Monday, September 8, 2008

Gnawites!


I kinda forgot about this one! It was published between Conan the Librarian and Tooth Prince. I guess I must have skipped it because it didn't really need Johnny's help for translation so I went right ahead and bugged him about Tooth Prince.

It's also a comic I don't have much to say about. The Gnawites are characters that were invented more or less in a game I played with a good friend of mine, Sven Ruthner. He's known as "Ptoing" on the internet (yes, I know, awesome sound effect name!) and we've had a long friendship on the basis of a mutual admiration of pixel art. We are both administrators in Pixelation which is where you want to go if you want to upgrade your pixel skills, and we collaborate on various things all the time. For instance he's coloring the cover for the Asides Bsides book! You could do worse than marvel at his wonderful artistry here and there!

So, the characters come from this little collaboration between us where one would draw an 64x64 tile on a big checkerboard and then the other would draw an adjacent one and so on. This:

(click for real size) is when we gave up. You can clearly see the evolution of the Gnawite there (the first one drawn is the one biting on his arm I think, and the one I used as definite reference is the one launching itself out of the cave). I really liked them so I featured them in the comic you see above a few months later. They represent the base ID instinctual drives, they're like mischievous children without any sort of parent-inflicted morality, so the strips show how they interact with the world. Mostly by being bastards, but look! Towards the end! How nice they are to the sad Yus Bird (heartbroken at the time). The challenge was to give them a bigger emotional range than is suggested at the collaboration above. It turns out their faces are made well to convey emotion. If you notice (this is the only point of pride for me technically on this page) the two Gnawites are distinguishable at all times from the shapes of their faces and facial features!

I'll explain what the hell the Yus Bird is on some later entry. A concise description is that it's a bird and it says 'Yus' only and that'll have to do for now.

I enjoy this comic for how it loops to where it started, giving off the sense that this sort of carefree life loops indefinitely, the Gnawites never grow up, there is no future and past, there is only a long now and the now is full of happy.

-Helm

16 comments:

Johnny Spade said...

I love those little dudes; hell-a cute comic up there! hey, haven't you guys, by any chance, taken that rhino collab further? I have e.g. this piece (copy/paste the link below) which I think is actually the one where you gave up for good:

http://jspade.republika.pl/ptngvshlm_052.png

Helm said...

Oh yeah this is definitely later on. The memory wanes! I'll save this now, thank you :)

HS said...

Sweetness!:D For quite a long time I had the impression that in the first panel from the end, YUS looks angry (which would also be funny if you think of it!) but in fact he's just got his usual expression and these three lines add to his surprise. What exactly is the first creature they tease?

Helm said...

Thanks for the kind words :D

I call that dude Pearus Rotundus. He's a stand-in for the fat kid in class who keeps to his own cerebral pass-times and everybody else in class bullies and teases. The best things about him are his wiggling toes when he does the rubic cube and also how fast he solves it!

pan pan said...

well, that specific story leaves me speechless! bravo helm, i ve written and deleted a lot of stuff, nothing comes out right.
note to self: mix helm's hair when i see him again. :)

goldmund said...

They talk in Captain Blood language!
I think it must be the highest art to make textless comics.

Helm said...

pan pan, thank you very much for the kind words.

Goldmund: I wanted to make a technothrash band named 'Captain Blood' where the story would be that the Captain after the whole clone debacle is taken care of, swooshes to earth, steals one guitarist from german technothrashers 'Deathrow' and makes him a slave, playing guitar to keep him alive. He then programs the cyberdrums and plays the one-armed cyberviolin and sings in Captain Blood language the lyrics which would all be printed in the little wordthought icons. I actually made a single track for this project but it's been lost between computer switches somewhere. I will revive this someday!

I don't know if it's the highest art, but I can tell you that making 'talking heads' comics, just idiotic placeholder-for-real-friends faces saying endless exposition exposition exposition plot plot exposition pop culture reference exposition sarcastic putdown exposition dramatic pause aaaand punchline shit without any care for the body language, emotion and flow of their art is certainly the LOWEST.

Eric (http://mrcolossal.livejournal.com/) for the longest time has said that we wanted to do strictly soundless comics. Whenever I try it either comes out childish or incomprehensible! So yeah, I guess it's tougher than when you explain the action with words.

goldmund said...

Ha, Captain Blood band would be great!
It would be great to write a poem in CB's lingo. You know, a classical one about everything passing away.
Well, now I think about it, it would be a bit like comics operate...

Well, it certainly is the highest in the sense of "purest". You don't rely on other ways of communication, like symphony is higher than opera, and photography is higher than cinema... and Thomas Mann is higher than Stevie King!

What is the idol the gnawites sleep by, anyway?

Helm said...

Family gravestone.

glodmnud said...

Whoa, this really adds to it!
ID creatures playing around a monument to their forefathers?
This hints at the decline of their species, or maybe not decline, just de-sublimation -- I cannot envision those little f...ers having enough patience to build a sandcastle, let alone a tombstone.

Helm said...

Yeah when I was making it I was thinking some sort of ancestral field where the older gnawites built the stone and when they die their offspring have the duty to gather the bones and bury them with their claw hands around there. So their whole tribe is under them and they feel safe to sleep there because it has been much more than just 'home' for generations and generations.

I enjoyed the suggestion that it seems they're just the two of them left, but I didn't really want to make this certain, as really they don't have to be. But it works for the comic.

Nacho Ayala said...

Hello guys! I must say that this is my favourite Helm' s comic so far... What does that say of me? Well, quite obvious, I think; I am quite "untrained" to understand superior pieces of art (No sarcasm here, really). That makes me feel a bit sad :). I must confess that Pearus Rotundus, the Yus bird and the Gwanites do have a place now in my actual game of SPORE!!! :D I will come back here ofter to "train" my eye to more refined comic art... (P.S: Which is the name of the "turtle"?)

Helm said...

It doesn't have a name! Poor thing!

Post Spore pictures of the creatures!! :D

mirre said...

I really liked this comic. The Gnawites are so cute. And I really liked the style that you used for drawing it (with the black lineart and expressive grey shading). Lovely work. And I also like that collab you did with Ptoing. It was on the old Pixelation forum, no?

Helm said...

Yeah it was on the old boards at some point in time for sure. Thank you for your comment, Mirre :D

Larwick said...

I really enjoyed this one, especially with the thought behind it. Thanks for showing! I was surprised to see the Yus bird here, makes it quite intriguing.