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RICH BUCKLER’S SECRETS or DRAWING COMICS pyright 1986 pub Publi 5, Published Monthly ETTERING EDITOR BRIAN MOORE STO EXPRESS MANIPULATING TIME AND SPACE: A FILM DIRECTOR FRIEND OF MINE WAS ONCE ASKED “WHAT IS. A DIRECTOR ?"" HE REPLIED, IN EARNEST “A DIRECTOR IS A MASTER OF PSYCHIC CEDGERMAIN ” A COMIC BOOK ARTIST IS NO LESS A SLEIGHT OF HAND ARTIST. HE MUST MANIPULATE WHAT THE AUDIENCE SEES AND HOW THINGS ARE PERCEIVED THIS IS ACCOMPLISHED BY A CAREFUL AZ4AVELL ATION OF TIME AND SPACE. (WHICH SOUNDS ESO7ER/C BUT REALLY THERE 1S NOTHING MAGICAL ABOUT IT.) LET ME EXPLAIN... TAKE THE FOLLOWING SCENARIO : THREE MEN SIT INA BAR. AS THE T.V. IS SHOWING A NEWSCAST. ThE REPORTER SAYS THE POL‘CE HAVE DISCOVERED THAT ONE VILLIAN WAS A COP. THIS INFURIATES THE PATRONS WHO REACT WITH HOSTILITY. AT FIRST GLANCE, THE SAME DESCRIPTION SEEMS TO HAVE ENOUGH MATERIAL FOR THREE OR FOUR PANELS. AS YOU CAN SEE, I WORKED EVERYTHING OUT IN OWE PANEL. SURE, I COULD HAVE SHOWN EACH ACTION SEPARATELY iN A SEQUENCE. BUT I PIPN‘'T, THERE ARE TWO REASONS FOR THIS (1) T DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH ROOM ON THE PAGE IT APPEARED ON (2) THE STORY PACING WAS VERY RAPIP- A SEQUENCE WOULD HAVE SLOWED THE PACE AND CALLE UNDUE ATTENTION TO ITSELF. BASIC LAYOUT: PAGE LAYOUT: THE CHOICE THE FILM DIRECTOR MAKES IN PLACING HIS CAMERA |S NEVER ARBITRARY. HOW YOU CHOOSE TO LAYOUT A PANEL SHOULD NOT BE ARBITRARY EITHER. THE BOARDERS OF YOUR PANELS ARE LIKE A MOTION PICTURE FRAME, BUT WITH ONE VERY IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE: COMIC BOOK PANELS CAN TAKE ON ANY RECTANGULAR SHAPE AND SIZE. (I SAY RECTANGULAR BECAUSE SQUARE -SHAPED PANELS TENP TO LOOK STATIC, AND SHOULD BE AVOIDED.) SO THE COMICS ARTIST WORKING WITH PICTURE UNITS THAT COME IN VARIOUS SHAPES AND SIZES -- EACH TYPE SERVING A VIFFERENT PURPOSE. AS A GENERAL RULE, MOST STORY PAGES AVERAGE BETWEEN FIVE AND EIGHT PANELS EACH. ‘ x Aes | Zz EVERY ARTIST WORKS DIFFERENTLY, I WORK LIP MY PAGES IN A 3-STEP METHOD. FIRST I 00 A'THUMBNAIL” SKETCH, THEN A TIGHT LAYOUT (USUALLY TWICE THE SIZE OF A THUMBNAIL). I POLISH UP THE DRAWING IN THE SECOND LAYOUT AND ADP LIGHTING EFFECTS. THEN THE FINAL PENCIL VERSION 1S TRACEV OFF ON A LIGHT BOX CAFTER PHOTOSTATING THE LAYOUT UP TO PAGE SIZE) DURING WHICH T REPOSITION FIGURES AND P VETAIL. MOST OF THE WORK IS IN THE THINKING, EACH PAGE PRESENTS: A DIFFERENT SET OF PROBLEMS. THERE If NO WAY YOU CAN ANTICAPATE EVERY STORY- TELLING PROBLEM, YOU ENCOUNTER THE PROBLEMS AS YOU GO ALONG. THAT'S WHY IT (S A GOOD IDEA TO DO THUMBNAILS FIRST AND SAVE YOURSELF A LOT OF HEADACHES: G AND A LOT OF ERASERS!) FOR ME, THE PLANNING STAGES AKE MOST CRUCIAL. OFTEN WHAT GOES “W7O THE PANELS DICTATES WHAT SIZE ANP SHAPE THEY WILL TAKE. I KNOW, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT IF I HAVE AN ACTION THAT SWEEPS FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, I WILL PROBABLY NEED A WIVE HORIZONTAL PANEL. THE PANEL CONFIGURATIONS ON THESE PAGES REPRESENT THE MORE OR LESS STANDARD PAGE LAYOUTS MOST OFTEN USED BY PROFESSIONALS. THEY ARE GIVEN ONLY AS A ROUGH GUIDE. WHEN CHOOSING A PANEL BREAKPOWN, YOU WILL INEVITABLY SHIFT SOME OF THE BOARPER TO ACCOMODATE YOUR LAYOUT IDEA, YOU WILL PROBABLY DO A LOT OF ERASING AT FIRST, BUT DON'T GET DISCOURAGED. HELPFUL HINT: 20 NOF' TRY TO "CRAM" YOUR DRAWING INTO PRE-SELECTED PAGE DESIGN, THESE PIAGRAMS ARE ONLY MEANT TO GET YOU STARTED. « (pence THREE PANELS Ef LJ} | LL k Cooly oo Lo TL | [pss FIVE PANELS Seem] LI [poaseven PANELS =m] fPeicHT PANELS: ‘croseesmeerall GETTING IDEAS: I NEVER KNOW WHAT TO PRAW UNTIL I SET MYSELF TO THE TASK OF POING IT. THAT SOUNDS LIKE A PARADOX, OR A NON- ANSWER, BUT ITISTRUE. THINK ABOUT IT. DURING A CONVERSATION, VO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO SAY BEFORE YOU SAY IT ? USUALLY NOT. INSTINCT IS A DETERMINING FACTOR HERE-- BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN DON'T THINK. DRAWING IS A CREATIVE PROCESS. YOU LEARN BY DOING IT. YOU CAN STUPY ALL THE BOOKS ON DRAWING THAT HAVE EVER START DRAWING. YOU KNOW IF A DRAWING WILL WORK 4F7ER YOU'VE PONE IT, NOT BEFORE. NEVER WAIT FOR INSPIRATION | SOME ARTIST WAIT AND WAIT UNTIL THEY FINALLY GET THAT WONDEROUS BURST OF ILLUMINATION. I THINK THAT'S PANGEROUS. WHAT I PO IS THIS-- I SIMPLY TELL MYSELF THAT WHATEVER {S REQUIRE? FOR THE DRAWING, 7 CIV LO /7': COF COURSE THAT'S NOT TO SAY I NEVER STUDIED. HAVE- BUT, (F I WERE ALWAYS AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES I NEVER WOULD HAVE TRIED IN THE FIRST PLACE!) Fier] ts petiaN, Brae touiN® Dinmont Lines 46.2 FIG 2 THIS EXAMPLE SHOWN IN FIG. 1 PEMONSTRATES THE USE OF COMPOSITIONAL CINES. FIG.2 |S ADIAGRAM OF THIS SAME PANEL. NOTICE HOW THESE “INVISIBLE” LINES ACT AS ARROWS THAT CONTROL KEAOING CYIRECTION. THE DIAGONAL LINES WORK IN COUNTERPOINT TO THE TRANQUIL BACKGROUND. THERE 1S A TREMENDOUS AMOUT OF MOVEMENT “HIOVEN" IN THIS PICTURE, WHICH AFFECTS THE READER ON A PSYCHOLOGICAL LEVEL. PSYCHOLOGY OF COMPOSITIONAL LINES: IN WRITING, LETTERS ARE ORGANIZED TO FOKM WORDS. IN PART, LINES ARE USEV TO CONSTRUCT FORMS ANP SHAPES. JUST AS WORDS, IN ADPITION TO THEIR LITERAL MEANINGS, HAVE COANCTATIONS. SO WITH VISUAL STATEMENTS, THE LINES AND FORMS CONVEY “HIDDEN” OR SUBLIMINAL MEANINGS. STRAIGHT (INES USUALLY PENOTES STRENGHT, MASCULINITY. CURVED C/N ES -GENTLENESS, FEMINITY. SORIZONIAL CiN&S- DYNAMIC ACTION, VIOLENT FORCE. I SAID EARLIER THAT “ACTING (S REACTING “ ONE ACTOR “PLAYS OFF” THE OTHER ACTOR. THE SAME PRINCIPAE APPLIES TO COMPOSITION AFFECTING THE OTHER ELEMENTS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE HELICOPTER IN FIG. 1 IS QECENDING TO THE BUILDING BELOW. "MOTION LINES” WOULT HAVE MADE THE CHOPPER APPEAR TO BE MOVING TOO FAST so. INSTEAD I POSITIONED THE BUILDING SO THAT IT “INTER- ACTED” WITH THE HELICOPTER, THE IMPRESSION IS ONE OF “IMPENDING MOVEMENT ” 7 AS THE READERS’ “MIND'S EYE (S DIRECTED FROM THI HELICOPTER TO THE BUILDING WHERE IT IS OBVIOUSLY ABOUT TO LAND. THE ROTARY BLADES, RENVERE? HERE TO APPEAR BLURRED, ARE ANOTHER ELEMENT THAT “INTER- ACTS” WITH THE STATIONARY BACKGROUND ELEMENTS -- Ae ee WN ANGLE REINFORCES THE IMPLIE? MOVEMENT NEL. USE DIAGONAL COMPOSITIONAL LINES FOR PYNAMIC ACTION. HERE WE SEE TWO FIGURES IN MOTION. IN EACH COMPOSITION THERE 1S PLENTY OF “NEGATIVE SPACE” AROUND THE FIGURES (SO THE CHARACTERS HAVE ROOM TO MOVE) NOTE HOW THE FIGURE ON THE RIGHT GIVES THE IMPRESSION OF SPEED AND CONTROLLED MOVEMENT BECAUSE OF THE OBLIQUE ANGLE AND DIAGONAL POSITIONING OF ARMS AND LEGS. = dks Bes US THE INITIAL PLANNING STAGES ARE THE MOST CRUCIAL, WHEN I FIRST STARTEV L WORE OUT A LOT OF ERASERS, SMUDGED A LOT OF PAGES ANP FUPGE? ALOT OF GOOU IDEAS BECAUSE I THOUGHT EVERYONE WORKEP THAT WAY-- BY “INSTINCT” IT WAS JOHN ROMITA WHO INTROPUCED ME TO A BETTER WAY, WHICH I CALL THE "7A SEFORE YOU DRAW” APPROACH. EACH PERSON OR OBJECT IN A COMPOSITION IS _AN IDEA, EACH PANEL IS A COMBINATION OF IDEAS, EACH IDEA “PLAYING-OFF” THE OTHER . CROPPING: SOMETIMES I GET AN IDEA THAT WORKS BEAUTIFULLY. THE PRAWING IS WELL EXECUTED, &C/7 IT DOESN'T FIT INTO THE SPACE I HAVE ALLOWED. WHAT To V0? THE ANSWER IS CROP IT! WHAT IS “CROFEIVG "? IT’S THE PROCESS OF PLACING A RECTANGULAR BORPER AROUND A PRAWING To FRAME NT. ices IN THIS LAYOUT OUR HERO APPEAR TO BE SMASHING INTO THE PANEL BORDER. WHEN I PIP THE FINAL PENCIL VERSION, T ALLOWED MORE SPACE IN FRONT OF THE FLYING FIGURE. NEVER OBVECTIFY YOUR PANEL BORDEPS / CROPPING IS SOMETHING YOU, AS THE ARTIST, SHOULD ALWAYS BE AWARE OF -- BUT THERE ARE PITFALLS! BE CAREFUL HOW YOU USE IT. IMPROPER CROPPING CAN CALL ATTENTION TO ITSELF IN THE WORST WAY (SEE EXAMPLE ABOVE) CROPPING (S_AN IMPORTANT PART OF COMPOSITION -- AND ONLY ONE OF MANY DECISIONS YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE AS YOU VEVELOP YOUR LAYOUT IDEA. WHETHER YOU CROP BEFORE OR MATER YOU DEVELOP YOUR PRAWINGS, ALWAYS KEEP IN MIN? THAT THE BORDER AROUNP YOUR PANEL Cis9-7-5 WHAT YOUR REAVER SEES. BE SELECTIVE. py ot Or “he Nes Vi | a J } SP et asia fila of Ue oe one Aine SeDVEXGE THUMBNAIL SKETCHES ARE HELPFUL WHEN YOU'RE IN THE PLANNING STAGES. THESE ARE THE ACTUAL SIZES I WORKED IN. THE FINAL PENCIL PAGES CAME OUT SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT, BECAUSE OF CHANGES I MAPE IN THE PACING (OR “REAPING TIME") OF THE STORY. PON'T BE AFRAID TO CUT ANP FASTE AT THIS STAGE. SINCE YOUR IDEAS ARE PUT POWN QUICKLY, IT POESN'T COST YOU MUCH IN TERMS OF TIME To SCRAP A SHOT OR TWO OR NIX A WHOLE PAGE AN? START OVER. L WORKEP THESE OUT FAST CABOUT 10-15 MINUTES EACH). BREAKING DOWN THE SCRIPT: IN MOVIEMAKING, THE CONTINUITY IS HANDLED BY A SCRIPT SUPERVISER, THIS PERSON BREAKS DOWN THE SCRIPT ANP MAKES DETAILED NOTES OF THE REQUIREMENTS (“PROPS", CLOTHING, BITS.) OF EACH SCENE. IN COMICS, THIS PECISION MAKING PROCESS (S DONE BY THE ARTIST, WHAT I 00 IS MARK UP MY SCRIPT OR PLOT AND FILL THE BORDERS WITH NOTES. IF A SPECIFIC “PROP” [S Geauikey IN THE SCENE, TI CIRCLE IT EACH TIME IT WILL SHOW IN THE SEQUENCE ON THIS PAGE, I NEEDED A SUITCASE FULL OF MONEY, NOTE, AND A TRASH CONTAINER. ‘I NOTED THAT THE TRASH CONTAINER HAD TO BE BIG ENOLIGH TO FIT THE SUITCASE INTO. WHICH MEANT THAT I WOULD HAVE TO MAKE THE SUBJECT WALK OLIT OF THE NARROW HALLWAY AND INTO AN ALCOVE WHERE THERE WOULD LOGICALLY BE SUCH A CONTAINER. i\ IN ORVER TO SHOW WHAT WAS WRITTEN ON THE NOTE, A CLOSE-UP WOULD BE NEEVED. THIS IS HOW THE LOGIC WENT FOR BREAKING DOWN THE SCENE. TWO PANELS TO SHOW THE SUBJECT LEAVING THE APARTMENT- FIRST AN ES7ABEL/SHING SHOT, THEN A REVERSE AS HE WALKS DOWN THE HALL AN? REALIZES HE FORGOT SOMETHING. AN VSERT TO SHOW THE SUITCASE “MAGICALLY “ APPEAR NEXT TO HIM (I DECIPEP TO FOUCS ON THE SUITCASE , SO I MOVED MY CAMERA IN CLOSE.) THEN A WIEC/IM CLOSE SHO7. ANGLING DOWN TO FEATURE THE OPEN SUITCASE FULL OF MONEY. (BACKGROUND IN THIS SHOT WOULD BE DISTRACTING, SO I(T WAS ELIMINATED.) I LEFT ROOM IN THE CLOSE UP OF THE NOTE FOR THE WRITER TO SUPPLY DIALOGUE OR THOUGHT BALLOONS THAT WOULD “BRIDGE” THIS PANEL WITH THE SUCCEEDING ONE. WHEN WORKING FROM A STORY PLOT, THE PROCESS OFF-PANEL, IS ALITTLE MORE PIFFICULT [a>] SINCE THE WRITER DOES NOT BREAK UP THE PAGES INTO PANELS (THIS IS LEFT UP TO S| THE ARTIST) ALSO, ACTUAL a DIALOGUE IS KEPT To A MINIMUM - SO IT'S UP TO THE ARTIST TO BRING OUT THE EMOTIONS AN? PRAMA. THAT 1S IMPLIED BY THE WRITER. THE 47RS7 STEP SHOULD BE TO Ane Ty uP oe oe INTO PANEL. I 70 THIS Bien ON THE: TYPEWRITTEN WUMpNANL : THE SECOND STEP IS TO VO A “THUMBNAIL” SKETCH. IF YOU TAKE THINGS A STEP ATA TIME, THE WHOLE THING BECOMES A PROCESS OF SELECTION. ONCE YOUR PAGE IS BROKEN DOWN INTO COMPONENTS. CINDIVPUAL PANELS) YOU CAN TACKLE THESE ONE BY ONE. EACH PANEL POSES A SEPARATE PROBLEM- SORTOF A QUEST/ON WITH MANY DIFFERENT ANSWERS. Cae S : THERE ARE ALWAYS MANY DIFFERENT WAYS TO SET UP YOUR SHOTS -- THE RIGHT ANGLE 1S DETERMINED By YOUR “CAMERA” POINT OF VIEW. S7AGE OWE |S LITTLE MORE THAN “DOODLES” WITH LITTLE ATTENTION PAID To THE ACTUAL PRAWING. IN STAGE 7WO THE DRAWING IS LIGHTLY INDICATED BY BASIC SHAPES, THE IDEA BEGINS TO DEVELOP LIKE A PHOTO- GRAPHED IMAGE COMING SLOWLY INTO FOCUS. THE FINAL VERSION (|S TRACED ON A LIGHT BOARD. FROM STORY PLOT TO FINISHED PAGE THIS SCENE FROM A RECENT MARVEL COMIC WAS PENCILLED FROM A STUDY PLOT, THE FINAL DIALOGUE DIFFEREP ONLY SLIGHTLY FROM THE PLOT VERSION. T HAVE INCLUDED BOTH THE LAYOUT VERSION ANV THE FINISHED PAGE FOR COMPARISON. PAGE 1- THE PANEL BORVERS HAVE A RIPPLE EFFECT INDICATING THAT THIS IS_A FLASHBACK. A CONSIDERABLY, YOUNGER JUDGE HORACE ROSENTHAL IS AT THE PODIUM AN EMPTY CLASSROOM, PUTTING PAPERS INTO A RIEFCASE, FROM BEHIND HIM COMES A HESITANT, Worce, SAYING “YOUR HONOR? I JUST WANT. IK YOU FOR COMING TO LECTURE AS A QUEST IN Gu CLASS TODAY." HE TURNS AND SEES A YOUNG MATT MURPOCK “REALLY. AND IS THAT ALL YOU WANTED TO SAY?” “YES, SIR. NO, SIR. I THINK YOUR DECISIO! BERRINGER CASE WAS COMPLETELY IN ‘THEN WH WAIT UNTIL. CLASS WAS OVER TO Si (0 ?"” HE PACKS HIS PAPERS AS _HE CONTINUES “IT'S BECAUSE YOU YOUNG PEOPLE HAVEN'T ENOUGH GUTS, THAT'S WHY, AFRAIP TO SPEAK YOUR MIND, AFRAIV TO DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO, WHAT YOU SHOULV PO, TO REMAIN TRUE TO YOURSELF. IF YOU PON'T BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND THE CORRECTNESS OF WHAT WHAT YOU VO, THEN THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IS HALLOW, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS EXCEPT DOING WHAT you BELIEVE IN.” HE LOOKS AT A DOWNCAST MURDOC! SNAPS CLOSED HIS BRIEFCASE, AN? THEN SAY “38, WHERE 00 YOU THINK I MAZE MY ‘MISTAKE; MR.. “MURDOCK. MATT MURDOCK. ” rr TN f age y a a eda Pv Sas , 18 I Se Si | \ \\ / PLUS SOME SENSATIONAL (NEVER PUBLISHEP]PAG E. Ss!