Wednesday, April 21, 2010


My goal is to post something here every day. I'm very late today, but it's still Wednesday on the West Coast. I've been working on this all week and it's finally ready to post:

I did this two-page comic for Steve Fuson (sorry, no website), a writer (and I think artist?) here in Portland whom I met at some random comics get-together. We're submitting it to the zine Stumptown Underground for their "Family"-themed issue coming up in May. I'm pretty confident we'll make the cut, as Steve has been featured in I think every single issue of Stumptown Underground so far.

Steve gave me a good script to work with - very little stage direction aside from dialogue and a camera-angle recommendation for the penultimate panel. If I had one complaint, there is a little too much material on the second page compared to the first, and it's unfortunate that the break in time after David picks Avery up from jail doesn't occur across a page break. Oh well, I don't see away around it and apparently neither did Steve. A two page story is fun for both the writer and artist - you have to get so much information across right away if you are gonna have any chance of telling a complete story.

My big focus for these two pages was "spotting blacks." This is the illustration technique of choosing where to put the large black areas 1.) to direct the reader's eye and 2.) to give form to the objects, suggest light-sources, etc. Even though it's all over the best comics (especially the old black and white ones), it's a frightfully artificial technique.

Think about it. Virtually nothing you see in real life during the daytime is truly jet black, and certainly not shadows, which are generally just a darker shade of whatever color they are falling across, maybe a little more bluish if the light is coming from the sky. When I look at even the best spotted blacks for too long, the scenes start to look as though they were lit by a floodlight on a planet with no atmosphere. But then my eyes pop back into place and I resume my awe of people like Periscope's Jonathan Case, whom I have literally seen color the shaded side of the white sail of a white sailboat on the beach at noon PITCH BLACK and get away with it beautifully. Everyone should buy his forthcoming novel "Dear Creature" (formerly "Sea Freak") if they want to see the true extent of what can be done with these two colors.

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