Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Page 3 Thumbnails (Obstructed Story), take 1

No, you haven't missed a step, Dear Readers; I'm trying to make up for lost time by working on parts of two pages at once. Hence I give you the first set of thumbnails for page 3 while page 2 remains uninked (but not for long!). I think the text is fairly legible when enlarged (click image to make that happen), though I forgot to introduce the mysterious dog-man's name in panel 3 (his name is Kalbi):

There's likely to be some changes in this design before the end, because I haven't quite satisfied one of the three fiendish constraints that I chose from the five that Tom Hart gave us. These two I think I've addressed:

1) As above, so below: The page must feature a levitation and a burial. (You will note that Stepan himself gets some airtime thanks to a handy ring of levitation, which he uses to grab a bone hidden in the rafters, the very bone that the dog-man buries with Stepan's help at page's end.)

2) The Passion of Joan of Arc: All close-ups (of the subject of the panel, whether human or not) and no transition between two panels can feature a common element. (Tom describes this as the kind of storytelling he berates his students for. I can see why. This constraint is to blame for the proliferation of narrative captions on this page!)

The one I'm not so sure about is this one:

3) Say no to the grid: No two panels can be on the same x- or y-axis. Each border of each panel must exist in its own unique relation to the edges of the page. Circular panels cannot have the same center on any axis. Trapezoids cannot share a continued line.

It's not altogether clear to me if the constraint about "unique relation[s] to the edges of the page" means that no panel borders can be parallel anywhere on the page or if it simply means that multiple squares and rectangles, while permissible, mustn't line up neatly at their edges. If all I have to do is skew the join of regular parallelograms, this won't be so bad. But if every line has to be pitched to its own angle (or curved to its own shape), that'll be a bit tricky.

At any rate, I'm also unsure about the spirit of the constraint, since it's clear that the nine-panel grid lurks behind my current (very sketchy) thumbnails above. But I needed to work out the basic story elements first. I think I can adjust panels for this third constraint if I've misunderstood it.

So, comments welcome, on any aspect of the thumbnails that need 'em!


Isaac said...

Gee, Mike, I should have done a post with all five of Tom's constraints before you posted the three you're picking. But I guess you can't blame me for snoozing between 1:50 and 4:10 AM!

I like the mysterious turn in this strip, though I think the thing about Kalbi's hands is a problem. I mean, if he's a member of a race of dog-faced people, then how did they ever evolve human levels of intelligence without hands to use tools? I suppose Kalbi could just be a different sort of person under a curse, though.

I also like the way you've already distanced Kalbi from the attacker on p. 2. (Since they clearly don't share this hand problem.)

How does Stepan know the stuff he's revealing in the third panel? Is this information that Kalbi is telling him?

Here's another logical problem: why would a blind man be carrying a ring of levitation? (That seems like a surefire way to get yourself hurt, if you're Arntham.) I guess that's one for me to sort out.

You're right about the nine-panel grid lurking behind your page composition here. You might want to diverge more from the grid, in the spirit of Tom's constraint. I think it could be done, if you think about a kind of sinuous reading path.

One more thing: I am worried that, without any sort of reason for the sudden shift in storytelling style, this page will stick out as unmotivated by the story. I mean, we know it's satisfying constraints, but we'd rather our readers think it was simply the natural thing to do at that point. So what reasons could there be for a sudden shift to off-kilter close-ups? Some sort of subjective-experience motive for close attention o detail, maybe?

An idea: one way off of the grid would be to make the panels circle (clockwise) around a central image of Stepan's hand holding the ring.

I may have more ideas later.

Hutch said...

You can have lines and edges PARALLEL, just once one of those lines is continued into infinity, it can't join another line travelling the identical path. Does that make sense? I think it won't be that hard, really.

And I'll give you the page borders- You can use those as a mulligan. I'd actually forgotten to take that into account. If this doesn't all make sense, I'll write again with a picture.

Mike said...

Thanks, Tom--that does clarify matters. And it simplifies the task considerably!

Maybe later I'll post some of my crazy manga-inspired workarounds for the more constrained version of the constraint, just for fun...though I think I'm better off pondering how better to justify the close-ups all over this page.

Mike said...

One last remark or two in response to Isaac's first comment, now that attention has moved to newer things and this is likely to escape notice:

First, it's very anthropocentric to allege that toolmaking is the sign (and sine qua non) of high intelligence. What would the dolphins say? Tsk, tsk!

Second, with a seeing-eye dog-man around to help Arntham out, I don't see it as that strange for him to have--and use--a ring of levitation around the house. Furniture isn't likely to move up at the ceiling!

Anyway, those were my justifications for the page as written. Believe 'em or don't!

Isaac said...

What would dolphins say?

Nothing at all, my friend. They've got no language.

They're clever creatures, and no doubt they do communicate, but they don't speak.

But hey, it's Fantasyland, and if you want to have an intelligent dog-man who wears clothes but can't put them on (or weave them), you know, that's fine with me.

Mike said...

You know, there are any number of people out there whose hands don't function like those of us blessed with full articulation of our digits, and somehow they manage to clothe themselves. It may take Kalbi longer than the rest of us, but I believe he can do it if he wants to!