For Whom the Bells (pp. 3 & 4)

click to enlarge (2 images)

In this month’s episode our hero finds the source of his ailment; but is knowledge enough?

I’m still not terribly happy with the layout of these pages.  I feel like it’s pretty slapped together, even though I did put some thought into it.  I tried to keep with the basic structure of the layout: one large panel over two smaller ones.  I couldn’t keep it up by page four, though.  I just wasn’t able to make it work.

I’m still struggling with the whole problem of “show me, don’t tell me.”  I don’t want to put too much information into narration captions, but I don’t think that the story warrants stretching out the plot.  It feels to me as if I’m jumping from panel to panel without any real smooth transition.  It feels like I’m saying: “here’s a picture,” “and now here’s another.”  It just isn’t flowing the way that I want it to flow.  Part of the problem was that I just jumped into the story without really plotting/sketching the whole thing out.  I have finally sat down and done some rough page layouts, but the whole thing feels stilted.

On the positive side, I am pretty happy with the black/white balance.  The basic compositional elements are there, even if I don’t think that they have come across as I intended.

I’ve found that the images that work best are the ones that I really sketch out first, using myself as a model.  A lot of times I just rush it, and do it from my head—which winds up looking warped or strange.  The “me” on the bottom of page four I think turned out pretty good.  I drew the upper image from a mirror, but it’s a difficult angle to pull off, and the face really looks misaligned (more so than it should).

Even though I like the amount of black, it’s pretty clear to me that my lack of backgrounds can really hinder my storytelling.  The hospital room on page two, while not great, I feel really helps to “place” the story.  Similarly, the party background on page four—while also not great—really helps to add some better depth to the scene that the two figures alone wouldn’t carry.  I’ve been looking more closely at comics, and it’s very clear to me which artists put some thought into backgrounds, and which ones seem to avoid them altogether.  Some of the mid-eighties spidey comics are terrible; there are not backgrounds to speak of, and they don’t even use blacks like me to cover it up!

I do like the big head on page three, although it didn’t turn out quite like I’d hoped.  Generally speaking, I like my pencil sketches better, but when I try to ink them, they lose a lot of the qualities that made them interesting.  It’s a strange battle; I want to have high contrast in my images, but my sketches tend to rely on a lot of grey scale.  So I’m left trying to get a medium tone with ink, which leads me to lots of lines that don’t always work or shadows that are just a little too dark to be understood as shadows.  I’m still searching for the happy medium.