I once saw a special on Steve Martin called Seriously Funny where he took a more introspective look at some of his past work. What I remember this amounting to was Steve Martin babbling on trying to sound overly intelligent while discussing various roles where he flailed around spastically and acted as a complete fool. It was a long time ago when I saw this, probably my early teens, but I remember thinking that it was the most embarrassing display of narcissism and sycophantic dribble that I had ever seen.
Of course I was disgusted by this and told myself that I’d never be like that. It was a Lone Wolf-like display of egotism. Well, when you write a running blog about your work it is very easy to fall into this trap of thinking that it is something more important than it is. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I ever took my comics too seriously, and generally just tried to show my thoughts and experiences working on them with you. My writing style tends to be a bit more serious then I normally am if you just talk to me, so I do occasionally worry that I ‘m coming off with some ridiculous Steve Martin-esque vibe.
Let me say here and now: I know that I’m just drawing comics on the internet for your and my own entertainment. I don’t pretend that I’m doing anything beyond that. I’m not trying to solve the world’s problems or anything, just maybe make you feel something.
At the same time don’t think that I take my comics too lightly. I put a lot of effort into them and constantly try to raise the bar. I mean this in in all respects as far as how they are drawn and presented. I think there’s considerably more actual art and story then you’ll find in most other webcomics.
The comics are predominantly comedic, but I try to add some drama whenever I can. To truly be funny I think something needs to incorporate aspects from all genres. In general Alex just writes the dialogue, which leaves me a lot of room to interpret the “action”. I like to take full advantage of this, especially when it is something that inspires me. Sometimes I read something and instantly have an idea of how it should look. You can usually spot these ones (be it a panel or full page) because they are often better drawn with more detail. It’s not something I purposely do, but just happens naturally.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
This is a pretty straight forward joke about how long Michigan waits for Miles to go to the bathroom that I decided to make as dramatic and visually stunning as possible. Why? Besides the fact that I like to challenge myself I also think it is really funny to make a fairly stupid thing look beautiful. To me there is inherent comedy in the conflict between the content of the comic and the way it is presented. Day Camp has a lot of these kind of jokes that I felt were fairly simplistic and tried to really overdraw.
Here’s another example from Day Camp.
A pretty simple “joke” that ended with “Michigan looks bummed”. Well, I thought “what if he looks completely devastated and it takes up half the page”. This came during quite a lengthy series of comics involving Michigan looking sad, so I really wanted to emphasize it here. I like to embrace the darker elements of each comic, such as the angst of teenagers here.
Here’s an example from I’m Famous!
As soon as I read this and the comic that preceded it I was incredibly excited to draw them because of the references to a whiskey bottle. In case you haven’t figured it out by now I love to include drinking in my drawings. I’ll discuss that in more detail later, but for now I’ll just say I enjoy it for it’s dark tones and the comedy this brings out. So here it was just a simple phone conversation as written that I gave the undertones of being very early in the morning where Daniel was obviously very vulnerable and hung over. Vulnerability is something that you don’t see a lot of, in any medium really, but especially in comic books and I like to work it in whenever possible. It’s one of our most human traits and is instantly relatable.
I could go on, but you probably get the idea. Hopefully that didn’t come off as totally self important and pompous like the aforementioned Steve Martin special.