Hive City Hootenanny – Artist’s Notes and Highlights

My second comic, and Olive’s too. Getting out of trouble they didn’t even cause this time. I tried a lot of experimental things with this comic, and in the end I think most of them worked. I was extremely playful with my layouts, hiding honey comb shapes everywhere, and playing a little loose with panel structure. The coloring, too, was a bit of formalism. Everything that belongs to Hive City is honey toned, and shaded with browns, whereas Olive, and everything they bring to the city is a nice cool purple.

I feel at the end of the project that I could have pushed the color language further, and abstracted a lot more than I did. But I learned a ton working on this comic, and as El pointed out – I have to have pushed myself this far to push myself further next time.

I hope you enjoyed our romp in Hive City. Here are my highlights.

1 Wait, where’s Olive?

I love that Olive is not the narrator of this piece. In fact, they don’t even appear on page one. Our main character, or at least the character who we follow along the story, is the middle aged gentleman there in the hive, working away at the walls.

Basically everything on this page is honey toned. Only the night sky, and the sign leading out of the city is purple. The night does not belong to the bees. When El gave me this script, I immediately knew I wanted to try to make hive shaped panels. That was, as it turned out, a lot harder to figure out than I had anticipated. It gave me a lot of room to play with negative space in this comic, and I really enjoyed the challenge.

The messy line quality is meant to evoke the honeyed feel of the world.


Enter our hero, Olive, running, flipping, and swooshing through the city, leaving their invitations for the workers. I adore this page. The script was very vague about what should be going on here, so I really just got to play. They’re jumping from rooftop to rooftop, flipping over buildings, and even shimmying down panel gutters. I had to watch so many parkour videos, y’all. Again, we have heavy use of negative space, and I’ve hidden another couple of hexagons in it.

Olive leaves a purple note for the honeyed man, in what I’m hoping is the first real hint about the use of color in the comic.

Also, I kinda desperately want their rose decorated Doc Martin’s

3 The eponymous hootenanny

Oh this page took me forever to design. I knew I wanted to do something floating with the snap shots into the party, and getting the panel structure to work took some fiddling. Ultimately, it was the negative space that saved me, once again. The black bars separating out distinct spaces where I didn’t want a harsh panel border.

I got to do a lot of very fun things with my color language here: the lighting behind the door when our narrator gets to the door in the first panel. the music notes and swirls. All the liquor and instruments are purple. The trucker is the only purple tinged human in the piece. I even gave one honeyed character purple lipstick.

I have so much affection for this page. I love my singing drunk, and his wobbly music notes. I love the fallen down 6 on the door in panel 1. The exasperated demon bar tender, and the couple swing dancing. I had a lot of fun designing everyone here.

Only one hexagon on this page, as the bees intrude on this space. KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

4 Oh No, It’s the Buzz!

The bees intrude, and so do their hexagons, plaguing the left side of the page. I was trying a few pretty risky things with the flow on this page, and I think in my attention to the flow, I left an important beat out of the fight scene. (The bee pinning Olive’s jacket needed to have his own beat before they escape by slipping out.) I’m still pretty happy with how it came out, and I have learned a lot for the next time.

My Frank Miller does Daredevil style after images of Olive’s movement were a lot of fun to try to pull off, and honestly, the bees tickle me. I love their ridiculous little pointy faces. Just wanna sock one right on the nose….

5 Heard there was a party

And our last hexagon, as we smash through the Bee’s influence. As soon as I read the script, I knew I wanted to do this. I love a good bit of formalism, and this comic was screaming for silly little touches like this. I kind of painted myself into a corner with it, given the extremely strange shape of the 5th panel, but it wasn’t anything a tiny script shift couldn’t fit, and frankly, I like this dialogue better anyway.

I needed the last panel to feel full, since I was doing a large panel scene instead of little glimpses like the first Hootenanny, so I got to play around with more and more little extras and props to throw into the street party. And our narrator first in line here to get his ribs.

For a chuckle, check out what the goat has for his dinner.

Hive City Hootenanny was drawn in Clip Studio, and lettered in Adobe Illustrator.

Next up: Olive Peaseblossom in Suburbia.