Sunday, July 26, 2015

Original Art Sundays No, 221: Speedy Recovery, pp. 18 and 19

Well, on schedule for another week! How does she do it?
Seriously, how? I have no idea!
I worked 25 hours overtime again this week,and I go in for another 15 hour shift in just an hour or so. Thank the Deity for archives, eh?
But it's funny. When I'm working too much and teaching, I'm more driven to create than when I'm simply working too much.
Back to our story.
Speedy and the girls in the band are chained to a dungeon wall, singing an off-key note (foreshadowed by showing Mae Aswell singing painfully, back on page 6). This is a desperate attempt to stop Toby Continued from opening the gateway to the sonic dimension and setting himself up as ruler of all.
I was concerned that the implosion of the sonic universe gateway was too quick, too "pat" to read well, but I was reluctant to expand the moment of crisis.
I think, in retrospect, that the cast shadows from Toby's prone figure in the top panel of p. 19 do more harm than good. But I do really like the big block "WHUMP" of him passing out and falling down in the previous panel.
Rendering on the bricks was lighter this time, to concentrate on the characters. It always annoyed me that so little attention was given to getting out of the physical traps after resolution of some mad doomsday plan. Devoting a page to getting unchained from the wall just seemed practical. And the "guitarist" reference brings the band skills back into the story.
Could I have pushed the background further on p. 18? Possibly, but I wanted the little "pop" of the gateway closing to be a key moment.
I loved Helena Handbasket's pose at the bottom of p.19.
All for this week, folks. If I keep posting two pages a week, we have 3 or 4 more weeks of Speedy!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Original Art Sundays No. 220: Speedy Recovery, pp. 16 and 17

Back on schedule and posting two pages for one week, as a way of thanking readers for tolerating my erratic postings.
When we left, our villain had just laid out and begun the final steps of his mad plot.Speedy and the girls are chained to a dungeon wall, forced to listen as Toby Continued rips open the sonic dimension.
No read on...
Some things that I like here: the overlapping and larger notes, implying escalating volume. The strangely shaped notes on page 17. Speedy's "sour note" is fun!
Also, the lines "Sing along", "But we're dying!" and "you need the practice" are classic deadpan.
Speedy's shirt collar just barely creeping over the panel border at the bottom of page 17 is a fun touch.
The art works well here from a narrative standpoint, though I think Speedy's hands got a bit too big in the last panel.
Drawing sound is an interesting challenge. Devices like musical notes and symbols are fairly common, and I like playing with them. One of the most interesting approaches was used by Bernie Wrightson in his Marvel adaptation of the King Kull story "The Skull of Silence". Wrightson's original intent was to bleed out the color panel by panel as silence took over, but Marvel's colorists and printers blew it. Still, an intriguing idea.
Next: more Speedy!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Original Art Sundays (Thursday) Nos. 218-219: Speedy Recovery, pp. 14 - 15

Before I teach my Comic Book Writing class tonight, I wanted to update the blog. I've had some decent scanning time, at last!
Here are the next two pages of Speedy Recovery and His All-Girl Orchestra.

This page is the text dump. The back story is explained, and the villain's master plan is revealed.
When doing this kind of page, it's important to keep it visually interesting. The top tier deals with the reality of the situation. The second and third tiers are visualizations of the plan, images that support the text. They're also the character's imagination, so quotation marks are used rather than word balloons, though it's still just Toby talking.
The page has curved panel borders, formed by rolling notes. That rolling rubber stamp was just what I needed to make this story what I wanted!
Sidebar: rubber stamps are cool. In the mid-70s, experimental filmmaker Ken Brown did a short done entirely with rubber stamps, called STAMPEDE. I searched for it online, but came a cropper. Brown is still very active, and occasionally there's a retrospective of his film work.
Ahem. Back to the issue at hand.
Info dump is tricky. How much is too much? In general, it's a good idea to treat text blocks like word balloons. Old school comic writing held that no word balloon should exceed a word count of 30. Let's look at that:
Toby, panel 1: 25 words
Toby (offscreen), panel 2: two balloons, 27 words and 18 words.
Teir 2, sonic explosion text: two captions, 62 words and 18 words.
Bottom tier, ruler of the world fantasy: two captions, 21 words and 13 words.
Clearly , the most problematic is the first caption on the center tier. In retrospect, it would have been better to break that up in thirds. The places for the text breaks are obvious- the ends of each sentence- but that poses some layout challenges if the image is still to read uninterrupted.
On to the next page.
 This page requires almost no text. It's just Toby Continued putting the last steps of his mad plan into action. Visually, I wanted the POV of his hands hitting the keyboards followed by a reverse shot of him in action. The intent of the "eye ellipses" was to show the dimensional portal mentioned on the previous page starting to open. I'm not sure how well it works visually. If the notes emanating from it increased in size as they did so, it might have been more visually clear.
The music in Toby's body was fun to do. I took some of my favorite sheet music, twisted it around on a Xerox, scanned and reversed it, then used a light table to find shapes that matched the form needed. Then it was on to the light table with the x-acto knife, followed by some glue stick work! By finding pieces that echoed the form, I added to the dimensionality of that form.
Was there a faster way to do it? Maybe. But as with the rocks, I wanted to do as much hand work as possible. As Charles Schulz said when asked why he didn't use assistants on Peanuts, I don't want to give up that much fun!
Next: more Speedy, as events build to a crisis.