Alternate Universe Cartoon for: March 1st 2002 C.E.
It takes a while for a cartoon work to settle in. At the beginning, the artist is not completely sure about anything, and has just met the characters. The art style is not settled upon, and the overall 'look' has not evolved yet. This is true whether or not there is any question of skill or talent.
Although I had been designing and doing the art for computer games for over a decade before doing Unicorn Jelly, even though I am a professional artist, I had never done a web comic before, I had no idea of how Unicorn Jelly was supposed to look, and franky, I was new to attempting manga style as well. Raised on Vaughn Bode, R. Crumb, Windsor McKay and George Herriman, I had never dared to try anime and manga styled illustration. It is not as easy as it seems at first glance....the style is one filled with subtlety and complex emotions. Oh it seems so simple: slap some big eyes on a Hello Kitty oval and be done with it...but that is not the truth of manga style. It takes great skill to do it right, to make such simple lines speak so eloquently, and it does not help that there are dozens of sub-styles....realistic manga, superdeformed manga, Tezuka-style, Shojo style, thin line style, bold line style, abstraction manga, gag manga, it just goes on. Big eyes my ass....it is a whole universe of distinct arts in the bag we call 'manga'.
Unicorn Jelly has changed over time. It started trying to look like big bold 'sloppy-yet-perfect' blobby brush-with-ink-on-rough-paper style and has ended up with fine lines and complex dot shadings. I started out trying to give the feeling of the calligraphy brush, and ended up very differently. Some people wonder why I do not go back and redraw the earlier strips, to make them fit the current look.
It isn't just being lazy....the early strips are a record of an artist finding her own style, a process that continues today. It also works in another way too...in the beginning of Unicorn Jelly, the characters are younger, their lives are simpler, and the childlike art style strangely seems to convey that. It kind of works for me that the art is imperfect and sloppy back then, back when Gryrnu was a safe place, a place where Jelly unicorns soaked in tea, and the biggest problem was finding a cure for a little girl.
It is also a record of how my abilities in a new arena, one away from making computer games, grew from nothing, to something. Unicorn Jelly has come a long way since strip 0001, and so has my skill level too. The record of that change is too precious to redraw, and thus to lose.
Always preserve your old, not so good work....it is the only way you can know how far you have grown!
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