Joking aside though that was a horrendous gap between pages. One I can’t afford to repeat.
It wasn’t as though I spent those weeks on self-appointed holiday as I have been working steadily but the page ending up taking forever. I’d call it burnout, but given how modest my output is I’m not sure that’s an acceptable excuse; to put it crudely my drawing mojo was off kilter and besides a forceful effort to get the project back on track, I had to take a few days out sketching unrelated stuff to rediscover my inspiration. I still can’t promise weekly updates every time, but I’ll do my damnedest to push ahead all the same.
In spite of the shocking delay however – or more likely because of it – this is definitely one of my better pages. Previous efforts have often had areas of clunky composition, wasted space or jarring flow but here the layout seems pretty efficient and streamlined. An additional longshot may have been good but besides that it all appears to hang together nicely and for once there doesn’t appear to be any wasted space.
In regards to shading and colour, I peeled back the heavy black shadows of the previous scenes to alleviate some of the intensity and cool off after the last few pages, there’s still tension but I don’t want to overcook it.
In lieu of the heavy shadows I tried to introduce a little more depth to the colouring and experimented with a few new techniques which proved remarkably successful; I’ve applied hints of blue/purple to darker areas while making the highlights more dynamic and detailed. The green saturated lighting scheme might be stretching realism a bit at this point but since it’s a comic I think some flexibility can be afforded for the sake of visual expression.
The ghostly look of the reflection in the mirror was something improvised quite late on but it seems fitting, besides clearly showing it to be a reflection it seems to emphasise the sickly panic on Curt’s face while giving Scratch an appropriately ghoulish quality – getting slightly pretentious I could also make a point of how the shine marks on the mirror appear to fracture her figure, foreshadowing a somewhat fractured character.
On the page content itself: I changed quite a bit from the script here simply because much of it just didn’t seem natural on review. Scratch was originally far too chatty, while it stuck me that given Curt’s personality he’d be more likely to babble anxiously in a tense situation than become laconic. Additionally Scratch was far more aggressive and hands on with him but as with much I’ve reconsidered it struck me as heavy-handed and largely unnecessary – in short it’s a case of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).
Finally, I’d like to conclude with a more general thought regarding motif.
When I talked about my project with Paul Gravett he was very insistent that I implement reoccurring motifs and iconography. At the time I decided to let them ‘emerge gradually rather than being heavy handedly emphasised‘ and as I hoped I feel like some have begun to develop.
For one there’s barcodes. I have a general fascination with them, but beyond aesthetic I suppose the reason they’ve appeared so frequently is to enforce the idea of what a blurred divide between humanity and technology entails. Considering cybernetic prostheses as products (which they undeniably are in this scenario) does that by extension make the owner a kind of walking product? Even on an everyday level, couldn’t fashion and various other bought accessories we use to define ourselves have a similar effect? Are our identities themselves a kind of product, marketed to the world around us?
Thus far these barcodes have been on bulkheads, luggage and ID badges but here on Scratch’s eye is the first instance where it’s literally a part of someone. It’s not an entirely original concept as similar things have been done in Gibson’s Neuromancer and Ghost in the Shell but it seems a logical – though frankly chilling – direction for cyborg technologies to go in.
On a more shallow level I’ve also inadvertently been using danger stripes a lot, something which has less of a basis in thematic backing and more in striking imagery/lack of imagination on my part. They seem fitting though in the sense that Branch is a hazardous place and right from the off Curt has been walking into rising danger – it’s a motif that needs more development but it’s a start. There is one other detail I’ve been repeating for a while now but I think it’s too early to give the game away on that one, I want to see if anyone notices it and figures out the plot hint ;)
I’ve babbled on more than enough for now so I think I’ll call it and promise more of something soon!