Frequently Asked Questions
When you pledge as a guest on Kickstarter (i.e. if you do not set up an account) they only refer to you literally as “Guest 1543625342”. So, I won’t actually know who you are. Therefore, if you want me to know who you are when you make a pledge, please remember to create a Kickstarter account.Last updated:
In order to provide high-quality customer service to my backers, all of the books and rewards are being shipped from a fulfillment company based in the Greater Toronto Area. So, the shipping cost pays for their services, the shipping materials, as well as the advantage of a discounted bulk rate. Though it seems like an add-on, the money actually goes directly toward my costs and is applied to the campaign goal.Last updated:
Life in the closet is a very lonely place to be, a place full of regrets and missed opportunities. The thing that I regret most during that time in my life was my inability to confide my sexuality to my father.
You see, my father suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and by the time I was ready to share with my family he was no longer able to understand me. My fear of being rejected kept me from sharing a big part of my life with him and he died believing that his son was alone without knowing that I had the capacity to give myself, in a loving union, to another person. He died without ever knowing that I found the love of my life, my husband Stacy, who accepts me and loves me for all that I am, just like the love my father found in my mother’s arms.
After I lost my father, I wrote Justin Case and The Closet Monster as a way to tell my dad all of the things that I lacked the courage to share with him when he was alive. My graphic novel reflects a conversation that I would have loved to have had with my dad.Last updated:
Since I was a little boy I have loved monsters. At first I was afraid of them but as I got older I began to see them as misunderstood creatures lashing out at a world that didn’t understand them.
When I was struggling to come out of the closet I empathized with monsters because I understood all to well the pain associated with being different. A lot has changed since my time in the closet. I don’t feel like a monster anymore because I have found my place in this world. I am loved and accepted for who I am and I have found my voice. A voice that I am using in order to tell my story so that people like me, who feel different, can choose to live their lives in truth.
Now, most of my friends would probably tell you that I must be the inspiration for the central Closet Monster in my book, and though there are parts of me in there I confess to you now that he is an amalgamation of many people.
The Closet Monster in my story is made up of all the friends that I told my secret to first; the ones that pushed me to be my true self and it is my sincerest hope that they are flattered when they recognize themselves in him. I just wish I had the courage to have told them all sooner, recognizing their unconditional love early on would have made everything so much easier.
I want you all to know that I created the Closet Monster for those of you that are alone and struggling with your sexuality. I remember sitting on a park bench, on my way home from seeing a gay-themed movie, one night and crying because I thought I would never come out like the characters I just saw on the screen. I remember what it is like to feel truly alone but I began a search that night for someone in my life that I could tell. My advice to you is to look for that one person in your life you can confide in, your Closet Monster, talking to that person will help clear the way to the life that you deserve.Last updated:
To understand my process you first have to understand how I draw and perceive the world. Most of the artists that I know see the world in shape, volume and form. For some reason I see the world in linear form. In other words things seem flat to me--they are defined and held together by an undulating line not grounded and supported by shape, volume and form.
This way of seeing things made my life drawing sessions at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto (Canada) during the mid 1990s difficult and, at times, frustrating. Though I learned my anatomy lessons well, my drawings were never quite as good as my classmates' who seemed to effortlessly recreate what they were seeing.
Things changed for me when I took a class from Bill Biddle, entitled “Constructing the Figure from Memory”. In that class I learned to construct the figure using basic shapes, and that is the fundamental principle that I now use in the creation of my work.
The figures that I draw in my graphic novel are constructed first by using basic shapes and are completely imagined and not drawn from life. I build my drawings upon this foundation, which I suppose is why I have to do so many preliminary sketches. Plus a monster’s anatomy is sometimes hard to figure out.
To give you a better understanding of how I work let me take you through the steps of creating a page for the book.
Step 1: Thumbnail Sketch
On an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper I decide what the layout of the panels will be. Once I have decided on the layout template I do a very rough (thumbnail) sketch depicting the action in each of the panels. This opening sketch can be very loose - sometimes with figures constructed using only basic shapes- or can be very tight; showcasing lots of detail. This stage is where I do most of my thinking and composition building and it also serves as the first storyboard laying out the pace and viewpoints of each panel. At his stage I also have to make sure to leave dead space for the dialogue balloons.
Step 2: Linear Sketch
I take the thumbnail sketch blow it up in sections on a photocopier to 200%. Enlarging it allows me the opportunity to put in lots of details. Once I have copied it I assemble the sections and I utilize tracing paper to refine the rough sketches into finished drawings. At this stage, I often layer the tracing paper to refine the drawing until I can get it quite right. This allows me the opportunity to just retrace the sections of the drawing that are working and rework the sections that are not. I often use this technique to refine detail such as hands that are hard to position in a first draft. My studio is sometimes ankle deep in tracing paper by the end of this process.
Step 3: Final Illustration with Colour
In sections, I take the large-scale linear sketch and scan it into the computer. In Photoshop I piece the sections together and reduce the image back to its original size of 8.5 x 11. At this stage, using the mouse, I trace the image in black on a layer in Photoshop and once the image is traced I eliminate the bottom layer and flatten the image. This allows me to use the vector tool to drop in the colours and simulate the proper lighting of each panel. Once the colours are in place I usually have to retrace the outline to make sure it remains consistent. Those of you reading this are probably asking yourself “Why didn’t you use a pen and tablet?” Well, at the time I started this project that technology didn’t exist and to change mid-way through the book would have made the pages inconsistent. My process had to remain the same so the pages at the front of the book looked like the pages in the back.
Step 4: Finished Strip with Word Bubbles.
Once the colour is complete in another Photoshop document, I layout the word balloons and then cut and paste each balloon in the appropriate place in the strip.
As you can see, my process is somewhat labour-intensive. I imagine that most comic book artists have a more simplified process, but this is the one that works for me. On the next book I will probably invest in a pen and tablet and revise my process so that the work will not take as long to produce but, that said, I am proud of what I have produced regardless of the effort extended.Last updated:
When I was creating "Justin Case and the Closet Monster," I wanted Justin to have the same type of relationship with a manifestation of his self, as Calvin did with Hobbes in the iconic "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip and so I created the Closet Monster.
In many ways, Justin is an innocent, much the same way Calvin was in his comic, and the Closet Monster, much like Hobbes, pushes Justin to discover things about his world. Now, the Closet Monster is not perfect and does not know everything. But, like Hobbes, he is fearless and gets Justin to try things that he wouldn’t have the courage to try on his own.
As a gay man who managed to navigate his way out of the closet, I remember those moments when I had to push myself in order to live the life that I wanted to. In many ways I had to become a different person in order to have the courage to come out to my family and friends, and it is that courageous person who is the main inspiration for the Closet Monster.
Although "Justin Case and the Closet Monster" is not a syndicated strip, as a nod to that beloved comic I have adopted the opening title banner that Watterson used in his weekend strips. One of the things that I love about Watterson’s weekend "Calvin and Hobbes" strips was the way that he changed the title banner from week to week to support the arc of the story.
The title banners in my book-- which are all doors--change depending on the characters that are featured on the page. Each character has a different door, because each character’s experience coming out of the closet is different. The banners also act as a breath or pause in the action and the changing doors signal that the point of view of the narrative is also about to change.
Though originally designed to identify each individual strip for a magazine, the doors in the banners have come to represent much more and I believe add to the aesthetic and overall understanding of each character of the book. In other words, the doors in a more abstract way help to illustrate the personalities of each character because each door was designed in essence as an extension of that character.
If it wasn’t for Watterson’s thoughtful use of the title banners in "Calvin and Hobbes" I never would have included mine in my book and I think as a result something unique and powerful would have been lost.
Thank you Mr. Watterson for sharing "Calvin and Hobbes" with the world. Your work changed my life and inspired me. If I hadn’t read about Calvin’s journey to grow-up in your amazing strip, I would have never been inspired to write about Justin’s journey out of the closet. It is my sincerest hope that my audience will see the truth in my story as much as your audience has felt it in yoursLast updated:
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