When I write my comics, I like to have a good sense of where the action will be taking place, even it doesn’t always end up on the page visible to the reader. Case in point is the location for the current sequence in my Watusi comic strip, “Archibald’s Antiques”:
I wanted readers to see that it was a classy establishment, in direct contrast to the junk shop esthetic of Watusi’s friend Eric George’s “…Another Man’s Treasure” that played host to earlier scenes in the storyline. So I spent a bit of time to work it out before I had to draw it into a panel of the strip. Unfortunately once that time arrived, in order for the Watusi figure to be large enough to have any sense of expression, there wasn’t room to show as much of the building as I’d hoped, which is why readers saw so little of it in the strip. At least I should be able to convey a better sense of the richness of the store as the sequence moves inside beginning this week.
Still, I don’t see that prep work as time wasted, as it better informs my sense of setting, which helps me picture new sequences in my mind before I start putting pen to paper for the final art. In fact, I do this quite a lot, and often use buildings I’ve been in or pass by regularly as a source of inspiration for these locales. In this storyline alone, I’ve used a flea market I frequented when I lived in Wichita as a kid, my local senior services building, a stately house I pass by on my way to work, and a downtown shoe store (mixed with elements of an antique mall in downtown Topeka).
My original mixed media (watercolor, color pencil, laser print) drawing of “Archibald’s Antiques” was displayed in last fall’s Drawing Frenzy exhibit in KC, but for those of you who missed it, here it is once again: