Recently, Yana wrote with a few questions about the construction process for CARNET DE VOYAGE. She asks,
“…you say that it is more on-the-spot then your other carefully constructed books but just how on-the-spot was it?
How much of the imagery in the novel was actually done on site? Or was most of it developed from on site sketches
into more final ink drawings? And if a lot of the ink drawings were done straight from life, were they then pieced
together digitally on the computer to give the travelogue more of a structure and professionalism? The reason I am
asking is because our whole project has been about making drawings from life in peopled situations? And I was also
wondering how you capture a scenery that is constantly moving (all those bustling Moroccan streets for example) without
the use of photographs? Is it a matter of filling in gaps with imagination and focusing on different aspects individually?”
Good questions. And hopefully these answers are timely enough for use in her essay…
1) CARNET was my diary — documented day-by-day as dated (or at least the day after).
2) Portraits and landscapes and full-page illustrations were drawn on location. Again, no photo reference.
In the case, of bustling street scenes, I would just start drawing from a point of interest — if I saw someone
in the crowds striking the proper pose, I’d dash to that portion of the page and fill it in. There was a lot of
this dancing about the page — a donkey cart would roll past and I would struggle to get it down as quickly
as possible. Once out of view, I’d complete it from memory. And these drawings could take hours to complete
— standing in the most uncomfortable positions getting sun-burnt and harassed and nearly run over by motor bikes.
I would draw things “in real time” and leave empty space on the page for journaling text.
3) The comics narrative part of the book was constructed during a more comfortable part of the day or the next morning.
I kept a separate journal to doodle and piece out my thoughts and thumbnail page compositions. Here’s a peek at that:
(A ~ the very first narrative page of the book. On the left, notes-to-self on page layout.)
In Morocco, I separated my drawings into two sketchbooks. One was public – manhandled by butchers with bloody fingers
and crowds of children. The other was private – composed often at night in the flickering fluorescent light of the hotel
bathroom – journaling about my awkward interactions with locals.
Pages 108 – 113 of CARNET detail a “guided” tour of Fez I took with some newfound Spanish friends. The event happened
on the 5th of April — I doodled 17 pages of visual notes while walking at the same time — and I composed the printed
pages the next day, aboard the long train ride back to Marrakesh, while sandwiched between other travelers.
(B ~ Fez tour … )
4) EDITING. Any and all of it happened between the 15th and 24th of May at my friends Laëtitia & Frédéric’s home in Lyon, France.
I’d left them with my first two sketchbooks when I departed for Barcelona, and they’d scanned all the pages by the time I returned.
Then there was one last sketchbook for scanning, proof-reading (with non-native English speakers!) and minimal digital construction.
The rare occurrences where a graphic was moved about digitally was noted in my compositions as I went along (not after the fact),
because I wanted to squeeze drawings from separate sketchbooks onto the same page.
(C ~ transplanting the donkey)
Well… that’s all for today. Hope this helps, Yana. Sorry to be so text-heavy, though this barely hints at the
adventure of drawing the book while on the road. Every cartoonist should give it a try!