Friday, June 12, 2009

A Storytelling Exercise with Random Brushstrokes

Last night, Matt Madden described a new and interesting storytelling exercise on his blog.

Since Mike and I were having one of our rare meetups this afternoon (this time, in White River Junction), I thought it'd be fun to try a variation on Matt's exercise. For each of these two short comics exercises, Mike and I passed the page twice: once after we'd drawn the random blots or spot-blacks, then again after we'd drawn images in pencil around the other guy's spot blacks. If we'd had three or more people, we could have run this exercise without passing the paper back to the first person.

For this first one, Mike made the original brushstrokes.

(As usual, you can click any of those images to enlarge it.)

I think my drawings presented some storytelling challenges, in that they didn't really have a consistent "protagonist" or scene—those sunflowers really came out of nowhere. But I also thought it was sort of against the spirit of the exercise to plan a story, and I was trying hard to thwart my own inclinations toward story-building.

This other exercise seems to have turned out as more of a story. The initial blots are mine.

This was a pretty fun exercise to try, and I think Mike and I might do it again some time, just because it's a good limbering-up exercise for comics-making. Our thanks go to Matt Madden for the idea.


mattmadden said...

These are great, guys, and I love the idea of turning it into a jam comic--in a way it ensures no "cheating", in the sense that you can't predetermine the abstract shapes (like "I'll put a circle in panel three for a ball because I already know I'm going to turn that blob in panel two into an arm throwing something" etc). And it looks like it was fun to boot.

I like how the first one, if not a story, becomes a kind of comics essay on the nature of storytelling.

mattmadden said...

PS I was afraid I was getting to convoluted about "cheating" but then I got this comment on my blog:

"I always find myself cheating exercises like this - like I know that I am going to try to turn this into a story afterwards, so it's really hard not to have that colour the way I make these "random" marks in the first part.

Maybe that's thinking about it too hard."

--from a guy named Andrew

Isaac said...

I think even in Mike's pencils (in the second exercise) there was a little bit of "cheating." I don't think he's as obsessed with birds and fire as those pencils would make him seem.

But I don't know how you could work against that, without maybe putting the penciled panels on separate cards and picking six at random before turning them into a story...