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Monday, February 28, 2011

HOW TO DRAW COMICS..

...THE MARVEL NARRATIVELY EFFICIENT WAY


I like drawing comics, y'all.  Under any circumstances.  Drawing comics under the constraints of a script and a prescribed page-length has been a really interesting experience.  Left to my own devices, I tend to tell very simple stories
    v e r y    s l o w l y  ,   
drawing only a few panels per page and spreading the narrative burden so that no one panel is too overworked.

While a lot of fun for me, this method is really indulgent, inefficient, and not practical for most stories.  Hawaiian Dick is a more complex narrative with a lot of characters, a LOT of dialogue, and a lot of environments with a limited page count.  So it needs to be told in the most efficient way.


There are a lot more panels per page, and every panel I draw ends up bearing a good deal of narrative burden.  This means that the panels need to work harder than they do in, say, THESEUS.  Which means that I have to work a lot harder than I did with THESEUS.  There's more spatial information to communicate, more characters, more environmental detail, more emotional nuance that has to be present from panel to panel.

Clay writes great dialogue, and keeping the reading order of the balloons clear and attractive while satisfying narrative requirements and compositional concerns is a new trick, as well.

Maybe the most important thing I've learned drawing Dick, though, is that 'good comics' isn't about good drawing, good composition, good color, or any such nonsense.   It's all about the telling.  It's about narrative clarity, mood, emotion, and pacing.  Not that a little eye-candy ever hurt anyone.  But it's not that important.


Anyway, it's been fun so far, and it only looks to get better.  The story keeps expanding and improving, and I think we're gonna have some pretty good comics on our hands if I don't screw it up.

*DISCLAIMER*
I do not mean to imply in any way that comics produced and published by Marvel Comics or it's parent company Disney are in any way narratively inefficient.  Just making a li'l joke.

10 comments:

Jeff C said...

Can't wait to see this in print. Such a unique treat for the comic world me'thinks.

John Zylstra said...

Your comics read very well even without the dialogue. I can't agree with you more about clarity and pacing. You are certainly a fan of Toth. Although your coloring is beautiful too...

Question: How do you get your images to fit so big into your blog?

Chris Hayes said...

your work is so dang readable Jake, i love seeing your story telling sequential work because i dont fumble around wondering what I am seeing like early Nightow work. It reads crisp and tells what it wants to tell. Nice stuff man

Will Strong said...

Yeah, I'm with you dude. I think way too many people get caught up in the fanciness (is that a word) of the presentation and can often forget about clarity and storytelling.

Comics is HARD man. I think you do a great job. These pages read well even without dialogue.

JAKE said...

Thanks, John! For some reason, I'm using some beta version of blogger that lets me decide how large I'd like my images. I think it's 'cause this blog is really old and has a lot of pictures on it.

But I've extended the width of the live area on my blog to 1000 pixels, and format my images to that width. After I've uploaded the images to the post (before publishing) I click on the image and select 'original size' from the menu that pops up.

But, like I said, this blog is the only blog I have that rolls that way. 'Cause it's running blogger beta or whatever.

Scott C. Gwynn said...

Your colors are gorgeous man and I love seeing these layouts. I really can't wait to see the finished product.

Cecilia said...

Yes, I agree. A good comic is about narrative. That's why I read (and have read) a lot of manga with dubious art quality but who knew how to tell a story. On the other hand, I've bought also a lot of comics only for their visual qualities.

And visual is something you have in abundance. Your colours are fabulous. Would you make a colour tutorial like Katie did?

Jed said...

Awesome, Jake. Love the abstract background of the last panel.

Madeline K. Rupard said...

Dang. This may be a weird detail to point out, but I love the circular glow of those lights in the background on the very last panel. These are so nice.

Lilly said...

I would make some comment on depth of story vs. visual quality = but i think you have mastered a really excellent balance. I want this published and in my hands =)