Wednesday, June 06, 2007

HANA PART 2: Three-fully

It's funny, but for a guy so well versed in action (ex stunt man and black belt martial artist) I'm terrible at comic book action. Laying out this page was akin to pulling teeth. I believe it was one of the last pages I handed in.

But perhaps I've put my finger on the pulse of the problem? Comic book action is not the same as real life action.

Let's start with the problems that the script initiated. There's so much action communicated in the script:

Splash Page - Hana QUICKLY, grabs the GUN with one hand. KNOCKS OUT a guard with the OTHER HAND. And KICKS a THIRD GUARD in the gut. F*cking action star.

As an aside, I love the energy of Aron's scripts. The final line brought it all to life for me. =)

It's almost impossible to communicate all this action in one image. I drew sketch after sketch of the possible layouts, finally being drawn towards this image. It contains what I call "implied action". I don't know what she's doing to move the two bald guys (3rd and 4th from left) but it just works. She emanates a convincing energy that makes you believe that something has happened by the sheer power of her movement.

It's once I unclenched my reality-gripping butt cheeks and just go for an image that communicates the spirit of the movement that I find real success. And that's the key. It's something Frank Miller does especially well. These dreamy idyllic beautifully choreographed almost-sequential images of action vignettes. It's a rare skill that I haven't had enough time to develop. I'm looking forward to disecting that skill and replicating it. Very few people can do it. It's either blow-by-blow action (which I like, but doesn't work too well in comics - it means the majority of the comic is spent trying to depict a fight) or it's so decompressed that all you're looking at are seemingly random images meant to convey feeling rather than a sequence. The best comic book action lies in between.

But why can't you depict it blow by blow? A good way to put it is that the space needed to depict a fight is inversely proportional to the time it takes to watch it on film. That is, what only takes seconds on film, takes an INCREDIBLE amount of space in comics. Remember, most fights are a series of quick, quick cuts to communicate the action. Imagine that each cut is a panel - a separate image that needs to be depicted. You're looking at close to 100 cuts or more for your average small Jackie Chan fight scene. That's 100 panels or around 20 pages... for a SMALL fight scene. That means you just shelled out US$2.95 for what would be a minor fight scene.... Basically a waste of your money as it doesn't progress the plot at all.

POSTER/PRINT: thanks to SHEINDIE from 9th Wonders who found me Greg Grunberg's manager's details. If this goes through Sheindie, you got yourself a thank you incoming. =)


ryangibsonstewart said...

I enjoyed this panel. I especially appreciated the irrefutable artistic quality you imbued with the profound spirit of ... ah screw it. I liked her butt.

MiamiVolts said...

Regarding the fight with the Chinese soldiers, I think an extra scene showing Hana dropping an explosive/smoke bomb or causing some distraction elsewhere might have been a good addition. However, you don't make the script and the way it was drawn was very believable. Well done.

PS: The June 4th post (HANA PART 2: One Giant Step) still doesn't show pics for me, but the most recent two posts have pictures.

The Polsons said...

Hi Jason! Haven't been able to get on here the past few days, and I'm catching up. I LOL'ed at the "f*cking action star"... that was actually in the script? ROTFL!

Much awesomeness in your art, as usual. You're ALSO a stuntman? Is there anything you haven't done? LOL But it surprises me that with that much martial arts/physical acting experience that you have trouble depicting it in your art. Strange!

SO glad you're doing better! I'll email you with more chatty crap so I don't clog the blog. Heh. 8-)

AcidBurn133 said...

Awesome page - another one that gave me an instant Matrix flashback... maybe it's the shiny pants :P lol. I love the 'off' and 'd'oh' expressions from the guys getting their butts kicked, they definitely give off the "oh schnikes" look.
I can totally relate about the action poses and such, as well! Not that I'm a stunt person, but I'm a big action flick fan, although I find it hard to translate that into a drawn action... I had to take pictures of my friend jumping about with a wooden sword for reference for the NBC Comic Con contest :P
And not that I'm not looking forward to seeing new, non-Heroes work from you in the future, but I'm glad to hear that you'll be working on more :)

pngaou said...

You know, I never thought about each and every single thing that was going on in this scene, but I think that tells of how well it flows. The action is definitely there and it's a pleasant picture to look at.

Posters sounds exciting! Here's to hoping that we get some full size prints of your work Jason!

jasonb said...

ryan: LMAO!!!

miami: Does it work now? I've re-uploaded it. Yeah, I agree on the action beat you suggested. But it's easier to take out gunmen stupid enough to go that close to you - they can't shoot each other!

polsons: It was good. There's lots of little "colour commentary". I love it. It says so much with so little. As I mentioned comic fighting and real fighting are very different.

acidburn: Action is tough. The trick is finding your own style. Good luck with your comic!

pngauo: I believe that things have to look convincing. That you didn't have to look so hard, means that it works on a superficially observable level. I like to make sure it works beyond that too.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

liked her butt.

I'm more of a breast woman, myself. Loved the next page/panel of this issue, showing Hana near naked and bending over. Dasss niiiice!