Monday, June 29, 2009

ZX page 4 : Doubletalk

Again, read the whole sequence from the beginning for proper pacing.

This is chapter 1, done. So far the chapters I've drawn are mostly 3-4 pages each, so it's a good point to recap.

At the discreet mention of several readers, I'll be trying to write more about these pages, even if they're fresh. I will not talk about the storyline directly as I think that can only be achieved when it's over and done, but I will talk about the formalist aspects of making these pages, again. A lot of readers seem to enjoy the talk about how comics work under the hood, and I do also. From the comments of the previous page:

Storytelling is the vital concern here, not for it to be drawn too flashy or for the sequences to be distracting with smart tricks. I spend most of the time thinking how the page flows and about timing. Comics are a brittle medium and when they're broken a lot of people don't realize they are, they just revert to experiencing them not as comics, but as a series of disjointed images. They don't realize why they aren't enjoying the narrative, even though they might think the drawings are good and the story itself is good. The gel that holds everything together in comics is the subjective perception of time and how the artist handles it. A comic first and foremost must have good tempo and sequential interest, the rest is secondary. Yes, even the 'great story' one might have had in mind and his great characters and great plot twists. All these come after.

I realize these are the things people that do not draw as well as others say to rationalize their faults as draftsmen... so be it. There's still truth in that. I never wanted to become a painter or an illustrator.

Also tangentially, I remember talking with a Greek comic artist of great repute (and deservedly so, I'd say) about 5 years ago when I was still an unknown in the Greek comics field and we were discussing this or that (I think it was Andrea Pazienza's work) and he said he hated it and put it as an ultimatum "you don't switch styles in the middle of the story/page". I remember how much I disagreed with that finality then but I couldn't exactly put it to words why (besides that I adore Pazienza's work, personally). His argumentation rested on that style-switching pulls the viewer out of the story and makes them remember they're reading a comic, which was bad, in his opinion.

Let's look at these pages now, years later, and note how often I switch rendering styles (almost from panel to panel, actually) and how little - if at all - it impairs the reader's engagement with the story.

There is an unexplored level in making comics in that area, between style and rendering and storytelling, that not a lot of comic artists have delved into. Most like to find their own style and keep to it for all their time as an artist, fearing both the challenges of communicating the charges of a style switch and possibly how unmarketable a comic is when it doesn't have a stable 'look'. Hopefully nowadays where people are making comics for various other reasons besides selling them to publishers, we'll see more experimentation with altering the viewer perception of the physical on a panel-by-panel basis.

Look at the first panel with the 'many lines form shapes' rendering, think of why I choose to involve the reader emotionally so much with a busy panel of outside a car, and how the next panel inside the car is mostly clear and clean, almost if as if awash with a comforting inner glow: inside the car they feel safe and comfortable, it's their familiar zone. Outside the darkness spreads with the night, a sea of possibilities slithers...

Third panel, 'quasi psycho' is punctuated by the steep darkness to the side of the Marathon Dam because a grim predition it might be.

Fourth panel, watch how words come between the co-protagonists, a light and a darkness faded with the uncertainty of grays. It is almost as if Stephan doesn't surely believe what he's saying there, isn't it? Smaller lettering, a smaller voice, for a small lie? Sideways glance into the wound. Check out how these long horisontal panels that touch the borders of the page seem to take forever, as compared to the short staccato panel where ZX made his statement. ZX is a direct robot.

Centerpiece panel of the girl, this is Stephan's memory viewer, look how the background (of the cafe interior) is skewed like a cubist painting. Isn't memory of places something like that? Do we remember places in perfect geometry, or do we cut and splice infinite times every second, different vantages, different details, trying to keep abreast the core of the memory. Which in this case is Mary.

Last panel is prefaced with a long vertical raster effect, to convey the time it takes for Stephan to reply. When asked difficult questions, Stephan takes some time to reply, but he always does. The terms might not be certain, but he's trying to commit to even them, by at least voicing them.

On other news, I am working on page 11. It goes well. I am a man with a purpose.

Please comment and discuss on the goings on as you desire.


1 comment:

Solar said...

Hey Helm, been away from inet a few weeks, so catching up again. Will probably be intermittent on checking.

Actually ready this two weeks ago but didn't have time to reply.

I do enjoy the way you play with styles, but it's the level of story and emotion in your work I enjoy the most.

Turning the page