I always knew I wanted the text in Lighter Than My Shadow to be in my handwriting. Not a font of my handwriting, but every word handwritten. I had a few people tell me that was a crazy decision, but it surprised me that it turned out to be a lot less work than I thought. I kept the book’s text as sparse as possible, only adding words where absolutely necessary for dialogue or clarity in storytelling. The result was all the writing in the book fitting on less than 40 sides of A4 (although I do have very small writing…).
Unlike the drawings which were made at actual size, I did adjust the scale of my handwriting. Because all my life I’ve had complaints that my handwriting is too small, I enlarged it slightly, by 16.6%.
Setting the text happened in batches, usually 12 pages at a time at the end of a week’s drawing. I created the speech bubbles from the textured paper background, lightening it a little to stand out on the page, and I drew the tails in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet.
…and that’s it! Apart from the beginning of every week, when I finalised the storyboards into pencil sketches, I was very simply a drawing machine. I continued like that, 12 pages a week every week for 14 months like clockwork.
Well, not quite. Because I am not a drawing machine, I am a person. And the story I was working on was not exactly something I could detach myself from. My plan was to work at 12 pages a week, every week for 14 months, and the book would be done just like that. Instead it was unlike anything I could have anticipated at all.