Sunday, December 6, 2009

this expression

I don't know what it means.

Seriously, now.

Often I struggle with conveying emotions through faces in my own comics. I can tell you, it's probably the most difficult part of making a comic - about the human condition, at least. I'm sure it's easier to convey CONSTANT MURDEROUS RAGE if you are making some sort of fighting comic or whatever. Imagine that, a main character who is constantly drawn like this:

oh, wait.

Anyway, jokes aside, drawing faces conveying human emotions is pretty easy if you're doing primary emotions, more difficult if you're doing mixed emotions. People feel mixed emotions much more than they feel primary emotions. If you're making a comic about human situations, you'll have to come to terms with how to convey mixed emotions eventually. I'm struggling, for one.

A common crutch of the artist is to adopt a stylization of the human face early and consistently so that they don't have to draw very realistic facial emotions. A lot of manga artists do that, like the one above. Very concerned with stylization and 'coolness', they adopt common tropes of how to convey emotional information without actually referencing reality. Think of the manga sweat-drop on the side of the face, and then think how difficult it actually is to draw an embarrassed face realistically. First time you saw sweat-drop trope in an anime or manga you probably didn't realize what it was supposed to mean, but with repetition and context you grew to understand that visual language. Same with the top image, if you look at it from outside the cultural and aesthetic context it looks absolutely emotionally impenetrable, if anything it looks like she's having a stroke. The artist has tried to convey a mixed emotion by piling on lots of manga visual cues/cliches of primary emotions and the end result isn't just conflicted, it's brain damage. Reddened cheeks, sweat drops, 'tude eyebrows, oval mouth, tooth in the corner. A good reminder to always access the visual tropes one employs.

Oh, if you're curious the manga this is from, go on and read it there. I can't recommend it because I haven't read more than 21 pages of it and I probably won't, but the plot summary of it is hilarious enough to share. Some demon is trapped on the protagonist's balls and a little devil girl wants to make him ejaculate so the demon can be freed to destroy the world. He wants to get laid (naturally, men are base animals without any compunctions about fornicating with occult entities) but at the same time he doesn't want to destroy the world. Ontology and asceticism collide! Comedy (I guess) ensues.

Oh and since we're on the subject (we really are not) here's a photoshop of Nick's cat, Hitler, who serves as the inspiration of same-named cat in my comic:

Back tomorrow with a new page of comics.

No comments: