Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Saga of "Snow Leopard"

"Snow Leopard" began as a pitch that I made to the Comicbook Artists Guild (or, CAG) at the end of 2008 for With Honor, a projected "American manga" anthology conceived by CAG executive officer and comix creator Shawnti Therrien. Shawnti envisioned a graphic novel collection designed to replicate in all ways the look and flavor of genuine manga (except that it would be in English). In 2009, my concept was approved, a script written, and I laid out the majority of the story myself in detailed thumbnails. In February 2010, I was paired with a "dream team" - CAG veterans Albert "Albie" Luciano (who assisted me on layouts and provided the pencilled art); Alex Rivera (who inked); and Shawnti herself, who lettered, edited, and later added tones to Alex's inks.

I worked with Albie, Alex, and Shawnti on the 16 page story throughout 2009, in between our other gigs, jobs, and personal lives. My own life changed immensely that year. By the end of the year, I had lost my mother and my best friend, and dissolved a long-term relationship. In late October 2009, I met my current wife, Sarah, and December, my work on "Snow Leopard" was done and the story was advertised in Dark Discoveries, a magazine I was writing for at the time. The story was mostly done save for extra tones to be added to Alex's inks by Shawnti, and a few pages of lettering left to be done. Shawnti worked on the tones and lettering in early 2010, often going through each page, step-by-step, with me over the phone as she worked. With Honor was originally slated for an early 2010 release. It was nationally advertised and boasted a 1000 member strong Facebook group that I created and co-administrated with Shawnti. I also created a Facebook "fan page" that has peaked at 350 folks "liking" it (in Facebook parlance).

With Honor was stalled for the remainder of the year, however, due to various production issues. As hard as I tried to promote the book, matters were out of my hands. I had to wait as patiently as possible while Shawnti finished her work on "Snow Leopard" and on a story by comix vet and CAG member Rusty Haller,
who had sadly passed away early in the book's production. Throughout 2010, Shawnti and CAG President Keith Murphey sought to finalize financial plans and set a schedule for publication. Meanwhile, I tapped Albert Luciano as a possible collaborator on various web comix projects I was planning, including a possible continuation of "Snow Leopard", but Albie was unavailable due to other projects.

In September 2010, Creating Comics: 47 Master Artists Reveal the Techniques and Inspiration Behind Their Comic Genius, edited by Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz, was published. I was profiled, and the focus was on the creative process behind "Snow Leopard" and spotlighted page 12 of the story from my rough layouts to the finished page pencilled by Albert Luciano, inked by Alex Rivera, and lettered, toned, and edited by Shawnti. Also featured was the now-iconic Snow Leopard illustration (pictured at top of this post) pencilled by me and digitally inked and coloured by Shawnti.

As interest in With Honor peaked and a Winter or Spring 2011 wide release was planned, Keith Murphey decided to publish a galley-style vanity run for the creators to have comp copies and to coincide with summer comic cons. Due to unfortunate post-production errors on this first run of "Snow Leopard", two pages of the 16 page story were cut, so I decided to post the entire uncut story exclusively on Facebook - on my own profile and now on this page:!/pages/Snow-Leopard/223668407657587.

Now readers can see the story as it was originally intended by its creators until a definitive wide release of With Honor becomes a reality. With Honor is now tentatively slated for a Fall 2011 release. The uncut "Snow Leopard" by Covert, Luciano, Rivera, and Therrien will make its wide debut online by September 2011 to inaugurate the launch at last of my official website ( - under construction), largely designed and constructed by my wife Sarah as an adjunct site to her site, She Never Slept, which I currently write articles and reviews for at: http://sheneverslept/newsandreviews

As a follow up to the original Snow Leopard story, all-new installments will begin as web comix on by October 2011. The extremely talented C Lue Disharoon will be pencilling and inking, with yours truly once again writing and laying out the ongoing saga of Zhau Qi AKA Snow Leopard and her companion, Kira (an actual snow leopard). The new creative team is currently searching for a letterer.

"Snow Leopard", Snow Leopard, Zhau Qi, Kira, and all related characters, designs, and story elements are Copyright 2011 George Henry Smathers Jr. (AKA Henry Zeo Covert).

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