A Summer Hike in Scotland

It is shocking how much time and effort went into this page! First, I drew two quick versions in "The Blank," a gift from my friend Ed Moline. "The Blank" is a blank comic book that is becoming a helpful way to get my ideas down on paper. I like it more than typing out my comics like a script because for me, the writing and drawing process is so closely linked in cartooning.

The first version of this page, drawn in "The Blank." Looking back, I miss the progression of pants, coat zipper, hoodie in the first few panels. 

I re-ordered the panels. I like the idea of ending with a soggy sandwich, as if that is the worse thing to happen all day, but the panels needed to build to the "punchline" of the fog ruining our victorious photograph.

The second version of the page in "The Blank."

In the second version of the page, the first few panels are all close ups, intending to mimic "getting ready" movie montages and build interest until the reveal of me in my winter coat. This is an extension of something I've tried to do in comics like "Late Night Feeding" and "Manual Labour." I like how in this page there is no text until the reveal of me in my winter coat (something that was eventually lost because I just couldn't find a better place for the opening caption).

From here, I moved on to thumbnails. I just finished re-reading all 24 issues of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip's FANTASTIC "Sleeper" series and their zig-zag panel layouts stuck with me (they also showed me how to draw rain on my sandwich). I am hesitant to use overly creative page layouts, preferring to stick to more basic pages, unless the story calls for it. However, I've also become obsessed with how a cartoonist can guide a reader's eye and I felt that a winding climb would be a good opportunity to experiment with a meandering page layout. I decided to try something different (after all, part of this webcomic is about experimentation). This decision would nearly be the death of me... 

Before I drew anything, I had Emma take some reference photographs with me. 

You can just barely see Thor, getting in the way as usual...

With these and other reference photos, I began to draw.

This is the first version of the page, closest to my thumbnails. I've included Emma much earlier in the story at this point. Originally, I was going to draw us walking up the hill in the upper left (just below the boot) and then walking down the hill after the panel of us at the peak. I didn't get that far when I realized the page wasn't working. I spent a few hours moving the panels and captions around. 

I was happier with this version (though disappointed that I couldn't push the layout as far as I originally envisioned). 

I stared at it, showed it to Emma and sent it to some friends. I had to admit the first caption had to come at the top of the page and the final caption felt like there was more to the story, making this page feel incomplete. I made the appropriate changes, thus creating the page you see above. 
Then, I decided to spend even MORE time with this (far too) in-depth behind-the-scenes post. Please let me know if you found this fascinating. If enough people dig the behind-the-scenes stuff, I'll keep writing more. If you've read this far to the bottom, thanks for reading and have a great week! 
Matt Smith!