Saturday, 19 November 2011

She says: How NoHo Noir works

When Mark and I first started working on NoHo Noir, I already knew and liked his work. He had contributed illustrations to Dark Valentine Magazine, which I published. He worked fast (which turned out to be a godsend when we had artists drop out right before press time), and his work always brought an extra dimension to the stories.
What I didn't realize when we began our collaboration was what an intensely satisfying creative experience it was going to be or that it would lead to such a warm friendship, which I cherish.
So what was our process?  I'd love to say that "in the beginning was the word," but that wasn't always true.
Many times,"in the beginning" was a vague idea.
Until we began the countdown to the final episodes in Volume I, bringing everyone's story to a conclusion, the stories were never planned out in advance. As a result, sometimes the subplots took rather radical turns, some of which didn't pan out.
Our stories ran Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, I'd email Mark, letting him know what the two new stories would be and let him know if I had any thoughts for an illustration.  (At first, I used to bombard him with links to reference material and pictures of people and all sorts of information I thought he might need. I'm sure he thought it was overkill, but he never said so.)
Within a few weeks, though, we were so in synch that even when I was fumbling to find an image that would encapsulate my story, he'd deliver something that said everything I wanted to say (and more). He created a lovely painting for my father/son story "Cosmos" that was set at the Griffith Park Observatory, my favorite building in Los Angeles. The painting really captured the closeness of the two characters, whose stories became the heart of the series.
He was also good about indulging me. His illustration for "Molecules," a story that introduced an elderly widower still mourning his wife, he modeled the character's cat after my own favorite feline, Orange Cat.
More than a few times, Mark completed his illustration before I completed my story and as a result, I was inspired to write a better story.
Sometimes his illustrations made me laugh out loud, like the one he painted for a story called "He Said/She Said," chronicling a couple's disastrous story pitch at a movie studio. I had told him I wanted the executive's office to be filled with classic movie posters and he chose Jaws. The result was a hilarious illustration that added a special dimension of silliness to what was one of my favorite stories.
Now that we're publishing a whole new cycle of stories, I'm a little more organized than I was with Volume I.  I know where the stories are going and how we're going to get there. Mark's already way ahead of me, though, having finished the illustrations for the first two stories before I've written word one.
He also designed this site and put together all the little details that make it awesome.
I (heart) Mark Satchwill.


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  2. Looking forward to more NoHo Noir stories and illos!. Note: I was surprised when I first learned that the creepy clown sign is based on the actual sign at Circus Liquor on Vineland. If I lived nearby, I think I'd be over there every Sunday night, staring up at that sign, drinking from a bottle in a sack, and thinking about what the hell went wrong with my life. Good times.

  3. Thanks Manuel! The first new story and illo are now up!

  4. His terrific illustrations are a perfect compliment to your story-telling. They really capture the NoHo Noir vibe. Well done, both of you.