Shapes

April 24th, 2010 | daybook

My brain wanders a lot. (Project Blacklight didn’t get funding and returns to the Maybe One Day box, which obviously freed up a square inch of space somewhere in the frontal lobe, and brain custard flowed into the gap.) I wrote a thing on Whitechapel today that had been occupying my mind yesterday, after I tripped over some old JEFF HAWKE strips. Which reminded me of Travis Charest’s SPACEGIRL. And I got to thinking about what kinds of strip survived evacuation from newspapers, and, well, off I went.

So I’ve been thinking about the newspaper adventure strip, that superquick blast of art spectacle and an idea. Which, as I said on Whitechapel, didn’t seem to convert to the web so well because it’s a form that finds it harder to capture eyeballs than the humour form.

And then I thought, on the other hand, if something like that was nested, as it was in a newspaper, inside a blog that already had a daily audience…

And then I thought, well, a proper and useful newspaper-width strip is actually a bit wide for a blog, which tend to containerise inside 600, 700 pixels or so. And maybe it’s the concept and intent of the thing that matter, not slavish replication of the physical object, because this is after all the web and we don’t have no laws or wear no stinkin badges and all that. Maybe your "strip" is the size of a card CD sleeve, or a horizontal half of a manga page, or (name your own).

SPACEGIRL, in some ways, is a pure descendant of the likes of FLASH GORDON. A single beat of plot or action in a beautiful science fiction illustration. And on a daily basis that’s really all you need to provide in a single instalment — something lovely, that frames a nice little idea. Makes pleasant electrical things happen in your brain for a moment. So you come back tomorrow to get that button pressed again. And, if the creator(s) is (are) lucky, you stick around long enough to see that this cascade of little sparkles are actually strung together with auctorial intent, and it assembles into something that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

It’s also important to remember that things like JEFF HAWKE were a long run of complete story sequences. And, you know, it’s the web. Want to do a hundred numbers then take some time off before the next sequence? Why not? Hell, if you just wanted to do a hundred numbers and then call that story told and never come back… why not?

(Of course, as with most of my ideas, it requires creators who hate money. But still.)

A lot of the above thinking does come down to shapes. FREAKANGELS is the shape and style it is because I designed it to work on screen and in print in the simplest and most efficient way. That was the brief. But if you’re just doing something to fucking do it… it can be any shape you want. And if someone wants to put it into print afterwards… they’ll conform to your shape, if they want it bad enough.


11 Responses to “Shapes”

  1. I really think you’re hitting on something here! Something that could be really bloody good. And are we not constantly being told that our attention spans are getting shorter? Perfect. Three panels a day.
    Would it not be good to imbue the thing with as much mystery/intrigue as possible (short of making the strip just plain oblique) to further ensure readers returning?
    Ooh! This idea excites me.

  2. I always do things “just to fucking do it..” and then it becomes incredibly hard to conform them to say “Zuda comics” or similar formats. But if I take the time to pre plan the format, the drawings come out with less energy. Its a fun balancing act.

  3. In the couple of minutes since leaving my last comment, I’ve gone and had a peek at Spacegirl and realised that there is, indeed, no need for three panels a day. Just one beautiful image per day, with some perfectly chosen words.
    It’s Total Pop.

  4. Warren -

    I would also look into Francesco Francavilla’s KARA BOCEK that he serializes on his Pulp Sunday Blog…

    Likewise he’s illustrating a Hammett tale that may be of interest / study:

    http://www.pulpsunday.blogspot.com

  5. Ha! “just to fucking do it” pretty much sums up my philosophy for Space Shark.

  6. I was trying to do this with mine and André’s Dork & Hat comic in the Draw Each Other thread. Each two pages I attempted to make a single narrative blob.

  7. @ChrisG “And tainted our women.” LMAO!

  8. “And if someone wants to put it into print afterwards… they’ll conform to your shape, if they want it bad enough.”

    Normally I would be reluctant to step forward like this, but, in this case I feel very confident in speaking for my brother and sister designers as well as myself: Absolutely.

    Let creativity run rampant; afterwards we will find some way to make the result into a beautiful printed object. We will eagerly embrace that challenge.

  9. Frak me, thank you for the link to SpaceGirl. My love of Travis Charest has been rekindled. How could I have forgotten how much I idolized his work?

  10. Thanks for Spacegirl and thanks, Matt K.

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