Today marks the day when, after a long closure, the lovely tiny railway called Angel’s Flight in downtown Los Angeles re-opens. There is a news piece here for example. It was a common feature of what some called the “Asymptotia Tour”, meaning that back in the day, readers of this blog who visited LA and happened to meet me might well be shown this hidden gem of the city. Well, all those years ago (before it closed) I ended up capturing it (or a version of it) on the page as part of the setting for one of my dialogues in my forthcoming book, The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe (MIT Press, 2017). The images above show some fragments of two pages in the book, featuring the railway.
In Spring 2010, I took a sabbatical semester and decided to spend most of it in hiding (in some cities in Europe), telling nobody what I was doing and focusing on answering the question – “Can I write and draw this graphic book myself?”, and I began to study the whole business of art and sequential narrative art rather closely, learning how people actually go about making comics, and teaching myself to draw at the consistent level that you need to in order to produce a whole book of stories. I emerged from hiding with an affirmative answer, and then I began to draw in earnest. These pages with Angel’s Flight are two of my earliest pages for the 250 page graphic book.
I think I did them in mid-late late 2010 and into 2011, when I was still figuring out lots of things about drawing for a graphic novel. They took forever because I was experimenting with so many techniques and workflows at the same time. So they are a hybrid of working with pencils on real paper, digital inks and colour (vector art on a computer that couldn’t handle it well – ugh), working from reference photos I took, making up bits out of whole cloth in different kinds of perspective, way too much old-school cross-hatching (I’ve removed a lot since then), and so forth.
I love setting myself a challenge, getting myself to step out of my comfort zone, and this was one of the grandest I’ve ever faced. Many thousands of drawings later, I’ve a whole book to show for it. By the way, I’d be delighted if you took a few minutes to pre-order* it from your bookstore, or from Amazon (the amazon in your country should have it at a special price).
It’ll arrive in the mid-late Fall.
*Pre-orders are very helpful! And no, I don’t know why they call it pre-ordering. It’s actually just ordering, isn’t it? Anyway…