Thursday, July 10, 2014

Splotch! Ploop! - Comic Camp

After hours and hours of drills and practice, I can now honestly say that I am definitely a brush person, and NOT a nib person.  More on that in a bit...

First, I want to show you the bathroom. I was really surprised that the walls of this school are so clean. And white. My own home and studio have murals everywhere. I was sure there would be cartoons scrawled all over. Today I heard about this room and two other ladies and I ventured down into the basement classroom to find it. (Because girls ALWAYS go to the bathroom in groups, right?) It had an out of order sign on the door and, inside, it looked like a crazy cartoonist had been locked in there for years! Wowza. And this is just one wall in the photo! The drawings covered every surface.


 See... our classroom is pristine. And our bathrooms are unblemished. It's 9:30pm and I am heading back to my room. But that's why the windows are dark and there is no one here. Actually, I think most of the students are at Game Night next door.

Earlier that day...

We did some more anxiety laden, time-restricted games. This one incorporating a lot of rules, like "Pay It Forward" - in which you draw the first panel of the comic and then write the dialog for the second panel, then pass it on... yep, in just one minute. Sheesh. Other rules were "Snowball" - where every image in the panel needs to be included in the next panel, plus one. That worked fine for the first few panels, but there is no way you can draw all the elements by the sixth panel... in one minute. "Zoom In" was one of the most fun. The first person draws something kind of far away, like a city skyline. Next person zooms in a little to show the top of a building with silhouettes of Ninjas running. Next, zoom in more to show one dangerous Ninja, then zoom more to show his face... etc. And there has to be a story and text as well. In one minute.

We learned about the origins of the graphic novel. In Japan, of course. In the 12th century, a form of visual and oral storytelling was developed using picture scrolls in a little theater (like a mini puppet theater). So our next challenge was to form into teams and divvy up a strange Japanese story, design comic stills, assign roles, rehearse, then perform... no, not in a minute, but felt like it. We had under an hour.

Here's what our panels looked like. Each is something like 11x16 or some-such.

The story was really weird! Man walking in forest runs into a wealthy lady in a kimono who is weeping. He tries to console her, and when she turns toward him, she lowers her arm and her face is missing! He runs off screaming into the forest until he sees a light. It is a noodle vendor (seriously?!) who asks what he is so afraid of. The man says he met a woman and it was such a horror he can't describe it. The noodle vendor says "Was it like... THIS?" and he steps into the light revealing - he has no face. AAAAAAAH! Scary Japanese ghost story that makes no sense. (It's not the "no-face" part I can't believe, but the noodle-vendor in the middle of a dark forest.)

But it was fun to illustrate. I did the lady revealing her face by making a flap of her kimono-ed arm...

Eeeek! No Face!

Most of the day, we worked on INKING. We practiced with a brush, then with a dip pen. The pen made beautiful, detailed tiny... straight lines (see middle page in photo below). It needed to be filled often and cleaned after every third dip. Ergh. Fagettaboutit. I went back to the brush. I loved the expressive quality of the brush lines and it didn't feel so foreign or high maintenance to me.

 Then we spent the rest of the day inking our comic strip from the other day. Here is my character, Amret, flying into school and speaking her mind (it was an assignment, kind of Mad Libs-ish - not my personal opinion!) I did the entire thing with a regular little brush dipped into ink.

I went back after dinner and inked the Lilah Bean adventure...

I did this one with a Japanese brush marker (which I ADORE). I have no idea what it is called since all the writing is in Japanese, but I do know it is made by Tombow. One end is black and the other is gray. The paper in all these pictures is actually bright white, but the classroom lights have a yellowy glow. So it is hard to see the gray marker shading and the pink cheeks on the Lilah Beans.

In case you are scratching your head - this comic was the one based on the Mad Libs story. Lilah Bean is laughing in a cave, but laughing in a cave is illegal. She is almost caught, but a happy cat rescues her from the cave. "Woohoooooooo..." is the flight path out of the cave.

Fine. But it makes more sense than the Japanese stories!

It took me ages to figure out how to draw Lilah Bean climbing on to the cat! Lilah Beans are only every seen from the front. Momentous event here!
I took my cue from the Pillsbury Doughboy to give her some movable stumps instead of simple flippers.

Tune in tomorrow when we... OMG... do an entire comic book from very beginning to very late night production and printing! Should be fun. :-)


  1. Thrilling! How hard has it been to use the brush? It looks like you took to it instantly. I'd love to read more about this technique! I am currently studying and drawing eyes, BTW. I've checked a lot of "how to" articles online as well as in books, but was not able to "get it" until forcing myself to actually draw them. What I'm doing is stopping action on my TV when I see an interesting face, then drawing the face, with emphasis on the eyes. I'm only now becoming comfortable with this task. The next thing would be to edit (simplify) the portraits, which would be interesting using the brush and ink method! *Love* learning what you are learning!!!!

    1. I have used a brush for many other uses (like watercolor), but not for inking - so I was comfortable enough with it. The pen nib... not so much.

  2. Sandy this looks like so much fun, as well as really terrifying! (The cartoon school, that is)! And I think Amret looks VERY much like a GREYHOUND! ;-)

  3. sandy, i'm loving your daily posting! this camp seems right up your alley. lilah is going to love seeing what you did with her lilah bean. history in the making right there :) hehehe

    1. Yes, Lilah is impressed - and she wants to come to school here too! :-)

  4. I love reading your daily postings of your time at Comic Camp!!


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