techniques and secrects of Arsenic Lullaby
Okay if you're a regular reader of my Blogs you've probably had an assfull of my opinion and delusions of grandeur and are wondering when i'm gonna shut up and make with the funny cartoons.
WELL...i have ,believe it or not, been working this whole time on the next issue as well as stuff for Mad Magazine. My editor is leaving MAD this month and starting next month i'll be working with lord knows who...maybe someone responsive to what i do...maybe someone who thinks i stink. SO while he is around i've been hammering out the preliminaries fast and furious.
Preliminaries in case you are wondering are moderately to nearly completed samples of what you want to do. everybody handles getting the idea in your head onto the paper a little differently so i'll walk you through my process.
first...the idea. I wanted to do something about Vampires because that dumbass "hey look at us we're vampires and we're young and pretty" movie came out that was written from he Ann Rice school of vampires -which means they didn't know anything about vampire lore and didn't bother to research it. as someone who researched what the Nazi guard uniforms looked like for a stupid 1 page holocaust joke it drives me insane when million dollar movies are made without anyone bothering to do any research. Especially if you are making a niche movie, where you are hoping to attract people because of the subject matter...you should know something about the subject you are hoping to attract fans of to. (that WAS a sentence, just really poorly put together...read again it slow.) Anyhow i wanted to do a gag about how real vampires aren't sexy and pretty. unfortunately the only things coming to mind where bordering too much on a gag Johnen Vasquez did years ago in Squee...so i decided to pass up the whole idea
THEN I was watching something about Nam, and they where showing caskets getting loaded into a plane. then something jogged my memory about people smuggling drugs into the u.s. in caskets. well with vampires fresh in my head the mix of information produces the following Joke -drug dealers accidentally ship coke in a casket with a vampire in it. not great...but a decent idea and if told right should be worth putting in the book. and that's how i start...either an idea that i turn into a series of sketches or a series of sketches i turn into an idea. usually you know right off the bat if something is great or just okay but often the telling of the joke can help it or screw it up.
the joke in my head basically goes like this-we have two sets of gangsters- buyers of the coke, and the dealers. the two have to be suspicious of each other, then open the casket to see all the coke is gone. they blame each other, shoot it out, then when the choas is over the vampire looks out wipes his nose and flies away. that's the REQUIRED info for this to work. also perhaps fly's off in a wiggly frazzled way cause he's high. but that is two jokes on a joke. joke one a vampire snorted all thier coke that they tried to hid in a casket, and joke two the vampire can;t fly straight.
comedy is ALOT about discipline. and when you want to force a laugh (as opposed to people just understanding that something was funny) it has to be steamlind bing bang in and out. if you have tow things at the end that are suposed to be funny you don't get the knee jerk laugh out loud response because the brain is processing instead of reacting...SO the wiggly flight patern might harm instead of help.
anywhoo off we go with the idea originally jotted down in my sketchbook
pannel on will have the second gangster saying to the first "keep an eye on these guys, i don't trust them"
already we have a problem (we will refer to this as P1) . the eye must be lead from left to right top to bottom (see previous "technigues") but the second guy look back THEN speaks, then the FIRST guy shows the reaction on his face to the speaking. this is completely ass backwards. as the eyes flows normally from ;eft to right we see the guys reaction Before we read what he is reactin to. i may make the first guys expression vauge and hope the general downward movement of the stairs overpowers this misplacement.
i tried a mirror image and it looked all wrong .
P2- is another problem. the guy is pointing straight across, but we need the eye lead back down and to the left for the next series of panels.
P3 this is a minor problem. i'd like some motion into the next panel BUT if there is not it wouldn't be all bad, because it would make the reader pause here and add a bit of tension
P4 P5 P6
here is a dilemma. do i add fangs and claws right off so we see he is a vampire right away and then he wipes off the coke? OR do we just have some guy peaking out then wiping off the coke and then not until the last panel when he turns into a bat do we realize he's a vampire?
if i asked 50 people 25 would say one thing and 25 would say another. and when it comes to comedy EVERYBODY is a woman i.e. they only THINK they know what they want. i'll just have to try it both ways and sleep on it.
Next i take the only complicated panel (four men shooting each other ) and work it out a bit more. normally i would have the shooting go in a circular motion (everybody shooting the guy to there left)but even before i drew it out that seemed amateur and obvious. then i remembered a technique someone taught me many moons ago that i used for Arsenic Lullaby No.1 in the story "dottie and liquid sam". i wanted the eye to bounce around the page and rather than use the word balloons and background to lead the eye in a spiral he said to use them to make a box or square pattern and the eye would naturally bounce around in the box. it worked then and i think it works pretty good here. rather than have everyone shooting the guy on his left and making a spiral i just have the shooting going from one side to the next.
so now onto the second from last thumbnail...
i think i will live with the poor timing on the first panel, with the dramatic downward stair line i think that it won't be to disruptive.
the second panel problem is solved by sticking guy no4 at the back wall looking left and down. this will stop the eye from going off the page and hint at where to go next.
still not sure about the panel where they are looking down into the casket. it's a dramatic camera angle and this might be enough to get some people thinking supernaturally...we don't want that yet.
and we still have image B. and the problem of fangs early or no fangs. either way i am leaning towards image A. for that panel the further away shot makes it very clear that this person was hiding in the casket.
so then here is where i ended up for now
in pannel 4 i added the first guys arm leading the eye to the right. added empty coke bags to keep the reader thinking about the coke in the casket and not the body AND i'm gonna have guy no.2s eyes looking to the left (thereby leading the reader to the left and not down.
in panel 4 i need to adjust guy no.4 i little, make him more like i had him in the second sketch so that he in looking back into the frame (this will lead the read back into the frame as well)
i'm happy with panel 5 and fairly happy with panel 6. and the fact they they are the same length/size slows down the action and speeds up the panel of them just lying there (panels of the same length are perceived to have taken the same amount of time- see pervious "techniques section")
still up in the air about the last three panels. it's probably a horse a piece, and where gag this ends up will make my mind up for me. if it's Mad then i can have the close up of the fangs because the casket will have color and i won't need the farther away shot to establish that this head is poking out of the casket...and if it's in something Black and white i'll have to go with the farther shoot and we won't be able to see fangs anyway.
unless i add a Dracula like collar...which isn't a bad idea.
and that's as far as i am on that. and that's what i've been doing. a whole lot of preliminary pages.