Friday, September 14, 2012

Things I Could Have Done Better Vol. 1: Think It ALL Through!

Hey there, Meat-Heads!! Looooooong time no see!

  I'm so sorry it's been so long since I've had a blog post up--sometimes things get busy and other times I just don't have a good idea of something to say that would be constructive and useful, but I think I've found something that can be helpful to everyone, including myself! With that in mind, I'd like to welcome you to the first part of an ongoing, albeit probably sporatic, series entitled "Things I Could Have Done Better." What I'll be doing here is taking a look at some of my own work, and talking about, as the title suggests, what I could have done better! Vol. 1: THINK IT ALL THROUGH

  I don't think there's anyone out there who doesn't look back on their work and say "hey--maybe I could have thought that through a little more." For me, being relatively new to producing a comic on my own, one of the things I sometimes forget is that comics are more than just drawings of people. Comics are also drawings of buildings, machines, trees, lamps, table saws, etc, and though they aren't always the most fun to draw, many times it's those drawings that can be the most important to telling the story you want the way you want. To let you in on a little secret....I HATE drawing buildings. I HAAAAAAATE it. I've never been good with a ruler (what does that even mean?), and drawing all those lines just makes for a boring day and a cramped hand. What comes in tandem with a dislike of depicting architecture, at least for me, is a decent lack of understanding as well, so when it comes to breaking down my comics in sketch-form, I'll sometimes spend all my time working out positioning of people and just sort of brush off architecture shots as something I can just work out later. However, this can really come back to saw off your thumb.
If there is one panel I would like to have the opportunity to re-visit and re-draw, it would be this one:

Dead Meat Chapter 1, Page 25, Panel 3

At this point in the story (SPOILERZZZZ), Walker, Ashley and Georgie have arrived in Stiltsville--a town which still has people in it, who get around safely by a system of bridges connecting rooftops. Here is the original description from my script:


Panel 1
Establishing shot of the town as they stop at a security check point guarded by two men with rifles, at a makeshift gate made of dead cars.  This check point is the only entrance to main street which leads to the main square of a town.  All other streets have been blocked off, booby trapped or destroyed.  The bottom floors of all the buildings are boarded up, but the second floor and higher of the buildings flicker with life.  In a time where the ground has become like lava, this town lives above it, and there are bridges and paths built to easily connect roofs to each other.   Roofs are adorned with shacks and tents, some even have shoddy additions built on top of them.
There is life there.  What kind is anyone’s guess.

  As you can see....I TAAAAAAAAAAAANKED that one.  Between writing and drawing I changed the placement in the page of the establishing shot and broke some of that stuff up among a few panels I think, but as far as creating a compelling depiction of this I blew it.  HARD.  I mean where on earth would you find a town that looks like that?  It's all boxes!  Oh good, they come upon an ancient pueblo village!  No. 
  On top of the boxiness of the town, there's NOTHING there indicating life, unless you count some of the smoke lines, but that's just cheating.  There are no cars, no people, no nothing.  Now the part of my brain that rationalized this laziness probably said:
"Well that's kind of creepy, isn't it?  There's no one around--it makes it a bit more mysterious!"
  Yeeeeeeeah, no.  You obviously just didn't think this out.  Let's take a look at the ways a few other artists handle buildings and towns/cities:

From Left to Right: Bill Sienkiewicz, Paul Pope, Moebius (I THINK--please correct me if i'm wrong)

  These are three very different styles--I'm not saying you have to do it like any of these--but the one thing they have in common is that these cities are ALIVE.  They feel real.  Mine just looks like a crappy, poorly thought out drawing.
Even aesthetics aside, I screwed myself for later drawings because pretty much all the action of the next 2 issues takes place in this town that I didn't bother to spend the extra time plotting out!
I've heard a few people along the way say that "you have to learn to love drawing the things you hate to draw,"  and while I will agree with that to a certain extent, I think a better way to say that is you have to learn to draw the things you hate in a way you love to draw.  I mean look at Paul Pope's drawing--it's almost a sketch at some points!  I'm sure if he tried to draw a city the way Moebius does, he'd want to blow his brains out too!
  So the moral of this story, and something I've been trying to do myself, is to find a way to draw the tedious stuff that is fun, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, allows you to TELL THE STORY.  But hey, that's what this whole thing is about--learning as I/we go, and I hope this has been informative!

Until Next Time,

Eat Dead Meat!

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