Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Hollow Men: Black and White

This is something I've been wanting to do for a while, and now that a good amount of time has passed, I figure: why not now?
Above are the first seven pages of The Hollow Men (my story for Flight volume 8) in their black-and-white state. This was a new process for me, and it was extremely educational. Normally, I work in ink and lineart first, pure black and white with no greytones, and then go in afterwards and color it all at once.
I knew in general I really wanted to hone in on my storytelling, which is all about composition, which is all about value and emphasis. Anyways- I don't want to be redundant so if you're interested in how it came together, I went over some parts of my process for the Hollow Men in a few previous posts here, here and here.

When the comic was all finished in black and white, I had a really hard time moving forward. Looking back now, I'm glad I finished it in color and I'm happy with the result...but at the time I really felt that, once it had been drawn in greyscale it was finished. Every time I went to color it, I felt I was weakening and ruining the work I had done by inches.

The vision I had in my head for how it would turn out was definitely in color, but I felt that my ability wasn't equal to my vision in this case- and black-and-white allowed me to imagine the color and how it would work without having to actually deal with actually coloring it.

It was like there was unlimited possibility, and it was so exhilarating because it left color up to the imagination...but once you start making decisions, you start hacking into that possibility and it can run the risk of feeling overworked...squeezing out space for the reader's imagination to participate in creating the world and envisioning the story.

It's still something I'm thinking about...and it's hard because I love color SO MUCH. But I figure, since this is my blog and nobody can tell me not to, I'd post some more of the black-and-white work for everyone to see and I'll continue to think about the correct application of color in my work :) Sometimes less is more?

I think when you do less, when you start to stylize and pull back in different ways, you leave more and more up to the reader. I don't think I'm ever likely to let go of color outright, but limiting it and putting a value on simplicity has it's attraction (hence, Jellybots). Everyone's gaga over hyper-real art, even in comics, and it just leaves me high and dry.
I may be making a controversial statement here, but I personally am much more exhilarated and inspired to read this than this. I'm not saying the latter is bad, but I do think it pushes me out of the world much more than inviting me in. Perhaps it would be better to compare the former with this. :)
Anyways, I'm not comparing my chicken scratch to these much better artists' work- and maybe I'm just off on a tangent here and nobody's following, but I think a lot about the magic in simplicity.
It can be very impressive to render the hell out of every panel, but I am trying to learn how to hold back on trying to impress people with polished art, and start trying to actually tell a story. And in some ways I regret getting as rendered as I did with this piece in the very end.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy these pages! Maybe sometime I'll even post the rest of them :)

Much love,



Tien Hee said...

That bottom panel on page 6... Well done man. I need to cop me this volume.

Ericka said...

I love every page. Everything looks so fluid, especially that last page with the spirit's like a dance. Don't you feel gratified when you draw curvy fluent lines? I know I do. Drawing and looking at them is just so...soothing.

Thank you for sharing the b&w pages. I love them in color too. They feel just right, not over-worked at all.

Anyway, gorgeous work as always, Nick. Keep it coming.

Anna said...

The lighting in this is so gorgeous that I don't know what to say - the way you pulled off the light pouring down between the tree trunks and the reflection on the water... Man. I can really feel the atmosphere.

And re: hyper-realistic art and over-rendering of panels... Funny you should say that, because I'm with you on this one. Hyper-realistic art has its place, and is certainly impressive in its own right, but sometimes, it gets in the way of the story-telling, especially in comics and graphic novels.

There's just something about the sheer wealth of detail that detracts from what the author is trying to tell you. The same way a mass of text detracts from the visual impression of a comic.

I think you've struck a nice balance here, though I'd love to see it in colour as well - I'm might have to buy myself Flight as a Christmas present. :9

Carapace said...

I really couldn't agree more about simplicity vs. realism. *Especially* in comics, where the art is supposed to tell a story rather than commandeer a reader's attention to its own existence. There are a lot of wonderful artists who just don't work for me as comickers. I'm thinking here of whoever it was who drew the Dark Tower miniseries- gorgeous work, but the panels were each so detailed and commanding that they stopped me from reading smoothly.

However, I think the color in this really added something. I really enjoy black and white, and I'm often put off by color, so I'm not just being won over by the shiny. But I think you're really using color narratively here.

...Man, I wish you had some sort of regular series. I would buy it all up.

Tumi "Dirty Harry" Dolamo said...

I can't tell you how much I love your stuff(Although, I suppose I just did:P)and I really appreciate the forethought put into all your work.

And on the topic of style in comics I have to say that I pretty much agree with you. As much as I enjoy hyper-realistic rendering for cover art and stuff, I think overall it's time comics return to what really matters, which is simple and effective story telling. There are certainly times when a hyper-realistic style is the best choice for a certain story, but I find that, more often than not, something more stylised would've worked better. The "strictly for kids" association also needs to disappear...