Hello, my chums of the SRK comics forum. I know we’ve fleetingly discussed the subject in the past, but I’m hoping to start the real-deal once-and-for-all thread for creators of homegrown, original comics. (I know there are at least one or two of you here!) I intend this to be a thread of general discussion as well as moral support.
If you make comics of your own, I encourage you to post them here, discuss your progress, bounce ideas off everyone here, brainstorm new ideas, contribute CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, et cetera. This could be the one-stop salon for our local comics brain trust–a fun opportunity to share in the process of original creation.
To get things started off, here are a few things currently brewing in my head.
1. I’m up for an independent study this coming semester, in which I’ll be first studying the nuts and bolts of the comics medium, then producing my own comic from what I’ve learned.
The idea I hope to use for this project is a 10-page comic, of one panel per page. Whereas most comics tell somewhat continuous action of sequences that last a few minutes at a time, I’m looking at large, dense illustrations that will essentially be snapshots of complex sets of actions occurring over a long period of time. In other words, you only get a brief glimpse of 8:30 PM, 9:00, 9:30, and so on.
The interest will arise from the reader having to do much more work than usual to “connect the dots.” Multiple characters will be featured, though the reader will understandably only get a few small slices of their ongoing lives.
2. Here’s another idea I’d like to do at some point, which is much less developed. It’s more of a technique I’d like to try than a fully fleshed-out concept.
It involves telling a short story using multiple simultaneous layers of narrative. There will be 1. a character composing a letter of some sort, which will be illustrated, 2. captions that will essentially tell what’s going into the letter, and 3. flashback sequences that will illustrate the action being described in the letter. Similar techniques have been used in movies like Barry Lyndon and Pickpocket, as well as in some comics, I’m sure.
For one thing, the multiple iterations of the same information have a way of making the information really stick in the mind of the viewer. For another, the different layers of the narrative can be used to comment upon each other, in a sort of compare-and-contrast way.
As an example, say the character is narrating his letter. The way the actual written letter is illustrated can suggest things about who he is, how he lives, and what’s happened in his past. Maybe his desk has clutter on it. Maybe his spelling and grammar skills are poor. Maybe the way the letter is coming out is at odds with the way he’s envisioning it in his head. And then, of course, there’s the flashbacks. Maybe they reveal him to be an unreliable narrator. Perhaps the events transpired differently than how he’s relating them. As I said, I don’t have a story idea for this yet, but it could be interesting.
3. I really don’t have a real idea for this; just more of an absurd inclination. I’d like to brazenly violate copyright law by doing a one-off story about a previously established character. The intention isn’t necessarily to produce fan fiction, though that’s essentially what it would be. The intention is to consciously question the idea that a character can be owned by anyone or any entity, other than the men and women who played a vital role in creating and shaping that character.
For example, say I decide to do a story about Superman. Superman was created by Siegel and Shuster, and his identity crystallized under the aegis of editors like Mort Weisinger and Whitney Ellsworth, plus the writers and artists under their administrations. DC Comics might have legal ownership over Superman, but aside from cheating two young men during the desperate times of the Great Depression, DC doesn’t have any other sort of claim to the character. Culturally, Superman belongs to everybody. He’s a part of the American identity.
It is with this in mind that I would, just for the moment of the story, make myself an outlaw by appropriating a copyrighted property for my own use. None of the creators will be harmed. Nobody will lose any money, unless lawyers seriously consider a fan-written story to be a threat to any major company’s foothold in the marketplace. (And if it is, that company surely has much bigger problems to worry about, such as the quality of its supposedly legitimate product.) I’ll be going for a brief joyride in a car that’s far out of my price range.
4. I will attempt to cobble together an original story using preexisting photographs, perhaps with Photoshop assistance, rather than artwork generated for the specific purpose of the story. There are plenty of pictures on sites like Flickr that are free and quite usable, so I’m certain that this is feasible. I don’t know what I would do yet or how I would do it, but it strikes me as a fun exercise.
So those are my ideas at the moment. #1 is pretty much in development, and the others are just notions at the moment. Any or all of them could be combined, if that’s how things turn out.