Saturday, November 27, 2010

TEUTON #2; Page Ten

I'm still hard at work on issue two of Teuton and I'd say for the most part it's gone fairly well. Page Ten, however, has been a thorn in my side the past few days.

The Fearless One and I work pretty well together, I must say. Because we're indie and live relatively near one another, we're able to meet and hash out our scripts and layouts over a long afternoon of coffee and 80's action flicks. Not all creative teams have the luxury of face-to-face discussion, but at this point I can't imagine working with someone long distance. I digress.

After our meeting I go on to refine my roughs at home. There's a very good process I've been taught to make going from thumbnails to full-board an easy transition. My problem is I don't often practice it. Shame on me, I know. Consider this post a cautionary tale, because the aforementioned page ten would not have been so painstaking if I had been a diligent little comic book artist and stuck to my learnings.

When Fred and I discussed the action beats for issue two, of which there are many, he sets up this skirmish with Jadvyga and undead skeletal warriors. It all takes place on a single page and Fred wanted emphasis on a panel where Jadvyga brings his axe down on one of these skeletal guys in a powerful way. To have have the character fight he first had to leap off his horse. And since we didn't establish his axe in the previous pages I'd have to do it somewhere between his leaping and his fight. Then I got lost in all the many ways I could show Jadvyga hacking guys up with an axe. There were so many bad ass images in my brain that I had trouble letting them go. What's more, I had trouble making them all fit.

Like I said, there was one specific image Fred wanted to dominate the page, and the more I jammed in there the less room there was to meet Fred's needs. I loved the panel where Jadvyga smiles fiendishly at his attackers, or where he gives one of them a swift kick in the face. Those were good. They worked. What didn't work were the panels in between the action shots. They made the page static and slowed the momentum of the fight. Y'see to tell an action sequence effectively you have to economize your characters' movements by choosing concise moments in time and space. Drawing lots of panels with bodies or limbs in motion slows time down and kills your end result. All of that connective tissue between action shots happens in the gutter. A reader processes that information when they jump from panel to panel. I forgot that and consequently pooched my page.

I had made a thumbnail of the page and simply tried drawing it straight to the board. Maybe I was trying to save time. In the end I cost myself more than I'd care to admit. Working on the blank page from scratch, I abandoned my original layout and it was downhill from there. I re-drew it several times before finally saying fuck it and just began inking. I inked a panel and then drew another one without forethought. If it popped into my brain it went down on the page. Drafting was out the window. When I finally broke away from the page I saw what a mess I had gotten myself into. I showed it to Fred and I could tell he wasn't feeling my revisions. Call it freewheelin', but I basically pulled the layout out of my ass. So I gave myself the time to do again and do it right.

What you see is the final version of page ten from issue two, as well as the preceding page 9. Enjoy them. There's more to come!

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