Saturday, June 15, 2013

Production Notes | Spring Chickens and King St. Capers

What I'm sure nobody's wondering is: what do the comics look like before you're done with them? Well, to answer the question nobody's asking, HERE's what they look like.

Here's we've got the Silent Pirate fan art, kitty sniff, Call Me Gail and the neighbourhood cat's middle finger.
Here we've got Ignacio, from Silent Pirate; Call Me Gail which was my twist on an expression that's a bit of a pet peeve of mine; the Neighbour's Cat; and Fishy Smell.

All of these come from the time before I learned how to add colour to the strips. You can see that I try and speed things up by drawing a bunch on one sheet of paper, then scanning them all at once, and doing the finishing touches digitally. 

Indoor v. Outdoor cats, microadvertizing, laptop kitty and Fretting over brownouts.
In this image I squished two multi-panel cartoons into one quarter of a page - - this can significantly reduce the detail, and make the images small to work with when adding colour afterwards. A lesson learned. Plus, when deleting the whitespace before adding colour, the smaller the details and images, the more difficult.

Here we've got The Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Cats; Microadvertizing; Cybercrimes; and Fretting Over Brownouts.

I've had the rough draft of Indoor v. Outdoors cats drawn for literally three years before I got to it. I didn't like how it looked, so had to completely redraw it -- and of course it's for the better. Adding colour has made a significant difference, I think.

The Dahmer gag was another joke that'd been in the back of my mind for years and years - - now that I'm drawing up a bunch of the comics, it was time to finally get it done.

When I'm finished with a page, I'll order them to be published with the what I feel is the strongest cartoon to go first. From the above selections, it went Brownouts, Cybercrimes, Indoor v. Outdoor and then Microadvertizing. How would you have ordered them?

Great work and Cuddling Experience
Here's a quick example of two images where I was still making the shift from heavily shaded images to clean outlines to simplify the colouring process later on down the line. It looks like I've left some notes on the page for me while in the digital editing process, too.

In Great Work, I was really pleased with how the shading in the boss's suit turned out. It gave me hope that this could have some positive returns going forward.

My wife is still haunted by Cuddling Experience, which is unfair, because it was more of a joke than a critique, but also an observation ;)

The Hot Tub Drops on King St.
For the Hot Tub story arc for the King St. Capers, I tried something entirely different than what I'd been doing with other strips. Instead of drawing an entire gag in one cell, I chose to draw strip elements that I could incorporate into a series of gags. In this case, the image of two people observing the hot tub can be used in any instance when these people are observing the hot tub.

In Someone Leave Their Hot Tub, panels one, two and three were used; in Hot Tub in the Middle of the Street, I used panel four and another panel from a second page (there were four used in this story arc); and I reused panel four again in What Could Be Worse Than That?

I have to say, adding colour to the Capers has brought a LOT more life to them, and I'm even more happy with how they're turning out these days. The digital editing is making a lot more interesting stuff possible, as well.

Just one further example is, I've only had to draw the barber pole outside Mr. Minestrone's shop once, and then reused it every time - which is much faster than drawing and colouring a new barber pole every time. Same thing with the pile of butts and the pile of empty liquor bottles.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Production Notes | Spill Your Guts

Once again,  I have to note, Spill Your Guts is a scene that I conceived early in the writing phase for the story and have been looking forward to creating for years and years. It's taken that long to get here, but I think it's worth it.

It seemed a showdown in an abandoned slaughterhouse would be incomplete without resorting to a captive bolt stunner -- traditionally you'd see people hanging from meat hooks, but this was something I thought would be a good balance between gruesome and effective.

I was a little dismayed a few months ago when I was watching Person of Interest (I think) when the protagonist grabbed a captive bolt stunner and executed a combatant, too, stealing a bit of my thunder, but that was at the same time when How I Met Your Mother also created the "Bro Bibs" which encroached on my "Gentleman's Bib" idea -- frankly, it's stupid that there isn't a classy  apron or bib out there we can wear to protect our three-piece suits when we're sipping on lobster bisque.  RIGHT?!

Another scene where I've tried to balance plot, exposition and action - - though they have to occur sequentially instead of concurrently. But perhaps later on I'll have another go at it.

The circled numbers all over the page are measurements - - I freely sketch the cells and images during the conception drawings, and then measure them a bit more accurately for the good copy. For the horizontal measurements, I usually just turn to a cell being 1/3, 1/2 or 1/4 of the page's width, rather than measuring it out specifically.

Sometimes in the rough sketches I find I REALLY like how an image looks, and I have trouble duplicating it - - like when Mugabe is glaring up at Miller after being tossed into the stall. I worked hard to make sure that image was as close to the concept drawing as I could. I think it worked out - - other times I haven't been so lucky.

In the final page, I wanted Mugabe to look like he was preparing for a coup de grace, accepting his fate -- and I thought that came through well in the scene above, which is probably why I was hoping to recreate that cell as closely as possible when drawing the good copy.

As we near the midway point of Act III, of course we're probably hitting the point of no return for most of these characters - - Miller has now committed murder, everybody is show, slashed, tortured and beaten, and they realize that the stakes are pretty high, even if they seem pretty ridiculous (is releasing another plague on the earth a cool villainous plot or a bit farfetched?)

However, "releasing a plague" does live up to the "He wants to kill everyone" remark from earlier, which might have been difficult to live up to when you read it at the end of Act II.

I hope some of these production notes are a handy complement to reading the story as we go. I'm happy to answer any questions, too.