Work In Progress, Zines

How A Green Bean Comes To Life IV

Untrimmed Green Beans

When I pick up Green Beans from the printers, they look a bit drab: my work isn’t quite done. Part of what I think people like about the Green Bean is its handmade feel, and a lot of that is down to the touches I add after the printers, when many people would consider it finished.

Trimming Green Beans

I am a pathological perfectionist. The first change I make to the freshly pressed Green Beans is to sharpen the crease with a (vegetarian) bone folder, then trim the three edges to make them flush. I do this by hand with a scalpel, and have a fine callus on my index finger from the 2000+ Green Beans that I’ve finished this way. One day, I will invest in a guillotine.

Green Bean Corners

After the trimming, I punch the corners. My Zutter heavy-duty lifetime-guaranteed corner-rounder has indeed lived up to its claim, and continues to plough through whole Green Beans in one clunk.

Colouring Green Beans

Next, the best bit! I pick from my generous supply of Neon Green Lyra Colour Giant pencils and colour the beans on the front by hand.

Signing Green Bean

Finally I sign and number the issue and send it on its merry way out into the world…

Work In Progress, Zines

How A Green Bean Comes To Life III

Photoshop

Once I’ve done the inking, my work on paper for a Green Bean is done for the time being. I scan the artwork (which is drawn at print size) and work in Photoshop to remove my pencil lines and yellowy choice of paper, leaving a crisp black and white illustration.

I do this for each double page, gradually over the space of a few weeks – sometimes months! – until I have 32 pages of artwork and a front cover. These I assemble into a PDF document and then trundle along to the printers, rucksack full of precious recycled paper.

It took me a bit of trial and error and a couple of bad print runs to find the right printer for The Green Bean. I knew I wanted it to be somewhere local, so I could visit in person to explain my very specific requirements and check proofs. I didn’t really mind how much I had to pay so long as the zines looked right, and in the end I found competitive prices and great service at Clifton Print Services, who’ve been printing The Green Beans ever since. I can’t recommend them highly enough and, though it will complicate matters slightly, I hope to keep using them to print The Green Bean even when I no longer live in Bristol!

Work In Progress, Zines

How A Green Bean Comes To Life II

I’m always juggling work on the Green Bean with a hundred other things. This means I have to be super-organised in order to put out issues as regularly as I do (which truly isn’t very regularly at all!)

Green Bean Pencils

Every page starts with a rough pencil sketch, which varies from being very loose and open to precise and organised. Usually if there’s going to be writing I leave the space blank – I rarely plan what I’m going to write, just go for it spontaneously, which is why the sentences in The Green Bean are sometimes a little strange and full of typos. I try to do the pencil sketches in batches, say, of 5 double pages at a time. With the thinking part done, I can then dip in and out of inking those pages in between other the work over the course of a week or so.

Green Bean Inks 1

When drawing the Green Bean, I work with 01 and 005 Micron pens, which I’ve found produce a very consistent line that scans well. I draws, perhaps ill-advisedly, on the same paper upon which Green Beans are printed. It’s 100% recycled photocopy paper that I buy in great reams, ploughing through several a month. I like how the surface takes the ink of the Micron pens, and I also like that it’s cheap and cheerful. I get horribly intimidated by expensive paper, and afraid I might never draw anything. The downside of my beloved copy paper is that it’s not made to last: after a year or two, especially if kept in the light, it suffers very serious yellowing. I happen to like the effect, but it means that my original drawings will never be worth very much as they’re not likely to be around in 50 years. Oh well.

These pages-in-progress are from the forthcoming Green Bean: Volume 4, Issue 3.

Green Bean Inks 2

Work In Progress, Zines

How A Green Bean Comes To Life

Green-Bean

A little over three years ago, I set pen to paper on Volume 1, Issue 1 of a little something I called The Green Bean.

When I decided I wanted to make my own magazine (I didn’t even really know what a zine was), I didn’t really think much about whether anyone would read it. I mean, I knew I wanted to sell it, but I never really expected anyone to buy, except perhaps well-meaning and polite friends and family who probably wouldn’t read it anyway.

Volume 1, Issue 1 came out in May 2010, and I was fortunate enough to have it reviewed on Pikaland which gave it a great headstart. Since then my regular(ish) paper ramblings have found a steadily growing audience all over the world, and I’m still not sure quite how! Perhaps it’s best not to question these things, and just be thankful to the people that support me to keep doing something that I love so much.

As the Green Bean heads into it’s fourth year of publication, production has become quite streamlined. It’s had to be, really, for me to keep it going alongside work on much bigger projects, Lighter Than My Shadow and The Crystal Mirror. Every issue begins life as a page of notes or a list, and I’m usually 2-3 issues ahead of myself with the planning. Sometimes I’ll settle on a theme that guides the content, other times I just add ideas to the list as and when the come and an issue ends up being a nice hotch-potch.

The issue I’m working on now is loosely about picnics and summer walks. I have other issues in the pipeline for later this year: one about moving to a new town, one about turning 30, and always my favourite ones to produce: an issue about an upcoming holiday.

Once I’ve planned a whole issue, I can start drawing (that’s tomorrow’s blog).