Whew! I finally finished the latest scene. Can you believe it took me four months? I hope you can cut me some slack.
One of the things that delayed this scene was my move to Paris. But artistically speaking, what probably slowed me down the most was the research I had to do to draw many of the vignettes. The story of Van Gogh, Gaugin, and the fictional Jewish girl which is an obvious nod to Anne Frank, all required a lot of research and study. But I hope, in the end, all that work paid off and that you feel it was worth it.
I've received the odd criticism, by the way, about the inaccuracy of the Van Gogh story. In fact, I walked through the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam last weekend feeling slightly uneasy about many of the details in his story that I left out. Would readers think I was a lazy author and that I didn't do enough research? But then, I thought, it isn't me telling Van Gogh's story, it's Nicholas. Nicholas would undoubtedly have only a surface knowledge of Van Gogh's life, and, furthermore, he would only tell the parts that suit his goal, which is to stoke Gregory's romanticized vision of the tortured artist who isn't appreciated in his lifetime. Nicholas wants Gregory to think of himself as a kind of Van Gogh. It's pure manipulation.
This is by far one of my favorite songs in the play, and so I suppose it's no coincidence that it features my favorite panel. I had a great time drawing the 1940s German street scene, where the pastor is sneaking down the street with the little girl in his coat. I was inspired to create that scene by Catel & Bocquet's graphic novel Josephine Baker, which has some of the most well-drawn cityscapes I've ever seen. As I proceed through this story, and as the story of Nicholas and Gregory winds through different urban locales, I'll be looking to Catel Muller for inspiration.
Sometimes, I come to a panel where I know I'm going to have to draw every little insignificant detail, like refrigerator handles, wood grains, bits of litter on the ground, or hooks on Gregory's jacket, and the whole thing just seems intimidating. Whenever I feel like packing it in, I remember how important such details are for building the world I'm trying to create. I hope you appreciate my efforts.
Speaking of Gregory's jacket, I can't tell you how relieved I was when he finally gave Nicholas his clothes. After that, it took way less time to draw him. Not to give too much away, but next time you see him he will not only look very different (for he'll be in disguise) but he'll also be wearing a much more simple-to-draw outfit.
Anyway, I hope to stick to my bi-monthly deadline with the next scene. See you in December!