Thursday, July 12, 2007

Makin' Comics!

Contractors Bill and Mike Trombley are hammering and nail-gunning outside, getting the roof of the deck on; I was up and had my morning chores completed by 6:30, just in time for Bill and son Mike's arrival.

They got a lot done yesterday, despite the rains; the vinyl siding removed from the work area facing, the walls framed and up, and a bit more. I lugged the scraps down to put out with our garbage this morning, and today promises to be a sunny day all day, so it'll be interesting to see how much goes up today. Marge is overjoyed this is all happening, and we're looking forward to enjoying the new addition to the home by the end of next week.

Dave Gabriel will be back up next week, sheet rocking the rest of the basement at last (he's had to wait for me to clear the last of my boxes from that end of the basement area; it's about done) -- then, the rest of the shelving and the small office area will go in. I still have to paint the rest of the basement floor, too, between now and two weekends from now -- it'll all get done.

Thursday AM, Day Four of this summer's first Center for Cartoon Studies summer workshop. Yesterday was a heady day of drawing, coordinating and keeping everyone on task (not a hard job) as the rain and lightning came and went outside.

The magnum opus of this first workshop (the second, separate workshop next week will have its own epic comic creation marathon) is a variation on a mega-battle comic assignment James Sturm had cooked up for his freshman Cartooning class this past spring. To ensure a multitude of imaginary participants, and the full participation of everyone in our class (18 students this time around; we aim for 20-25, so this is a great quorum), the exercises leading up to this two-day-comic-creation/publishing marathon included (a) creating 'composite creatures,' a pair of 'em, from which each student chose their favorite and named it; (b) creating two additional characters, a hero/protagonist and villain/protagonist.

Thus, Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, I created a 'game chart' featuring combos of every character, using the creatures as villain 'sidekicks' or minions -- choose your poison. This ensured a lively mix of characters, and ensured too we could make sure no one worked on a character they'd created (hence, had a stake in ensuring survived), as I assigned the initial matches. It was up to each team of two whether the characters assigned were in conflict, harmony, clashing or simply meeting -- all that mattered is that they determined which character or characters survived the encounter to make it to the next level.

Some teams were surprisingly productive, getting through two (even three!) laps by lunch, others creating more than one page for each encounter; others took their time with their page or pages, focusing on care and quality over quantity. Everyone has done a tremendous amount of work, and the results are very cool.

By the end of the day, we had two teams of 4 and one of 5 ready to leap into major matches of long-surviving characters to kick off their work this morning, and one more team of two to turn in their second effort. Lively fun, all the way around! By 4:30 PM, when class ended, we had 32 completed pages on the wall and a student-penciled back cover (by Brendan, and it's a good one) I've inked this morning.

Thus far, Jumbo Arachnopian, Insecta Bear, Mechanical Menace, Ligleish, Purepeace and Apewolf, Mrs. Wasp and Cuddles, John Glenn (the aging astronaut), Sloppy Joe, Captain Cannon, Bobby Foliage, The Lobbyist, Kirk the Alien, The Businessman, Robert the Shy Ninja of Good, Zog the Destroyer, Dr. Deathskull McDeathyDeath, Babrar, Stickfigure Satan and The Meep, Louis (from the planet Omega-Dufin), The Bear Guy, Sticky Monktil and Vortor have snuffed it -- and that was just the first round. More have bitten the virtual dust since, while diehards like Wolor Burtle, Beekeeper and Beelock, Jenkins & Wade and the minimalist but tough-as-nails One Bad Mother are riding high, but that all changes for most of 'em this morning.

It's going to be a wild morning! We also vote on our comic's title from a list of potential names posted in front of the classroom all day yesterday -- then we get cooking on the cover title logo, cover, and other components.

This afternoon, Robyn Chapman supervises the publishing workshop, turning the raw material into a completed, printed, saddle-stitched 8 1/2" x 11" comic zine: the product of the entire class's work together. Everyone goes home with a copy of the comic they had an active hand in, featuring their characters: a real high for many of these young and young-at-heart cartoonists!

Robyn wrote and penciled a four-panel, one-page humor strip, ostensibly for my inking demonstration -- but now that it's done, I'm hoping we can incorporate the strip into the final zine as our sort-of Murray Boltinoff 'gag' comic page. We'll see. Whatever shape the final comic takes, I'm looking forward to it...

OK, off to work. Have a Great Thursday, one and all!

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