Wednesday, September 05, 2007


This is my momentous 200th post. Looking down on my little counter, I've also had about 20,000 hits. That's about 100 hits per post. Those numbers are staggering to me, and I can't thank each and every one of you enough. Your support by just clicking and taking the time to read my comments and check out my artwork mean so much to me. You guys really keep me going.

But let's get onto HEROES and BLACKOUT written by Mark Sable.

I don't normally do two posts back to back, but I thought it was important to get my thoughts on BLACKOUT out sooner rather than later.

BLACKOUT is an interesting case where the sum of the parts is less than the whole.

I'm looking at the project and trying to figure out why that is the case.

The script by Mark is solid, fun and tight. My artwork has decent pictures (they're all hand drawn in Photoshop, not Photoshopped - see the lineart), and if you read it without Mark's script, it flows nicely in most places (see the page up above for example). The lettering is technically nice and well placed.

But you chuck all three together and it seems like three different forces are all tugging and pulling the story in three totally different directions. It just doesn't seem to gel to me.

Perhaps a reader feels otherwise? And while the reader's opinion is the most relevant, I'd like as much similarity between the reader's perception and opinion and what we (the storytellers) intended.

I think my biggest mistake was to not go back and double check my layouts. While I'm happy with the art, I think there are some areas where the storytelling suffered. I will go into those as we get to them. Reading the boards there are many areas of confusion from people who read the comic. I find this really disheartening, and I unfortunately have to take the responsibility for that.

This was a slightly different formatted project and it threw me out time-wise. If you look back at the previous HEROES comics that I did, there is at least one big splash page image in every issue. There wasn't one in this issue. It's not a bad or a good thing, but I didn't realize how much time that splash image saved me. Although I thought the letterer did a great job placing the title and credits on page 1. I really didn't plan for them at all.

In the meantime, I think page one is one of the best pages.

You can see on the line art how little I actually draw and how much paint and colour contributes. Two things affected my approach to the page. One: I was already running late on the project (I got held up on the piece of the four girls). Two: I'd got carried away drawing big prints of Hiro and Clare for panel 2. I will post these separately after.

As a side note, I've included the original page 1 with Clare and Hiro on the other side. The great note I got back from NBC was that it looked like Hiro's and Mohinder's arms and hands were merging and hard to tell apart. As a cheat I also use the image of Peter and Nathan from the Death of Hana Gitelman. But I'm sure you noticed that. Is it a swipe if you steal from yourself?

So, to buy me more time I used a photo I took of the Alfred Hospital here in Melbourne instead of actually drawing a hospital in panel 3. As you can see, I go to some effort to not make it look like a photo. It's important to me that the photo merges as seamlessly as possible into the narrative.

As a side note, I hate sound effects. "Shoonk" is one of my least favourite. There is no sound effect in the script. I thought it was pretty obvious that the lights go out - especially with the caption "In the dark". There are some areas that could have used some sound effects, but I felt this wasn't one of them.

But let's see where this dissection goes and see if we can't figure out where it went a little more wrong than right. Hell, if we don't learn from our mistakes, we're just bound to make them again aren't we?


Lee said...

Having been privilaged enough to see the completed artwork before it was published and before the words were added to the page it did 'read' differently.
I think the biggest issue is the corridor scene, at least that has the most commentary so far too. It's a scene of convenience. In one corridor you have the director, Mohinder, a Primatech 'salesman' and the closest open doorway leading to a 'special' in a critical condition, who also has the same disease that Mohinder can cure. It's too much and without knowing what happens next the reader is going to have trouble processing all that at once.
Simplest change I could think of would be to have the director dismiss Mohinder, then walk away to greet a Primatech salesperson. Mohinder, rather than be pushed into a room could have a reason for entering a room (further away) which contianed the patient. This still gives you all the elemnets of the story that are there today. More improtantly the story would flow from one scene to the next a lot better, rather than being, literally and figuratively, pushed from one to the next.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.

Sarah said...

Interesting take on your own comic, Jason.

I actually thought it flowed pretty well -- my only issue with it, of course, were the medical inconsistencies. But that really has nothing to do with you.

I'm curious to know why you think the sum of the parts is less than the whole here. I didn't really get where it was pulling the story in three totally different directions, aside from the fact that Mohinder ran into a guy from Primatech there.

The whole GN had a very flashback-ish feel to me. I don't know if it was just the colouring or what. Maybe he was having a flashback and I just don't know it yet? Hmm.

If you felt you made a mistake by not going back and double-checking the layouts, then you probably did make a mistake. Though I'm not an artist (I can't draw to save my life), I'd liken this to writing an essay (which is something I do regularly). Even when I have a finished product, or a rough draft that I really think works well, I always go back and look at it. Why? Because I catch the little inconsistencies. I think the same thing applies here.

So next time, although I do understand that doing these GNs is very time-consuming and can be a bit rushed, take ten minutes to glance over the layouts and make sure you have them the way you want them before everything's finished. I can assure you it'll save you a lot of headaches in the future.

RyanGibsonStewart said...

Jas, you know I'm a fan. But even with a totally unclouded mind, I liked this comic a lot more than you did, I think. :) I thought the flow was fine (though Lee gives a good suggestion), the art was beautiful ('specially the electricity orgasm in the end) and the story was just fine. I assume we'll learn more about the Primatech guy in Part 2--and if we don't, I just chalk it up to, well, a Primatech guy at the hospital.

You said awhile ago that the story is cute and simple. Maybe Blackout was quaint in comparison to the grand epic that was The Death of Hana Gitelman, but I was wholly satisfied with this issue.

Discussion boards be damned.

miamivolts said...

Jas, I'm not a professional artist either, and I didn't notice what you said about the flow. What I liked a lot about this novel is that it appeared you were experimenting with the color scheme. You have scenes with regular colors, black and white and a hazy orange all in one novel. It made for a good effect, imho, but it was different so I guess some people (maybe including yourself) might not have liked the end look of it.

SacValleyDweller said...

Man, you are hard on yourself. It read well, and the coloring was spot ON! I couldn't get the imagery out of my head to focus on my first class because it was that moving. Stick to this "moody style of coloring," I love it, it even works better that Kwok's stuff, amazing in and of itself. And the sound effects didn't hurt it at all, IMHO, it enhanced it.

Keep up the good work!

SacValleyDweller said...

Man, you are hard on yourself. It read well, and the coloring was spot ON! I couldn't get the imagery out of my head to focus on my first class because it was that moving. Stick to this "moody style of coloring," I love it, it even works better that Kwok's stuff, amazing in and of itself. And the sound effects didn't hurt it at all, IMHO, it enhanced it.

Keep up the good work!

Ron said...

..loved the colors and the moodiness and the first page with Mohinder remembering all that had happened. I thought it flowed ..except for the part where 'Mo' was elbowed into that room..did he land at the foot of a bed? ..totally enjoy your work. I think you are your biggest critic since your fans get so excited and jazzed whenever you do a GN, like me!..can't wait 'til the next part. .. thanks! Sheindie

HERO said...

I just wanted to make a clarification about my comments at 9thW. I did comment about the "Shoonk" sound, and might've been confused about the "It's not polite to stare" quote bubble, but like you said, the sum sorta had the parts competing with each other for attention. The art without the text does flow well, and I probably just get confused easily, too, so it wasn't the artwork that factored into my confusion.

jasonb said...

Thanks everyone for the kind comments. Everyone is so cool saying things like, "they get confused easily" etc.

But my stuff has never confused you in the past, so it's my fault this time. But hey, It's nice to get a kick up the butt every now and then to stop one getting complacent!