I’m in the planning stages of a new comic. I’m trying to set it up so that I can make it as portable as possible.
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.
Rod McKie says
Can't help with the exact quote, but that is a pretty marvelous idea. I'm looking forward to seeing this.
Runic Knight says
No luck with finding that quote either, but I'll be keeping my eye on this project. Can't wait to see more!
Sounds interesting. Reminds my of Queneau's use of constraint to control the appearance (entering/exiting) of characters in Le Chiendent.
I spy Ubu!
Matt Madden says
Thanks for the comments and the quote-searching.
A Queneau quennection is always welcome. And yes, of course that's Pere Ubu. I think I should disguise him some more, it's not really supposed to be him.
Is this the quote?
Everyone sat down, read the first act, and it seemed like a door opened in our minds. For whatever reason, reading Godot out loud really helps with comprehending the play and interpreting the messages tucked within the dialogue.
Matt Madden says
Thanks for that, Delos, but it's not the one I was thinking of. He was talking about literal doors–exits and entrances–not metaphorical ones.
Nice idea! David Lynch's The Angriest Dog in the World comes to mind… http://www.davidlynch.de/angry.html
Matt Madden says
Thanks for the Angriest Dog link, JoE. Lynch's strip is the extreme case of a minimalist strip, mine will have quite a bit more variation. I was intrigued by the poster's claim that an increasing number of bones piled up over the years, I didn't see evidence of that in the strips shown.
Also, I'd never noticed that there was a black factory in the background!