Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The Cooraben Devel

I'm spinning plates here at the moment, but I'm determined to keep Dinlos moving amidst my landslide of deadlines. Here are 3 panels from page two of Kackernory. Top and bottom of the page aren't done yet. In the top panel Jesus wakes up to find himself in a boxing ring facing the Cooraben Devel (that's the Barefoot Parangoo God of Boxing for anyone who isn't paying attention!), in the bottom panel he just gets beaten up some more.

Reading the last blog entry I realise that I sound quite apologetic for writing this story in Kackernory's peculiar mix of William Barnes's Dorsetese and pidgin Romany. I'm not. These are just two pages from a large novel and all becomes clear later... Well, maybe not all, but....

These three panels took longer than they should have because I spent a while ensuring that everything was centered - Cooraben Devel's nose, the ref's nose, the ring etc. You may notice I've done something similar on page one. This is an idea I'm using for this story to get away from the filmic, camera shot look that predominates comic panels. I spend so little of my life looking at the world through a camera lens that I fail to see why I should make my stories look as if they are seen through one. In the case of this story it has an unsettling symmetry that helps the feeling of creepy bedtime stories and mythic imaginings.


Unknown said...

That Devel geezer is mighty frightnin'! I'm enjoying the language and lingo that you're using.

Interesting stuff on the whole filmic look to comics, it's sort of taken for granted isn't it? It's an easy frame of reference I suppose, and one that's familiar to most people...but not a rule of thumb by any means.

Rob Davis said...

"Frame of reference" geddit? Ho!Ho!Ho!

I'm glad you got the point I was making. I love the early american newspaper strips like Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, Polly and her Pals etc where the characters look more like they're on stage than on camera. And I like the way the steady viewpoint lets the artist view the overall pattern of the page. Something Chris Ware has taken to a logical extreme with great success.

That isn't quite what I'm after, I don't want the design to be quite so hypnotic and flat. I think I'm after something with a bit more flesh and pulse.

Mind you that Devel is pretty hypnotic. Well, that was the idea.

Incidentally, Devel is the Romany word for God.

Unknown said...

Oh no, I'm a terrible one for making unintentional puns and using cliches!

What's the word for Devil in Romany then?

I was going to cite Ware as a perfect example of somebody going against the grain of filmic comics. I love all that old time stuff too, it seems to me that the visual cues in comics come from whatever the major visual entertainment of the day is, theatre and then film. I don't know where it'll go from there, TV and film are still the most popular visual entertainment apart from the internet and I'm not too sure how much, if anything, is added to comics by them being on screen or with extra levels of interactivity. I think they might even become something else, closer in form to videogames.

Comics look great on screen but are nowhere near as pleasant or convenient, to read. The infinite canvas and the way in which you can play with the shape and format is interesting and offers many more possibilities but most of the experiments I've seen so far haven't convinced me that it's solely the way of the future. Choice and interactivity are often the enemy of storytelling.

I enjoy videogames, always have, but I'm well aware of how the interactive nature and options they want to provide these days means that the story (which is rarely worth mentioning) is often diluted or compromised. I do think that games are the artform of technology and interactivity, that's exactly what they are all about. It's still a very young medium though, even when compared to comics and there's a lot of learning to do.

Alan Moore summed it up best, and I'm paraphrasing here but it's along the lines of: it's not our job or it's not enough to give people what they want, it's to give them something that they didn't know they wanted until they got it.

Rob Davis said...

Beng is the Gypsy word for Devil.

You may be right about where comics take their cues, but that does rather make comics sound like a herd that shuffles about under the influence of greater forces.

There's plenty that theatre or cinema can do that comics can't, but I think comics can do so much that cinema or theatre can't.

I'm not sitting in a shed until midnight making comic strips just because I love Leo Baxendale, Chris Ware, Herge etc or because I want to do something a bit like a film or a novel, I'm doing it because I think it's a unique medium for telling stories. In other words I believe there are stories that only comics can tell.

*clambers awkwardly down from soap box to murmurs and raspberries from the audience*

I. N. J. Culbard said...

love the brush lines in the tonal work... character designs... well, goes without saying, its the added detail in tone that's a delight.

Really like these pages. Great stuff.

Site Meter