where did it all come from?

Today the Amelia team is back together after a short break. Over the last few weeks, Josh went to Canada to do a show, Mike went to Florida to visit the fam, and Chris colored a bunch of comics for the big M.

But now we’re back. While they (Josh and Chris) are in the other room drawing and coloring, I thought I’d (Mike) take a moment to blog about Amelia’s origins.

And away we go…

One of the first sketches of Amelia by Josh. Her look has evolved a lot since then.

Amelia was written in a burst. The inspiration, best I can recall, came while lying in bed. The title “Amelia Chang Alters the Course of the Universe” came all at once, and I knew it was about a little girl playing piano.

It wrote pretty fast (over a few days). The story ended up typing out at 50 panels exactly, which for some reason I found amusing. So much so that later, during the editing process, I would struggle for hours trying to keep it at exactly 50 panels.  This is known as writer’s insanity.

Originally, I think I was planning on drawing it myself, but pretty quickly Joshua Boulet became a serious candidate because of how busy I am, and how easy he is to work with. If I drew it, it would languish for a year and probably die halfway through getting drawn, but with Josh, it had a much better chance of getting done in a reasonable time frame. And it’s always more fun to work with your friends anyway. Chris came on to the project later, as explained in this post.

Josh read the script on the way to Austin on night and loved it. The two of us are always down to work together anyway, but he remembers really wanting to draw this script on first read. The story also got great feedback from the handful of people I passed it around to. Deborah Driscoll, who read it first, was particularly helpful with feedback.

These sketches are from our first few meetings, and you can see that the character design was still in it’s infancy. At this point we sketched a bit and talked about Amelia once in a while, but weren’t really committed to doing anything about it yet.

It was actually a few months later before we got serious. For some reason on May 14th 2010, we got together and started working on it for real. That’s the day I started this blog.

My hope was that the blog would lend some stability, because it would document our progress and be a constant reminder that we were moving forward. An added benefit would be that we could use it to take people along with us on the journey and the book would begin to build an audience before it was even completed.  I think it’s worked out pretty good.

If you want to know what happened after that first day, just got down to the first post on this blog and read it in chronological order thereafter. You can walk every step of the way with us. I think I’ve posted pretty much everyday that we’ve worked together since then.

Michael Lagocki - photo by Dee Hill

That’s the story. It’s still going. As I type this, the book is nearing completion on the drawings, and Chris is only about 10-15 panels behind that on the coloring. The progress has been amazing.

And the feedback from people who’ve read this blog has been WONDERFUL. You don’t know how helpful it is to know you’re not creating in a vacuum.

We’ll keep you updated on progress. The plan is still to complete and release the book in time for you to buy it for someone as a holiday present.

Stay tuned!


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strong progress

As promised, when we showed up to Chris’, a number of newly colored images awaited us.

His work continues to inspire. I love the overall tone in the above image. Everything just works together in a intelligent mixture of grays and blues. That glass effect on the Dad in the window in the background, as well as the reflective shadows under everyone’s feet are more examples of what Chris is bringing to the project.

Boulet has done gorgeous drawings and Chris has taken them a step farther. All this attention to detail is what’s giving us that “High-Disney” look we we’re shooting for.

Here’s a good shot of the work he’s doing on the Alien Leader. Check out those organic images in her cheek flaps. Chris used fractal images to give them a transparent “jellyfish-ish” look. Wild.

There are more than a half dozen new images of this quality. (Sorry, can’t show you all of them…yet) Further proof of how smoothly this is all going was in how few changes Josh and I requested in the new colors. Almost everything was spot on in the first go.

With this batch of color, we now have several pages of the book complete (meaning art- colors- letters). It’s definitely starting to become a finished book now and not just a collection of drawings.

There’s still a lot to do even when all the production is done, but it was amazing to put 5 or 6 finished pages together and look at how they all worked in unison.

It’s on.


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game on

The plan continues smoothly. Josh comes over a few days a week to crash and work on Amelia. The best work gets done when we’re all together.

So now I’m (Mike) working on lettering, and on this blog, and Josh is touching up a few pencils here and there. I made a list of all the things I need to art assist with (like some illustrator inking, making new music notes, and some Photoshop editing). We looked over the next few panels and what we need to do, and again it was a benefit that we get together a lot because there were changes I suggested to a few panels he was just starting to pencil. One panel felt kind of somber when I was hoping it would feel more comedic. We caught it early enough in the process that Josh was able to keep like 90% of what he had on the paper and still make the change.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading to Chris’, where we’ll see several new images that he colored this week, so we’re jazzed about that. Always a buzz when you know you’re gonna get to see these panels we’ve been looking at forever in a new way.

We’re well over the halfway point on the production now. Even the lettering is pretty far along. In the coming weeks, we’re going to have to start getting a bit more intentional about the publishing plan. Both Josh and I are out of town a bit in July, (plus I’m working on girlShow), so we’ll have a few weeks off and then hit it hard in August. I love how fast this is all moving.

Fortunately, Osiris the cat approves all progress. Without his support, we’d still be nobodies. Thank you.


Posted in pencils, team | 4 Comments

like a symphony of light

oh man… our girl looks so beautiful in full color!

The trio (Mike, Josh, and Chris) got back together tonight to eat spring rolls, listen to They Might Be Giants, and make a comic book.

Chris’ colors on this project continue to wow us. Just look at the image above, the glow effects coming out of the piano, or those bands of music notes flying from the stage.

It’s fun to watch him work too. He’s faster with his photoshop lasso than a rodeo cowboy is with a real one. Both Josh and I are picking up tips from him.

Here’s a great example of how much his work is affecting the book. The image to the right was colored by Mike, as an early color test, just to see what the art might start to look like as we dropped in color. Chris used this as a starting point and took the colors here:

Chris' wife Hallie watches him color

…Yeah, that’s what I said too.

Anyway, it’s really coming together. Again, because our book is a short story, this work we’re putting in has brought us to place where we can see the end coming on the horizon. It feels great to be making such progress.

Thanks to everyone who’s been checking out this blog and thanks to those of you who have left comments as well. Those act as fuel for us. Pretty much everytime someone says something nice, it’s passed between us and helps build all our enthusiasm.

It’s working! Look for Amelia Chang Alters the Course of the Universe soon.


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a whole lotta Amelia

To be honest, I (Mike) was kind of out of it today. About the most I accomplished was watching Total Recall. Josh however was rocking and rolling on the pages. At this point he has over 40 panel complete. Given that our short story is only 50 panels, that means the line art is getting close to complete.

We still have the coloring left, some lettering, and I suspect we’ll find one or two changes we want to make when it’s all put together. After that it’s on to printing and publishing and getting the buzz going.

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the first printed copy of Amelia Chang

well… kind of. We went to the copy store and made a mockup of the first 14 pages. It has each of Josh’s drawings, laid out with all the lettering and panel borders, on pages printed just like the book will be, front and back.

My feeling is it was time to start holding it and feeling a bit of what the reader might. I wanted to read it in sequence and see the multiple images face each other on each page.

This project has real momentum. Wonderful feeling. This mockup has already started to help us fill in the gaps. A few panels will be rearranged now that we’ve seen the flow.

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The inspirations for Amelia include a mix of Looney Toons, Star Wars, Close Encounters, and the wonderful Lilo and Stitch. Josh had never seen it until today.

It’s a great movie. Very funny and creative, the animated Disney flick for the weird kids. Tell me another Disney main character besides Lilo that punches girls, does voodoo, fights all the time, and rocks Elvis.

One of the things I love about the movie is that they really nailed Lilo’s age in her design and movements. I want this to come across with Amelia as well. In most of the story Amelia is four, not 2, not 7. Keeping that age correct in her body and “acting” is key.

Mike: “Josh, what’s your review of Lilo & Stitich?”

Josh: “Me? I liked it. I really liked it.”

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