I was hired by The Ann magazine to write and draw a 10-page cover story comic editorial on the Future of Ann Arbor, the place I call home. Ann Arbor is not alone in that we're experiencing an advanced level of growth, change and development all at the sacrifice of what once made this town an incredibly unique spot dating back to the counter-cultural movement. To put it plainly -- it's getting expensive. We're losing landmark businesses that were once a staple of the town. The working class are getting priced out. So what can be done about it? My goal was to ask as many questions as I could but also to raise awareness of the creatives who exist in the town. Also - I had three weeks to make it.
Starting with interviews, I sat down and talked with a select group of individuals whom I believe had valid things to say. We discussed our fears and hopes about the city and what could be done. After, pages of notes were boiled down to around 50 talking points, some of which made it and some didn't. They were then grouped into sections which aided in me molding the narrative.
After which, I went around and took pics of the city, focusing on the development and the existing low-scale buildings which make up the majority of Ann Arbor. These would act as reference pics to make the drawing go by faster as well as providing inspiration for the graphics and story I was to tell.
To make the editing easier on the final product, a new font was created based on my hand drawn style. Having hand lettered my own comics for ages, I knew that that step was fun, but could be lengthy -- especially if anything had to be changed, so this was another way to speed along the creative process.
The whole comic was then laid out in blueline - again sidestepping hand drawn for time reasons - doing everything on the computer with my Wacom tablet. Much of the panel layout stayed true until the very end.
After that, the blue line was tightened up and the copy was added in.
Here's the creative process behind the the pg 2 & 3 spread. First a collage was made in Photoshop of my pictures from around Ann Arbor...
... which was then changed to greyscale and later morphing into a kind of Duotone image (see final). Again, this was done with speed in mind, as I was certainly not looking for photo realistic depictions.
Cover mockups were made. Inspired by the cranes all over town and simple crosswalk signs, I merged the two to make an image that was both relatable and symbolic of the reality of how Ann Arbor is changing. The final chosen one flipped the sign that I'd originally made so that the design wouldn't point off the page and instead, point towards a headline that'd be added in by The Ann. A pic of the comic's spread was added into the background to give it further relevance, just as the colorful gradient connects it to the story inside. Considering the issue was to hit while Michigan was about to hit seasonal Fall colors, yellow & oranges were chosen for all of the final art.
Then, before I knew it, it was out. Distributed regionally along with the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, along with being available around the town itself, the issue was out. It was met with a positive response by young and old and continues to inspire discussion.