Saturday, August 9, 2008

Synesthetic Part 2: Turning Point

[image: page two of "Floater" by Evan Bryce]

I came back from my NYC with mixed feelings. On one hand, I loved the city that I had dreamed about since high school. On the other hand, I had a few ties left in the DFW that had to be settled one way or another. Space-Gun the webcomic was still ongoing, having just celebrated it's two year anniversary. Then there was Synesthetic. Some progress had been made by this point but not much. I had started my introduction pages to the book; references were shot, and the first three pages were completely finished. Evan had started and finished the story Jake had wrote for him. We had a handful of other pages from Nate, Matthew, and a few others at that point, but it was slow going. I honestly thought I would finish the prepress on the book in NYC that fall and be done with comics. I have a degree in design and that's what I would be doing as my career after that year. Then, we had The Meeting.

After a lot of "maybes" from the various creators, Jake organized a be-all meeting in Dallas. It was essentially an ultimatum: be at this meeting or you'll won't be in on the book. We were going to be moving forward no matter what. I honestly didn't expect a lot of people to show up. But I dressed in my business casuals (jeans, button-down, and a tie) and hoped for the best. And under the unforgiving Texas sun, we completely took over the patio at Cafe Brazil. With four tables strung together, we started in-depth discussions on everyone's story and ideas. Jake took one end of the tables and I went to the other. We made sure to talk with every single person there, refining ideas, making sure the stories fit our concept, establishing who needed what in terms of production, and gaining their confidence. I had printed out everything we had at that point, most importantly Evan's story. Evan's hard work had paid off in ways he would not have imagined. By passing around the finished story, you could see the slight panic in everyone's eyes. Not only was this project moving forward no matter what, the content looked amazing. You could tell that no one wanted to be the weak link in the anthology. With that meeting we essentially set the bar of standards for the project. It was the real catalyst that drove the project from its possible thirty pages to a solid 140 pages.

Unfortunately, this third boost didn't come until mid May. Everyone's due date was July 19th. Jake's and my real deadline was August 8th, the day we would fly to Chicago for Wizard World. This three week buffer was originally intended for wrapping up loose ends on stories and getting the pages ready for print. I've been through way too much hell in my design classes and found that leisurely wrap up from end production to print way better for the final product. I thought three weeks would be plenty of time to get that done. Sadly I had not anticipated the natural tendencies of comic book people to break deadlines. We did get a few finished stories before the due date, but nearly everything came right at the deadline or during the week afterward. The buffer was created to accommodate something like this but not to this degree. Jake and I had on our hardrives only a handful of finished pages, no cover (because only one person turned in spot illustrations for it), and under two weeks to color 41 pages, ink 18 pages, and letter 33 pages.

We put up a "NO VISITORS" sign on our door, got a bag full of Starbucks Double Shot Espressos, and implemented a handful of ancient sleeping techniques I picked up in design school. The next two weeks became the legendary "Synesthetic Grind".

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