My WIP is now a webcomic: Commedia 2X00

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JohnDurvin
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My WIP is now a webcomic: Commedia 2X00

Post by JohnDurvin » January 11th, 2012, 12:45 am

I was on here all the time for a while there, but then I had to shelve my second novel in a row; my next was coming along okay, but when my laptop died I decided I was burnt out. I needed a change. Turns out: I was in the wrong medium.

I'd heard from all you guys that while my ideas were cool, they were probably too weird for prose, and I eventually decided you were right. So, behold the far-more-appropriate fruit of my labors: Commedia 2X00. (The URL's in the banner below; looks like I can't set up a real link from here.) I really don't know what compelled me to mash up the Commedia dell'Arte, retro-gaming, and pillow-soft science fiction, but I did; it started out as a public-domain excuse plot so I could work out the details of how to illustrate well and publish a website, but I've been getting more and more into it. I update every Monday, and I'm having such a good time I've actually got enough done Tuesday night for next week's post I could put it up now. I won't, though--I've got too much more to put in. On the subject of publishing, I spent months with my novels getting nothing but form rejections from agents; with this, I might not be getting big-name distribution or anything (SO FAR!), but I've already got a few fans I've never met.

Our story so far: Dottore is a disgraced cyberneticist, hoping to fund his research with a dowry from allowing haberdashery billionaire Pantalone (or rather, "Mr. Pants") marry his daughter Isa, who's currently dating Pants' son Flave. Arlecchino is a "Super Fighting Cyborg", Dottore's prototype, now Flave's manservant and BFF, and when Columbina tells Flave about the arranged marriage, Arlecchino is sent to Dottore's island fortress--the only dude bad enough to rescue the princess Isa. Fight, Arlecchino! For ever-lasting ultra-love!

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Everybody loves using things as other things, right? Check out my blog at the Cromulent Bricoleur and see one hipster's approach to recycling, upcycling, and alterna-cycling (which is a word I just made up).

Rachel Ventura
Posts: 152
Joined: September 30th, 2011, 12:29 am

Re: My WIP is now a webcomic: Commedia 2X00

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 13th, 2012, 10:01 pm

Hi John,

That's awesome! :D I've been thinking of converting one of my ideas into a comic or graphic novel of sorts. In terms of online comics "not getting big name distribution" you should have a look at Home Star Runner, The Oatmeal, Hyperbole and a Half, and X.K.C.D. These are nothing less than HUGE, and though the HSR creators have declined on several occasions, there have even been some big name producers looking to build an HSR TV series, the next Family Guy and South Park. Even Diary of a Wimpy Kid started out as just a few doodles the author/artist was doing as promos for his IT company. Animation doesn't get as much respect in the U.S. but abroad (especially in Japan, the birthplace of anime/manga), it's practically a religion, like football is in Texas and soccer ("football") is in Brazil.

:lol: Pantalone :lol: that's hilarious :lol: Btw, another way of viewing a "Harlequin romance"! :D

Two questions: 1) how do you pronounce the number, is it "two-ex-double-oh" or "two-ex-hundred" or something else? 2) Where/how did you learn to draw or have you always had a knack, and where/how can I learn too (without applying to art school)?

JohnDurvin
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Joined: January 11th, 2011, 3:56 pm
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Re: My WIP is now a webcomic: Commedia 2X00

Post by JohnDurvin » January 15th, 2012, 9:55 am

"Twenty-X Hundred." I've been trying to figure out how to communicate this, but I haven't come up with anything besides occasionally referring to "The Twenty-Xth Century".

While I admit I've been to art school, I don't feel like it affected my style much; I actually got in trouble a few times for doing what I wanted to do instead of the assignments. I think it has more to do with that one-thousand-hours-to-master-a-skill thing, and I've been drawing forever. Copy drawings of your favorite artists--I started when I was a little kid copying Dr. Seuss, then when I was in middle school upgraded to Sonic the Hedgehog comics, and later expanded through Sam & Max comics into everything else. I learned my figure-drawing more from "Draw Comics the Marvel Way" than from any of my figure-drawing classes. Even today, when I think my comic isn't as good as it could be, I'll look around at my favorite stuff and see what they do about the same problem. I think the best manual has to be "Making Comics" by Scott Kurtz, although I just started consulting it, like, a month ago.

That said, even if you don't want to go to art school, read some art books. Learn about composition, especially how to avoid the dead-center things that most people starting out do.
Everybody loves using things as other things, right? Check out my blog at the Cromulent Bricoleur and see one hipster's approach to recycling, upcycling, and alterna-cycling (which is a word I just made up).

Rachel Ventura
Posts: 152
Joined: September 30th, 2011, 12:29 am

Re: My WIP is now a webcomic: Commedia 2X00

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 20th, 2012, 2:58 am

Thanks, John, for the art advice. :D When I was a kid I used to do tracing paper a lot. I had all these picture books of the big-outlined Charlie Brown comics, and I even had the full-volume set of the Charlie Brown dictionary. I used to trace the outlines of all the Peanuts characters and then take some other book and try to put Snoopy in a scene with, I don't know, Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny or the Care Bears or some other character. (I was a "mash-up" artist before my time!)

I'm thinking of trying to get this book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. The gist of it is that it tricks your brain to look at things from the opposite perspective than we usually do (left-brained, the dreaded logical editor we creative types blame for blocks and self-examined inadequacies) by just flipping the picture upside down. So that your right brain kicks into motion and your left brain is kind of, what, huh, that's Snoopy upside down. Your right brain sees it for what it is rather than rationalizing. Sure, it's Snoopy or your own beagle's portrait flipped upside down, but your right brain doesn't know that; it sees the image as just another image, regardless of what it represents or its logical meaning.

Have you ever read/worked with this one? Apparently it's done wonders for a lot of people, not just people looking to learn how to draw but creatives in general looking to reactivate their right-brain and tell the left side to go swallow some turpentine. :lol:

JohnDurvin
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Joined: January 11th, 2011, 3:56 pm
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Re: My WIP is now a webcomic: Commedia 2X00

Post by JohnDurvin » January 26th, 2012, 3:40 am

Yep, that was one of the first things we worked on in my first good art class in high school, although instead of Snoopy, we used this hideous-looking line-drawing sketch Picasso did, so it wouldn't be such a familiar subject. Drawing what you think you're looking at is what messes up a lot of people. I can pass on a few other suggestions from my years of art school:

* The most important thing to remember when sketching from life is to draw what you're seeing from the angle you're seeing it, not what you know it to be. For example, imagine drawing a refrigerator. If you just draw what you know, you'll start with a rectangle, probably with all sides parallel to the edges of the paper. In real life though, you'd only see that if you were staring at it straight from the front; it's usually going to be in perspective. For that reason, if you're planning on realistically drawing anything besides people standing in a row in front of you, you need to learn perspective. It's not that hard, and any art book can explain it.
* Another way to get around drawing what you think you see is to take a still-life and instead of drawing the objects, draw the negative space around them; this also helps you learn how to reduce the 3D to the 2D.
* Once you've got the idea of perspective down, go out and draw some buildings--simple ones, probably somewhere urban, if you can. Look at how the shapes line up. (Trees are next to impossible to draw well--I have yet to get the hang of them.) Actually, now that I think about it, as an exercise, try sketching boxy electronic devices like stereos, video game systems, or computers--they're just a few basic sets of lines, but they make you look at the details to see how they all fit together.
* Thirty-second figure drawing: grab somebody and make them pose for you--they don't have to be nude, but they should wear something where you can concentrate on the figure and not the fabric. Try to capture nothing but their pose, and ignore the little details; this was a great help to noticing how people move. Draw the framework of ovals that animators and cartoonists use--you know, one for the forearm, one for the upper arm, a rectangle for the torso. I don't know what those are called, but they are a great tool to sketch out a pose.
* There's probably more, but I can't think of them right now, so I'll just recommend that if you're interested in art, learn all you can about it. Ignore the Mona Lisa, Andy Warhol's soup cans, and The Scream--these are all fine works, but you'll appreciate them all the more when you learn why they're good. Go back to Ancient Greece, and watch how the Romans steal their better ideas; look at the crazy stylized things the Egyptians came up with, and how Akhenaten invented realism and monotheism at the same time. Look at African tribal statues, Japanese obake karuta, Inuit shaman masks, Googie architecture. During the Renaissance, Europe finally learned how to draw realistically (using the techniques outlined in that same drawing book you're using); then they kept at it for a few hundred years, until the Impressionists had a better idea and kick-started the whole notion of anything besides realism as art, pushing it through Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, and a lot of other in-betweens before finally merging them all into Post-Modernism; find out what's coming next. (And that's just Western society!) All I'm saying is, art has been around for thousands of years, and there's a lot to take in as an artistic influence; if you like how something looks or what it says, find out who made it and why. One good example is how I used to think classical architecture was really dull, until I was forced to take a class in it to fulfill my art history credits (missed a deadline for class sign-up); suddenly every building built before 1900 became interesting. Apply the same techniques I mentioned for developing your cartooning to any art you enjoy, be it Caravaggio, Miro, or those Chinese brush-paintings. If you live near a museum, go and sketch--the staff is used to it. It's all good. The world just doesn't need any more funny-animal artists and manga-imitators.

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