I had been wanting to do some short fiction, and this particular story had been on my To Do list for awhile. It was partially inspired by early Adrian Tomine comics. Tomine is able to say a lot in a very short space. I knew that I wanted to focus on Henry, and then slowly "turn" the reader towards the woman through the panel-to-panel transition. The question was: how do I do that?
Panels 1 and 2 were fairly straightforward. We needed to see Henry from a slight distance (so that his "affliction" is not readily apparent), and then zoom in on his face and eyes. But panel 3 was tricky. How best to position the two players to show their physical / spatial relationship with one another?
Panel 4 was also a challenge. Which way should the woman be facing in order to best communicate disinterest?
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the angles. Here are some different ideas.
Coloring was also a challenge. I knew that I wanted to have a very limited pallet: black, white, and maybe a couple of shades of gray. I decided to go with just one gray tone so as to keep things fairly stark.
Ultimately, I needed the comic to work as a short story. But my original text read more like a character sketch than a story. Here's the original version:
This version was fine, but it really wasn't a story. Henry was just a creepy guy who stared at random women on the subway. I realized that in order for it to "work," Henry had to be little more sympathetic.
By changing the woman to a specific woman (albeit still an unnamed "her"), Henry goes from being a creepy guy to being a guy in love (although perhaps still kinda creepy), and there is now some dramatic tension in the fact that he longs for her, but she doesn't even know he exists.
That's the idea anyway. You can certainly argue that it still isn't much of a story or that it doesn't really "work," but I think it holds together better with the changes.