|What I learned drawing one page of King Cat #49
||[Sep. 2nd, 2011|10:31 am]
The truth about comix
(cross posted from my persolj)
The other day I read an awesome post on John Porcellino's blog (the author of one of my favorite favorite comics, King Cat, for my non-comics friends) about what he learned copying page 11 of issue 49 of The Fantastic Four.
I've been out of any kind of artistic practice for the last 6 months or so, with being insanely hectic at work, traveling to the West Bank, recovering from traveling to the West Bank, conferences, and getting the hell married, and it's been a halting difficult time trying to get back in the swing. This copying thing seemed like a good idea, just to get ink moving from pen to page, to sit working at my desk, and to make something without constant disappointment at how out of shape I am. So I went to see what page 11 of King Cat 49 is, and copy that. Alas, we only have issue 49 in an anthology without the original page numbering, but there was this great one page comic that I like to imagine would be page 11. So I copied it yesterday.
Here's the original:
And here's my copy:
Here's what I learned in the process:
*it almost doesn't matter at all whether I'm making a copy or building your own comic from scratch - the satisfaction of the finished page is just about the same.
*my copy is much more literal - I tried to do it "verbatim" to really get a feel for his style. it would be an interesting and different exercise to try to adapt a comic into my own idiom, insofar as I even have one.
*not to be like the 80 millionth person to notice that Porcellino's comics are deceptively simple, but I *really* began to appreciate that fact after drawing this whole thing out. There is so much care in what he chooses to omit (like in the last panel, there are no cars on the street - unnecessary clutter.) I also noticed how he uses the edges of people's bodies to stand in for edges in the environment, like in panel 4, Mom's arm is also the edge of the door. Why have two lines when you can have one?
*the way he draws people is so anatomically clunky but captures so much of what's important. In copying panel 1 I realized how much you could tell about all three of the people, who at first glance might be 3 friends of the same age. But looking more closely at the body positions I really start to distinguish between a Mom, a big sister, and a little kid. Pretty awesome. Just in the subtle cross of mom's legs at the ankles, or the flailing awkwardness of the little boy's body.
*also look - I didn't capture this very well in my copy, but in the original it's there - at how the weird angles of the people create this tension, with the family in their waiting all leaning out towards the street, where the dad's coming from, and the dad leaning improbably forward toward the house. Just a neat little detail, maybe inadvertent, that gives the last panel so much melancholy oomph.
*the last thing that really struck me is how much a comic comes together when you color it in. i went back with a sharpie at the end and did all the big black areas, and though it looked kind of cool before hand, it really settled into place then. this should give one hope for any comic in progress - wait to get the major dark-light balance in at the end to see what it actually looks like. or do other people do this as they go? i don't know nothin.