Online #collabcomics

Comics scholar Nick Sousanis ran a collaborative comics making challenge on Twitter last week.

An exercise in three steps:

  1. The first person draws the grid: panels, frames and whatever additional gestures.
  2. The second participant adds mono- dialogue, the text
  3. Only then will a third person add the drawings, figures that fill the frames, speak the given text.

Adding text to another grid

Based on this layout by @DonnaCarlyle8:

Two rows of mostly vertical boxes, with a gray cloud drifting in.

I added this script. To me it looked like a depressing mood drifting in, a dog catching its smell way sooner:

(whistles) Sure is lovely outside today (sniff sniff) (Hrrrrrr…) Clear sky, clear mind I always say (Woof woof!) (WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!) Calm down! What's the matter with you? (Sigh…) He always loved spring, he did. (Wu-huuu…)

@BartschatLars made good use of wide and close shots in picturing the story:

Adding images to the layout and dialogue.

@FayeNLopey insisted on a happier ending, adding color into the mix:

Dog hungry!

Putting drawings to a grid + words

Here’s another one where I added the final drawings.

Comics page.

@BartschatLars drew a different but quite similar version, here.

I also drew a grid like so:

A series of boxes along the top, crumbling down. A cozy bubble bottom right.

I don’t think anybody took up that one to add text to it. Sousanis was wondering what the story behind this layout was. Reading from top left to bottom right:

The top row of shapes are sections of my day, time moving from left to right:

  • Awake from sleep (fade in)
  • Breakfast and things
  • First day of online classes for son and daughter, everybody is up and running
  • Cycle to my studio
  • Pick a thing to work on, start working but focus crumbles easily into gloom
  • Ok, eat a bit, arrange things on desks
  • Another go and getting some things done, repeat.
  • Cycle home
  • Prepare, have dinner
  • Took a nice walk outside with the two of us
  • Home feels safe
  • Spent some time with my papers and notes and books, a comfy bubble at the dinner table.

See more collaborations here, here and here.

The layers of an exquisite corpse

The exercise reminded me of the “cadavre exquis” fun the surrealists had with this old children’s game, with each participant adding one fully formed segment to a surprising composite whole.

The interesting part of this collabcomics version is that it forces you to think about the different layers that make up a single comics page. First the scaffolding through a series of containers that can convey sequence, direction, zoom, relative importance etc. A quite literal kind of mise en scene. Then adding the written texts: dialogue, (interior) monologue, sound effects, a narrator etc. Not exclusively responsible for the “content”, but a big factor in guiding the reader through what is happening. Finally the actual drawings that through style, color, zoom, expression, perspective etc. define the character and emotional qualities of the page.

So many ingredients to be aware of and use to show/tell a story!