Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An Upside-Down (Not Incredible)

So, the other day at the dinner table I absent-mindedly drew this:

... A weird beaky-nosed mad-scientist guy with a big manic grin, a little bit muppety in his design.

He was drawn on a paper towel, by the way. That's where those dots came from. I think they add a nice element of verisimilitude, and remind the viewer of the spontaneous conditions of the composition.

Anyway, while I was drawing that mad scientist, I also drew this wild-bearded but sedate primitive chieftain.

Any publisher who wants my undying fealty would do well to reissue The Incredible Upside-Downs of Gustave Verbeek. And if you ever find a used copy of that book for cheap, you know what to get me for Christmas, because I don't actually have it: I've only ever seen a few of those strips myself, and I've found them totally charming.

Update, June 2008: I found a copy of the book at MoCCA!


Ben Towle said...

Do you know the book UPSIDE DOWN by cartoonist Tobias Tak? It's not a Verbeek-style story that can be flipped, but is thematically influenced by that sort of stuff. As I recall, characters from one world fall into a new "upside down" world.

Mike said...

What I want to know, Isaac, is whether you started with the scientist or the chieftain uppermost (har, har) in your mind or if you found yourself drawing sideways or flipping the page, or what. Shed light on your process!

By the way: the chieftain looks terrific. That "sedate" expression is really amusing. On the other side, it's pretty hard for me to read the lips in the scientist's hair in such a way that I don't mentally flip the image over, but from the ears on down the scientist is utterly convincing.

Isaac said...

I didn't flip the page at all until I was doing touch-ups. The whole thing was drawn from the perspective of the "chieftain," actually, with the "scientist" being imagined as I drew.

Those "lips" in the scientist's "hair" are supposed to be a forehead wrinkle before his hairline starts. I guess I wasn't able to pull that off.

Time for me to enroll in Remedial Napkin Doodling...

Mike said...

Hardly remedial, Isaac; the scientist is still more impressive now that I know that you were drawing from the chieftain's point of view, as it were. And I think my problem with the hair-lips is easily solved.

Basically, the line of the scientist's false brow (that is, not what you meant to be his brow!) is too continuous from left to right: the bottom of the chieftain's nose forms part of what looks like a complete line from ear to ear of the scientist, so everything above the bottom of the chieftain's nose reads as hair to me. A few white spaces to break up that line would help.

Also--though it might make the chieftain less sedate-looking--if the line of the chieftain's lip mirrored the bottom of his nose more closely, it would read more readily as a pair of wrinkles in the scientist's brow.

Not that you're likely to touch up napkin* art, mind you, but R. Crumb has been known to apply white-out to his placemat creations on occasion...

*I knew it was actually a paper towel right off! There's no mistaking that absorbent dot pattern!