The Origin of Zac Lowhard
2 years, 24 months, 38 pages, and 198 pictures of Zac herself! Wow, what a journey it's been! And my journey with Zac started even longer ago...
I'm not sure exactly when I dreamed up the idea of Zac and her strange clockwork world, but I can tell you I did just that, I dreamed up her world! In 2018 (I think) I dreamed was a boy living in Newsies era New York City with a photographic memory so powerful most of the city's inhabitants came to me to solve little mysteries in their daily lives. The original versions of Zarah and Malcolm can also be traced back to my dream, but at the time they weren't siblings.
So what came next? That boy in my dream stuck with me and I knew I needed to use him somewhere. I drew a picture of that boy at that time, the picture that now makes history as my first image of Zac. So, where did the name Zac Lowhard come from? I'm not entirely sure, but I know I made it up separately, and then gave it to the boy from my dream. The first name Zac I'll admit probably was originally a reference to Leigh Berdugo's Kaz Brekker. At first I spelled Zac Zak (which, as you can see if turned around spells Kaz). It was partially unintentional that the spelling switched to Zac, I unintentionally started spelling it with a C, but I'm glad Zac is now distanced from her namesake, she's changed a lot since then. The last name Lowhard I completely created, wanting a name that suggested the struggle of life in the poorer class (this was back when Zac was basically a Newsie). Ironically, the last name doesn't fit her so well anymore, but I still love the way it sounds!
So, when did Zac develop into the character you know? That took some work-shopping! The next stage in Zac's history was when I turned Zac's story into a LARPing game with my siblings and friends. I didn't actually create most of the characters in Zac Lowhard, my playmates did. This stage of Zac Lowhard really helped my vision for the webcomic. A lot of the stories you know can trace their history back to Zac Lowhard, the LARPing game. Also, this is when Zac's gender changed from male to female.
When did I decide Zac should be a webcomic? In December of 2019 I was hiking with my family when the idea of starting a webcomic was proposed. I began to think seriously about the idea and the story of Zac Lowhard immediately came to mind as the perfect fit for my webcomic. I'd like to shout out some gratitude to my family for their wonderful idea and the common sense and encouragement they gave me throughout the process.
And, what did my monthly process look like? Well, early each month (and eventually a month or two ahead) I would thumbnail the page for the month (and eventually two pages a month when I upped the page count). I would write in the script along with the panels, instead of writing the script first like most comic artists (see image). Then, I'd edit the script by typing it up on a google doc. Next up was the drawing stage. I penciled some of the panels with a blue cartoon pencil (you can still see traces of the blue in some of the panels) but a lot of my images were done freehand. I chose to hardly every restart or whiteout my illustrations and while this means there is less constancy in the final produce, this choose was valuable for my self confidence and personal growth as an artist. I don't intend to freehand all future project but looking back on Zac, I wouldn't change my process for anything. The way the images grows and change over the course of the series is one of my favorite eliminates of Zac. Finally, I would scan in the images and edit them in Adobe Photoshop. That's when I would drop in the grey-tone, black background, and (of course) the text itself. I did minimal editing to the original illustrations in this stage. Finally, I'd post it here on Silverfists every 28th of the month! I settled on the 28th as my post date randomly, but in retrospect it's the most logical date I could have chosen.
As a final note, I want to acknowledge that I wrote, illustrated, and edited Zac by myself (with some help from my amazing sister), and Zac Lowhard has never been read by sensitivity readers. I fully realize that I, as a young Caucasian woman, may not have effectively captured the prospective of the many different experiences and identities depicted in Zac. If you have thoughts on the representation of identity in Zac that you are willing to share with me and other readers I would be so happy to hear them, whatever they may be.
Working on this story has been an important experience for me as an artist, and also as a person in general. I'm very grateful I've had the opportunity to share Zac Lowhard with you. And I'll continue creating in the future!
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Each of the Silverfists take turns sharing their thoughts about illustration found in graphic novels, games, album art, and more...