Ok, Paul has done this absolutely beautiful page, that, like some kind of heathen I will now scribble all over. But I’ll explain why… (it’s up to you whether the explanations hold water – and by YOU I mean the reader, as I write this both for me to understand what I’m thinking, for the person who drew the page and for those few people who may stumble upon this looking to learn comics!)
As ever, first Paul’s page, then my edits.
I love Paul’s work. I think he’s got a gorgeous rendering style going on, and is such a solid draftsman.
That said, NO MAN IS SAFE FROM MY MENACING! (on which subject, why all the men submitting to fixup friday? is it me? have I made it seem like I’m only looking for blokes? Honestly, not the case. More than happy to do the same for anyone of any or no gender. All the matters is the artwork)
Ok. Let’s get rolling.
Some praise for Paul – MOAR BLACK! THERE IS NONE MOAR BLACK! I APPLAUD THE USE OF BLACK! IT IS INKY GOODNESS!
Ok, that done. Panel 1. I think there’s a couple of things here, some things I’ve addressed and some I haven’t.
What I’ve addressed: let’s give more room for dialogue, once you’ve drawn something if you think you can move every single person on the panel LOWER in the panel (leaving some extra lettering headroom) then give it a go! if you can do it with zero impact, well, that’ll save your letterer some effort. The car the other car is driving towards feels like it’s right beside it – or at least very close (time being something of a fluid concept in comics) so I shrank it, these stops an already cramped panel from feeling too cramped (gives us a bit of depth). I have some synpathy with Paul here, a conversation with four people in a car is hard – really damn hard – to choreograph, and without lettering I’ve no idea if he’s pulled it off. I’m assuming he has, but even so, more room required!
Panel 2 – 3
I HATED that I had to shrink this gorgeous panel, but I felt I had too. There was a lot of information to convey in panel 3. As was, panel 3 could’ve been the guys in the car 10 miles up the road from the other car. We sort of lose the geography of it – in panel 2 the car speeds towards the (I’m assuming parked) car, then the dudes get out – but did they get out before it? beside it? after it? We just don’t have the information – so by making panel 3 I was able to (badly) draw both cars in and stop the reader from getting confused.
DEPTH! I wanted depth! so I shrunk the background a bit, giving us a bit of depth. Even with distance shots (the original panel 2) there’s still a tendency to rob it of depth and scope. Sometimes you’ve got to let things breath.
I think I could’ve gone even closer in panel 6 – this sort of telescoping effect over panels, moving closer and closer in, heightens the drama, I’ve also add a little dramatic shadow over the face – Paul does lovely shadow work, but not really used to add atmosphere on this page, we can afford a little bit of that. Also added a gun bang bang effect on the gun – I really like the white out in the barrel but I don’t think it’s terribly clear the gun has fired (I’m guessing it did because there are two shells flying off on the original page). I also added a bit of shadow around our shooter’s face, happily this pulls multiple duties – it makes the light look cool, it makes him look sinister and it frames the image of the gun, pushing the reader away from the shadows and towards the muzzle.
Ok, on panel 1 I said there was some things I haven’t addressed, and it’s a bit of an elephant in the room for me. It’s this. I think the characters all tend to look a little samey. Now we all do this – god knows I do it. I have three blokes, and one of those is Judge Dredd, and maybe two girls – maybe just the one. But I know how to disguise them with wigs or moustaches (or a chin) so they FEEL different. If the guy with the gun had a moustache, for example he’d be super-easy to pick out at every single panel. But he doesn’t. He looks like any one of the other white guys with a polo neck and a jacket. (they don’t need to be all white, in fact it’d be better if they weren’t)
It may be intentional. Clones. A gang dressed the same to confuse. They’re all brothers. But I think it makes the storytelling job that much harder. When you have a crowd scene and multiple characters that are important you really need to do the legwork of making them INSTANTLY distinguishable from each other. If they’re clones, then a shirt with a number on it. If they’re brothers, then dress them radically differently. If they’re a gang dressed the same then give them all different body types Ectomorph, Endomorph, Mesomorph (these are real words, I haven’t made them up!) mix up the races
The reader is reading a single page in milliseconds, and you have fractions of that to keep them on the page, panel 1 is a great scene to deliver who every person is, one might have a big scar, a large honk, sideburns, a clown nose. Anything you do here sets the reader up for understanding what’s happening in the rest of the story.
I always do a little set of character sketches and I’m looking for two things : 1) meet the brief and 2) make sure the characters are all easily distinguished from each other.
And that’s it. I apologise for everything, it’s pretty brave of anyone submitting art for this process, since I started out so gently and now I’m like a flipping great big hefalump dropping great big hefalump poohs all over everything they’ve done and pretending my own hefalump pooh don’t stink. And it does. It stink. It stink bad.
What I’m saying is, none of this is absolute. It’s all subjective, and in this case, subjective to ME and ME alone. If you come away with nothing from this beyond insights as to how *I* would draw something and it makes you think “NO ta! that’s not for me”… well… even that’s pretty valuable, no?