Thursday, May 21, 2009

MoCCA Debut, Plus Composition

If you want to be the first on your block to get Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?, it'll make its official debut at the 2009 MoCCA Festival in New York City on June 6-7. MoCCA is the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, a fine institution which last year exhibited some original drawings from Mom's Cancer, so they've been good to me. I won't be at the festival, but I'm supposed to sign some bookplates for my publisher to apply to the title pages so you can have a signed copy without actually enduring the drag of meeting me. So that's a win-win.

Animator John Kricfalusi has written a neat post on composition, using examples from Yogi Bear and N.C. Wyeth (!). All I have to add is that these are exactly the things I think about when I draw a picture. Also, as John K admits of himself, I struggle with it. This whole idea of seeing a drawing as blocks of elements and negative space that can be composed to steer the viewer's eye and advance the action is both important and difficult. It's another one of those situations where the easier it looks, the harder it is.

In addition to that, I work hard to combine an awareness of composition with the practice of spotting blacks--that is, placing large or small areas of black to emphasize or de-emphasize what you want and lead readers around by the hand without them realizing it. I feel I'm still low on the black-spotting learning curve. Then you have to think about not just the composition within a panel, but the composition of the panels and spotted blacks within the entire page (and sometimes in relation to the facing page). Then on top of all that, you've still got the basic requirement of clearly staging the characters and telling your story. It's a lot to think about.

Anyway, John K's post is a good, quick read if you're interested in that stuff. Thanks to Heidi MacDonald for the link.


ronnie said...

[whiny voice]
Why are all these cool things so far awaaaaaay?
[/whiny voice]

It's really making me question whether the free health care and bilingualism are worth it.

Sherwood Harrington said...

They are, ronnie.

Namowal said...

When the Yogi picture popped up I thought Dang, I must have hit the bookmark for John K's blog insteadI really like how he breaks down artwork here to show how the composition works, and his emphasis on blocking in the big elements first, before going to the details.

Composition has always driven me up the wall. As you said, it's tougher than it looks!