Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Memorybot Part 2

I take advantage of page flip to change settings. Film can do this also but not as effectively. Recent films that trained viewers in fast scene changes but it still creates some dissonance unless the director is one of the really talented ones. You can mess this up in comics as well (for example if you change scenes on pageflip but you don't do an establishing shot in the first or second panel and just assume people get that we're not were we where before). As of late I've been considering infinite canvas comics a lot and I'm trying to think of ways to have the power of page change without having actual pages to do it with. Something will come to me. Anyway, I mean to say, the change of a page is a very useful tool for the comic artist. It invites the participation of the reader to carry the story along, at their own page. The characters aren't going nowhere until you're good and ready. That more relaxed idea of how art should be paced is in start contrast to music or cinema where the time is strict and linear and if you're not paying attention you just missed something. This is why I think comics are the best medium to tell stories where smart little details and subliminal characterization make a difference.

Let's also look at the black and white version.

The painting in the futurist cafe in the first panel is a reference to Complexification. (Click on start applet to see the art of the future). This isn't so much a pop culture reference (as I don't think Complexification is pop enough yet!) but more an actual world-building point, I really do believe such algorithmically generated pieces of art will be much more vital in the future than now. Also, if you care to check out the older ZX story with the dam and the depth computation, you'll note that they're also at a show where Substrate is featured. Their opinion there on the art differs from mine as the artist, heh.

When I was drawing the black and white version of this I was actively trying to restrain my propensity towards adding little scribbly mid-tone details with a fine marker because I was thinking 'let the coloring do it'. And it did, I'm really happy I didn't overload it more than I did, although Ptoing - whom I'll have explain his process of coloring in the next post - probably suffered around the little details even as it is. I don't have much experience in making artwork that relies on color because I don't really like color comics much, heh. At least not the more literal color type. We'll discuss this later.

The exchange of words here is very calculated (I'm sorry) on the part of ZX. This isn't because he is a robot so much as it is how we all try to be robots when we have to give these sort of justifications for our actions. We think that if we figure out the exact way to phrase the hurty thing we need to say, perhaps we'll control the outcome, contain the drama and minimize the hurt. It is the testament to my emotional inexperience that in this comic, the next page to this isn't that of an emotional outburst, of the vital drama needed to diffuse an awful feeling. Instead I make the girl passively 'understand'. Things don't usually work this way in real life, yet I do not think this is a point of insincerity for me as an artist here because at the time this mode of resolution I thought was the best one. I was still holding on to being a robot as best I could.

The 'how we differ' panel is one of the best I've ever drawn, I think. I look at it and I think I did alright, as a comic artist, even if that's all I ended up doing.

Note in the black and white version how the eye on the girl on the bottom left panel is off and how Ptoing fixed that for me in the colored version. I've since learned to draw eyes a bit better but they're still totally the biggest problem I have with faces, especially with girls. I am satisfied with her weary expression though.

Next page will come when I get Ptoing to write his piece about the colors, could be sooner rather than later, as it's a silent page and I don't have to translate anything.

On other news, Vavel page is 70% done. I've worked more on this single page that I've worked on 4-5 regular pages of comics. It's a monster. It also is right on the verge of being completely nonsensical. I hope I can keep it together.


Solar said...

Ah, yes the memorybot is becoming clearer. Reminds me in a little way of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. The main protagonist never forgets, but this is partly a ruse to draw you in and accept you have an infallible narrator. Great book. Also reminded me of many a vampire love tale, the immortal/mortal incompatibility complex.

The substrate work is quite interesting. Fractals, are always mesmerising.

Anyway, back to the comic. Enjoying the need to know what happens. There is also real drama in the page, each pane tracing out the tension and sweep of emotions. I love the tenderness in the penultimate pane followed by the last: quite sinister with a hint of resolve, anxiety and impending pain.

I'm also glad your determination to make us read in black and white was put aside for ptoing's colouring. I completely agree that black and white holds something special, but the vibrancy of colour... for example in this piece I would have missed the detail of the candle, even though you capture the glow slightly in b+w. ...I think I know what it is now. The use of colour adds another level of interpretation and it might go in directions you don't intend? Is that right? Well I think ptoing's done an excellent job of remaining true to the theme of your work.

Helm said...

Oh, thanks for the book suggestion. It sounds intriguing.

It's very strange for me to hear that people enjoy not being able to know what happens next right here and now. Personally I try not to read anything that hasn't been published to completion first just because I can't deal with the waiting.

You're spot on about the emotive shift on the last two panels. One tender, the other jagged. One detailed and soft, the other faded and unclear. Well, it's a way to end a page, isn't it?

Even when I make comics that aren't trapped in the confines of a single page, I tend to think that every page should end as a small cliffhanger, make the reader want to turn it and see what happens. This often gets me into trouble because sometimes there simple isn't any reasonable story flow that can call for all these minor peaks every page. I don't have experience with longer formats to know how to deal with this effectively, heh.

Yes this comic is one of my favorites too mostly because of the color work. It stands out due to it.

Oh I just realized I skipped two comics from the newspaper run! The colored ones! I will post them after Memorybot is complete.

And yes, you are correct (and perceptive) I have no use for color if it just explains surfaces. Let the reader imagine their own colors if that's all they're there to do, is how I think. Colors should add a second reading, should convey an emotional aspect, should do a bit of storytelling of their own. Ptoing - though he had a few problems with suppressing his RATIONAL COLORING CHIPSET, has good instincts for this.

I continue to enjoy our discussions, Solar. Thank you for posting.

vsakkos said...

I have really enjoyed this story- thank you for it.
A few questions:
The background of the first panel is very intriguing. What is depicted on the canvas (if is one)? Also the way the lamp has been drawn, gives the effect of an IV administered to the girl.
In general, i dig ZX's style (his bomber style jacket, his neubauten t-shirt) and er...his digs. I would like to see more of his place (candles for the mojo etc.)
p.s. Is that a ZZ Top graffiti in the first page of the story?

Helm said...

I spot a sakko. Hello.

About the canvas, I've already mentioned complexification, go ahead and check the link out.

The IV thing wasn't intentional at all heh.

ZX wears my the jacket that my dad wears. The Neubauten thing I had even forgot, if you believe me.

No it wasn't a zz top graffiti. It was a paper vending machine of the magazine http://www.zzap64.co.uk/ Zzap 64. I speculate that in the future this is what people will read daily :)

Lackey said...

I was interested to learn that the scene in the first panel is a futurist cafe. I had assumed they had gone back to ZX's apartment for whatever reason (it looks like a home to me and I forgot this was a 'date') and Complexification was either the kind of art he bought, perhaps after the show in the other comic, or made himself (aren't those unfinished canvases behind her?). In any case it seems like the kind of art that would appeal to the robot man. I could imagine a robot painting it, in fact, with very steady hands.

I apologize for speculating on continuity, it's not normally a habit of mine.

Ptoing's colouring, subjective as it is, gives a great sense of place. Its better for me, anyway, just because when I look at black and white art I feel compelled to interpret everything as made of the same material.

The material is like a surface of an egg, if you're wondering.

I'm somehow astonished at how emotive this one is. Its become my new favourite even though I've already read it. Its a sad and hopeful story.

PS: My word verification is "putrapp" which would make a great sound effect.

Helm said...

I was aiming for 'cafe' but I am not adverse to it being ZX's home.

Hah on the egg material making up everything in black and white comics. I guess that's your prime ideal substance!!

Thank you for liking the comic! I will post third page today I think.