Archive for ‘Thoughts’

The Problem with Balance

Cartoonists are always finding ways to balance their pages. We can’t help it. If there’s a close-up in the lower left, we balance it a little on the upper right. If there are a lot of spot blacks on one page, we find more spots on the other. We’re taught that dynamic balance is more interesting than static balance, but the goal of balance itself remains. Balance can lead to harmonious, satisfying compositions, but is that what comics artists really want? A satisfying page is a page you can stay on, linger on, stop on—a page without momentum.

When we walk, all we’re doing is falling. We fall a little, stop ourselves from falling, then fall a little more. Balance keeps us from falling on our faces, but it’s imbalance that gets us where we’re going. 

I wonder: Would it help to forget panel 1 when I draw panel 2, and forget 2 when I draw 3? The result might be an imbalanced mess, but would it also be a more interesting mess? A more surprising, less typical, mess? Would it lead the reader to wonder what the next spread had in store, and feel less confident he/she could predict the shape of each one?

Imbalance already drives stories forward—a character lacks something, the world’s out of joint, trouble’s on the rise—maybe it should also play a more prominent role in storytelling.

Comics as CSS?

While working on layouts for the graphic novel, I’m trying out something a little different. I sketch out individual panels in sequence without any concern for how they’ll fall on the page. Instead, I’m first making sure the pacing and order is right—adding and subtracting moments as necessary—and then seeing how they tumble onto the page and whether adjustments have to be made after the fact.

So, basically I’m working out pacing like it was plain HTML, then the comics page is like a style sheet applied to that content. Comics = CSS!

This makes me happy.

Because I am a big fat dork.

Why I Don’t Drink

The place I ate lunch at yesterday here in Brussels had a gorgeous display of alcohol bottles rising 14 feet on cherry wood shelves. The bottles were lit from above and below and within each shelf. I spent the entire lunch staring at them.

I always loved the traditions of different bottle shapes and label styles. Whisky, vodka, brandy, scotch… There’s nothing stopping them from putting Jim Beam in Apple Juice bottles—it would be the exact same drink—but they never will. When I pass them in the supermarket aisles, I feel like I’m in a museum, or even a church. I imagine how much more I’d appreciate them if my body had developed a chemical dependency on their effects; how the experience of drinking would flash through my head at the mere sight of each one.

I’ve always suspected that I’d really like drinking if I ever got started. So I never have.

The restaurant accidentally charged me 13,000 dollars for lunch, instead of 13 dollars. They fixed the mistake, but last night I had to call long distance to my bank in the U.S. to get a hold on my card lifted after they thought it had been stolen. I’m taking it as a warning.

Fun fact: Scott also loves the smell of cigarettes and the charming clatter of roulette wheels.