Friday, April 21, 2006

Review: 8 to one

(All pictures from 8:1 by B. Duffy. Click on the pictures to see them within the context of the website.)

So I decided that to post more often, I would review my reading list, and everytime I decided to add a new comic to my reading list I would write a review explaining why it's added. Now That It's Finished Reviews still get first priority, followed by requested reviews. I just want to give myself a reason to write more often.

Anyways, the comic.

Eight to 1 is a semi-serious look into the lives of a couple of social outcasts. A little while in, they meet Lori, a shy girl who is a little unsure of herself. What follows is a drama where we watch them mess up their lives multiple times and just try to function socially.

The comic itself is still a little bit young. It's starting to show a little bit of age, and the characters have been around long enough to develop, but it still feels a little bit like it's introducing a situation. There are two artist characters that insist on talking to Charles (one of the main characters of the strip). I'm not quite sure what their purpose is yet. I can tell they're important and that they play a major role, but I'm not sure what it is. Are they a catalyst for change, are they going to boost Charles' confidence, or are they going to give him a reason to remain reclusive and separated from the other characters? I'm not sure.

Now this seems like a real depressing comic, and it is in a way. Story is a lot more important than humor, and the characters all have very real problems they have to deal with, but there is a little bit of humor added to the mix. The first comics, which are used to establish the characters of Charles and Mary, are mostly one-shot jokes. They aren't all good jokes. In fact, many of them fall flat. I don't think there's really any joke that's funny in the "ha-ha" sense. However, a little humor does help to take the edge off for some of the lower moments.

The biggest postitive for eight to one is its interesting characters. The comic may still feel young, but I feel I know enough about these people that I want to know what happens to them. Does Charles remove himself from his stupor? Does Mary find direction? Does Lori find her voice? I want to know, and I will continue reading so I can find out.

8 to 1 is worth reading. Don't expect to fall out of your chair laughing during the run. Read it for a nice character study of people who are afraid to interact with others.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Look at the Artistic Side of Webcomics

So I figured I should at least make some effort at taking art into consideration for comics and I figured the best way to do so would be to try drawing some art myself.

Now first, it should be known that I am not an artist. I never claimed to be an artist. The only art experience I have is art class in middle and elementary schools and random doodles I sometimes do when I'm supposed to be listening to lectures. I prefer drawing abstract because in my mind it takes less effort to make it look good. Sometimes I do cartoony things. Sometimes I try to draw more realistically I'm not going to try to guess how good I am at realistic drawings.

I do not even try to take art seriously. It's not for me. When I read comics, I read the words. I just gloss over the art, so those big splash pages that some comics like to use take less than a half second for me to read and take in. It appeals to me that much.

Still, I am reviewing comics, and half of comics is the art behind it, so I guess I should actually start paying attention to it. However, to properly review art, I have to actually know a few things about drawing properly. I decided to learn by teaching myself because that is much more effective than taking a class.

I've decided for my first picture I would draw a group shot of characters from the webcomics I read waving to the audience. Since this is just practice, I decided to forgo planning and just start drawing. I think I got everybody. Choo-Choo Bear might be on there twice, but hey, what can you do. I wanted to include him in the picture. He's a little bit easier to draw.

Here's the pencil for you.

(All characters belong to their creators.)

Now I understand my line may not be at "strong," or whatever you say, as someone who has been drawing for longer than I have. Just bear with me. I'm new.

I must admit, this is not how the drawing came out of the scanner. There were a few smudges on it, so I decided to clean it. To clean I used this little program called MS Paint and the eraser tool, as well as the white pencil. It was a little bit frustrating, but I persevered for my art.

So anyway, I heard somewhere that all true artists always ink their work. I also heard something about erasing the pencil lines, but I forgot when and how that was supposed to happen, so I just left the pencils under the ink. I hope you can forgive me.

My tool of choice was a Bic pen, since they were readily available. Afterward I did a little cleaning. The end result can be seen here.

Now the first thing that can be seen here is that the lines are much darker when you use a pen. However, cleaning the picture was a real pain. In fact, I didn't quite get all the cleaning done because I just gave up, so you can still see a few smudges where I just decided to leave it be.

So let's recap.

Advantages for pencils

Less work
Easy cleanup
Ability to correct errors

Advantages for pens

Darker lines
More defined shapes
Sense of professionalism

So it's three against three, which would suggest that neither is better than the other, although that professionalism might count for something. Then again, we're drawing webcomics. That's about as far away from professional as we can get.

I want to try one more thing before I end this article because I hear that shading can add a lot to your work. Shading, if I have it right, is filling in your outlines with either colors or blacks to add depth to your work. Depth sounds like a good thing. Three dimensionality is always good.

I decided to go with a simple shading. No cross-hatching, since I still don't quite know what cross hatching is. I decided to take my trusty Bic pen and fill in the out lines in the picutre. Really simple, and I think it will make the shapes really pop out of the picture, which is what I'm going for, right.

I decided not to clean this one because I was feeling lazy.

So there you go, a nice black and white drawing for your viewing pleasure, and this one doesn't look to bad with the smudges left in. I think it's the shading.

But really, let's look at what I've done objectively.

What we have here is basically a doodle, a bunch of random lines on a piece of paper that follows some sort of rules. It's not a great artistic acheivement. It probably has been done before and better. It's not really that interesting. There's no color. It really doesn't say much about anything.

But you know what? It's my doodle, and I think it's the coolest thing in the world. I still think it's the coolest thing knowing everything I wrote in the previous paragraph and knowing that I went through the process wrong at almost every step because it my doodle, and anyone who says otherwise, I just won't listen to. All hail the mighty doodle.

And that's why I don't review art.