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.)
here’s a timelapse of the making of yesterday’s scarecrow strip
i’ve also added the webcomics plugin so that you can easily read all of the past ‘steps’ strips. (i don’t know why i call the strips featuring little guy ‘steps’ but i think it works.
this plug in lets me keep the latest strip at the top of the blog and gives you an easy way to navigate them. the double arrow takes you back to the first ‘steps’ strip, the single arrow lets you increment back to the previous strip, and the little infinity symbol takes you to a random strip.
take it for a spin and let me know what you think.
here’s the timelapse of the couch cushion strip from a few days ago
the process usually goes like this:
i see a moment in real life that i think will work for the strip: in this case it was watching little guy move the cushion so he could sit down on the couch
(and right now i’m focusing on those moments that dont require any dialogue, right now i’m more interested in telling these little stories without dialogue, so i’ve passed on some great moments that have dialogue. maybe that will change in the future)
then i’ll need to puzzle out how this moment will break down in to 4 frames – i have to select my 4 moments which usually takes some trial and error with some really bad drawings, just diagrams really, in the sketchbook that help me quickly find those 4 moments
then i take a photo of the sketches and cut and paste those moments into the frames of the page
since i had already done a couch strip, i decided to recycle the background from that previous strip not only for continuity, but also because i am very lazy
from there i need to do the actual drawings (which in this case were pretty dismal, though they hopefully worked)
select my colors
go back in and fix little guy’s smile on the last panel (it looked a little creepy the first go-round)
and that was about it
when i write it all out like this it makes the process feel a little mechanical, but for me the magic lies in recognizing the moment when it occurs, and enjoying the finished strip when i’m done
color was really important in this strip (i mean, color is always important for me, and i kind of sweat it when coloring the strip, but color was especially important to the storytelling of this particular strip)
i don’t think this strip could have worked in black and white (and some of my past strips absolutely could have, but i like color…and now i’m not even sure of what my original point was.
anyway, hope you enjoy seeing the strip come together at high speeds, it always seems a minor miracle to me when a strip is finished
not only were the drawings difficult for me on this one, but so was the ‘timing’ of the strip – trying to figure out which moments to show so that the reader understands whats going on and the punchline is effective