Realm Chapter 2 is inked and ready to be scanned as soon as I get a chance, so before very long it will be appearing online in all its glory. That is the good news.
The bad news is that I’ve decided not to draw any more chapters of Realm until I have the entire book in thumbnail form. Up until now I’d been doing Realm in a manner similar to that I use for Sunrise, in which I begin finishing early pages before the thumbnail outline is even complete. This works okay for Sunrise, as it must keep to a tight deadline, but it tends to cause some amount of discontinuity overall, as the story tends to evolve with the thumbnails. Since Realm is a very long story and is significantly more work than a given issue of Sunrise, I want to do this the right way. That means that I want to have the entire story finalized in thumbnails before I cut another piece of bristol board. So, expect some significant delays before Issue 3…but to be honest, even if it takes a year to finish planning, the delay could be less than that of Issue 2.
On the above recent Sunrise page, I struggled for a long time while trying to decide whether to use the cliched sound effect kaboom. This is supposed to be a serious moment, and kaboom conjures up superhero silliness just as much as biff and pow. At first I tried coming up with an original sound effect (I believe it said baWOOM up there for a while) but ultimately decided to go with kaboom, not despite its longstanding reputation, but because of it.
What I realized was that using an unexpected sound effect is a distraction. It calls attention to the sound effect itself, and draws the reader out of the story. Take a look at this sequence from Jason Lutes’s (highly recommended) Berlin: City of Smoke:
What transpired here should be fairly obvious: a man puts a gun to himself, and the big PAK seems to indicate that he fired it. The problem with PAK, though, is that it’s not a sound effect we typically associate with guns. When I read this book, I stared at these two panels for a long time, wondering if I was misreading them; if maybe PAK was supposed to indicate something different. I was pretty sure I knew what it meant, but not completely sure. Had it said BANG, I wouldn’t have skipped a beat.
Thus I decided to go with kaboom, even though it seems like a cliche. In a dramatic moment, I want my readers to be thinking explosion, not “baWOOM?”.
Well, it’s been another year. Sunrise officially began on February 12th, 2008, when this horrible-looking page was posted to the then-very-rough website I’d set up at the time. (The cover of Issue 1 appears to have been posted the day before, but was actually posted somewhat later, with the date adjusted to ensure correct position in the archive.) Now, some 230 pages later, it seems like a good time to look back and see what I’ve learned from this little experiment.
My drawings are becoming tense again. At various times I’ve been able to loosen up and work more fluidly, but recently I’ve noticed that a certain stiffness is creeping in again, particularly in Sunrise. The drawings are taking a long time to make, requiring lots and lots of erasing, and ultimately coming off as fairly lazy and not particularly dynamic. This is partly due to the weakness of Sunrise as a very talky comic, but that is still not a complete excuse for the static feel it has had for most of its run. I’ve been forced to learn to loosen up again. It has been a revelation.
After my final critique with my professor I will post the final lineup of images from the project online. In the meantime, here is a sneak preview:
More photographs from the project.
Some of you may remember my photograph series from last summer, “Glimpse.” (An ugly title which I’m unfortunately stuck with until I can think of a better one. Suggestions welcome.) In the coming months I’ll be working on a continuation of that series as an independent study. Though the planning and preparation stage is not actually complete yet, I’ve already staged two photography sessions in the UConn darkroom. Though my main goal was to practice the technique, either of these images could easily be used in the series as well. Have a look:
I finished penciling Chapter 2 of Realm today. Like the first installment, it has 14 pages, but only 13 full sheets of bristol board art, for reasons which will be clear when it is finished. Before I cover all these beautiful pencil lines with ugly black ink*, I thought I’d take a picture of them so you can see them:
And here’s a closer look at one of the pages:
Hopefully I can finish the inking relatively quickly so all you lovely people can read it.
*I do not actually think ink is ugly. I like it a lot.
I don’t like the word postmortem as used in reference to creative works. I prefer to think of a finished artwork is a living thing, and the implication of a “postmortem” is in opposition to that. Things are different for Sunrise Issue 7. The end of “Concourse” feels like a death, and not a particularly tragic one at that. This issue was a bad experience for me, one in which my careful planning system failed me and a perfectly good concept was driven into the ground by poor execution. Now that the issue is finally finished it’s time to take a look back and figure out how it went wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the “Concourse” postmortem.
Finished inking the cover art:
The next step is digital coloring.