on the table. In order to save space and increase storage I put drawers under the two desks. My drawing table has two 11×17 inch drawers side by side under the drawing board that I put work in progress in. Those are easy access drawers. Under the storage table are two flat file type shelves. They don’t pull out. I just stuck a thin 16×20 inch and a 11×17 inch board with about two inches clearance between them. I can slide pages into this small shelves for storage but they’re in a cramped spot so they don’t have easy access. Over the years what got stored on those two shelves were “Out of sight, out of mind” pages. Usually unfinished stuff.

I have a lot of stuff around that is in various stages of finish but I don’t have a ton of unfinished stuff. To me unfinished means “Never to be finished.” Unfinished means abandoned. It’s a permanent state. There are a few things under that table that are unfinished. Pages and drawings from over the years. I think I put them under there so I don’t have to look at them. Unfinished bothers me.

The one thing that jumps out at me from that piles of pages is my last, unfinished, “Delia Charm” story. Back in the late 1990s when my friends and I self-published our comics my part of it was “Delia Charm” stories. We put out six issues and sold almost none of them. That’s the late 1990s and indie comics for you. I made a couple more “Delia Charm” stories for my mini comics after that but those were the last ones to see any kind of print. This final story was a ten pager that I must have been making for a mini comic or some such. But then I gave up and moved onto other projects. That kinda makes me sad.

What’s weird about this ten page story is how much of it I had done. Out of the ten pages two are completely finished. The other eight are written, pencilled, lettered, and even have the background inks done on them. That means I had just the figure inking to go. I’d say it was at least 80% finished. But then I just stopped. All these years later I’m not exactly sure why. I guess it’s because I had no outlet for it. It would never see print as I was tired of making mini-comics and webcomics weren’t quite a thing yet. So it became abandoned.

I notice a couple of things about how I made these pages that are different than how I usually did things. First of all it was before I blue lined all my pages and instead I blew up my thumbnail drawings on a photocopier and used a light-box to transfer the layouts to the Bristol board I made the finished pages on. A few of the photocopies are with the pages. I think I only worked that way a few times as often I would draw on tracing paper and then light-box those onto the Bristol. I computerized in the mid 1990s and by the late 1990s I switched over to scanning in my layouts, blowing them up in Photoshop, and then printing them out in blue line for me to draw or ink over. That’s the method I use to this day.

A second odd thing about this unfinished story is the lettering. It’s a hand lettered piece over digital lettering. This might be the only time I did that. I’m guessing that I hand lettered all the other “Delia Charm” stories and so wanted to hand letter this one too but I did it in a different way. I can see on the remaining photocopies of the layouts that I typed out all the lettering on the layouts. That way when I light-boxed the layouts I could hand letter right over the top of the digital lettering. All my spacing was worked out. I was never a fan of doing hand lettering so I’m betting this made things easier. But not so easy that I didn’t switch over to digital lettering like everybody else did.

A third thing I notice about this story was that my drawing of it was more casual. I simplified things from my other “Delia Charm” stories. The forms and figures are nearly as filled with illustrative detail as the earlier stories were. I stripped things down. I even stripped the story down. It has none of the other characters or plot lines from the previous stories. Instead it’s a story of Delia at a diner when she’s out for a drive. She meets an eccentric woman and talks with the guy who runs the diner. That’s it. Or at least I think that’s it because I haven’t been able to bring myself to read the story again. I feel a little guilty for abandoning it so I’m going by memory and by looking at the pictures.

So that’s the story of the drawer of abandoned drawings. Now I think I’m going to scan in these pages. I’m pretty sure they’ve never been digitized before.


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