This is the story about a girl,An elf,
Some other people,
And bringing the world to balance.
But more importantly,
This is a story about believing
In magic, yourself,
About just having a little fun
Along the way.
East Bay Comic-Con: February 16, 2014, Concord Hilton, Concord, CA
Big Wow ComicFest: May 17 - 18, 2014, San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA
Comic ByKatie Shaw
Dragon ChildA modern day fantasy comic by Katie Shaw
Issue # 1, "Only Time"
In which dragons from all corners of the world meet to plan for their race’s future in a world where humanity’s impact can no longer be ignored.
Issue # 2, "The Hawk"
In which the unsuspecting Ryū Kodomo begins to notice that her boring yet normal life is in for some surprises.
Issue # 3, "Into The Woods"
In which a walk home from school takes Ryū into unfamiliar territory with even more unfamiliar inhabitants. Was that an elf?
Katie Shaw has grown up fascinated with characters, their stories, and the narrative that brings them to life. She had an early interest in drawing, sculpture, and storytelling, which she discovered while browsing bookshelves for new stories and information about ecology and zoology. Art and nature were her passions, and up until middle school, Katie was most likely to be found either in a cozy and well-lit nest drawing or out in her backyard catching frogs. To her young mind, art was a hobby and her interest in the natural world around her seemed to be the more practical place to invest further study.
Although she had never given much thought to them, she found herself attracted to newspaper comic strips. Her family did not own any comic books, but a subscription to Disney Adventures Magazine led Katie to find short installments of a well-drawn and beautifully colored fantasy comic by Jeff Smith. The comic she found was BONE, and it would be her love for this soon to be 1300 page comic book that would spark Katie’s imagination to pinpoint creating comic books as her desired vocation over a career in marine biology. Seeing Smith’s life as a template, Katie began to dream and think seriously about becoming a self-publishing cartoonist.
It was also around this time that anime and manga from Japan began to become more accessible in the United States. First only appearing as a handful of titles in bookstores (examples: Akira, Sailor Moon, and Dragonball), within the next five years these veteran titles were joined by hundreds more. American comics had traditionally counted on an overwhelming majority of male creators and readers. This influx from Japan, which soon became very popular among teenagers and young adults across the country, got many more female readers interested in what comics could be used for. Katie is an example of a fan that took her interest one step farther.
Combining her interests of self-publishing comic book artists from the United States and cartoonists (or manga-ka) like Hayao Miyazaki and Akira Toriyama from Japan, Katie went into college with a very specific goal. Having spent her high school career as a full time member of three choir groups, she had not had the time to take a single art class at Danville, California’s Monte Vista High School. It was time to devote more of her time in serious pursuit of her goals as a cartoonist. Soon discovering the CIS department at St. Olaf College, Katie decided that she would be able to most efficiently meet her goal by creating a CIS major from a core grouping of classes that would aid her in the process of discovering what it takes to make a comic book like her favorite American and Japanese cartoonists.
Katie's Road to Comics
In her junior year, a visiting professor (Carlos Reyes) offered a class about comics that he called The Graphic Novel. This term, instead of comics provides a more highbrow weight to the subject matter of the class. Katie prefers to use the word comics, because she feels that the word includes a much broader spectrum of expression. Comics are images in a sequence that tell something, and while they can be great literary masterpieces, she feels that it is important to admit that good comics don’t necessarily have to be. Professor Reyes’ class provided a solid background on the history and form as well as driving home ideas that Katie had discovered on her own. Three assignments for the class forced Katie to confront a stigma she had about creating comics. Up until this point, she had not drawn any more than ten pages of comic for any given story, for she wanted to learn more about the process before putting her drawing skills inside pages of panels. These assignments forced her to try her hand at actually creating comics.
During this time, with the help of Phyllis Larson and Bruce Dalgard, Katie also arranged for an internship in Tokyo, Japan at a studio run by a man named Glenn Kardy. Kardy’s work surrounds the study of what it takes to make manga, as well as providing lessons from professional artists through a program he called the Manga University. After months of planning, Katie spent the month of February in Tokyo, studying under three manga-ka. These people were able to give her three weeks of intense practice using the literal tools of the trade.
She came away from her internship feeling confidant about applying screen tones, inking with g-pens, formulating dynamic layouts, and many other techniques used to create manga. This internship prepared Katie to begin working on the comic that would become her senior project. The comic book she would be creating was based off of a story that she started writing during her sophomore year of high school, and would be not only a testament of what she had learned during her four years at college, but also be a continuous labor of love.
After college, Katie got her first job at her local Apple Store, learning computer skills to improve her comic making process. She also had fun teaching others in One to One training classes about what the computers can do to help enrich their lives. After almost six years, she finally buckled down to commited herself to pursuing her dream of being a cartoonist. Her first convention was San Francisco's APE Con in 2014, where she debuted Dragon Child Issue # 1.
Studying comics and actually making them are two completely different worlds. I had thought that if I became a good enough artist, writer, and informed reader of comics, I would have no trouble putting together a comic of my own. Such are the false dreams of ignorant sophomoric logic. Looking back at the way I fantasized my vision of how the process of creating issues of comic would pan out, I almost have to laugh. Yet, we all have to start somewhere. Nobody can realistically expect to know how to do anything perfectly from the start. In truth, learning how to create my comics has been a consistently engaging process.
Jim Heynen, my first creative writing professor, told my class that learning from authors we enjoy is very productive. I really believe in this concept, because (like Professor Heynen) we are influenced to create things we enjoy by things that produce the same effect back on us. I like Bone, by Jeff Smith, and I have taken the time to think critically about why I like Bone so I can use similar aspects in my own work. I treat films, novels, comics, and all other creative media in the same way, figuring out what I like and why I like it to better my own work. As an artist and writer, I am well aware of the fact that I do not have to create a whole new way of writing a book, drawing a picture, or making a comic book to tell a story. What I do feel the drive to do is put my own new spin on old concepts and processes that work, building off of the work that has been produced before me. Dragon Child, my story, is what it is today because I have thought critically about what makes good art and storytelling. Studying how other artists panel their comics or organize the transitional timing between panels, pages, and even issues, has allowed me to test and learn through my own experimentation. Yet, as much as we can learn from other people’s work, there are some things that can only be learned through personal practice.
If I were to lay out examples of how my comics have evolved since my early high school year attempts, the growth is like night and day. My first attempts were terrible. The earliest stories, made during eighth grade, that relate to what is now Dragon Child can only be recognized as a beginning by some of the dragon characters. Many of the personalities of even these characters have thankfully changed over time, but the most embarrassing difference was how much of my story had been directly influenced by Bone. Most of the ideas for the story and characters were just bad copies of things I had seen before. I hadn’t made it my own yet, and it wouldn’t be until my sophomore year of high school before Dragon Child became a story with Ryū Kodomo as the main character. The story made in eighth grade had a strange band of talking cats and a girl named Kaeldry as the main characters. Today, Kaeldry’s character has been completely revamped from a human to an elf, and instead of five domesticated cats as her charges, she has two dark morphed tigers that fight alongside her.
How It All Gets On Paper
Every story has a character who without trying steals the spotlight. In Dragon Child, Embyr is certainly guilty as charged with cuteness to boot. This charming dracling will let you know when there’s something worth seeing or talking about. Keep your eyes open.
These are the cast of characters you will find in Dragon Child. As the story continues more of the portraits will be filled in. Click on the names for a brief note on each. There are a lot of them, so I hope this helps everyone keep track.
This is Embyr Byron Stormblade here letting you all know the latest shoulder side scoop around the cave.
Growing up in a cave can be rather boring, but Daddy’s been talking to Shindaira about the possibility of a dracling getting to go topside to meet the Dragon Child face to face.
Something about getting one of our own out there to ease her into the idea that we dragons do exist, and why it is so vital that she helps us and others like us too.
I hope she picks me. I bet the Dragon Child would be more fun than my silly litter mates to play with.
Mom doesn’t know about their plan yet, I guess because she can be cranky about fun things.
My older sister Ruby gets to live outside the cave, and when she visits, she tells me all about the strange and wonderful things she’s seen out there. She told me that she’s made friends with a little human boy. How cool is that! She made me promise not to tell Daddy, though. I hope she doesn’t get in trouble. If she did, the stories would probably stop, and that wouldn’t be any fun.
Mommy and Daddy worry too much. How hard could it really be to go tell a few important human leader persons about what we want, where we want to live, and just get it over with? Grown-ups make things so complicated. Too bad for them I, Embyr, am sitting on the sidelines and out of power.
One day I’ll show them. You’ll see.
One day my whole family will live outside this smelly cave, and it’ll be great!
This is Embyr Byron Stormblade here letting you all know the latest shoulder side scoop around the cave.
Ruby was just here, and she seemed pretty frustrated this time. She got mad at me, saying I wouldn’t understand because I am Daddy’s favorite. Is that true? Daddy does seem to miss Ruby when she is gone, and she is gone a lot. Yet, when she gets home, Daddy is nice to us, but we’ve heard him get angry with Ruby. I have yet to understand why. Daddy loves Ruby. She was his first egg.
Ruby told me Daddy gets mad at her for being friends with people on the outside. I think she means her human friend. I think his name is Keiru. She says he is full of life and very curious about her, but insists that he is not dangerous. Ruby says Daddy believes that her seeing him now is dangerous. What could he be so afraid of? I asked that to Ruby, and she said that he’s either being a protective father or he thinks Keiru is a bad person.
That confused me even more. Person? I know humans can be dangerous, but isn’t that why we’re trying to get the Dragon Child on our side and get the humans to accept us? It is our world too, isn’t it? She said that if more humans knew we were real, they would feel as if they had to protect themselves from us.
The best answer Ruby could give me was that both the humans and our kind, the dragons, are powerful. Keiru, she says, sees Ruby as a “nice dragon” and a “secret friend”. Ruby insists to me that he would never mean to harm her or any like her. I guess because he’s a “nice human”.
I hope our plan works. I want my sister to keep her friend. When I told her that she smiled and told me Keiru would always be her friend, no matter what.
Issue three is under way!As new characters and surprises for Ryū show up, new sketches for the issues will be posted here. Here are the first four pages of issue three.Enjoy!
And more of issue three!Here are pages five through eight. I was especially happy with pages seven and eight. I had drawn them before, and they have been greatly improved. Enjoy!
And more of issue three!Here are pages nine through twelve. In page eleven, panel four was a nightmare, since it went through many redraws. Very frustrating. Enjoy!
And more of issue three!Here are pages thirteen through sixteen. My boyfriend thinks Chase in panel three of page fourteen inspires the need to practice amateur dentistry. Enjoy!
And more of issue three!Here are pages seventeen through twenty. Notice, if you will that the third panel on page seventeen is almost the same as the cover for this issue. Enjoy!
And back to the dragons!Here are pages twenty-one through twenty-four, as well as the newly drawn picture that will be cover image for the first issue. Enjoy!
Sneak peeks and old stuff resides here. I like to sketch, and here’s my not so finished results.