Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Making Comics - Hell Boy: Conqueror Worm

Mike Mignola greatest clarity comes from how well he stages his characters. The body language always communicates the emotion with strong silhouettes. These pages are somewhere in the middle of the comic book.

Hell Boy: Conqueror Worm - Paul Petty

1. Analyze: Rising Action

The big focus on Hell Boy was the rising action. It introduces the element of a bomb button on Hell Boy's friend, Roger. It's obvious the whole story is going to lead up to the need to blow Roger up, but what will happen to spark that event? Most of the story is everything leading up to the climax of when Hell Boy will have to make the decision.

2. Rating: PG-13

There's some violence with blood, zombies, and guns. There's also some vague nudity shots of Roger, but with some cover. There's also some nude shots of Hecate and another of an old nasty witch at the very end. Though in all these cases it's not super detailed nor erotic. The redeeming quality from the violence is that evil Nazis get beat up and killed.

3. Springboard:

Mignola must have a lot of notes on witchcraft. From studying Shakespeare's Scottish Play, Hecate is the moon goddess/goddess of witches. There's also a lot of religious superstition/ mythology stuff with cults and summoning unworldly demons and monsters.

I hadn't seen the second Hell Boy, so I watched that. It had a lot of cool visual effects, but the first one had more suspense in the story.

4. Apply

Mignola's composition with word bubbles and illustration leads the reader's eye. There's a great deal of clarity, and everything flows with great timing. That's something I want to include in my comic and still keep some dynamic quality like Mike Mignola does.

Making Comics - Tout Seul

In Making Comics Scott McCloud talks about the importance of facial expressions that your character shows. On this page in Tout Seul everything you need to know about the intereaction of these two characters is shown in their facial expressions. The words here just add extra clarity. If your character's interaction is not clear in their facial expressions it will be much harder to make it convincing through words alone.

Tout Seul - Britta Frazier

1. Falling Action -*Spoilers* The climax of this story seems to be when the deformed man reads the word "Prison" in his dictionary, this finally pushes him to make changes in his life which leads to the story's falling action. He frees his fish, throws his beloved dictionary out to sea and ultimately decides to leave the lighthouse. This is the action that leads towards the resolution of getting off the lighthouse island for good.

2. PG. For language (but only if you read the translation), and the deformed man's appearance would be frightening to a younger audience. No violence, no nudity.

3. Springboard - The artist would need a good eye for drawing technical things like ships and lighthouses. I've never been very good with inorganic stuff like that so I know I'd need lots of reference. Also, even though the year is not really important the artist would need to have a good idea of his story's timeframe to make sure the technology of the boats was on par.

4. Apply - I really admired this artists ability to create bautifully interesting moment to moment shots. Large portions of the book are just panels of birds flying or waves crashing but he has them placed so that they really help the timing and flow of the entire story. It's a good reference.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Making Comics - Moving Pictures

In Making Comics, Scott McCloud discusses body language and its relation to, and difference from facial expressions: "expressions are more surface-oriented... while body language is more silhouette-based, all about how our limbs, hands and head are positioned" (pg 103).

In the 2nd panel (pg 93 of the novel) you can see the basic shapes of eyes and nose and how they communicate an attitude of the woman. Much stronger in mood communication however are the 4th and 5th panels. Even though little of each character's bodies are shown, their relation to each other and the gesture, simple as it is, establishes the feelings right there in that scene.

Moving Pictures - Adam Borgia

1. Analyze: Event - Secondary
We know from the setting almost immediately that this isn't a modern story. The war is just about to reach France's front door (in part of the narrative, since there are flashbacks), and so it sets the actions and character motivations of wanting to hide and protect artwork from any invaders. Thus it is this story's Event. But the War is always either on the horizon (flashback), or the eventual occupation (narrative present) has yet to reach its feverish high, thus I would label it as secondary over primary, since the interactions between characters and their personalities would still come through I think in another place or time.

As a side note, I feel I need to be honest and say that this book lost me more so than any others I had read to this point. That might be one reason I was disappointed. I think the premise had such promise, but in my eyes fell short of what it could have been. Plus, I didn't find any of the key characters to be likeable enough to draw me in to their lives. Some minor characters were far more interesting and enjoyable to "watch." In this way I am reminded of some artistic foreign films that try to win you over with mood and ambiance and hold to the idea that apathetic and angsty souls automatically make for moving stories. I respectfully digress. What was the main lesson of the novel? How did our character change? Or does she just run away? Because I feel the whole package lacked direction, it left me, as the reader, with little direction of my own.

That all being said, I have nothing but positive things to say about the aesthetics of Moving Pictures. For me, the visuals carry the story and are much more effective in establishing mood and influencing readers than the dialogue and the handling of the characters.

2. Rating: PG-13
A couple is not-so-subtly shown to be sleeping together, although none of these actual scenes are shown. There is one F-word (pg 32), but it is used rather awkwardly (I can only reason that the author used it simply for its alliteration in the sentence) and stands out in a novel which otherwise is fairly clean. And Nazis rarely factor into stories below pg-13...

3. Springboard:
A lot has been said regarding the history research needing to be done to make this story feel authentic. I would instead like to make mention to the research needed in bringing the story to life and giving it authenticity through visual reference. There are scatterings of "reproductions" of actual works of art as background to several scenes and panels. Towards the end of the book are also several pastoral landscapes of the countryside. It is possible that all this gathering of good photo reference could have been done indirectly by third-parties, but I would be more than willing to venture that the creators did some traveling in that part of the world for their own personal referencing.

I looked up the unique history of one of the paintings mentioned in the book, Les Noces de Cana (The Wedding Feast at Cana) by Paolo Véronèse. According to the book, the painting ended up in France because of a post Napoleonic War treaty/trade between countries. Other sources however say that Napoleon first looted the painting from its site in a Monastery in Venice, cut it in half for the journey to France, then sewed it back together in Paris. With regards to the post-war art trading, this painting was never returned to Italy, but a Charles Le Brun painting was sent in its place. During WWII this massive painting was rolled up and transported around France in a truck to avoid looting.

4. Application:
I do not htink that I would like to explore the wartime setting for my treatment (later ones, perhaps). I did appreciate the techniques in panel transitioning though, including some transitions from the "present" to memories in the characters' past. The employment of harsh outlines and silhouettes was striking and I would consider exploring their implementation for my own story.

Solanin - Christina LeBaron

1.Analyze: character-Primary
Character seemed to play a very large role in Solanin.  The story follows these characters who are at a point in their life where lots of changes are happening and decisions are being made.  These characters are seeking happiness and a purpose to life, while going through character changes in the persute of that answers.  A first big shift in character his the big decisions by Meiko at the beginning of the story to quit her job.  Later on another big change happens when she decides to learn how to play guitar and be in the band.  This decisions seems like a way to not only keep Taneda alive but also let Meiko move on with her life and be happy.  

2. Rating: PG-13 for nudity (a bare breast), a bed scene, and some mild offensive language.  Recommended for older teens.

3. Springboard: The author would have had to know about college life in Japan and life after college for young people in Japan.   The stages of life in Japanese culture would have been important to know, especially the challenge of transitioning to adulthood.  

As it turns out, Japan's legal age to become an official adult is a bit of a controversy.  Currently the age is 20 years old, but some think it should be lowered to 18.  The problem with lowering the age is that maturity differs from person to person.  Some people are ready to take on adult responsibilities and privileges, like drinking, marriage, voting, etc. while others are not.  
Another interesting fact: Japan has universal education up to 15 (but 99% of people attend high school beyond that). Full-time employment, also allowable from 15.

4. Apply: I paid a lot of attention to body language in this comic, mainly because it was what I read about recently in making comics and I really like how the artist uses the body language to convey meaning.  Gestures and stances are important and I want to use that to tell what's going on in my own comics.  I also found the panels and everything to be very easy to read and follow.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Story - Britta Frazier

1. Idea
-Classic western with a role reversal, the mysterious sharpshooting stranger who wanders into town (and always seems to be played by Clint Eastwood) is a woman.
-A person that can only be seen in water (in the rain/in a lake).

I'm pretty sure the first idea was directly inspired by this picture:
I haven't actually seen the Good the Bad and the Ugly, but I love this costume so much. I drew a character wearing a more fashionable female version of this outfit and thought hey, there could be a story here.
The second idea I've had for a long time. Noticing that it's almost mandatory for chick-flicks to have a kissing scene in the rain...
...I thought "What if you were in love with someone who you could literally only see in the rain?" That got my mind wandering and creating this odd species of human that is
invisible when not in water. But I think for this story I don't want to use this rain person as a romantic interest.

2. Story
1) A mysterious woman wanders into a small old west town, not long after arriving she manages to tick off the town's small but violent gang 2) She has come in search of her father's killer, the elusive invisible man who can only be seen or harmed in water 3) She
knows that the weather changes wherever the invisible man goes, staying in one place causes severe droughts followed by severe thunderstorms, if she can wait it out a thunderstorm will arrive and she can face the invisible man 4) until the storm
arrives she has to keep the man from leaving town and try to outsmart the gang that trying to drive her out. 5) She has a showdown with the invisible man, but the few town's people she's befriended have taught her kindness and she shows him mercy, releasing him from his spell instead of carrying out her revenge. (c) Britta Frazier 2011

3. Panels

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


You are only as good as your reference and research (Well, that's at least what I say).
This post is specifically for: Paul, Kevin, Megan, Britta, Adam, Chad, Christina & Aileen. After talking with you, I think these will be helpful.

First, Paul. Your designs look like it would compliment this type of background design. You'll have to play around with the specifics - do what is most appealing, I think. (art by Jiro Matsumoto)

This is for Kevin. Your landscape and character came off more Chinese than Japanese. Use these photos, it will help support your story so you can focus on the cool stuff. (Old photos of Japan link)

Megan, you have such great potential for interesting backgrounds, I thought these images would inspire you to try for that. Plus these are good references for proper use of value, which your current panels struggle with. Keep on truckin! Iterations! Iterations! (art by Nihei Tsutomu)
Britta, this is the Nausicaa line work i was talking about. You are playing with the idea of using a manga-style line work. I think this style will add that extra sense of sophistication you are looking for, but is loose enough of a penmanship for you to adapt to your existing character designs. Fill in a lot of what would be blank areas in your drawings with lots of meticulous and consistent pattern marks! (art by Miyazaki)

Adam, yo. These were done on watercolor paper. The entire book is filled with such a variety of composition you never get enough of looking at buildings. He also chose to do it in sepia inks, although there are some spots of saturated colors in some other compositions. You can be a pen and watercolor version of Hitch or Cassaday!
(Art by Paul Madonna)

Chad, I'm not saying you should take it to this extreme - but at least point in this direction and take a few steps forward. Like your panels, these utilize landscape (but with a sense of reference), people and vehicles drawn afar and with slight cartoony application in character and prop design. Also, look how the camera angles are always slightly shifted. I think with some slight adjustments to your draftsmanship approach, you can make great leaps in storytelling! (art by Paul Pope)

Christina. Check out the backgrounds in these. The color treatment is different than yours, but the approach in line work is the same as yours. I know you can do this - so do it. (art by Kent Williams)

This is for Aileen. I think you should avoid complete character silhouettes. Like this animation shows, you can create simple character designs and still keep that camera at a distance/ silouette feeling. full silhouettes might be too uninteresting. You were still at the sketch level, can't wait to see more finished work!

Treatment - Paul Petty


1. Brothers (yen and yang in personality)

One is a robot. He’s the methodical, organized, patient, etc. The other is a chimp—a crazy poo flinging ape. They are not necessarily related as brother in a literal sense, but there relationship is tight like that. The monkey makes messes and is energetic about it. The robot just takes his primate’s crap and cleans up after him. Their differences make them good foils for each other. Deep down inside, they enjoy working together.

2. Communication (sign language)

These characters use sign language to talk. They don’t speak vocally. [Jared mentioned using icons.] Communication is on a very simplistic level—like animals. They know each other so well that they wouldn’t even need to talk if they could. Their communication skills gained in their muteness actually benefits them at times when they have to work outside the ship. The robot took out the radios in the suits because the monkey likes to scream for unexplainable reasons.

3. Space Travel (Ray Bradbury Style)

These two guys are traveling though space in a starship/rocket. They are going somewhere, and they have a job to do. But, space travel takes a long time no matter where you are going. They often end up with a lot of down time. What do you do on a spaceship everyday for days on end?


1. A robot and monkey are sent off through space as Earth’s first test run for interplanetary space travel.

2. They find a spaceship on their way to a new solar system.

3. The spacecraft is sending an S.O.S. so they both go in to investigate.

4. The original crew is dead except for a little girl in a cryogenic freezing capsule that is losing life support.

5. The robot sacrifices his own parts and energy to repair the capsule and save the life of the child.

3 Panel

"Passing" - Adam Borgia

1. Idea Stage:

First Idea - [Comes from a short story idea I had years ago (and I don't remember where that one came from exactly)] A man who pre-dates Adam as the real "first" being on earth had eaten of the fruit of the tree of life before the forbidden fruit, and thus lives forever in a state of innocence, having never experienced the Fall.

Second Idea - [This comes from a number of sources, including religious studying, movies, and even my most recent Sandman readings, as well as long, slow walks back from campus] An agnostic man becomes the newest, modern-day host for Legion, the body of demons we read about from the New Testament.

*Third Idea - Edit* - A "self-help group" for schizophrenics and other mental sicknesses [I find mental illnesses fascinating, and I think groups like AA are humorous in their approaches sometimes--kind of like the blind leading the blind].

2. Story

1.) Backstory - One man ate of the tree of eternal life as still lives, being passed secretly around different religions and hidden from the world; another man struggles to find his place in the world. 2.) Rising Action - The immortal man escapes his custody and enters the real world; the other man becomes inhabited by Legion and starts to display erratic, schizophrenic behavior. 3.) Climax - The possessed man discovers that Legion is using him to get to the immortal man; the immortal man realizes he does not fit in, considers revealing his true self. 4.) Falling Action - Both men are forced to interact at a mental illness help group... the possessed man makes the decision to leave society and let himself die so that Legion cannot pass on to anyone else. 5.) Denouement - The immortal man realizes that he can make a difference and that he has a purpose, and so he takes Legion into himself to protect the rest of the world (he hasn't Fallen and thus cannot be corrupted by Legion) and leaves the other man free to go on with the rest of his life.

*Short Story - Edit*

1.) A man is shown inside of a high school at night, where he has arrived early for a weekly group meeting. 2.) The room and chairs begin to fill up around him, and as it begins we see that someone has decided to sit and listen outside the room. 3.) One of the group members--a person who think his job is to be a crime fighter--starts to talk, the man outside perks up and peeks inside the room. 4.) The man who arrived early senses someone is looking through the window and darts out of the room to confront him. 5.) The man outside has already fled, and the exit door is left swinging open.

3. Appropriation/Style
Okay, so this isn't the best picture in the world, but it's here right now as proof that it was completed on time. Chad is my witness.

-Short Story Supplement Stage-
a) The dominant MICE quotient in the short story is Idea
b) The primary conflict is the outside man wanting to be involved with the rest of the group, but afraid to open up
c) The theme is about revealing your true self
d) Major world limitations affect the demon possession--transferring between active vessels requires the loss of one demon from the Host each time, going to a new host once the old one has died does not (same with being exercised); if the host dies with no replacement hosts nearby, the demons get weaker and may eventually "die" themselves. This won't really pop up in this short story version...

4. Beta Comic Stage
This is in process, but I really did start it. I've got the thumbnails done and the page layouts organized, but it needs to be more to scale and a little tighter before it reads well enough. Chad is my witness (again).

Treatment - Main Story & Story Ideas - Chad Ruger

(So this is a little long...)

Idea 1 -

A technologically minded man lives on a post cataclysmic earth. 20 years after the event, it is only known that the world broke into two halves, and that travel between halves is impossible due to a mysterious electrical storm originating from the chasm. The man is trying to get back to the other half where he believes his family to still be alive.

Idea 2 -

Two Knights Templar (A young knight and his mentor) are struggling to move their local chapter's goods out of the country before the French Monarchy turns on them. They are caught in an alleyway between soldiers but just as they are about to lose the fight, they disappear. They find themselves in a futuristic building and are recruited into the New Order of Knights Templar. The scientists explain to them that the younger Templar is renowned to be one of the greatest fighters to have ever existed. He explains they have the wrong guy, but as he completes missions for this futuristic faction, he hones his skills and becomes unmatched, learning to use new technological weapons and classic ones. At the end he is sent back to his time, and lives on to become the legend that the records claimed him to be when he first went to the future.

Idea 3 -

A secret society has been charged with containing an evil force within their dreams. There is always one who sleeps to keep the dream going. When it is time to relieve the person, another comes, links hands and is "taken" by the dream. The other only wakes up when it is safe to leave the dream world. While dreaming, the dreamers posses god-like powers, and must use creativity to combat the evil. Although they are fighting a never ending battle, the evil force changes the conflict at seemingly random intervals with the conflicts ranging from serious things (war, combat, plague, etc.) to more abstract and silly things (political debate, world forming, video gaming, mazes, sporting events, etc.). This society must continually recruit as it is possible for a person to die while sleeping.


The world is broken in half and divided by a cataclysmic energy storm filled chasm and a small brotherhood of men (an one woman) is formed, called the Apprentices, to control the secrets of the potentially destructive technology that was invented to cross the chasm. One Apprentice is known as the Preacher because he embraces beliefs from pre-cataclysmic religions and is confronted by a young woman who needs to cross the chasm because she has "heard" that the doctor who can save her child is on the other side. The Apprentices have strict creeds of neutrality and the woman cannot pay for passage across the chasm, creating conflict between his ideals of charity and his strict brotherhood code of conduct. He must choose between two conflicting "goods" and eventually ferries the woman and her child across because of conversations about her faith in the fact that there is a doctor over there who can fix her problems. He continues on as if the event never happened, telling the woman to never speak of this favoritism, and returns to his post.

3 Panel:

"The Sandman: Season of Mists" - Ryan Stevens

1. Analyze: Character - Primary

Character is definitely the Primary focus in this Graphic novel. Most all of the narrative runs through the central character. The main character is Morpheus of the Endless. He is the ruler of the Dream Realm and he is all powerful there. I assume that is where the book gets its title from, seeing that "The Sandman" is a name routinely used as the name of the being that brings dreams to humankind as they sleep. We almost always are viewing the narrative as a third person as we follow Morpheus throughout his journey. If we are away from Morpheus at any time usually the subject matter is still strongly concentrated on him.

2. Rating: R

This Graphic novel has quite a bit of violence and nudity. There are graphic depictions of people being tortured in Hell. There is partial and suggested nudity throughout the book. Coarse language is used many times in the novel as well as sexual themes and sexual innuendos.

3. Springboard:

For this graphic novel the writers and artists would need a good understanding of how Heaven and Hell are described and depicted by many different religions and cultures. They would have to have knowledge of the names of these places, what types of places they are, what they look like and who inhabits them.
I researched the different names for Heaven and Hell for different cultures and religions so I could see what they are like. Some for Hell are Gehenna, Hades, Abaddon or Tararus. Some for Heaven are Arcadia, Elysium, Shangra-La and Utopia. I found this very interesting.

4. Apply:

Seeing that my treatment deals with the issues of morality and right and wrong, it will be important for me to do research to find out what the majority of the world believes is moral and what is considered as not moral. This issues of right and wrong can change drastically depending on your point of view, your culture or your religion. I will also need to remember to be sensitive to other peoples beliefs and cultures in my treatment if i expect it to have success with many different readers.

Story -(c) Christina LeBaron

Idea Stage

1. In the distant future on a planet covered mostly by water (much more covered than Earth) two colonies (an ocean colony, and a land colony) are in a war against each other.
-A Dream I had a couple of years ago.
(There's my sentence but I've actually cooked up a bit more to this idea.  I was going to elaborate more on it but after I finished typing it, well it was kind of long, so maybe I'll edit and add it later so that no one is initially overwhelmed by my post and doesn't bother to read it.)

*Edit 5/16/2011* Okay, here's the extension to the idea above!
In the future Earth has colonized an inhabitable planet that consists mostly of water.  As time passes Earth becomes less and less concerned with it's colonies on the distant planet (Earth probably has it's own problems going on).  The colony eventually grows to be too large for the land and the colony splits into two colonies (water and land).  As earth grows more and more distant the colonies set up their own governments, economies, etc.  Tension grows between the colonies and eventually war breaks out.

A few years into the war (this is where I imagine the story starting) during an attack on the water colony the young son (from 12-16 about) of the chief/king/dictator/mayor/whatever of the water colony is captured by the land colony.  The land colony leadership decides to keep the son (because he is so young) with a general or something, instead of imprisoning him with all of the other adult POW's.  A month or so later the boy somehow gets back to the water colony and realizes after living on the land colony how corrupt the water colony is and how crappy life is for the water colony.  (This makes sense to me because leadership would have complete control over the limited resources and such).

He decides to try and help the land colony win the war by passing on vital information and sabotaging water colony attempts at attacks and a variety of other dangerous exciting things, in hopes of improving life in the water colony. So by doing this he is betraying his colony, people, and family.
*End Edit*

2. Scientists have figured out how to breach the 9th dimension and can now travel to other universes.  Each universe is essentially the same, with only very minor differences.  The characters travel to so many alternate universes that they lose track of which is which and eventually become lost.  They are trying to find their way back to their own dimension and by the end we never know if they really made it back.
-Discussions with my dad, Star Trek, and Inception

3. A geeky, socially awkward boy is cursed to have every woman he comes in contact with (besides family) fall in love with him.
(I never imagined combining this idea with the above ideas, but that is the challenge!)
-Not sure what brought this idea on, but it came to me as I was eating dinner one day.

*Edit- 5/18/2011*
Story Stage(for the shorter story, I think I'll do a sort of "prequel" to the story idea above)
(1)This takes place in the water colony in the midst of a newly begun war with the land colony while times are still somewhat prosperous.  (2)A young woman, who is also trained in witchcraft, is happily being courted by the heir to the throne of the water colony, but finds out she is being cheated on.  (3)She confronts her fiance about the issue but is completely betrayed. (4) She puts a horrible curse on his future first born child. (5) The witch becomes more and more secluded as time passes until she turns truly into a withered old witch.

*Edit - 5 /25/2011*
3. (a) Appropriation & Style test + (b) Short story supplement stage:

MICE Quotient: Character
Primary Conflict:
Theme: Betrayal & Addiction
Major World Rules/Limitations: Under water, limited resources, dark magic requires a price, limited light

Beta Comic
  It's still all very rough and unreadable but here's what I have so far.  The whole thing is 11 pages, but I don't have much drawn for the last page


Making Comics - The Sandman: Season of Mists

On Page 99 of "Making Comics", Scott McCloud Advises us that "If Emotional Changes are the Focus of a given scene, devoting a panel to Each Change Of Emotion might achieve the Intensity the scene requires. The page above from "The Sandman: Season of Mists" is a great example of this technique. Each panel gives the viewer an understanding of each different emotion lucifer is experiencing. This gives more intensity to each separate emotion that he has in the page, a subtly leads us into the extreme emotion in the final panel.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Making Comics - Moving Pictures

The principle of Emotion and Facial Expression was talked about in Making comics from this read. Although the Moving Pictures has very little of this principle, (most faces drawn with very dramatic shadow and lighting), Immonen (author) does draw emotions where it seems necessary, and it actually seem to emphasize the emotion because it’s not shown often. On page 23, on the first panel we can see the lowered eyebrow representing a hint of suspicion and hint of resentment; on the third panel we see slight variation on the angle of her eyebrows denoting annoyance and confusion.

Making Comics - All-Star Superman

(These are pages 19 & 22 from the first chapter, 10 from the second)

I think All-Star Superman really nails character design principle found on page 71 ofMaking Comics. Though Clark Kent and Superman are the same person, they look different enough for the readers to know when Superman is publically performing service as Superman and when he is hiding his identity by taking a role of clumsy news reporter. The design includes costumes, posture, and even hairstyle as the “unique visual reminder of characters’ different personalities”, which convincingly fools the other characters and is even believable to the readers.