Guest Blog: ILYA on Room For Love (Part Seven)

In the seventh in his series of blog posts about Room For Love, ILYA talks about the frantic eight-month production process.

That wasn’t The End? It may have read like one, but no, not quite.


So, here we are, SelfMadeHero for 2013, and another very long and involved story cut mercifully short: there was one last slot remaining on their roster, for October, eight months hence. I got the green light. It was a go. Room For Love, to be told in 120 pages.

I took another run at laying out the opening sequence (‘By The Way’), now that it was the opening chapter of an entire book instead of its own short story. Starting with the open road…

room 7 1

Very early on, almost immediately, the publisher needed to see a sample page, fully finished, plus something that they could take to Book Fairs and Festivals (such as the big industry jamboree in Angouleme, France, at the end of January), in order to test the waters, raise and gauge interest.

I went back to the moment my central characters first meet, on The Bridge…

room 7 2

This then becomes…

room 7 3

(…and is different again in the final book – page 53)

My limited palette was set – blues for Pamela, browns for Willie, I mean Frank. Character sketches, done, were pinned above my drawing board to help keep me “on model” throughout.

room 7 4


That scene I imagined back in 1993, with Young Willie among his “older friends”, living rough on the street? Here it comes, laid out as an intense 2 pages instead of the majestic and bravura manga sequence of a great many pages that I had once dreamed it being…

room 7 5

From here, I went on to produce an entire large format (A3) sketchbook filled with proportionate (but small) thumbnail pages based on my early rough layouts. These are more detailed than anything that I would produce purely for myself, precisely so that publisher Emma Hayley can have some idea of what she’s getting.

Making up the top half of one of these A3 sketchbook pages, the tramps sequence at this stage looked like this (before the 2-page extent of this scene had to be further edited down to just the 1)…

room 7 6

Since I was hand lettering, providing layered files for any subsequent foreign language edition, and luckily had plenty of previous with SelfMadeHero, I was trusted enough not to have to produce a full-length typescript. Phew! The sketchbook thumbnailed spreads are therefore fully dialogued. You will need your pince-nez and a magnifying glass for this…

Pages 27-28, and 91-92 in the finished book, at the thumbnail stage.

Annoyingly, my spreads were repaginated after subsequent cuts were made – but happily fell into a new order that was just as good if not, in many cases, better.

The first half of the story, wherein the two central characters lead separate lives, builds up to ‘The Bridge’, with an awesome double-page spread at what was, at one time, the exact halfway mark.

room 7 8

This would still have been the case had not the back end – once the odd couple of Frank and Pamela have met – come in quite so heavy. Over the odds by more than 30 pages, I was obliged to go back in to the first half again and cut out 17 pages from it to accommodate, ruining my artful symmetry. And even so, we then had to agree to more story pages than the original 120, to bring the final extent up to a total of 136 – the most that I was physically capable of producing in the time remaining. All for the same shelf price, folks. You’ve got yourselves a bargain!

ILYA’s graphic novel, Room For Love, is available now from all good book shops. You can buy it online here (Amazon) and here (Waterstones).

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.