So where was I on this whole getting re-inspired?
I have actually been busy the last couple of months but not with creating art.
I’ve bought a flat and moved in (proper adulting). I’m extremely proud of this new chapter in my life. The lead up to this, the moving, the arranging, the decorating etc can be very time consuming. As anyone who has had to deal with this can testify to. Nonetheless we (Mrs Woods & I) have got there.
With a new flat and new studio (corner of the living room) all setup, I can now get back into creating art.
I’ve been working on a script for Dogbreath, a fanzine produced by Futurequake featuring the 2000AD characters in the “Strontium Dog” strip.
There’s a great fan film that you should watch, in case you’ve not seen it yet, which feature the “Strontium Dog” characters:
The strip I’m currently working on contains a large mixture of these characters playing a game of cards in a pub. The script is five pages long, has roughly six panels per page with five plus characters per panel.
It’s a challenge of a strip to draw.
I’ll be honest, I’ve sort of been putting it off. The thought of that many characters sat around talking; ensuring that each panel reads as intended, flows, with the beats in the right place but is also an enjoyable read, was daunting. The script is difficult, and has been something I’ve been mulling over for at least …..well, too long.
A few weeks ago in work, the marketing team were looking for nice gifts to send out to our key account customers.
One such gift was a foam calendar which, when assembled, formed a cube. It was a puzzle that needed construction. This cube/puzzle got passed around various members of the office (all highly intelligent people). No matter how we tried no-one could solve this and successfully make the cube.
The parts simply didn’t fit correct. There would always be a piece that didn’t quite work. Pretty much how I felt about the Dogbreath script.
Eventually the puzzle was solved by a member of the sales team. When asked how he did that he said ” It was a little bit of logic, a little bit of pazzaz” then proceeded to wave his fingers in a magic way.
Essentially, I think we were all over thinking it. We forgot that this little puzzle was supposed to be fun.
This got me thinking about the Dogbreath script. I’d been over thinking it. I returned to the drawing board, scrapping what I had previously done. I had a new approached to the script – just have fun.
I still kept the nine panel grid that I like to work by. I did however just go “F-it” if the person who can’t speak first isn’t on the right, then so be it. As long as I leave enough space in the panel to not give the letterer a headache, that’s good for me.
I thought to myself, If a panel here or there has to be broken, reversed or played with; then just do it.
Essentially I decided to have fun.
That’s an important lesson to learn when making comics. Have fun.
I’m doing this comic stuff to one day make a full-time career. However, there’s all these rules that are talked about. The ones covered in lots of books (recommended reading at the bottom).
There are also unwritten rules that you learn over time; don’t over render your panels, only draw what will be printed (digital artists), how to use line weights correctly, the difference in producing line art for black & white and colour comics.
The problem with all of this though is you can become to earnest, too bogged down in following these rules that you forget the number one thing.
You make comics because you love them, you want to entertain and have fun.
So the next time you’re stuck on a page, think of a foam calendar that’s supposed to be a cube, have a little pazzaz and a little fun. I know I will.
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art – Scott McCloud
Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels – Scott McCloud
Comics and Sequential Art – Will Eisner
Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative – Will Eisner
How Comics Work – Dave Gibbons & Tim Pilcher