Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hands down, the coolest thing I have done to date

This past spring, I had the opportunity to work with a group of students from Toronto Cartoonists Workshop, led by Ty Templeton, and through TCW's "Fit to Print" course, on a comic book that will be released at FanExpo this weekend. I'm still completely gobsmacked by the whole thing. I've never been to a Con before, so I'm not sure what to expect. I've got an equal amount of thrilled and terrified going on, salted with liberal amounts of "Wait .... what?"

The book is Holmes Incorporated, and you can read more about it here. It's two days until preview copies come out, and there will be a formal release party on September 24. Check here for information on how to get a copy of your very own.

I got to do the drawings for one of the stories.

 Here's how I decided what to put on the first two pages (you can see the final inked and lettered pages here - scroll down to "Spring Loaded."

The first thing I did when I got the script was to write down some notes and decide which panel I wanted to emphasize on each page.  Based on that decision, the other panels would all point to it, but would still have an overall forward narrative flow. For page one, the key panel was the one where the decision was made to send Trey on the undercover mission, so other than the primary panel 1 to panel 4 story flow, I did a secondary page composition with elements that would draw attention to panel 3, where the decision is made.

On page two the key panel was the one where the important clues were discovered, so the page composition draws attention to panel 3. But as you can see, I had some trouble otherwise with the panel composition, and there's a lot of weird dead space that doesn't make sense.

The artists had weekly meetings to present our work in progress for Ty's review and feedback.  My pages, in addition to the aforementioned weird dead space, which also happened even worse on a later page, I hadn't left enough room for dialogue, or made enough variation in the camera angle or distance. So I had another go.
I showed some more of the room in panel 1, added a character who I forgot had a line in panel 2, and moved Trey to the left hand side of the panel to give a lead to the next page, and also to give her room to break out of the panel.  She's so excited she can't contain herself, so the panel borders shouldn't contain her either. On page 2, so I decided to remove the medium shot with the clues popped up, and just draw two panels showing the clues themselves, with the character's comments in voice-over bubbles.

Then, based on more feedback that panel 1 should go back to the foreground/midground/background that my original thumbnails had, I made some final tweaks to the layout when I switched to doing the final pencils.  On page 2, I wanted to do fix the dead space problem, which also gave me a chance to add in a quick little establishing shot to show that we were in a new setting, showing the surveillance truck parked outside the campus before cutting to the truck interior and Trey getting ready for her mission. Panel one of the final pencilled page wasn't called for in the script, but I think it supports the story well. I also remembered the frame rule where cameos should be round, and switched up Trey's literal cameo in panel 3 of page 2. I forgot to draw panel 3 as a view-through the spy glasses which I had in my original thumbnail and layout, but it works anyway.

 That's kind of all I have for now. My mind is still a little blown.

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