I’ve struggled with the idea of using dialogue in ‘steps’ for awhile. I’ve used it a couple of times in one panel strips like this one and this one, but it has never felt right for the four panel strip.
So using it the other day was a personal milestone. I hope that it opens up more storytelling opportunities, and it still may, but the strip feels more powerful to me without the dialogue.
And with the added element of the dialogue, it became more difficult to juggle all of the other elements of the strip, especially color.
I published and replaced three versions of the airport strip before finally settling on the final.
Here’s a little of my thoughts behind each version.
The first problem was version one of the strip just felt too crowded. The dad, especially, is too tall, giving the strip a rigidity that feels wrong.
So I went through and reduced the size of all the figures and backgrounds in the panels, giving a little more white space around everything.
It also felt like the big blob of blue on the plane in the final panel diminished the impact of little guy’s ‘I DON’T WANT TO GET ON AN AIRPLANE!’ by being too visually distracting.
Now there’s a little more white space around all the figures, which makes me feel better.
I also decided to remove the color from the chair that the Woman Reading sits on in Panel 3 to better emphasize her.
But even after removing the blue of the airplane in the final panel it still feels too crowded. Now what?
I removed the lines in the background suggesting the doorway to the jetway out to the plane.
I also removed the color from the podium that the ticket handler stands behind, giving more emphasis to her, the dad, and the son.
The final change I made was to panel 1.
Though I really liked the blue and green on the backpack and shoes of Random Traveler #1, I decided to eliminate those colors when I couldn’t find another use for them in any of the remaining panels.
The last minor change was to the Reading Woman’s sweater to brown since that purple wasn’t being used elsewhere either.
(I remember my high school art teacher telling us that if you use a color, always use it twice so that it looks like we did it on purpose.)
See the final result here.