Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cosmic Bummer

I think that one was the third full-pager (I'll post the first four strips I did as one update later on. Didn't seem as notable to update for two strips yet) I did for the paper. As you can see the format changed to slightly fatter than A4 size. These were incidentally drawn at print-size. A lot of comic artists prefer to draw at double (or more) size than the one they end up printing in order to get a tighter, more detailed page. I tend to do this as well for personal projects but for the paper, which printed in a pretty huge size as far as comics go (30 x 36 cm) it would have been very ineffective time-wise to work at 60 x 72. First of all, who has the time to draw practically a painting every time they want to do a comic page and second, given how I put so many panels in a single page, working at actual size insured that the comic was always readable.

This story is a pretty straightforward reversal, but it's the things that happen prior to it that were of interest to me. Basically the exploration of the introvert who for some reason has found success in a specific field. That sort of personality type fascinates me and I write variations of them regularly. In some ways all these teenage angst super-powered tight-wearing people the Americans do also fulfill this archetype and it is there when they used to capture my attention. Spider-man I guess, is the poster boy for this, especially the Ditko original crazy-fingers everybody-hates-me Parker, not the more soap-opera softer one that followed.

Speaking of American superhero comics, the look of this character is a homage to Major Bummer, a comic that ran in the late 90's, written by John Arcudi and penciled by Doug Mahnke, both amazing at their craft. It's a brilliant series of reversals on the superhero stereotype and I urge you to read it if you ever get the chance. The character in question that is similar to Miltos is this one:

If you squint a bit you'll see Miltos wearing a 'Major Bummer' button also. I'd like to stress this is not so much a pop culture reference in spirit as it is a heart reference. I simply loved the comic and did that sort of private homage that I didn't think anyone really caught nor were they meant to, neither did any aspect of the plot rest upon them getting it. More about my hate for pop-culture ridden self-referentiality in future posts. I am sure I won't be able to contain it forever.

Artistically strangely I find this one mostly solid even 3 years after. Only the Mars landscape panel is complete bullshit. What the hell, past Helm, couldn't be arsed to look up photographic references for Mars? Did we send the rovers up there for nothing? Oh well, the rest is alright. I have a fondness of the teary Miltos panel in terms of rendering. It's fun when you get the chance to render cartoon characters as if they have actual volume that occupies 3d space. Slightly unreal also, but if it emphasizes the human qualities of the character, so be it.

The Russian chess-master replying 'your mothers' in broken Russian (I didn't know any actual Russian people to have it cross-checked) is a fortunate pun on 'Mate - mat'. In Russian 'mat' it turns out, is 'mother'. It's great when Babelfish helps you write a comic, you know?

On a final note for this update, a big thank you for the people that left comments in the early entries, I appreciate the support. I'd do the whole pack of the comics with zero comments I think if I had to since they're already drawn and an archive of these should be somewhere on the internet lest I forget they (I) ever existed, but it's wonderful to see friends and strangers come over and give me a welcome. Also Johnny, who isn't doing this 3 years ago but right now, for no money, probably appreciates it too.

- Helm


Johnny Spade said...


YOB TVOJU MAT! --- hehe, this one in its Polish form is probably the most commonly used swear phrase in Poland! especially by crazy and/or frustrated drivers (which I'm a bit of, too): KURWA TWOJA MAĆ! :)

good page there, any chance you remember what was the response from readers after publishing it?

Helm said...

Oh yeah it's 'fuck your mother' not 'your mothers' eh. Helm memory chip makes this stuff gentler as time passes.

That is a good question, and the answer of which factors pretty heavily to what happened later on. I will answer in the BLOCKTEXT following the next page. So get to translating :)

Anonymous said...

You should maybe post an approximate date the original comic was finished, something like "Summer 2004" or whatever.
It would really help show your progress over time!

Anonymous said...

This blog is making me want to try getting into comics! This past semester I wrote a short comic (drawn by someone else) and I was really surprised at how difficult it is. It's another one of those things that seems so natural when it's done well that you don't realize how much thought goes into the craft. I'm glad you're translating these.

-Seth (aka Darien from Pixelation)

Helm said...

Hm it's difficult to find exact dates but here's how it worked:

Every week we had to fill an allotted space of TWO full pages and TWO strip spaces.

There were three artists of us rotating these spots.

So every week you had to do a single page, then next week a single page again, then next week two strips, then it's back to the page again, etc. This averages out to 24 full pages for the 9 months I was there, and 24 strips (per artist), naturally.

So Cosmic Bummer for example is the fourth week I was there for (I have not posted the first two strips yet as I think I'll be posting them in fours). I started on July so I guess Cosmic Bummer was early August 2005.

You can just suppose that every update is a week or two weeks after the last update.

Seth: I am glad if this is any inspiration to you. Yes, making a comic work is more work than it might seem, but it's not too difficult, I think. Give it a go again.

Sophia said...

Awww!... This is one of my favourites! I remember that it was the first time i saw one of your girls, helm and i thought she was realy cute! And i also remember a comment i made about the chess board...but.. where is the chess board now? It seems fainted.. :(

I realy like the translation AND lettering. Maybe later you can post a sample of the original lettering (in greek). I think that people unfamiliar to the greek alphabet whould see the letters more as icons, little images etc and less as actual letters...and that whould be interesting..

I dont know if you know what i mean, because i can use very few words in english! hehe.. Anyway! Keep posting! I check every day! Boo!

Helm said...

Sophia, thank you. Yes I might post a few Greek versions later on. If anything I want non-Greeks to learn just a few things about Greece through this blog. If you've noticed Johnny doesn't refit 'AX' and 'XAXAXA' as 'ah' and 'hahaha' respectively. If people are going to learn one thing about Greek in this blog it's going to be to laugh or sigh like a Greek!!

Instead of checking every day why don't you RSS the blog? RSS is a little reader program that checks every hour (or whenever you set it to) to see which of the blog addresses you've fed into it has updated, and gives you a little notification similar to when you get e-mail on gmail so you can go check out the new posts. It's a bit nerdy but it's The Future of Browsing!!!! WEB 2.0!!!! I've been told.

As to drawing girls, gosh I tend to draw the same one over and over. Drawing girls if you're a boy is difficult. They even wear the same outfit more or less. It's also a bit of a problem that I've never met any girls in my life I think.

Johnny Spade said...

χαχαχα :)

*RSS links added!*