Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hypothetical good news bad news desk

Changes are afoot for Scary Go Round art once more, I am strongly considering inking with a brush and drawing at twice the size. This shouldn't take me any longer (it's actually a lot easier to pencil when I don't have to shove everything into boxes 9cm or sometimes 7cm tall). But obviously there will be a period of adjustment as I am not the most disciplined brush-inker and will need time to get hep to bristle ways.

There's also a strong possibility that in the future I may have to switch to doing the comic in black and white - purely in service of the print editions. Colour printing is getting more and more expensive and the weak dollar means that while some of the sting is taken out of it for me, I'm selling fewer books (and all other items) to the USA, where the greatest percentage of my readers are. I don't like the idea of this move very much and if I can avoid it, I will. I certainly don't want to punish my many loyal readers, who like me, enjoy all colours.

Anyway that was the good news bad news desk, here are some roughs as I prepare for a new and whiskery way. I include a mess of black and white tones that ought to make any future efforts seem elegant and refined in comparison.




PS If you are from the Guardian and wish to serialise Scary Go Round in G2 daily in exchange for a fat wedge, that's fine! Just send me the fat wedge.

21 comments:

Mizufae said...

Hmm. I feel like your skill with line and expression has improved so much in the past couple of years that going B&W isn't that bad of a thing. I *love* the colors of SGR (the orange jumpsuit with the purple walls of today's strip cheered me right up) but they are more of an added bonus than a necessity. You could also experiment with halftones and crazy textures more, which might be very fun.
As for the inking with a brush, whatever keeps you happy and doing comics for the foreseeable future! Like the switch from illustrator to hand-drawn, I'm willing to bet that the person most distraught about the switchover will be you.
(Double sized, hand inked original strips, you say? Very marketable original materials, you say? Mmm... delicious!)

T said...

I still prefer the days when you were drawing in Illustrator; the combination of digital art and your unique sense of humour made the comic delicious!

mordicai said...

How can we the consumer help with not going b&w? Just buying more?

Ryan said...

Hmm.. I certainly prefer the colour, I feel it adds more depth to the strips. And you have an extremely awesome use of colours. How can we make it go not black and white? I am willing to spend monies, hard earned or not, for this just cause.

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sarah j. said...

John A! I really like the shapely lines you're getting out of the brush, and drawing at a larger size was an inspired move! I, too, enjoyed the Illustrator days of SGR, but this new style is even better. Dynamic and organic and just dang pretty.

I'd understand if you moved to a B&W format (your halftones are gorgeous), but, as a lover of color, I must say that part of what attracted me to SGR was its bright and whimsical color scheme.

Oliver Brackenbury said...

I loved the Adobe period, but I'm also loving the hell out of the hand drawn period. I can definitely seeing myself loving this new era on the horizon, be it color or black and white.

Because I have no discerning taste? No! Because I recognize that artists of all kinds can go through phases or periods for both creative and practical reasons. Plenty of other folk do too, but I'm just sayin'...those who don't can always forever re-read the Adobe years while listening to That One Album That Band Did Before They Started To Suck etc etc

Tom A said...

John...after reading scarygoround through several periods of stylistic change, and enjoying your art more and more, I'm starting to think you could fingerpaint and I'd still be happy. Your art rocks.

John A said...

Thanks for the supportive words everyone.

The problems I'm having at the moment aren't a matter of people who have supported the comic buying more - I think the people who read this blog are most likely to be the ones who have done the most to support the comic - in some cases over and above the call of duty.

Hermit Guy said...

I too loved the Illustrator days, but the brush is certainly an improvement on the pens. Bigger is better! I foresee murals cropping up Banksy style around the north of England! As for colour, would it be possible to have the web version in colour, even if the print version was B&W? Does shading have to be via halftone? I want too much don't I.

Andrew James said...

It would be a dire shame to lose the colour, John, but I'm glad you're going for the bigger page size!

Also remember: it is not a crime to resort to dip-pens or even normal drawing pens for the fiddly bits...

I spent at least two months struggling to draw fine lines with a recalcitrant brush before I realised that a) nobody really minds what materials you used, as it all just turns into black lines when you scan it in and b) I was never going to transmute into Craig Thompson, and it was probably just better to back down from that game of chicken before it was too late to swerve away from the headlights of that particular 18-wheel juggernaut.

I look forward to the developments, anyway!

Nick! said...

John, love your art so much that I, like others commenting, will follow you through whichever changes you have to make. Although, if I may mention something that you've already probably realised, I'm finding those half-tones a little busy at the moment.

I run the risk of sounding more naive then I probably am, now, but would the style take much adaptation to allow you to move to the American Elf model? I know your style is much more detailed then James Kochalka's, but I quite like the way that on his site, daily readers get the comic in full colour, but in the books, they are in black and white.

I don't know the technical process of doing that, but I know that in his case it works perfectly... The colour looks good on a monitor, but I find that in print, his work looks better in black and white.

Hmm... now I don't know... am vaguely worried that that would force your art down a more noir, Frank Miller route, full of more blocked out areas of darkness etc in lieu of colour...

John A said...

Andrew: I will be striking a balance between brush and technical pens - if I do the faces with a brush, I lose some of the control I'm used to and it doesn't look like my style - which isn't really the idea.

Nick: I think from a design point of view you have to work either towards black and white or colour. But I agree it is a fine line that maybe I shouldn't cross. For every person who buys the collections, there are about 40 who read it online so arguably it isn't worth it in any case.

The comic would inevitably end up looking a lot darker and might lose some of its character.

matt said...

John, I love the colour in SGR (new readers might not get why Amy calls Shelley "Ninja" if they can't perceive her glorious coppertop), it's a big bonus for me. However, saying that, I completely trust your artistic judgement: you've not put a foot wrong yet as far as I'm concerned.

By the way, I thought that the brushwork picture your posted looked great. I'd love to see more SGR made in such a fashion. Its from the Zombie Shelley in the Goth Shop bit of Looks, Brains & Everything isn't it?
http://www.scarygoround.com/index.php?date=20030121

I thought that the shop girl was Pale Suzie out of Diesel Sweeties when I first saw that strip.

Drew Falconeer said...

Your talent is such that you could draw sticks and it would be still brilliant.

Still, I have to say, you are a genius with colours. Losing them would be like doughnuts without jam or Twin Peaks without Dale Cooper.

I'd do close to anything to avoid this misventure. Oh, crap. *sniff*

On the other hand, who's that blue haired girl? Amy doing Hernandez's Hopey Glass for halloween?

Kane said...

I'd be ok with black and white (or even a B&W book of a color webcomic), but I don't like the halftones.

DevilShadow said...

I guess you could print a small number of both or take orders for either one to gauge the demand for b+w/colour copies. I guess I'd prefer colour but if it can't be helped so be it.

You could always put in extras that don't add so much to the printing value, but make it worth while for American consumers to shell out their currently feeble dollar.

Joe said...

Both of your art examples are actually quite stellar, but I do admit that I think your eye for color really makes Scary Go Round stand out.

It is true that the feeble American dollar has limited my Scary Go Round purchases, but if my purchase will add to your confidence then I will do what every good American was born to do: buy more things.

John A said...

Devilshadow: you can't print a small amount of anything, the nature of commerce and industry is printing a LOT of things. A giant HECKUVA lot!

In any case I am not going down the black and white route for the reasons discussed upthread, so everyone can cool their coals and embrace calm.

Liam said...

I think if ever you were to replace Steve Bell in G2 it would be the herald of a brand new age of gen'ral happiness.

I would walk around with a huge grin on for a week. At least.

Peter said...

I think this would be a very bad idea. The books might be cheaper, but I'd be very unlikely to buy one. And I say that as an American who dropped a decent sum to get volumes 1-5 shipped out. The color is what sets you apart from the rest of the crowd.