Webcomic & Novel
Starfish Lovers began in the living room of a single-wide trailer in Saint Augustine, Florida. The concept of the feline characters of Pinky and Inky originated from Patricia Handler as she and I discussed the idea of a world that was both space and sea combined.
Enamored with the beauty of such a place and as the ideas flowed. The illustration on the left was rendered in a matter of a few days.
I was inspired by RossDraws A well-renowned Illustrator on Youtube who had posted some Artist tip Videoes. They focused on the importance of the process for character concept and background design. In the hopes of achieving the same level of skill and beauty in my own works I took the idea from the couch and began my own process.
Focused on the concept of the world being like the sea and like space, I came to the conclusion that the felines who lived in this world would need some kind of protection from the elements. I researched for astronaut and diver suits for the concept work on the right.
Eventually, the decision to make the helmet a bubble was finalized. It created a unique element while also allowing ease for illustration as I struggled with ear placement for the character while creating his outfit.
Below is the concept of work involving the decision making process for the background of the illustration for Starfish Lovers. There were many elements that I wanted to implement and I adored the concepts of reefs floating on asteroids, kelp forests, cities that lived on the backs of whales, and large floating jellyfish that drifted through the astral currents.
Understanding I couldn't do all of them at once I petitioned a vote from fans and the 5th thumbnail was selected for the final piece.
Other Related Works
Several months after the creation of this poster and posting a handful of videos about the behind the scenes work. The spark for this world and the characters in it was reignited in a Senior Design Class. Originally, Starfish Lovers was meant to be a Children's Book dedicated to a younger audience about normalizing the LGBTQ community.
After it was rejected in place of another idea I decided to go out on my own and go deeper for this new passion project. It became larger and more meaningful as I began to plan out the story. What started off as 4,000 words over a weekend at the aquarium. Soon became an entire novel series with the process of the first book underway at the end of March 2020.
At the start of the Corona Virus and arriving home from Arizona from visiting family. I fell ill from the virus itself and found comfort in a Webtoons comic called Castle Swimmers.
Inspired and feeling the tug again for the joy of making comics. I decided that if Wendy could do it so could I. Thus started the process of writing the first few chapters by the end of March and the posting of the first episode to Starfish Lovers on April 9th 2020.
In the midst of ideation for Starfish Lovers and writing the outline for the story itself I posted some time ago on this website's blog for submissions of feline characters from pet owners. From family and friends and a follower from my IG, I gathered a cast of characters for the story aside from Pinky and Inky and began concept work for each of them. Some of the earliest ideations can be found below.
The majority of these characters became vital to the story and some felines even had the honor of becoming Queens, Captains, and individuals of high status within the world they live in. Soon enough each of them had a living breathing personality that helped them stand out from the crowd. While many others aided in becoming background characters in crowds on the street to refugee's dwelling on the Starwind. The vessel that Pinky and the main cast of characters board in the search for a new sun on the Island of Ortus.
Eventually, I hammered out the design I wanted to implement for the Webtoon as I continued to the second episode of Starfish Lovers. I started illustrating the way I wanted to illustrate and decided not to hold back. I soon learned that the illustration for the novel and the illustration for the webtoons would have to be strikingly different but appropriate to the media it belonged to.
In the first few months of 2020, I began the process of world-building for Starfish Lovers.
You can find a detailed rambling of my thoughts on my blog post.
Amidst the thought process, research of what would happen to a planet without its sun, and concept ideas circulating how the world functioned. I realized that now I had a Webtoons I needed to create visual representations of the world as well.
This included the Solar Tower, the holding place for the Sun, and the dwelling place of the Dawn Guard. You can see the concept work for those buildings to the left.
I even had to take into consideration the attire for the members of what is known as "The Fold". A religious organization that claims leadership over the setting in the story; The Reef of Emrich. You can find those concepts below those of the Solar Tower.