Can you tell us a bit about the story of ‘Valiant and the Oracle’?
The story is the classic tale about the awkward relationship between a toy donkey and a unicorn with delusions of mysticism. We follow the adventure through the eyes of the titular Valiant and her mis-matched buddies, a giant octopus, and twin stuffed toy penguins who blunder through time and space in a modified 1972 mini.
What was the inspiration to create this comic?
This all began early in the pandemic when I started sharing drawings with my nieces and nephews back in New Zealand. I love the crazy inventiveness of kids, (they range from 4-10), and I welcomed their ideas to illustrate. This soon included all their favourite toys, and of course they ALL had to contribute, and I ended up with a whole collection of illustrations
As the stories became more elaborate and common threads began to appear, I started to see the illustrations like book covers, and could imagine the larger stories behind them.
A few of which I even began to write, which gave even more voice and personality to the characters.
Can you talk us through the creative process of making ‘The Adventures of Valiant’?
The original text for this idea was: “Wonderlationship has a secret crush on Cornica and she’s coming over for dinner or something and he gets nervous.”
I scribbled a quick character study for Cornica and immediately fell in love with her.
I wrote out the larger story, and decided that it was worth illustrating, thinking it would be a great Christmas gift for all the kids.
The whole process is hand drawn in Procreate on an iPad, and I still follow the traditional pencil/ink/paint workflow. Being digital still had some benefits, and I was able to move things around the page more freely than on paper, but at this print resolution, I am limited to 23 layers, so I have to employ some creative colouring techniques.
I then found a printer that would do short run prints, and sent it off to print.
In part as personal motivation, I started an online presence for Valiant. So when I shared a photo of the books returning from the printer, a number of people reached out to me for copies.
I even have a few copies going into an awesome independent comic book store in Philadelphia, Partners and Son; that’s definitely been an unexpected outcome for a personal family project.
How has working from home in the pandemic affected your creativity?
Oddly enough, I seem to have a lot more time on my hands… It was hard at first, as there was a lot of external stress, and we were still figuring out how to best work remotely, but as the weeks blurred into months, I found these stories and drawings as a great escape for my energies, and a great catalyst to connect with people, even more than just my family.
What are some of your other creative outlets outside of work at The Mill?
I have a background in Fine Arts so I have a constant need to create something visual. Usually that revolves around painting, drawing or photography, or more recently writing, as I find it a very efficient way to create more elaborate worlds without making a mess.
Did your intended audience enjoy the comic? 🙂
Oh yeah, they’ve been loving it. They haven’t seen this finished result yet, as those are still on their way to New Zealand for Christmas. But I have teased them with it… and the months of illustrations and other shorter works have been an amazing way to engage with them. I’d like to think I have inspired them as much as they have inspired me.
My nephew even gave a talk to his class about them, he made a whole presentation walking through the creative process. He made me a very proud uncle.