Saturday, August 9, 2008

Meet Babis

This is the very first comic I did for the paper. In fact this and the next one were the ones I showed them beforehand with the concept and got me the gig. Now, being a paid comic artist in an artistically somewhat backwards country like Greece isn't a very dependable idea so I was at the time pretty happy with how the situation developed, even if the paper itself wasn't much to my liking.

As to the comic itself, I still like it though there's a few issues with how it works. It was difficult to come to grips with how lots of panels on a single page work so it's cluttered, though not so much as a few of the comics to come, heh. A word about the translation issues: First of all 'Babis' is a Greek name you'd think fits a slightly naive, perhaps a bit simple, middle-aged male. The reason we don't localize the names is because these comics are meant to be quite 'Greek' not just as in the original language but in terms of culture and effect. So when you see weird names of people or places expect to have to read a small note below the comic such as this explaining what effect I was going for.

Furthermore, the punchline isn't very easily translatable either. In the original Greek version Babis exclaimed that he was the victim of what we call "aposirsi", which is Greek (not sure how often this happens abroad, leave comments if you want to let me know) for when the government offers monetary returns to urge citizens to relinquish their very old vehicles, most of them running on very wasteful and environmentally hazardous engines, for new ones. So Babis is mostly complaining about how his group of savage yet homely rockers have "traded up" for his uncle. I know, the punchline doesn't work as well as it could in English, but eh, the comic still stands regardless. I tried to make every 'strip' of the page funny on its own.

Oh, this is also the first of many times I will thank Johnny for his work, I really love the fontsetting here and it's the comic that initially convinced me someone can do this with fonts instead of just redrawing everything by hand (as I originally thought was the only way to do justice to the lettering). It's clearly computer fonts, but subtle things like leaving in squiggly exclamation marks give it a more human quality. Three cheers for Poland!

Also, it's worthy to say that the whole idea about this comic initially came from this screenshot of a c64 rpg game called Newcomer:

I often am.



Johnny Spade said...

I really like this one. Yes, it’s ‘packed’ a bit --- but I see nothing wrong with that! We have just one page and so much things going on during the course. There’s some firm medium-paced story, some *mystery*, one friendly dude and, most of all, there is that funny pack of grim ‘rock-and-rollers’! The C64 background it possesses brings out a subtle old-school feel to it, too. And though the conclusion may not work out as it was originally intended to, still, it can cause a burst of laughter --- especially when you’re paying attention to the mimics. If I were to pick my favorite part, I’d take the panel with an old woman getting caught by the rockers --- it’s just priceless!

Just as a trivia, there's no such name as Babis in Polish, but feminine as it sounds in my language (a word „baba” is a funny/derogatory term to call a woman by), I think it matches the character pretty well.

PS: This one was quite a challenge --- so much text and so little space. Took me 2 hours or so to make it all ‘alright’. :)

Otto Mustermann said...

I like it. You may live once I take over the world.

Helm said...

Thank you. I'm afraid if you let me live I will not allow for genocide, though.

HS said...

I'm really fond of this contradiction where tough looking guys in reality are rather sweet in a childish way. To me, the best part is the one with the old lady, who's the typical christian, god-fearing greek grandmother!

Helm said...

Hehe yeah the archetypal Greek grandma.

About the sweet tough dudes, I think the impulse for me to write that sort of character comes from my time in the Greek Heavy Metal underground and how I - as a more 'sensitive' type of metalhead - would often watch the more rowdy ones engage in various acts of depravity and general boorishness and I'd get this mixed emotion where on one hand I'd be pretty disgusted and on the other I'd want to hang out with them. Essentially people are 13 years old emotionally behind all the RRR I AM DANGEROUS armor and whatever, of this I'm pretty certain, so I always thought about how it would be to know people who appear dangerous or sociopathic from the 'inside'. I bet they play board games and have favourite movies and everything. That is the 'human condition' aspect of an otherwise slightly surreal funny comic I tried to start a carreer as a comic artist with.