Comics for Grownups


Comic Book Practice, Part OneNo Regrets
No Regrets

Comic Book Practice, Part TwoBecoming

Comic Book Practice, Part ThreeThe Flames
The Flames

Comic Book Practice, Part FourArising

Comic Book Practice, Part FiveAbsorbing

Comic Book Practice, Part SixInspiring

Sam Battin here. I'm trying to learn more about comics by doing them regularly.

Step One: Getting Started

This is number five and I'm doing something a little different. As I alluded to in the previous installment of comic practice, I spent two weeks making a comic page in answer to Ron Marz's call for entries. Mr. Dudak alerted me to this contest; here were his exact words:

I've never heard of this comic, but to draw and ink up one page, even color it maybe, is no sweat.

As it turned out, though, there was some sweat involved. For me, it was the pressure of knowing, not hoping, but knowing for a certainty that someone was gonna look at something I did. That meant I couldn't half-ass it. Not half-assing it wasn't a problem because I haven't half-assed anything in a while.

A much bigger deal, however, was that I had to correct obvious mistakes. This ended up being the biggest thing.

The idea was that Ron Marz wrote a script and we had to develop a page of comics based on that script. What Ron Marz wanted to see was what the artist could bring to the written word.

But first, though, I suggested we each develop thumbnails and then submit them to each other for critique. I mean, it coulddn't hurt, right? So here are Mr. Dudak's thumbs:

comic thumbnail example

Click to enlarge

My comment on them was that it looked great; I especially liked the juxtaposition of the curved forms against the hard lines of the octagon in the background. My suggestion was that on every panel the woman was on one side and the vampire on the other, so why not switch it up?

And so here's my thumbnail:

Sam Battin's Thumbnails for Ron Marz's Shinku

Click to enlarge

Mr. Dudak's comments were that I didn't show how the woman was reacting, and also that I was breaking the 180 degree rule in every panel, so was I sure I wanted to do that?

Which is a good point, though it's a little odd that this was the main comment we each had about the other's thumbnails. As it turned out, Mr. Marz was a stickler for the 180 degree rule. I see this rule as having its primary value in film; if you're watching a movie it makes sense for the characters to have the same relationship to each other. In comics, though, I never really thought about that rule; after I read what David Sim had written, that comic artists break the 180 degree rule all the time, I figured it was worthless.

The 180 degree rule isn't a rule because in comics you're depicting a sequence of events. As long as the relationship of the characters to each other and their environment is accurately portrayed, then I don't think it's necessary to always have one character on a particular side of the panel in a dialog scene. As an artist you should be aware of the environment you're drawing, and it should be consistent from panel to panel. In addition, the characters shouldn't be teleporting haphazardly around the environment as you tell the story through panels; if they move, they should be shown moving. As long as these rules are followed, then the 180 degree rule isn't necessary.

So I started off on developing the page from the thumbs; I'll note that most of the comic was done digitally, which was a first for me. Manga Studio has a lot of cool tools and I wanted to learn how to use them.

So knowing that peopel were going to see this, I noticed a lot of mistakes while I was drawing, such as: Hey, the girl is 10 feet tall in this panel and the vampire's three feet tall. Hey, is the vampire sitting on the ground or is he squatting in a hole two feet below the ground? How exactly are you going to shade the woman's ass so it looks halfway cute?

And so below is a linko to my finished version, and to Mr. Dudak's finished version.


Comic Book Resources doesn't believe in maintaining their stupid site. They removed all of the images on the links! Every single one of the artist pictures on this page is gone. I even checked! So you are SOL, as they say, if you want to see anyone's comic book entry. Thanks for not even bothering to archive the page, CBR! You guys are super cool! Thanks for giving rave five star reviews of every Marvel comic ever made!

Here's my version, anyway.

Step Five: Recriminations

I wish I could've re-done the last panel. He needed to look more menacing here, but he instead looks scrawny. I need to work more on expressions. I'm glad of how the figures turned out; Manga Studio has some great tools for perspective. There's so much more for me to learn.

This one put my balls through the wringer. And then to think about how professionals do this every single day; and how much, much better professional artists are than what I do. Yet my dream is to stand among them.

NEXT: Read Comic Book practice Part 6 or go back and read Comic Book practice Part 4