Happy Throwback Thursday! This weeks art from the archives is Crows Be Prepared, an evergreen story I feel is just as relevant today as it was when I wrote it. Mostly I just wanted to draw a crow in an army helmet. Mission accomplished!
Let’s talk about that thing you’re working on.
I know it’s been hard finding time to work on it. Time of any meaningful length is a unicorn. Family, responsibilities, work, chores, everything. But you found time.
Between tasks at work, on the bus commute, before bed, or before breakfast.
Instead of spending an hour endlessly scrolling through social media.
Here and there.
You penny-jarred the hell out of your thing. And now it’s done.
Sure, there were challenges. The kids took your thing-space for home schooling. Finicky tools. The internet is a fun-house mirror.
But they are all in the past.
You took what was a passing electrical spark in your brain, and turned it into something tangible. That’s amazing. Good work.
And now, it’s time for the next thing. It will be even better than your last thing.
I can’t wait to see it.
It’s Throwback Thursday at Survival Anxiety Comics! Remember the Zika Virus? The Crows remember in this week’s archive gem Crows and the Zika Virus.
The Zika epidemic was a hot news item in 2016, and mosquitoes got most of the (deserved) flak for spreading it. The Zika virus was a big concern for pregnant women, who could pass it on to their fetus, potentially causing brain anomalies. Adults could suffer rapid muscle weakness. There was also concern for the athletes participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Simpler times, am I right? Mosquitoes ruin every party.
When working on the character design for the crows, I had envisioned one crow to be kind of dumb, while the other was smart. It’s a common setup. I got bored with it. The smart one became kind of condescending, at least in my mind. I wondered why they would even be hanging out together if that was their dynamic. The crows are supposed to be friends, with differing points of view and experiences. So I eventually eased off on dumb vs smart characteristics, and in more recent comics especially, they compliment each other better. I feel like they’re becoming a bit more like an avian Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets. Judgemental about human behaviour, but certainly not without their own flaws.
I used Clip Studio Paint for this comic, although I think it was called Manga Studio 2016. I’m going to stop saying that every time I mention Clip Studio Paint. A comic lettering process I used at the time was to lay out all the dialog text with the Text Tool, then I traced the letter characters with a lettering brush. Something akin to a tech pen. I still use this process for digital illustrations. It feels a bit mechanical here, because I was just figuring it out. The goal was to have comic lettering that visually fit with the cartoon art, and was more unique than a comic lettering font. And tidy. Very tidy lettering.
Of course, today I hand letter all my comics, and it’s a glorious mess, but that’s a blog post for another time.
Thanks for reading!
Pity Party – Page 4 is well under way. The pencils are done, and I’ll start inks tomorrow. The Ideas Room is about to get a bit more dangerous, as some old and bitter ideas are released! Yikes! Be careful what you think.
My pencils are a mess, but I don’t like to think too much when I start inking. I want all the visual math to be sorted out in pencil. I have a rough version of this page sketched on a comic template I print on letter sized paper. I copy that sketch onto bristol, add all the missing detail, sleep on it, add some more detail, line up the lettering, sleep on it some more, then boom! Ready for ink. Comics are easy!
I pencil with 4H graphite in an old mechanical pencil. It’s a very light line. I darkened this image in Affinity Photo so you could actually see the pencil. I prefer a harder graphite for this stage – there is less smudging, and it erases easily. For lettering I pencil with non photo blue, also in a mechanical pencil. The ink I use for lettering fades too much when an eraser is applied, and non photo blue pencil doesn’t need to be erased. I could just use non photo blue for all the lines, but I do a lot of thinking in pencil, and blue is harder to erase. You can probably see that in this scan. It would just be a blue page. Like looking at a summer sky.
If you aren’t familiar with non photo blue pencils, the primary benefit of them is they won’t be seen by the scanner, when scanning line art in black & white. After scanning the artwork, I apply a threshold adjustment layer in Affinity Photo. This effectively removes any line lighter than the black ink lines – so I don’t have to spend much time erasing graphite lines before scanning, either.
This Thursday is another Throwback! See you then!
Page 3 of 7. New comics pages will be uploaded as they are finished. All completed pages can be read together here.
View Comic Transcript
Pity Party - Page 3
Comic written and illustrated by Ryan Reid
Panel 1: DEATH looks over shelves full of ideas related to his stories. He munches popcorn.
Oh! Look at all the peculiar ways people die.
Panel 2: The CROWS look over shelves of ideas related to their stories.
Look at all the peculiar ways people live!
Judgement for days!
Panel 3: FRANCIS finds an entire room devoted to exploring the multiverse.
There’s an entire wing of stupid space adventures!
Panel 4: The CARTOONIST and ROBOT investigate other shelves full of ideas. The IDEAS are represented by all manner of things - from BOOKS, to JARS to STRANGE UNKNOWABLE MACHINES. The CARTOONIST looks at a JAR that eerily looks back at him.
No one should see any of these. None of them are any good.
ROBOT (accidentally drops a fragile idea)
That’s not…Oh! Er, maybe not that one…
Panel 5: ROBOT and the CARTOONIST look at a huge PAINTING hanging on a wall. Only the bottom part of the painting can be seen, showing the shoes of a female person and a male person.
Who are these two?
They’re in a story I’m writing now. I don’t know if I can finish it…do you smell smoke?
Panel 6: FRANCIS runs down a corridor toward CROW 1. SMOKE fills the room. FRANCIS is in a panic.
HEY! Did you start that fire?!
CROW 1 (definitely started the fire)
The squirrel ideas must be destroyed.
Panel 7: FRANCIS frantically puts out the fire with a FIRE EXTINGUISHER. DEATH and CROW 2 wander in, wearing SOMBREROS and drinking MARGARITAS. DEATH still has his POPCORN BOWL, but now CROW 2 is lounging in it.
Where have you two been?!
DEATH (obviously been drinking)
We found a great idea for a Mexican cantina on level 12!
CROW 2 (very obviously been drinking)