John, EJ, and Migs volt in this week (but not the way you would think… sicko) and review Flash: Rebirth #6, New Avengers #62, and Blackest Night #7. After a round of Quick Shots and War of Thumbs, the bastards discuss the possibility of burn out caused by an over-saturation of comic book films in the cinemas.[audio: http://www.alexcipriano.com/podcast/tk042.mp3]
Download the episode here
If you’re just blowing in, this is the second in a series of posts documenting the tribulations I went through in adapting to a widescreen-format comic. Co-conspirator Justin Jordan discusses the writing aspect of the challenge here.
So I’ve been dissecting some of the most recent and highly effective double-page spreads I’ve seen to try and decipher what logic the artists might’ve been operating on. Reverse-engineering, if you will. I figure if I stare at these babies long enough I may be able to extract remnants of whatever special cut of LSD the penciller was on when thumbnailing, and use then-acquired zen state on projects such as JENNY STRANGE.
Because hey… like Thomas Edison probably always said, “When in doubt, steal from the best.”
In Ultimate Spider-Man #124, Immonen uses the top half of the page to establish the environment and mood of the scene, taking full advantage of the panoramic view. The tall narrow panels of the lower half splits the events into tense, almost choking, moments.
Similarly, in Crossed #1 Jacen Burrows splits the spread into a top and bottom half. The top however is employed as an illustrative piece to essentially convey a definitive shot of the story’s backdrop, whereas the smaller panels below shows us the actual characters and pushes the story forward.
In Secret Invasion #1, Leinil Yu went with a three-tier spread to initially wow you with a shot just packed with characters. The second tier features mostly talking heads, whereas the final tier is pretty much gravy to just tense you up for whatever comes first on the next page.
So without getting too technical and shit, what strikes me the most as the widescreen format’s strength is the panoramic advantage as the splashes just look more cinematic, allowing the reader’s eye to wander more and discover things. Never doubt the power of Where’s Waldo.
Something to think about.
This series of posts concludes with me showing my JENNY STRANGE pages, which I did as I studied the above artists. So it’ll be a healthy exercise in accepting my apparent density. No doubt my girl would have a thing or two to add about that. Fun for the whole family, I guess.
Remember that X-Files episode “Shapes”? If it was a FRIENDS episode, it’d be called “The One with the American-Indian Werewolf.” No, really.
So I have a couple of pages of my Thor set done. Asgard was a bitch, but I think I pulled it off… after a fashion. Posting those when page three is in the can. Here’s the thing though: I get about half way through the loose pencils of page three when I start feeling like my art style is becoming contrived. Choked even. I prop it up on my desk, take a step back, and I swear I feel like killing something. Then I flash back to what a friend said about the faces of the characters in my Next Wave set. Apparently I have this bad habit of, maybe not changing characters’ faces, but changing the styles with which those faces are drawn from different angles. D’ya get me? And she was right!
I start to remember that in the nineties, as I was just starting to get serious about my sequential art, I needed to really have a solid foundation in drawing the face from different angles. But instead! Me being the total hack that I am, I looked at so many of my favorite artists for reference that I subconsciously incorporated too much of their face styles into mine. Madureira’s distinctive side views. Hughes’s front shots. You get the picture. Along the way, not only did I become some sort of clone — WORSE! I became a mishmash of different styles that were in constant flux and conflict with each other. I became some stylistic ersatz Frankenstein.
I can draw, sure. But it’s not me drawing.
So I tear my third page into bite-size bits (It takes a while, it’s 11×17 after all) and spend three days finding it—finding the convergence of everything i have ever absorbed from every artist I have ever admired. Fine, it probably didn’t all happen in the past three days… they might have simply been the culmination of this, for lack of a better way of putting it, artistic digestion. And it’s still happening to me.
I craft a sort of mission statement for my style, realizing that since my influences are mainly of the cartoony sort (Madureira, Campbell, Pearson, Drucker, Frezzato, Ramos, Immonen, and Adams), it makes no sense to contrive it with the “serious” sensibilities. All this time, I’ve been trying to do a Jim Lee piece with Campbell’s hand, know what I mean? Yes, I know I’m no J. Scott Campbell, but come on. It’s a metaphor.
I remember some concept art videos I saw. Some cool Gnomon shit. And I remember the importance of creating strong, defined, and unique silhouettes. And then I wake up and see that my strengths have always been in shapes. Spheres. Cubes. Cylinders. The whole shaboodle. And I’m focusing these insights into a conscious effort to create a style that is more cartoony than my past work, but not overboard. Coz the way I figure it, the only real way my stuff is gonna look consistent from page to page, panel to panel, is if it’s really my stuff. It’s high time I ditch my crutches and grew some sea legs. So there, as far as figure and face work goes… I’m going with this more rubbery, animated feel. The serious sensibilities will be maintained only in the other details. Shadowplay (Mignola), camera placement (Hitch), figure dynamics (Frazetta), that kinda stuff.
That said, here’s some of the stuff I just did. And I love ’em.
Thor (current style)
Thor (Shitty older version)
And lastly.. Logan and Emma
I am happy now.
On with page three.