I just realized that I hadn't gotten around to posting the color version of page 8. Here it is. Click to enlarge:
There seems to be a lot of disagreement about the usefulness of sound effects. The anti-SFX people point out that big words look cheesy, cover up the linework, and ruin the general fine-artness of things. The pro-SFX partisans counter that sounds can make things more visceral and engage the other senses (if indirectly).
Then there's Japan. They'll add a sound effect for a gentle breeze or the sound of somebody blinking. This tool must have some value if it's been used for decades on multiple continents. Then again, so has dynamite. That doesn't mean I should use it to loosen a stuck spark plug.
I guess the real question is whether sound effects make sense for Nonplayer. I started out staunchly against them, but was surprised to discover that some pages seemed to come to life when I added them. Of course, I then went whole hog and put in too many, in some cases ruining entire pages. In the end, as with every other part of the book, it came down to trying every panel both ways and keeping the changes that worked. I ended up with a comic that has some loud events that go completely unlabeled and some muted events that make little noises. Did I make the right choices? I don't know!
That leads to a bigger concern: when Nonplayer gets printed, I'll be opening myself up to a kind of criticism that I've never experienced before. The internet is pretty polite when you're a nobody, but as soon as your name shows up in Previews, the gloves come off. I feel like I'm asking the web to kick me in the jimmy.
I'll say it right now: my comic has flaws. Sometimes it looks to me like it's made up of nothing but flaws. It's hard to resist preempting my critics by listing what's wrong right here. At least then I'll have scooped the griefers.
But that's a pretty unhealthy way to think, right? After all, one person's mistake is another's charming idiosyncrasy. I bet Geof Darrow felt like he'd totally blown it when he finished Hard Boiled (when in fact he had made one of the raddest things ever). Not that I'm anywhere near his level of bodaciousness, but who knows -- maybe some of my mistakes won't seem so big when I look back at them in a few years.
I guess this is the lesson I'm trying to learn this month: drawing a comic (or creating anything to share with others) requires a willingness to make highly-visible errors. Mistakes are like little badges that say "I'm trying as hard as I can." With comics, books, and movies (not so much with food), I care less and less whether something is good or bad. What matters is whether the creator is trying.
There's a lot of very polished, mistake-free art made by people who aren't pushing themselves at all, and there's some really terrible art created by people who are putting everything they've got into what they're doing. I prefer the second category of creators (not to mention, if someone's that into what they're doing, they'll have a hard time staying bad). I wonder if this accounts for the well-documented rock band trajectory -- proficiency usually increases over time as obvious flaws are polished away, yet the earliest albums are often the most prized. It's not that missteps necessarily make the early stuff more enjoyable (though sometimes they do), but they seem like an unavoidable consequence of pushing through unknown territory.
For all of Nonplayer's shortcomings, I feel I can say one thing with confidence: I gave my best effort. In what is surely a first in my creative life, I have no cause for regret. And if the script is any indication, issue #2 will drag me even further into Terra Incognita. There are eight pages in a fish market. Boy, I bet I'll know how to draw fish after I'm done with that one.
Anyway, see you in Previews. My jimmy awaits.
Bernie Wrightson 1948–2017
1 week ago