I had this idea a while back to do a very simple comic riffing on a quote I’ve heard from Samuel Beckett to the effect that drama is simply a matter of characters entering and exiting through doors (NOTE/PLEA: I haven’t been able to track down the original quote; if you know the one I’m talking about please post it in comments, thanks!). I decided I would try a comic where each panel was the same vestibule with a door on the back wall and doors on the side walls. I would develop a wordless story told entirely by the order and combination by which a set of characters entered and exited those doors. A visual influence for this comic was the grid-based minimalist humor comics of Lewis Trondheim (Mister O, etc) and also similar work by the still unknown-in-the-US François Ayroles. I came up with some simple characters based loosely on archetypes from my youth and started doing thumbnails, putting them in various situations, but with a general theme of a protagonist against a group that seems to be aligned against him.
I realized early on that this is a comic I might be able to “automate” more than most because of its repetitive structure. A few cartoonists I know–Jason Little and Pascal Dizin–have been printing their pencils in blue inkjet ink directly onto bristol board. It occurred to me that I could do something similar, with the added advantage that, since every panel is the same shape and size, I could print out a big pile of them, cut them into small cards (about 4″ x 5″) and carry them around with me to work on in my ever-scant spare time. Recently I mapped out the perspective of the room and made a very precise pencil diagram, which I scanned and made blue (Pascal taught me to convert the art into duotone, assign cyan to the whole image, and then lighten the color using curves). I’m still experimenting, but my plan is to print a whole bunch directly on bristol, then I can just pencil the figures based on my thumbnails, ink, scan, and clean up on Photoshop.
Here’s a photo of what I’ll be carrying around in my shoulder bag in the months to come. I’ll post more about this later.