Creations are like rivers. A lot of different tributaries combine to form it. Lots of contributaries. I like improv shows, like Whose Line Is It Anyway? And jam comics are a form of improv where each artist has to make the story up on the fly. Mulling over the possible variations in this theme, I thought a fun idea would be to do a jam comic under one of Whose Line's games of Song Titles. All text and dialogue has to be actual song titles. Of course, given that going from artist to artist over the course of time you could dip into the vast array of songs that exist right now, researching quickly online, to get just about anything you wanted to have happen in your panel. Where's the challenge in that? So maybe limiting it to one artist or group. A well known classic with a decent discography. Maybe the Rolling Stones or the Beatles.
Although we've never met, I've known Luisa Felix since she contributed to my funny animal tarot project, KARDZ. I like her retro animation style character designs. They are very well crafted and unique. I've thought a long time about trying my hand at actually drawing some of them.
At some point I thought of both of these ideas in close enough proximity that I combined them. Not really a jam comic, but still using only song titles in a story using Luisa's characters. I have more Beatle records than Stones, so I looked through them to see if I could construct a story, and the ideas came through quite easily. I asked Luisa for permission and she was excited by the idea.
I took my rough script and started tweaking it as I worked on a pacing layout. How many pages would I need, shape size and placement of panels on the page to fit the storyline, etc. I asked Luisa which of her characters she wanted me to use. Continuity isn't a problem for her as she views her characters as actors, so they can be put into any scenario. It's usually just a question of finding the right character for the role.
First and obvious choice for one was Candy Blondell. Luisa's primary character. But I also needed a male. First suggestion was Nicholas Neurotic. You can see him in the first pencils. With the characters chosen, I could start doing more detailed pencils. In figuring out how I wanted the people placed, I realized I didn't have enough references to full body shots or non-frontal views and I asked Luisa for some material to draw from.
She sent character studies of Candy and a different male lead, Tom London. So I changed all Nick's sketches to Tom. Then I carefully went in to try and tighten up the art and get it as "on model" as possible. Then went in and inked them.
I had concentrated on the characters only, not the setting at all, because I figured that's how I usually drew. I was thinking vaguely of having them be in a city setting, but gave it no further thought. Until I had to draw backgrounds. It took me forever. Well, about a year.
I actually don't just draw the backgrounds in afterward. I tend to think of the characters in setting as I am composing the page and while my first thumbnails usually only have stick figures and no background, the set is in my head. When I start to do the actual drawing in the panel, I do concentrate on the character(s) but always know where they are and always have at least a sketch of their background in place. I rarely ink the people before I have most, if not all, the rest of the panel drawn so that I can make changes in the figures if needed.
I had to study what I had drawn, try to figure out what angles would show what and it which panels. I decided they were on a sidewalk, so from one angle they would see the buildings close up, from another, far away. The far away ones were easiest and most of them got done relatively early on. Relative being a key term. I went with a cartoony representation of buildings I had used before. I had a couple of full body shots at that angle that meant I had to draw the street as well. Those were the last done. The closer buildings I just had to get past a drawing block and get it done. Looking back, there are things I would have done different at each step, though the further I go back, the more I would have had different, starting with doing the art more as a whole, tweaking the character designs as the last step of the process.
Still, for what it is, I like it.
If you don't have a copy of the mini-comic and want one, let me know your address.
For a larger view of any picture, click on Candy's lips.