Monday, April 12, 2010

ZX Post-vitum 1 : comic plastic surgery

I've been going over the comic many, many times after I did the last few pages and I've been keeping meticulous notes of what I'd like to fix per-page. Some pages are fine as they are, some need just lettering fixes (good god, the sloppy, amateurish lettering!) and others need full fledged redraw-the-panel overhauls.

On one hand this is because in the last 10 months, I have grown not only as a comic artist (well, a little I guess) but also as a digital comic artist (I now have complete mastery of Manga Studio, and if I make any money off of this comic, I'm going to be buying a full license, they deserve it and it's good karma too). So now I see things in earlier pages that look alright, but could be done much cleaner and simpler by using all the tools of Manga Studio. I have decided however, to not go into fixing such textures and effects because it's disingenuous; Let the comic reflect the process I went through. Besides, there's something pleasing about how it starts of fairly minimal-looking and then towards the end becomes fuller and more nuanced in the inking. An interesting unintentional 'inking as commentary' effect.

On the other hand, some changes have to be made because the character's faces are either distorted or have outright changed from the beginning to now. Like on the very second page (crop pictured above) the original Stephan looks way more morose and severe than I needed him to look in the opening of the story. I had to change his face to a more neutral, innocent tone, because I expect some readers will finish the story and then turn to the beginning and start over. It won't do to go from the last-page-Stephan to the first-page Stephan to find him looking so fatigued and weary. I kind of liked how he looked to the reader in the original version, a sort of knowing look, but let's not be too clever, he's unaware of what's going to happen so I changed his eyes to look to his left. Also the black eyebrows were changed to the lighter-colored ones that became the default in the continuation of the comic. Check out the newly added Greco-Roman nose job too! That's what you get when you start a comic without having done 20 pages of character studies to get their look down completely, right? But consider the upside: if I had done 20 pages of character studies before I started this comic proper, I would have never finished it. I know this now. This is the only knowledge I have to offer other struggling comic artists: start drawing, now. Fix lazy mistakes later, have the comic in your hands and then you can afford changing whatever. Don't bother with too much foundation work. You are not an architect. You are a poet. (or to be more precise: if you find yourself unable to go through with building your comic after you've laid all the meticulous foundations for it, then you're the poet type. If you can manage it however then you might be one of those fabled poet-architects that achieve amazing success at anything they set their mind to do. Congratulations!)

Many small such fixes occur in the first 15 pages of the comic (that's how many I've gone through so far, today I'll do the rest) but for the reader the changes will not always be discernible. This is not because they are not major changes sometimes (some faces have been completely redrawn, for example) but because what the faces signify has rarely changed so the reader's memory will improvise with the new data and not worry the consciousness by sending it signals that stuff has changed. Only in two panels so far have I changed the actual expression of the characters to better convey their emotional status. I count this as a minor victory, it means that although I've struggled to draw people right in this comic the problem was with where their eye or nose would best be situated, not with what emotional expressions they held.

The other big thing about the comic is fixing the lettering. Because it was the last job I had to do for any given page of these, it's the most rushed, awful thing. Especially in the English version of the comic, at around page 8 to 20 it's a mess. Complete re-lettering has to occur and I'm not looking forward to it, oh not at all. I hate lettering. I'm now fixing the Greek versions so I can show it to publishers in a reasonable reading form in the upcoming Comicdom Convention, but straight after that I'll be spending two awful, tiring days re-lettering most of the English version too, so I can e-mail samples to the various publishers.

Although that's a bit of work if you think about it, my brain doesn't count it as such. It feels just like spring cleaning, moving a few furniture about. The comic is finished, now all that's left is to finish it.


1 comment:

Vak said...

Not an architect... Poet .... Will try to keep it in mind.

In all honesty manga studio has saved my life. Possibly in the literal sense. I imagine I would eventually stab myself in the eye with a g-pen if that was my only real option for quick, clear-cut ink strokes. I realized I'm not really the pen and paper type when I caught myself looking for ctrl+z on my drawing table every 5 minutes.

Anyway, I like the edit! It was awesome before you did it, but now that you've edited it the old version does look a bit odd, so you must have done something good!