Friday, 25 November 2011

More News from the Studio

Work on Nineteen-Ough-Two is coming on apace, and it looks like I should have the strip inked by early next week! A lot of my time so far has been concerned with Historical research, which is always time consuming, slow, but ultimately very rewarding. I've found some great old photos to work with. Whilst on a search for old costumes to use for bystanders in the "1902" segment of the narrative, I came across this great turn-of-the-century portrait:

Dude! Cecil Higgins, you dandy gentleman, where have you been all my life? That spotted 'kerchief, that dapper watch fob, those lush curled moustache tips! Cecil may have to find a home in one of my other stories, because he is simply a Cartoon character made flesh. I am working fairly flat out on Nineteen-Ough-Two this week, but if I have a spare hour, I may break off to sketch up a my own portrait of Cecil. At times like this, I feel that good image research really pays off; every now and again, divine providence throws something like this in your lap, but it's not something you want to be relying on all the time. 

Anyway, enough rambling, here's another very quick "raw" scan to let you see how everything's coming along: 

Blank spaces in panels 3-6 are where the "1902 AD" logo will be copy-pasted. Of all the tools an artist can use in the digital world, copy-paste is probably the lowest, the cheapest, most miserable attempt to bulk out work, so i've tried to keep it to an absolute minimum. I'm also justifying it by reminding myself that all these panels will be coloured individually. In fact, a lot of the narrative will be told through colour.

In case you hadn't guessed, repetition is going to be a key theme in the visuals of Nineteen-Ough-Two (hence title) and this approach is what's allowed the whole thing to come together so swiftly. However, I always feel that true repetition in art is boring for everyone involved, which is why I've tried to vary the seemingly repetitive panels as much as possible. More often than not, true repetition can end up creating works that are as dull for the reader as they are masochistically tedious for the artist to produce. Successful art in this genre usually ends up relying on the sheer spectacle of scale and the baffling pointlessness and insanity of the exercise to impress. In the comic form it's very difficult to tell a narrative with truly identical panels; not only because nothing "happens" as such, but also because it doesn't capture the reader's eye in any way; you'll tend to skim the entirety, like you would a fabric pattern, rather than pausing and considering each individual panel. That's not to say that audience reaction isn't a useful tool in it's own right! See Tim Kreider's masterful We Even Yet? as an example of how this glib visual attitude can be used to evoke a powerful reaction from the reader.  

The only other Wimbledon news is that a Tutor's asked me to exhibit some pages in a small college exhibition, so you could see some of these coloured sooner than I anticipated. Until then, have a great weekend, everybody! 

Elliot x

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