Today’s gag (I don’t love that word, gag, does anybody have a suggestion for what to call the twist or story in a comic? Maybe turn, how about turn. Let’s try turn. Maybe it will stick.) came from the idea that everybody and I mean everybody is there waiting for Admiral Ackbar, when he utters his now-iconic line.
How many characters from different storytelling universes can you identify?
Today’s (yesterday’s) comic wouldn’t have been possible without the work done by http://www.merzo.net/indexSD.html. Though I paid no attention to the actual scale researched here, it did give me lots of ideas on who to include. The site is a lot of fun to browse. Go. Browse.
I originally had the last two panels reversed when I sketched out the story idea. See the sketch below.
My friend Whitley suggested switching the order of the last two panels, and he was right. Since I was going to have so many different ships and characters there waiting for Ackbar, that was the joke, so that needed to be last, to show how this ‘trap’ was different from previous traps.
Thanks, Whitley. I’m lucky to have a fellow writer to workshop silly ideas with.
(It only now occurred to me as I write this post inside a Discount Tire while I wait for my tire to be repaired on a cold and sleety fall day, that I forgot to give Ackbar a huge head. Sheesh.)
Inktober 2020 Will Be Different
I was talking to a friend last week about last year’s Inktobers. I couldn’t remember why I fizzled out before the month’s halfway mark in 2019.
Last night working on yesterday’s strip, I realized what it was.
As I go along through the month, the strips begin to take longer and longer to craft.
I become more patient, I do more research, I become more ambitious with the storytelling, and start drawing backgrounds. The comic takes longer to make as I get more confident in making it.
This year’s inktober is no different. Compare today’s comic to day one. What makes this year different, though, is that I’m going to keep going, even if my Inktober stretches into November and beyond.
Hopefully, you’ll stick with me.
Browse Star Trek Inktober
I created a collection to house all of this year’s Star Trek Inktobers, so you can easily browse your favorites and skip over the clunkers. It’s easy!
Today’s slug-like creature was really inspired by Peter David’s run on DC Comic’s 1984 Star Trek series.
David embraced The Animated Series’s ability to populate the crew with non-humanoids, since it’s not any more expensive to draw a character with three arms than it is to draw a traditional humanoid.
Here’s the idea I drew in my sketchbook last September.
My first drawings of the slug were pretty generic, so I decided to learn a little more about them to help make the drawing more convincing. (For instance, I had no idea that slugs have 4 tentacles. The two on top are optical sensors, and the two lower ones, around the mouth, are sensory. And there’s a protective layer called the mantle that covers the sexual organs, so I thought that would be the best place for the slug to wear the starfleet uniform.)
I wrote on the top of the paper to ‘Slow Down.’ I also wrote the word ‘Delicate.’ I’ve been trying to get a thinner, more delicate line, and today’s effort was the closest I’ve come to it, particularly with the background.
Data, Geordi, and Spot (Data’s cat) make their first appearance in this year’s Star Trek themed Inktober.
Though I tried to research all of the prompts for this year’s inktober in advance so I didn’t have to try and come up with an idea last minute, this was a last minute idea.
Hopefully the idea for this strip comes across without explanation (Data’s cat, Spot, hunts a mouse and brings it proudly back to Data) but sometimes I worry that my lack of panel borders and background detail makes things confusing.
If you’re deep into the details of Star Trek, (I’m usually not, but when working on this sort of project, I have to dive deep), Worf has a mek’leth and Jadzia has a bat’leth.
Here’s the sketch I jotted down in last month’s sketchbook, when researching ‘blade’ on memory alpha.
You can see where little guy turned the first drawing into a face with 4 arms.
I did some preliminary drawing in Photoshop.
I printed the preliminary drawings at actual size (5 in x 5 in squares) and then traced them in pencil on the bristol board.
I refined as I went, learning how to draw a mek’leth and a bat’leth from a variety of angles, and figuring out how to get two characters with giant heads and tiny bodies to convincingly embrace and kiss.
Here’s the pencils page before inks.
My inking continues to improve.
A confident under drawing helps, but maybe the most important aspect that has helped improve my inking is simply slowing down. Slowing down my drawing, slowing down each stroke, and slowing down my breathing.
Prompt: bulk. That leads me to bulkhead. I looked at a lot of pictures of bulkheads on memory alpha. I looked at a lot of pictures of bulkheads for boats on the internet. I’m still not sure what a bulkhead is.
A quick search of memory-alpha, the online trove of Star Trek knowledge, turns up a game of go fish in the final episode of Deep Space Nine between Quark and the self-aware holosuite program, Vic Fontaine, in Vic’s club.
I haven’t seen this particular episode, or most of Deep Space Nine really, though I’ve recently been catching reruns on the H & I network.
Getting to Work
I penciled in the drawing last month, hoping to get ahead on Inktober this year.
Last night, after first stress eating some Tostito’s scoops and some cheese dip, I got to work.
I worked on my old art board from college, laying on my belly in the living room, an episode of DS9 playing on the tv.
My nib was too thick, but I couldn’t find a tinier nib, so I’ll have to run to the art store today.
My nib was too thick. I want thinner lines, so I’ll have to make a run to the art store today.
Then, every stroke of the pen was a struggle. I’d just start to pull the point of the nib across the paper, and I’d be out of ink.
It didn’t occur to me until the last panel that perhaps my inkwell was simply too low on ink.
I added more ink to the well and dipped my pen, and the inking process finally began to flow, both literally, out of the pen, but mentally as well.
I’ve added ink washes to past Inktober drawings and tried that her as well, but the results were less than spectacular, so I decided to redo the entire strip.
I pulled out my light board and re-inked the piece, tracing over my previous effort, panel by panel. The second try went much faster, looked better, and by the time I reached the final panel I felt like the results were much better. The fourth panel is much better than the first panel.
Why Star Trek? I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek on the H&I network since the pandemic started. Comfort food.
To put that television watching to good use, it’s become… inspiration.
Sometimes I have an idea for a Star Trek gag from the prompt. Mostly though, I plug a prompt from Jake Parker’s official Inktober 2020 prompts list and run a search for the prompt on memory-alpha, the Star Trek wiki, to give me some inspiration.
The other nice thing about relying on memory alpha is that it helps spread the gags around between the different Star Trek series through the years. Otherwise they’d all be TOS and TNG gags.
My plan was to have all of the strips drawn by the end of September, so that when October 1st hit all I would have to do is ink every day and wouldn’t have to worry about drawing, too.
Unfortunately, all I’ve managed to do so far this month is pencil in the panels on half of the pages of bristol. (That’s what you’re looking at in the boring photo at the top of this post.)
My first impulse was to not participate this year. I felt I didn’t have any ideas.
Then your brain starts working on it in the background.
“You could do this for Inktober,” your brain says. “Or you could do this.” Then your brain says, “Of course! This is what you should do.” And your brain is right, so then you have no choice but to do it.
Then you pick up the pencil and get it moving. Just drawing simple shapes and lines suggests ideas.
Before I know I know it, I’m doing actual research to help ignite more more ideas, and I’m off and running.
I’ll talk more about the research and all the prep work I’m doing in September to prepare for Inktober so that next month, all I have to do is ink.
i didn’t really use any one image in particular, but it helped me refine my early sketches
for the dragon’s pose i just did an image search for sleeping dogs.
all of that reference helped me refine the drawing and make it more convincing…
i think the sketch, done digitally, has a lot more energy than the final inks.
the biggest change to my work came in the next step.
i haven’t been happy with my inking at all, this inktober, so i decided to draw bigger. i’ve been watching a lot of cartoonist kayfabe lately and somewhere in there ed piskor said ‘pencil small and ink big.’
i’ve been drawing each panel at 4 x 4 inches all inktober. last night i decided to go bigger.
i resized the panels to be 5 x 5 inch and worked on 11 x 14 inch bristol instead of 9 x 12 inch bristol
inking at the larger size made all the difference for me.
i was able to vary the line weight more than in every previous inktober. it took way longer to work, but it was worth it.