Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Comic Challenge!

Dave Piper, over at Sunday Ink, was kind enough to spend Christmas with me via offering a comic challenge through an online 'art jam' collaboration. We had a goal of 8 panels, taking turns drawing one panel each hour. Here are the results (click to enlarge).

Let me first tell you a little about Dave. Almost 4 years ago I was taking a week long Japanese course in Tokyo, so I lived at a hostel in Asakusa during that time. There's certainly a lot to do in Tokyo and a week doing all those things could add up to expensive. That's why most of my free time was spent hanging out in the Hostel's lounge studying Japanese or doodling in my sketch book. That's where Dave and I met, hanging out on a couch, chitchatting about comics. We went out for a beer, swapped some sketches, and made plans to meet up for the World Anime Fair that weekend. So, I ended up getting lost at the convention and we went our separate ways. Fortunately we swapped e-mail addresses and have been in contact ever since!

I have my emotional highs and lows, battling my inner daemons, struggling to constantly produce art while confronting everyday stress. Dave has continuously been there for me. He has always been a great source of motivation as well as a superb source of inspiration.

Ok, let's talk more about the comic!

I've never done an Art Jam before, but I've always wanted to. I didn't know what to expect. It was Christmas morning, Rie was getting ready for work, family wanted to talk to me, I had to water my co-workers plants, and the 8am start time was quickly approaching.

The first panel came in and it was gorgeous! Dave's hours spent laboring over reproductions of still life in various mediums certainly shows. I was instantly intimidated and didn't know what to do. I had the idea that the house was floating in space, but thought it to be a better story telling element to show the character first (after drawing panel 2, I later had the idea of making the guy at the window a monologuing bond villain, staring out at his tropical island, while a 00 agent is being tortured in the BG. Maybe next time). My panic lead me to split this panel into two and it ended up being like 40-45 minutes late... for various reasons.

I didn't know what to draw (at first). The key is to just go with what ever pops into your mind first, because you don't really have much time other wise. If half of your time has gone by and you're not already inking, you're kinda screwed.

Another thing was, I didn't know what materials to use. I'm use to doing most of my inking by crow quill pen, which is kinda slow and meticulous. It was maybe in panel 4 where I switched to using a technical pen more often, still trying to figure out a nice balance.

Then there was the question on how to letter. You may notice that my lettering changes throughout each panel. Lettering is something that I need to practice more, and I've been going at it with an Ames lettering guide and a crow quill a few times over the past week or so. Problem is, I haven't lettered any comics recently, so I wasn't sure of what size to use, etc... Also, under such tight time restraints, it's probably not practical to use a crow quill for lettering.

His panel 3 came an hour later. The imagery and text both suggested things for me to play off of. The space ant thing could have gone two ways; either he really wanted to play this game with her or there really were space ants out there. I chose the latter because it sounded like fun. Also, even Dave's choice of the window shape help influence me to make their 'compound' dome shaped rather than an ordinary looking villa.

This turned into a nice game of comic ping pong and I became less self critical and more confident in my choices.

Page 2 panel 1 Dave really gave the girl a personality with his selection of dialogue, and I wanted to play off this in panel 2 by having her more excited that there really are flesh eating space ants. I also decided in this panel that she was a robot (she's got a little plug on her neck), but we never did anything with that.

Page 2 panel 3 really looked great! From the dynamic angle and the great lettering, to the little air poofts from the helmet opening. He even passed me the ball by having the little girl say "Hey!"

It was my job to finish this thing. I slapstick gag seemed like the best route to take.

Well, we finished it, and I thought it was incredibly rewarding. You learn so much about yourself as well as learn a lot from your partner. But, working under such quick deadlines, I am constantly reminded of my faults. Which I guess is what makes it such a good exercise. One practices and practices. This challenge is like going out on the field and seeing how your practice payed off.

Man, so I definitely found out what I need to work more on... which is everything. It's my dream to have my comics published. I'm turning 30 next year and I always wonder if I can still do it. I certainly hope so... but I have to work so much harder. Dave, thank you so much for doing this challenge with me. I'd love to do it again sometime. Also, thank you so much for your support and motivation. I am blessed to have someone like you in my life.

Thank you all for reading and see you next week!
Oh yeah! Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Alan, thank you for those kind words and truly insightful notes. It was a great day, and a real cartoon workout for both of us! I really like your ping pong analogy- it was just like that! Back and forth so fast, with no real time to think.

    As you say, we hit each other open-ended visual cues; some which took (the space ants, the window), and some which didn't (robot girl?) I must admit, I did notice the plug in her neck, but by that stage I was only thinking about progressing the space ant aspect of the story.

    OK- the materials! Admirable as it was, I definitely feel that the crow quill was the wrong tool for the job. This was an exercise in rapid fire toonage, and I think felt-tip was more suitable. For the kids at home, I was using a Kuretake brush pen, and a Uni-ball 0.5mm gel roller for the details and fine lines. For the lettering I used a 0.5 and 0.8mm Pigma graphic pen.

    Overall I think the second page is better in terms of us creating a cohesive style, and I think this has a lot to do with your space ants, Alan. We each took a couple of panels to refine the design, but I think it paid off.

    And the ending is just gold! I was so pleased to see you went for a comedy finish. This is more often than not the best way to wrap up such a short story, and I think we'd already established a good sense of humour earlier.

    Thanks again, Alan. I can't wait for our next art jam, but for now I'll content myself with the awesomeness that is Tangents of Insanity!