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Let's talk comic strip

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Let's talk comic strip

Post by Kathy on Fri 5 Aug - 20:04

I'd love to try my hand at a comic strip and have an idea for one. I keep coming up with "episodes" or strip stories and would like to have y'all join in a discussion about how to develop a strip.

I'd like to start with discussing the main character(s). Seems like most of the best strips have just 2 or maybe 3 main characters, a handfull of supporting characters you frequently see, and then however many extras they need or want.

My idea has too many main characters! I've got, like, 5. Do you think I should combine some of the traits, to have a smaller cast? Or maybe pick a couple to be the Main Ones (like Charlie Brown and Snoopy are main characters in Peanuts) and then use the other three as a close second (like Linus and Lucy are quite prevalent in the strip.) Or is 5 OK?

Let's discuss!

Kathy

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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by DaD O Matic on Fri 5 Aug - 21:03

Hi Kathy.
I don't really do strips just what comes out based on a loose idea.Some characters seem to develop themselves.
I have an evil genius who goes by the name commander, but his name really is Dr. Zot,he was created in a lab using cell stems and a bio genetic zygot,then there are the TRO-GEN O BOTS.cyborg like soildiers who really just like puppies,facebook and being social.
I personally don't use borders with any of my work,I make my own word balloons and print my own words ,I know I could use software,I just like this, it's real, personal I want to connect to the viewer.
I say Kathy just do it, there is no right or wrong. Your strip will find the right amount of caracters and the strongest ones will prevail.
Anyway thats how it works for me. Hope that helped looking foward to seeing it.
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Kathy on Sun 7 Aug - 0:15

Maybe no right or wrong, but some set ups are stronger than others. I'd like to start as best as I can-hopefully strong. And I'd like to have characters developed a bit right from the start so I don't flounder around trying to figure out "Thats funny, but which character would say it?" or trying to figure out why something doesn't work. It might be that the character is vague. I'd like to try to avoid that because I'm sure I'll gave enough trouble with other things!
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Steve B on Sun 7 Aug - 18:29

Hi Kathy

I would humbly suggest no more than three main characters. I've done two strips in my time (one is still ongoing) First one had just one character, the one I'm doing now has three. Just my op of course.
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Simon Lake on Sun 7 Aug - 19:12

I think 5 is okay but not a lot more than that. They all have to have certain Personality traits and that could be a bit tough to keep up with with more than 5. The whole idea about a Strip is to sustain an idea and target a specific Audience be it Hustler Magazine or Farmers Weekly. Try to focus on something that you are enthusiastic about. If you like taking baths do a Strip about rubber ducks for example. This will serve to maintain your interest and theirs which will give you the mileage to keep doing it and bieng as funny as possible.
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Kathy on Mon 8 Aug - 3:20

So, maybe 2 or 3 main characters, with 2 or 3 being supporting characters that are frequently seen. I think I can work with that.

I think what I'll do next is try to develop the characters a bit, sort of define what their personallities are like, motivations, etc. That will help me to write things that work better for each character.

Anyone want to share their writing tips or advice?
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Steve B on Mon 8 Aug - 17:37

Advice - study the people around you. I get inspired a lot that way Very Happy If yiou find yourself in situations where you are surrounded by clueless people consider that a bonus.
Seriously.
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Simon Lake on Mon 8 Aug - 18:09

So then the clue is to try and find these people and infiltrate their envioronment and do some rough sketches and take notes? Right, I'm off to the Loony Bin with my Compaq. I've just ordered a Cab.

Hahahaha only joking Steve. Yes I know where you're coming from. Might as well get some mileage out of them and they aren't that hard to find after all. Potential Viewers will empathise with you to a certain degree with this and it can be milked.

However, in retrospect you could also have like the really clever characters in the same Strip that clash with them. This could be going somewhere. You could call it Dumb and not Dumber?
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Steve B on Mon 8 Aug - 18:22

Simon I realize it sounds cruel in these politically correct times but nonetheless....
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Simon Lake on Mon 8 Aug - 18:26

No I wasn't having a go at all. I agree with you. Don't think I'm bieng condesending or anything and if you don't do it then I will.
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Steve B on Mon 8 Aug - 18:31

er.. I do it all the time actually Very Happy
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Kathy on Mon 8 Aug - 20:04

Not cruel at all, people are idiots! I used to sell handmade soap and people would ask how to use it (?!)

My characters are dogs, and I love to put animals in human situations, so thats actually great advice! Just go to any store or anyplace where there are groups of people and it's kind of like, they write the jokes for you, you just have to capture it.
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Steve B on Mon 8 Aug - 20:44

Agreed - your soap story reminds me of a clever local girl who makes hand made soap which look like cakes and fruit. You know what - the standards department stopped her as they deemed them too realistic and therefore dangerous, True story btw
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Kathy on Mon 8 Aug - 21:58

OMG, how stupid!

OK, so, clueless people, check. Plenty of material available there!

Now, how about lettering? What do you like to use? Your own handwriting? A standard text font? A special cartoon font?

Edit: Here's an interesting site with fonts: http://www.blambot.com/fonts.shtml


Last edited by Kathy on Mon 8 Aug - 22:00; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Add link)
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Steve B on Mon 8 Aug - 22:06

For my strips I use a font called Twelve Ton Fishsticks. It was very much an on-the-spot decision when I started the strip. There is plenty of free stuff out there. Own handwriting is good (very very personalized) if you have that luxury called time.

G'night I need my sleep now......zzzzzz...zzzz.....zzz
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Simon Lake on Mon 8 Aug - 22:12

Agreed a decent not too recognisable font is half the battle. Don't even try hand writing waste of time. Don't use Comic Sans whatever you do. Draw your Strip frames around the speech bubbles not the other way round. Viewers will be reading the Strip not looking at the Artwork.
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by DaD O Matic on Tue 9 Aug - 1:31

wow........I draw from the world around me,but I stay neutral and focus it on the paper.
And to each their own, what works for 1 artist, well...

MHO, characters evolve, somrtimes they have to crawl before they can walk. a good example is the Simpsons, They started off as a snipet on Tracy Ullman Show (think that's her last name, been some years) and became more complex as the show evolved.

Not being formally trained I can try anything, sometimes it works sometimes no.But I would'nt know unless I have done it. Everything to gain, nothing to lose,I will never find these things wastes of time.
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Kathy on Tue 9 Aug - 3:52

I don't have the patience for nice, consistent handwriting! I'll go with a font....

More tomorrow...
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Kathy on Tue 9 Aug - 15:33

Yeah, I'm beginning to think the way to work this all out is to jump in and see where it goes.

I started gathering all the scraps of paper I've written notes on while at work, where I usually get ideas because my job can be boring. Got out a notebook and started scribbling out possible layouts and dialog.

In the past, my drawing process was sketch, scan, and draw in Illustrator. I know that many cartoonists use pen or brush with ink. I'd like to give that a try but so far I haven't spent the money for supplies. I will probably attempt a hand drawn look in Illustrator, simply because it's what I have and I already know how to use it.

I don't have a name for my strip... so it will probably be nameless for now.

What is your process from idea to finished strip?
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Andries on Wed 10 Aug - 1:52

It is not probably nameless. It IS nameless. :p

The creation of a strip from Idea to finished strip (The way I do it):
Idea
Rethink idea: can it be funier, can the texts be shorter?
Sketch
(I always think about the colors and the composition AFTER I finish the sketch, and then I am to lazy to change things. >_< That is absolutely wrong, and i SHOULD do this different. If you want to make a good looking strip, make 2 or 3 quick minidrawings of the image to find out the composition that feels the best to look at. (roughly aply golden ratios in your image, don't place faces, textbaloons and other 'eye catchers' exactly in the center of your panels.)) (This looks like a lot of work, but give it a try and see if it works for you.)
Ink
Scan
Color with GIMP.
(Since I did a painting course I am more aware of how the use of colors could improve my drawings. A white cube under a lamp becomes yellowish, while the same cube laying in the sun is plain white (with a bit blueish shadows). Things that are far away look colder/blue-er(You can see this good on pictures of mountains, or landscapes)) (Where in your drawing do you want contrast, and where do you want things to 'blend' in?)

Golden ratio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio

My next post will be about the 'idea' part. :p

Simon, you're right about the people only reading the text, but still... It's just awesome to make beautitull drawings! Smile
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Kathy on Wed 10 Aug - 14:46

Andries wrote:It is not probably nameless. It IS nameless. :p


Very Happy Very Happy True!!

Thank you for posting! I look forward to hearing your input on "ideas". At the moment, I'm just scribbling stuff in a notebook and trying to organize things, maybe come up with a few strips in a row that carry through on one storyline.

I never thought about the golden rule - yes, I'm familiar with it, and that's good advice! Helpful when thinking about layout, to come up with things that are not so static.
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Andries on Wed 10 Aug - 15:57

Ideas (How to work an idea out after you got some vague glimp of an idea):
-> Think about your idea, do any funny extra ideas come to you?
->What is your subject?
-> For who are you drawing your strip?
-> Who are your characters? -> Write a small introduction about the characters to get to know them well. Is one of them a genius, charlatan or clown? Who are the protagonists and who are the antagonists?
-> Make sketches of your characters, and change whatever you want until you have a character that fits with the small introduction. (A genius might have glasses and a lab-coat, while an adventurer needs an awesome hat.)
-> begin with some small 3-panel jokes, and practice enough to make your characters look consistent. (Lay-out is extremely important! Keep enough space for textballoons and stuff. What might help is to analyze some cartoons you like and check where the characters an balloons are, where the visual point of gravity is, and how much space the different objects take.)

You know what? perhaps I should start a thread on analizing cartoons just to show what I exactly try to say. (But not now :p)

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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Kathy on Wed 10 Aug - 17:11

Good idea for a new thread!

Now, thinking of the characters...is there a need, in a comic strip, to have a antagonist? If we look at comic strips being published now, I see that For Better or For Worse doesn't really have one. Frazz and Zits don't really have an antagonist, either. Get Fuzzy does (Bucky the cat). And the old Peanuts strip, we had Lucy. So it sort of looks like you can chose to have one, or not, and the strip can still work
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Andries on Wed 10 Aug - 17:36

Yes. As long as you think about it it's okay. Wink
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Re: Let's talk comic strip

Post by Simon Lake on Mon 15 Aug - 5:44

Duncan will be back. He's just in limbo atm......

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