Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cartooning 101: Storytelling

First off, if you haven't seen the previous post, go check it out and come right back. The image above is the final art that you should compare with the original art that I drew and displayed in the previous post. Got that? Excellent.

Now, this new strip from The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake was delayed a bit, and I apologize. The end of the year was full of all sorts of unhappy events, and then the Holidays hit, and well, it's been tough.

Also, I had a wee bit of a dilemma in the story department. I've mentioned this before, probably, but there are different WAYS of telling a story. One way is to plot it all out, and then write/illustrate it. The other, just as admirable, is to plot just a little bit, then write/illustrate, and then plot some more, then write... and so on.

If you are working for an Editor, or doing a monthly comic, then chances are that you are working in the first way. The advantage to this technique is that you know exactly what is going to happen and how everything is going to end, and you can use foreshadowing and other techniques of great literature to their best advantage. The other method, the one I am employing now, allows the story to develop, sometimes in surprising manners!

Bill Watterson of Calvin & Hobbes fame used this technique in some of his storylines, and like me, enjoyed the surprises that occured when his characters took the story and ran with it. Another advantage is that you, and the story, grow over time, and so you can easily add new developments that might not have occured to you earlier. I certainly didn't see the strip with Steven Knight playing with puppets when I first conceived this story, and yet it has led to not only a funny strip but to Steven becoming a part of the story in today's strip, and later, we'll see he is the narrator and author of the story!

A disadvantage is that sometimes the clock runs out and you panic because the story hasn't opened itself up to you! In this particular case, I wasn't sure if it should be Iris in the water, or her father Steven, or a brand new character we haven't met yet. In fact, we might not meet her at all.... I really haven't decided. Adding a new character can be exciting, or it could just complicate things, and make things crowded.

If I was doing this full time, instead of part time, I might have more time to plot, and the strips would be on time more often. :0)

Then again, I have three endings written so far for this story, and even I don't know which one will be THE ONE!

Exciting, isn't it? And that's just one example of how much fun this job could be.

Cheers, JOHN :0)


Brian Hughes said...

Happy New Year John! (It's got nothing to do with your posting, I know, but I wanted to say it anyhow.)

John said...

Perfectly all right, old chap, and a smashing 2009 to you as well!

I wish I could personally give 2008 the boot on his behind, and bid this year a fond getouttahere. I look forward to a changing of the guard, and hope that 2009 serves us all a heck of a lot better than that blighter 2008.

Cheers, and Happy Happy!

JOHN :0)