Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Anger Management

Man, this comic. It's a bit overwrought and I feel the way I drew the dude's face is quite bad, but I like the idea and the format. Upside-down speech is a good visual cue for subconscious thought patterns. I also like how the line-work in the top and bottom row is delicate and thin and the violence panel is made with a big brush that chops up the space harshly between space and object. If only I had structured that face traditionally a bit better. You can't improvise everything.

This idea came to me when I was visiting Brussels with my dad. I was very sad at the time, to the point where I couldn't sleep at night, and I paced and paced the hotel room (again a hotel room), I did endless series of push-ups to tire myself out and I broke the washroom's basin by mistake. Actually the worst of all of that is when you lie in bed trying to sleep with one ear on the mattress and you play rhythmic patterns with your fingers and hear them reverberate through the mattress, booming at the empty silence.

So perhaps the ugliness suits it! I have rationalized a small win for me right there.

On the formal level: 1) same face on all panels, slightly worked over to avoid cut-and-paste effect, but effective emotionally. Stonewall face. 2) throat gurgling sound effect: it works. Don't always put actual letters in sound panels, it's very useful to upset the reader expectation sometimes. 3) I went with the throat punch for extra cruelty. Of course nobody aims there on purpose but man if it happens it's much worse than a face hit. 4) Story starts 'after the fact'. The reader is encouraged to fill in the blanks. The 'plot' doesn't matter here, what matters is the human situation. When you just have a single page's worth of space you need to cut the most inessential corners and retain the gist of it. This was good practise for me regardless of how many pages a next comic I do will be.

Also, I wanted to say: thank you if you forwarded the comic to any interested friends. I really appreciate it. Don't hesitate to drop me comments, though, I see lately they've been sparser. That's fine, I understand there isn't an infinite amount of things to be said about what turns out to be a pretty homogeneous body of work but still, any communication is welcome.

- Helm

7 comments:

little percussionist derrida said...

exceptional concept, as in most of your strips i've read.

one of the things i liked was the way the boss' words resonate their ironic quality to the reader (to me, anyway) in such a way that he doesn't even have to look to the face to understand what he's about. i know this might sound weird but irony rarely works well with me in art, so the fact that i almost felt like i was the one receiving it is a good thing, i guess.
this, combined with the fact that he doesn't even look at the protagonist when he utters the... igniting words makes the tension considerably substantial.

the thing that confused me a bit (as i never read the accompanying text before the strip) was that when i reached the central panel i thought that the protagonist grabbed the guy by the throat and shoved him against the wall - so i registered the whole thing like i read his thoughts while he was holding him immobile.

when i read that it is a punch i thought that the whole thing happens so quickly that the reader doesn't really have the time to read and register the protagonist's thoughts before he moves to the next panel.
it's certainly not a big thing, it just messed up a little the impression of real-time...ness (!) i'd gotten in the first read.

awaiting the next strip as always. =)

Helm said...

First of all haha 'little percussionist derrida', what a concept for a name. Congratulations. will peruse your blog when I have more free time but my interest, it is peaked.

It is good you never read the accompanying text before the comics. I'd hate to consider you one of these persons.

I am ashamed about the visual confusion on the middle panel as you explain it. It comes sadly, part and parcel with not using stuff like 'speed lines' to suggest movement. Not that I never do, but I wanted that moment in time to be 'photographed' so that I could overlay the - overwrought - text over it. It had to lose something to gain something. However not being clearly communicated directly when read is too much to lose! I shall be more careful next time to suggest force, movement, impact purely through physiology and frame.

And yes, it's alright to not read the thoughts and just carry on with the comic the first time you read it. The internal monologue is a 'second pass' as we say. First pass the comics' pulse is dictated by the author (if he is any good). Second pass, the pulse is dictated more by the reader, who now knows 'the plot' and is enjoying the details on his own pace.

Now if the author has won the battle of getting the reader to re-read his comic a second (or third) time after they just read it, sadly nobody can say conclusively.

I thank you very much for your comment. It's wonderful for me to exchange ideas in this way.

Lackey said...

Something about the really sharp, arcane line-making in this makes me uneasy. In the more fantastic of your comics it wouldn't really strike me, aside from aesthetically, but here in a mundane, modern setting it's profoundly alienating.

I mean this in a good way.

I like this comic a lot, even though I misunderstood the middle action too, heh.

Helm said...

Thank you for your comment, Lackey. I am not sure what 'sharp arcane lines' are but I'm glad I can pull them off!

Davy Malay said...

I really like the attackee's expression in the third panel, you've nicely caught the moment of pure surprise before the realisation of the attck clicks home.
I misread the main panel too, it's the overlap of the hand and throat that does it, I think.

der goldmunder said...

Hooray, the first comic that I haven't seen already! I like where it is headed.

I'm afraid I belong to the "I thought he was strangling him" group.

Actually, I like the faces very much; they remind me of german expressionism woodcuts - like this one:
http://web.grinnell.edu/art/gexp/catalogue/cat70.jpg

Helm said...

Heh I get the woodcut or etching thing a lot actually!

Thank you for the comment :D

I go off to do a 24hr comic today!