Monday, July 27, 2009

ZX page 8: Emotional Blackmail

I'm fond of this page for a couple of reasons. One is good characterization. The other is a small bit you might not have noticed on the first read: look how the talk bubble in the third panel with the angular mouth trail cuts through the black sphere in the background, and in the next panels, gradually dissolves the blackness between them. I like that.

This is the end of chapter 2, so the page appropriately trails off towards white. Next up, videogames!!

P.S. Vacations were great :D


Monday, July 20, 2009

ZX page 7: Better Living Through Employment

Will write more when I return from vacation in 4 days. Fast post for now! Take care!

PS. This is where I get kinda fed up with the computer lettering even for the English versions and I start hand-lettering from the next page. Probably regrettable!


Monday, July 13, 2009

ZX page 6: Reflection Cascade

This page and the one after it were the first major hurdle in making this comic. I'm at page 15 now so looking back I can sorta see how I am struggling with writing a woman. I am not a woman, though my flowing beautiful locks befi... uh. It's difficult to write about what you don't know, and I have to constantly remind myself that we're all people in the end, made of people-stuff. And also, well I'm certain this won't win me any fans but in the spirit of no shames and all that, I *do* have to fight off an amount of misogyny when writing women, this reactionary urge to write them as if they're fundamentally shallow. I shall explain myself before my throat is spectrally cut.

To rationalize this fault I'd have to say that since romantically I've only been interested in women, I've had my emotions toyed & tampered with and ultimately abused by only by women. Amazing cruelty and crassness and often unapologetic baseness, you know how it is. I'm certain that the other half of the population gets treated similarly by men and that gender, and to degrees, social and communal status probably don't have much to do with anything. We're all half-blind, fumbling and pawing our ways through dim and brittle paths to each others psyches. Damage must occur.

So, writing Mary (Marina, in Greek) is difficult because I want to be fair to her and her concerns, but I do not want her to be an author insertion (there's plenty of that elsewhere), nor do I want her to be 'easily likable', or sexy fanservice (which sickens me as a concept to tell the truth). I want alienation and emotional convergence in equal amounts, and whereas when I write Stephan and ZX my bearings are true because this is my life I'm talking about (they basically write themselves, seriously, you should see my rambling drafts. Not much is amended or left out), Mary comes from an outside perspective:

I'm often preoccupied with the 'dull burdens' of everyday middle-class life, not so much because they're fascinating in themselves but in how we manage to extract perfect amounts of misery from them. Even though our basic needs are met, we're not starving to death, think of the children in Africa, etc... So in pondering young women I find my myind wandering around the complexities of their 'social obligations' towards family, expected communal status and so on. I haven't had to deal with this in my own life a lot because I self-identified with a concept of an 'artist' pretty early in my teenager years and I hid behind the aloofness this concept allows for for a long time (well... still, I guess). Girls are much more tormented with being what they're supposed and expected to be societally, and especially if they develop the necessary skills to cloak their own emergent teenager personalities behind those socially-pleasing, overachieving masks, they tend to not develop in a way I'd judge (sorry) as evenly paced. Namely, they seem to skip adolescence. They go straight from being children, to being adults (as least as far as the outer world is concerned). So whereas they appear much more mature, much earlier than teenage boys, after the social motiffs of schooling/higher education and the straightforward life goals that come with them effectively run out (via achievement), they're often confronted with large gaps in their personal expression. Mary is an exploration of this, I suppose, but not an intentionally cruel one. You'll see where this goes as the comic progresses.

For lovers of comic theory, check out the almost panel-by-panel visual counterpoint to the wording of the inner monologue. The theme of reflection especially, colors the morphology of this page.

Thank you for reading, as always. Comment and make the reclusive artist happy

- Helm

P.S. check out those mad torrents running overnight


Monday, July 6, 2009

ZX page 5: Embarassing Family Photographs

Don't you feel really weird when new people come to your place and check out the family photographs?

This is a formalist variation to just a straight strip of rectangles. I feel it's pretty successful in summing up the background of Mary. We'll catch a glimpse of current motivation in Chapter 2, which is 4 pages, sadly it's mostly internal monologue, but I've tried a few tricks to keep it interesting, we'll talk about them when we get there.

Her hand in the last frame is really big and I need to fix that for the final release.

On other news, I am going to finish page 12 today. I'm lagging behind a day or so! For shame!!

Do communicate with the lonely author if you get the time, feedback is really appreciated. I'll repress the urge to urge the urge in the readers to tell their friends about this comic and this blog because judging from the google analytics, ~500 hits a week and ~5 minutes on average on site seem just about right.

You know what else? The summer is beautiful here in Greece even if it's terribly hot. It's difficult to not dream up positive futures in this country. I've travelled a bit around the world with the company of wonderful people (who are currently convening in Florida without me :( ) and I don't think I really could live anywhere without such a pleasant climate, such beautiful sky and wonderful beaches. Not that I've been at any beach yet, but I'll kidnap my girlfriend and take her somewhere... soon. "Paleflesh nerd making long-format comic, doesn't go anywhere" will have to be a cliche to combat! But it's so difficult, because a page takes 3.5 days to do right. One for conceptualizing and drafting and penciling (this REALLY should have been 2 or even 3 days if I could spare them because a lot of little errors in fundamentals are creeping in, but they're pretty negligible I hope) and 2 for inking and .5 for lettering in two languages. About 5 hours a day, man. And yes, I know, you people working real jobs are scoffing right now at my part time creative haven of an occupation but do keep in mind: a) I'm not getting paid. This creates unfortunate psychological effects, like bouts of 'who am I kidding? This isn't worth it, go get a real job' b) 5 hours of creative work a day are very taxing on the primate brain. Lots of artistic decisions every minute, and lastly c) my brother has moved out and taken black thing with him!!

He's happy with him and his girlfriend, but... but... I love him so much :(

I went to visit them at their house-warming party and he crawled on my shoulder and nuzzled around my neck, he hasn't forgotten me. He purred and purred and I asked him "do you want me to take you with me?" and he extended his claws slightly and prickled me playfully at the neck. I DON'T KNOW HOW TO TAKE THIS. And then when I left I heard him crying above in the apartment. He never cries!! :( Man, it's taking its toll on me, the lack of black thing.

At least I still have Cat!!

So... enough of that. How's the summer going for you fleshy bags of emotions?


:( black thing :(