Restructuring I – Interactive choices and heroism

It is no surprise we are back at it again with a new blog post. First of all blogging is a solid daily habit by now. Also the brain doesn‘t stop grinding, just because you don‘t actively think about something for a change. I immediately had some more blog post ideas when putting my 100 days of making comics materials to the side. I guess I will have to go through all of them over the next weeks to reflect and to make sure I‘m understanding what actually happened and what didn‘t.

I have a really interesting topic for you today. Yesterday I posted a comic panel that offered a choice to make to the readers. The situation: Rich, the protagonist, has spotted three dangerous or at least unpredictable looking men he does not know. He can then decide to either look for a way around them or stay on the main road, standing his ground against them so to speak.

It is a simple situation. But that one must have struck something, as many readers left long comments why they chose which option. What also came up repeatedly was the philosophical trope of the illusion of safety. The readers were aware that potential danger could lurk on both paths down the line, even if Rich chose the ‚safer‘ way to circumvent the strangers. Most chose to send Rich towards the strangers.

And I was deeply fascinated with the vigor with which most of the readers sent him there. I myself would avoid the situation. I would take the ‚cowardly‘ choice and I take the freedom to assume that at least some of the readers who want Rich to stay his ground would act like me as well in the same situation. Then it struck me. It is not about just simulating our reality here. They want Rich to be a hero.

If I think about it, this is the first moment where Rich is in a shred of trouble. And should this really be the moment he completely falters already before even being actually attacked or opposed in any other way and leaves the scene to the back alleys? I can see why the readers would instinctively dislike that, while you could see it as a smart move. We seem attracted to people who display confidence, people who take risks and walk straight into trouble and towards the unknown. And then, another irony of the matter is, that cowards like us tend to survive those situations – and must have survived them since thousands of years – but then we tell stories about people like Rich to each other and hold this up as an ideal.

I am not criticizing my readers here, no, I want to thank them for sharing their instinct and collective wisdom and leading me down this train of thoughts. Only now do I begin to understand and really feel what a „hero“ as opposed to an everyday person actually is. Hero… That word gets thrown around a lot when talking about story structure and can at times seem like an empty hull or just synonym for main character. Your main character could be anyone. A hero is an idealized version of this anyone who displays or represents one or more higher values, much to our liking. Most heroes seem unattainable by us in their ways…but being a hero by walking towards three strangers…really? That counts already? Apparently it does! And you don’t even have to do it free of fear. You can be scared but do it anyways. And not everyone can or must be a supernatural power wielding superhero.

And then it got even more interesting. My own comic got me thinking about myself and with what knee jerk reaction I would have disappeared from the scene. I should strive to be more confident. In the long run, I must. Living only to survive and stay in relative „safety“ as much as I can might lead to a very miserable existance, where a lot of things have the power to kick me around, just because I would run on sight. Does that mean I should walk towards any dangerous looking situation in future? Probably not. It is rarely as simple as always yes, always no, and nothing in between. Yet, I have to take risk to move within the void outside of proven ways. I take risks daily when creating new panels. They could always go terribly wrong and I could run out of time and then not deliver. Or they could look horrible. Also the project could run into the sand and never amount to anything. I could never find success as an artist. But so far, I‘m not failing, at least not totally. And at least the falling movement seems to go forward.

Am I …finding out what stories ought to do? Give me just a little bit more than just entertainment for my time without getting on the nose preachy? I was told nothing of that by the comic. I am very glad and grateful for this experience today.

(Voting results: 27 votes were cast in total, 10 on Instagram, 17 on Discord. The winning option got 19 of 27 votes, 70% of votes in total. Instagram was a bit more mild with only 60% of votes for “walk on”. The discords went with “walk on” for 76% of all votes.)

100 Days – 09

Going fast

I‘m not feeling well, but to my own surprise I was quite active today. And not only that, I think I have made tangible progress.

I started off with environments. After warming up with these first two I remembered the shocking revelation from yesterday.

I heard myself thinking that I wasn‘t willing to even paint five panels. My interesting new painting experience helped me understand the fundies better but wouldn‘t serve the comic itself. So I bounced back to my more lineful „usual“ style. It now feels more informed through what I found out since the challenge began. And I thought I was going pretty quick without rushing. Yes, I could imagine Corvus in this style.

When my drawing can‘t hide because of a simple rendering on top, I have to really deliver on that.

There’s some work to do on this front.

I discovered I‘m pretty bad or let‘s say inexperienced at measuring, thus occasional proportion and angle problems. And my lines could be cleaner, even if I prefer indicating lighting with strong shadows over heavy lines. But that‘s no reason to postpone anything.

The next steps still seem a bit foggy, or maybe that still is my brain. First act. Lists of characters, environments and important props to design. Storyboard. We‘ll get there.

See you tomorrow!

Art report 26

While I’ll be continuing my projects that are already running, starting tomorrow, I have also started overhauling my portfolio. For a change, I feel awesome working on it. Gone are the doubts. If it’s not good enough right now, may it be so, I’ll just keep making art until I pass that invisible and really fickle threshhold where people start hiring you regularly…and then I’ll be making more art.

I only had a short session available for art today…and I feel like I made the best of it, possibly could even get more out of it. It also seems like the portfolio pieces I did yesterday directly influenced my linework today. I sat back and thought about my process, the outcome and all the decisions. Then I made that unspectacular colored piece in the middle of this overview, tweaking a thing. Then came the Chimera piece. I felt an insatiable desire to draw this. I wanted to explore and feel every single line here. I’m aware it’s quite …abstract right now. The meaning will come, the messaging will come. Right now this artist is learning how to feel and express properly at all. I can build the rest on that.

If everything works out as planned, the upcoming week will see some very interesting art and writing happen. I’ll keep you updated! If I can manage to uphold my motivation and results over weeks there might come the time where I can give you my own advice on all of that.

work in progress of a redraw & expansion of an older piece