Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Next Drink

Hello. A word by Richard Green:

I have been requested to write on this comic. In doing so I hope that Helm will return my puppy, or at least most of it.

This is probably a great way to avoid when designing a comic. I sat down with a piece of paper. I divided it into a grid.

I drew a man drinking. He walked away. In the midst of his journey I got bored and made him climb a building.

He reached his destination, something I decided on whilst drawing him climbing up the building.

By accident, symmetry. Spontaneous order had emerged.

I enjoy the fact that the comic is mirrored. In the first and sixth lines, we see this man in his primary world. He sits and drinks. He is not surly, self pitying or even drunk. He lives a blameless if meaningless existence.

But he can leave and enter that as he pleases. In the second and fifth lines he does so.

And in the middle he breaks from that world into something more. Just for a moment he entertains a diversion before returning to the task at hand.

I'll also write a little on the art Helm has built over my rather Spartan drawings.

I did not envisage him living in a squalid urban hellhole. The whilst drawing the first two lines I imagined him drinking in a suburban licensed club. The establishments of choice for blameless substance abuse (and garden variety gambling problems). It was only outside that there was a need for an external environment made of straight (and easily drawn) lines. He entered a concrete jungle.

And of course Spider-Man doesn't climb the sides of bungalows.

Because, as I envisaged it, he was climbing like Spider-Man.

Spider-Man is everyman, with powers, and so is this man. He is Spider-Man in middle age, Chris Ware's Spider-Man. He exists betwixt lost dreams and despair.

This is not to be depressing. It isn't depressing. The everyman is not an indulgent Byronic hero, intent on theatrical tragedy.

He endures, in some form.

And existence is the purpose.

And a few words from me, your tyrant:

Animation is not like comics at all. Often you'll find people who like comics also like animated films. I don't, particularly. I think that impulse comes from when we were children and you could show us any sort of drawn anything and we'd shit our pants. I find animation is in love with setting things to motion and how that motion is conveyed whereas comic art is in love with perfect sequences of events as portrayed in concert, on an inclusive context. I understand these are pretty dry distinctions but if you were to sit down with a comic artist and an animator and discuss with them why they went their separate ways through life, in the end the picture could be summed up as such. Personally I find myself quickly bored with something that is bouncing around on my screen and though as a child I did watch my share of cartoons I suspect I was bored of most of them even then. I'd much rather spend time looking at a single page of comics for a hour than watch an episode of Tom and Jerry. Don't judge me, that's just how I am! For me there is something really brilliant and beautiful in a well-done comic page. It's a finite number of viewpoints into a finite number of situations and effects but 'between the gaps' there is the promise of a whole, timeless and perfect world. Any medium where the tyranny of linear time dictates pace and direction somewhat loses that, for me.

So why am I saying these things? Because the comic at hand 'A Story by Richard Green' is very much made to appear like a short animated film. It is even made in a similar way. Static backgrounds were drawn (6 of them), then a character with little shading and simple forms, easy to animate, was superimposed on a different layer on top of these backgrounds, moving. Not talking or thinking but mainly moving from a place to a different place.

Why did I make a comic that looks like an animated film since I don't really care for them? Because I wanted to harness that boredom I felt when waiting for something to happen while some cartoon hero was squishing and deforming and whatever else. I wanted a pretty tortuous pace. As a comic, this whole page could be summed up in three panels (first and last being first and last and the middle panel him climbing a building, as a matter of fact). The whole middle time is watching and waiting. From one drink to another, the diversion of the spider-man climb signifying the mundane realism of any means to such an end. That was the feeling I got from Richard's original draft comic and I tried to serve it as best I could. I wasn't going for depression as a theme so much as for some sort of existential tiredness, punctuated by a sharp digression.

Oh, also, of interest is that this comic is not taking place in Athens like most of my comics (even if not mentioned so, at least conceptually). It's taking place somewhere in Australia because that's where Dick is from. I didn't do this on purpose, I just realized.



Lackey said...

I would like to point out that this probably qualifies as an even more precise sequence of events.

Helm said...

It took me a while to realize what you were referring to. The names I give these entries are improvised on the spot, as I don't really have stable titles for my comics.

RosenRed said...

The fact that while in the bar, he's having a cocktail, but at home he's drinking straight from the bottle, gave me a lot of thinking...

Helm said...

hah I hadn't even considered that. Just seemed like the thing to draw!