An Update Upgrade

18 June 2016

Up until now I've announced each new update with a screenshot of that week's page on Twitter and Instagram ('other social media sites exist' - ed) which has meant that people haven't really needed to come to this website to see the content. I've noticed that some other webcomics do things differently and use a smaller preview image to announce new updates

I like this approach more and so this week I started thinking about ways I could do something similar. As well as serve as a preview for the week I also want the update image to work as a bit of world-building and to fit thematically with the comic's period setting.

British b-movie poster from the early Sixties

Using this cool poster from a series of second feature crime dramas made by Anglo Amalgamated as a model I've come up with something that I think works both as a tease for what you can expect from this week's strip as well as establishing the pulpy tone of the story through its visuals.

a pulp pastiche

Note To Self

06 June 2016

Found a link via The Comics Reporter to the 10 Rules for Drawing Comics blog and was struck by Michael Allred's penultimate tip:

Write down what you do every day. Even if it's just a brief list of accomplishments. For instance, "Working on Madman no.100. Penciled pages 5 and 6. Started inking page 2." I buy a new little desk calendar every year. It only takes me a few seconds at the end of the day to simply mark down what I accomplished, even if I did absolutely nothing, but melt into the couch and watch movies all day. Over time it gives a very accurate account of my productivity, how long something took me, what interrupted my progress, and when I specifically did something. It's the next best thing to keeping a journal. But it's brief, concise, and effortless. And very very valuable. It's the key tool to the discipline of a monthly comic book. It takes out all the guess work as to how to use my time.

This chimes with me and reminds me of Austin Kleon's daily practise of making short illustrated lists of his daily accomplishments:

The best writing project I took on last year was what I call my logbook: a simple Moleskine daily planner in which I kept track of the little details of my day. Who, what, where types of details. Who I met, what I did, where I went, etc. It’s not a diary or a journal. It’s a book of lists. The lists are simple facts.

I suck at maintaining this kind of daily habit but it's definitely something that I've found helpful and affirming in the past so I figure this blog is as good a place as any to start trying again. Here, then in a spirit of cautious optimism is a list of things I achieved yesterday:

  • Took part in #comicbookhour
  • Penciled more of page 17

"Live Off The Floor"

19 May 2016

film noir in black & blue

Like most people since hearing the news of Darwyn Cooke's passing I've been reading interviews and articles about the man and his work and going back to look at what stuff of his I have on my bookshelf, which in my case is his fantastically evocative adaptations of the Parker novels by Don Westlake.

I was reading an interview with Cooke by Tucker Stone which you can find here and really liked this bit of insight into the improvisational approach both the artist and the writer he's adapting adopt towards the creative process:

But when I’m more or less fully prepared, I sit down and I do what I’m calling “live off the floor.” That’s penciling straight ahead, right onto the boards, lettering it and inking it, no white-out. If there’s a problem with something, I black it in. I’m trying my hardest to execute the artwork the same way Westlake made the scenes work. He sat down everyday until it was time to finish it. And then the next day, he’d sit down and do it again. He didn’t work off of an outline.

Tucker Stone: Yeah, I’ve read enough of those books now to grasp how crazy that is. Making it up as he went along — that’s just insane to me, it’s amazing.

Darwyn Cooke: Yeah! It’s stupefying. To a great degree, I’m trying to replicate that method myself, to leave it up to me and the brush. It leads to good and bad things, that method of leaving things as they stand.

"You just go on your nerve," as Frank O'Hara says. The page is the place where you work the story out panel by panel, trying things out and seeing what takes and what gets taken away to leave something you hadn't anticipated at the start.

composing straight on the page

In the page above I had only a very vague idea of what I wanted to include in terms of which characters needed introducing and what background elements I wanted to focus on. It was only through the process of drawing and redrawing certain elements - particularly the figure of the man on the street on the bottom row - that a completely new take on what the relationships between characters could be suddenly became really obvious to me, prompting a completely new direction for the pages that are going to follow.

Nick Prolix (@nickprolix) is a writer, artist and cartoonist living in the Fens.

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