Sunday, April 10, 2016

"The Seasonal Coat"

Another example of the mothballed floater panels that sometimes take years to get published as they are put on hold in limbo until the time is right (ie I need a quickie for filler), or eventually it gets trashed because it's so old my style and aesthetic has shifted so much it looks weird, or I no longer think it's remotely funny anymore. This happens a fairly surprising amount given the accumulation of files in my "Old/Reject" folder in the desktop archives. The subject matter depicted here is effectively "timeless" in that A) everybody is always doing laundry regardless of what time of the year it is, and B) animals are in a continual state of transition what with seasonal molts and general shedding.

This particular panel underwent a coupla tweaks in the transition from sketch to inked panel to finished (print) version. Ostensibly one of the reasons I like to doodle everything out beforehand is to work out any visual kinks in the composition (besides making sure I don't forget it by writing the idea down and biding time at the laundromat during cycles), but by no means does that translate into a masterpiece. Mistakes happen, all the time in fact. Any work of art entails that aspect of creativity in the process - meaning adaptation and incorporation of error.

One can really see the expansion from the initial panel border lines I plotted out at the start of the penciling: probably an additional inch of sprawl (on the bottom and right-hand side) was needed to accommodate the rest of the drawing. It illustrates the tenuous and constantly shifting balance between a nebulous idea of whatever it is in one's mind - the mental picture - and what comes out the end of the implement and what ultimately winds up on paper at the end. Or, more accurately, what winds up in the paper, as there's another transitional phase where digital editing can salvage something. More and more this is a solution of last resort as I still try best I can to maintain as little difference between the original and the published piece in the paper. A rule of thumb has long been the original is secondary to the printed version, and that's the only image that really matters.

But over the years I've personally been really impressed at the skill of many cartoonists that I've been able to observe as they physically make their comics: such consummate care + attention to detail, which is reflected in the raw state of the original. This isn't so much of a purist position, just pushing myself in little ways for constant improvement even though it might not ever be evident. Just part of the innate satisfaction in making stuff.

If you put your ear up to it you can hear the sound of the ocean

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