It’s Mister G Kids‘ first birthday! Continuing the celebration from yesterday’s post, I’m re-blogging some memorable comics of the last year.
This comic, Chapstick, originally posted April 2, 2012, was one that found an audience on Pinterest. I discovered the importance of the mom demographic, and the key to that demo is featuring a cute little kid. The motif of the little girl in pink has since appeared again and again.
In the early days I was still experimenting with what worked for a child’s face, and looking back I think the pupils are too big, but otherwise the basics are there for the typical kid that appears in the comic. The key to a kid’s face is Less is More. The more detail you add, the older she starts looking. It took me a long time to learn that.
This comic has no background. As I had learned in the week since I started the comic, not only did a background take too long to draw, it also distracted from the foreground action.
That brings me to perhaps one of the most distinctive features of my comics – they aren’t digital. Many of today’s webcomics are done on a tablet connected to a computer, and I understand why. If you’re doing multiple panels, digital cartoonists easily cut and paste a drawn figure and just change an expression or an arm. I am old-school and think this is cheating. I know – I’m a fossil.
Another great thing digital can do is backgrounds. You can quickly fill in a color field with the paint can tool and add some quick details, then add your more carefully crafted characters on top of that background. As an old-school drawer, I have to plan ahead – I can’t draw the background until the foreground is done. So not only does it take away from the story, it’s a giant pain in the ass – if you’re doing a daily comic and you also have a dayjob, you just don’t have time.
I can’t tell you how many people have commented about the hand-made quality of my comics. I don’t think my way is better or faster than a tablet, but I do love how quickly you can make a sketch with warmth and luminosity with just a few pencils and a real piece of paper. Don’t get me wrong, beautiful painterly work can by done on a tablet (see my favorite contemporary artist Artgerm‘s work as a great example), but it requires painstaking hours of work. Most webcartoonists don’t have that kind of time, and so my observation is that many tablet-drawn webcomics look flat (two cartoonists who find a balance between digital’s ease of use and a healthy dose of chiaroscuro are Ray Kelly and Dave Mercier).
With old-school tools you can, in five minutes, create depth and – like my favorite aspect of art that manages to reveal it – see the medium itself: the imperfections, the pencil’s unsteady line, even the faint wood grain of the table I draw my comics on! To get that hand-crafted look on a tablet just isn’t practical for someone churning out a comic a day. So I sacrifice the ease of use, the ability to edit without hassle, and many other conveniences of a tablet to have that hand-drawn simplicity in my comics. Thanks for supporting it!