I've thought about making a comic starring ghosts on multiple occassions. The last comic idea was about friendship, betrayal and forgiveness, but it was not the right moment to make a comic. It's only now as I started reflecting that I realize how much influence dat unmade story has had on De Spoekies (The Spookies). What is a Spoekie? A better question is, who are De Spoekies?
In the cartoon series Top Cat there is a member of the small social club called Spook. In the Dutch dub he was sometimes called Spoekie. So I could go for a title like Spook Club (Ghost Club), de Spookjes (the little ghosts), but De Spoekies makes it personal as Top Cat is still my favourite cartoon series.
Which brings us to the cast (photo 2). Gato is also a tribute. A tribute to characters that communicate in their own way. Think of Tooter of the Snorks and Pikachu.
Kokkie might be a bit more difficult to explain as I'm unsure if the series that inspired him made it's way abroad or not. It seems like it was planned.
Pinky was inspired by Suzy. Stubborn, caring, but above all else the wisdom. She speaks her mind.
Which group doesn't have glue to keep everyone togther? Perhaps I should have named Bloe Glue. I can name many leaders from comics and cartoons, but none of them was a direct inspiration for Bloe. Bloe keeps the story going.
One of the first comics I remember reading consciously (watching the pictures) was Rasmus Klump. Something noticable about these comics is the presentation of the dialogues. The dialogues are at the bottom of the panels along with the heads of the characters so you can see who is speaking. I've always wanted to make a comic where I could present the dialogues like this and I think De Spoekies was a good fit. While I was working on that I got the idea to use symbols instead of heads. Because how many people haven't gotten used writing messages with emojis? I've received some nice responses on it so far (photo 3).
I was already thumbnailing and writing in my head, but I put everything on paper in about four hours (photo 4). Most of what I had planned stayed intact. The ending did get more refined. It has a somber moment and a better visualisation of how De Spoekies treat each other afterwards. This treatment is also better developed in other scenes. Think small gestures and facial expressions. My main goal in the thumbnails was to get the laughs, but as I continued I realized I also needed moment of affection. This is a story about friendship after all.
I thought about giving all De Spoekies an identical look and only the colours and accessoires would help you distinguish them. Still decided to give each of them their own physical look. While I was doing that I was thinking about a video of Genny Taratakovsky. He described the organic development of the look of Dexter and Dee Dee. The more often they were drawn, the closer they got to the look that fit them best. I noticed that too while thinking up these characters (photo 5). Truth be told, they were still under development, but deadlines are to be met. And within a single story, comic or cartoon, you want the characters to have a consistent look.
Something else to consider was that by the time I'm done with the story I have the desire to draw it again. I took a different approach this time. Every physical change I redrew in the panels I had drawn earlier if that was required. Like the fence of the house was a different colour, but it didn't look nice when I but De Spoekies in front of it. So I changed it and revisted all the previous panels I had drewn before to see change the colour there as well. The result is that I didn't have the desire to redraw the beginning after I was done with it, I was happy that I got to finish it.
The idea to give all the Spoekies the same base appearance did inspire me to add a(nother) tribute to Escher (photo 6). And I also saw some reuse for this in the page numbers. It's also another reference to Rasmus Klump, where the heads are printed in black and white below the panels.
It took about two months to make this book. Give or take. Should we count the time where I was working on it in my mind? Or do only the minutes count that you are actually working with your hands? This question is asked often, so it seemed good to add it here.
Also important to note is that the comic was created with Affinity software. The art has been drawn in Designer en the book was created in Publisher.
There is also a spot reserved for a unique drawing (photos 7-10). As I had first seen done by Tamara Havik. I have made 20 drawings in advance, because drawing on a market or convention can sometimes be inconvenient. And drawing come out better if you can give them the time they need.
The first drawing was made to order, because Manel bought a copy before I could show it on a market or convention. So this project had a pre-order, woohoo! Now this another thing that only works in Dutch. If we would translate unicorn from Dutch by each word you would get: one horn. So when I realised drawing number one was a one horn I got the crazy idea to find a connection between each drawing number and subject. So drawing number two became Tea for two, number four has clovers, etcetera. It wasn't easy to find a connection for some of them, but every drawing now has it's own creation story. For each book/drawing sold I'll make a post on Instagram/Facebook to tell these stories. Yes, I'm behind but it seemed like a good idea to present the book first.
Working on comics as a team is fun and some very nice stories were made, but somehow they give the motivation to make comics completely done by myself. That statement is not entirely correct, because all the influences and experiences come together in what is hopefully also a fun story for others. I thank everyone that has given De Spoekies a chance.