And here we see the refinement of the elements. As I continued to sketch out designs for characters, I found myself becoming more drawn to more “cartoonish” elements. This is building on what I was talking about last time, in which I was trying to move away from the tendency to make characters overly “realistic.”
So here I learn some key tenets of character design— that you don’t have to overdo it, mainly. You need some key features— maybe the shape of the jaw, a hairdo, a certain hair style, a nose shape. FEELS is perhaps easier due to the fact that it’s in color, which is a certainly easy way to differentiate characters. But it’s here that little things work their way into the characters— France’s hair clip and scarf. Violet’s nose ring and bangs. Sean’s giant hair.
You can see that I have arrows pointing to two designs. At the time of this page, that seemed the best direction to go. But beneath those two designs are two more that are much closer to how the characters end up looking.
Another thing (perhaps the most obvious) that separates the characters is the coloring of their speech bubbles. This is one of those other ideas that I’ve had for a really long time. FEELS seemed like a good opportunity to do that, simply because it was a project with more main characters than I’d ever attempted before.
Doing something “creative” with the speech bubbles is something I’ve been interested forever, with my first long form comic projects both employing strange tactics (a project called Youth which had speech bubbles that would extend into the void of the gutter, which begat And The Birds Flew From The Trees, which used the same gimmick).
FEELS uses these hyper colorful speech bubbles not only to differentiate between characters, but also because of the eventual goal of approach to FEELS— just being hyper colorful in general. Of course, the way I have ended up coloring FEELS has changed from hyper color into sort of a “exaggerated insanity.” Or at least it seems that way to me. The Sears Tower (forever not Willis) in the first panel of FEELS doesn’t really look like the real colors— nor do the colors of the dorm hallways or dorm rooms. They’re off in this strange way, but even then it makes a certain sense, whether narratively or aesthetically. Aesthetically, it makes for a strange but uniform world. Narratively, all the characters are freshly deposited in a brand new world to them. For them, everything is new, even the colors. Eventually, the world will makes sense to them, as the color choice will make sense to the reader (if it doesn’t already— I’m certainly used to my choices).
I could go into another rabbit hole about “narrative,” but you know what? I think that’s best saved for NEXT TIME…
talkin bout process talkin bout color talkin bout FEELS
Iron Helix (Drew Pictures/Spectrum HoloByte - Sega CD - 1993)
What a kind of awful advert for Iron Helix on the Sega CD.
FEELS is an idea I’ve been kicking around probably since I was actually living in the time it takes place in.
Of course, at the time, I would never have done it— when I was at college, comics weren’t as accepted as they are now (even today, it’s still a struggle for some comics teachers). But still, the need to document was always strong in me.
The thing is, at the time, I was documenting the “wrong” things. But that’s how life works— the things you remember as “history” aren’t the moments you were concerning yourself with when they happened. FEELS takes place at a time when people are either trying to completely cut themselves off from high school, or struggling to define themselves in its absence. What’s funny is that I was certainly in the latter camp, despite considering high school to be “an awful experience.” (Funny because A) duh, it’s high school, it’s always bad and B) it was not that bad.)
So the story I’m going to tell with FEELS isn’t the one I was documenting. That story, of course (is it of course? now it is—) is the story of people becoming best friends. People discarding the pieces of themselves that they didn’t like, and finding the people who did the same.
Sure, that’s something that happens all the time, throughout everyone’s life. But it’s where I am right now. It’s what I want to tell. I find myself recounting stories like these often enough, I might as well do something with them.
And that’s key— I’m doing something with them. I’m not just telling them. To tell it “exactly how it happened” would be nice, but it would be boring, it would be unnecessary, it wouldn’t actually be a good story. FEELS is here so I can tell a good story.
It’s a challenge to myself.
The above page is some of the earliest character sketches from FEELS. Episode One was scripted before I had done any design work. I thought that it would just “flow” or whatever, but it really didn’t. I always have a tendency to over-work characters. My hand is oddly given to try to make things “more realistic,” which I often find is poison. The above page is rough (and it’s supposed to be), but even then, there’s a path to be seen.
Over at FEELS, I am continuing my process documentation. I hope it is interesting!
I have a solo exhibition opening this Friday, Sept. 5th from 5-8pm at Western Exhibitions: The Pleasure of Getting Lost
Come by and say hi!
And in the other corner,
Yes please, explain to me again how this has nothing to do with sexism.
[TRIGGER WARNING for EVERYTHING]
I hate all things masculine. I really do.
welcome to Earth, population: dirt.
Thanks once again for reading FEELS! If you haven’t read all of Episode One yet, remember that you can do so quite easily HERE. And so…
Welcome to the first Commercial Break!
FEELS is modeled (somewhat explicitly, I imagine) on television. This is something I will explain far more in detail over the next month or so before Episode Two “airs.” This post is designed to explain what exactly will happen between episodes of FEELS.
What will happen are these Commercial Breaks, where I will go into things like process, inspiration, tidbits of how I make FEELS. Why I called it FEELS. What I listen to when I make FEELS. What I think FEELS is about. What I hope is interesting about FEELS.
It’s going to be a lot of sketchbook work, and hopefully I’ll be answering some questions that you all have posed (HINT HINT ASK PLZ).
To start, here is a sketchbook page of a potential future FEELS comic (so, maybe spoilers, I guess?) The first and most important thing I want to nail home is that FEELS is not a memoir. It is drawn heavily from things that happened—and the above comic is based on an actual conversation— but if you see FEELS and ask me “is that me?” the answer is “no.” In any case, in the above comic, Nick gets embarrassed by Frances. There is also an unrelated drawing of a hand. It’s a sketchbook, deal with it.
This is just a little introduction to the Break. I will delve deeper into process on Thursday. Don’t forget to tell everyone ever about FEELS! I would really appreciate it!
I’ve been working for the last couple months on a mysterious new project called LOVESTREAMS. It’s going to stay mysterious for a while, but here are two little screenshots that don’t reveal too much about what’s going on. It’s set in 2002. It also might be part of a certain late night animation collection.
whoa did datastreams morph or is this an off shoot?
George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.
We will, of course, endure, and the city of New Orleans must come back. But looking at the pictures on television yesterday of a place abandoned to the forces of flood, fire and looting, it was hard not to wonder exactly how that is going to come to pass. Right now, hundreds of thousands of American refugees need our national concern and care. Thousands of people still need to be rescued from imminent peril. Public health threats must be controlled in New Orleans and throughout southern Mississippi. Drivers must be given confidence that gasoline will be available, and profiteering must be brought under control at a moment when television has been showing long lines at some pumps and spot prices approaching $4 a gallon have been reported.
Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president’s demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.
I have a strong memory of reading this New York Times editorial following Katrina. I lived in Richmond at the time but we’d come to New York because Julie was performing at a festival; for whatever reason we needed to do laundry and so I was sitting in a laundromat that is just around the corner from the old Pitchfork office on Grand Street in Williamsburg (the office is not there now and wasn’t then—we didn’t have a Brooklyn office at that point, and I was just a contributor to Pitchfork). And while I waited for the laundry I read the Times, looking for information on Katrina, and came across this editorial.
It was notable because in the first half of the last decade, the Times editorial page was remarkably deferential to Bush; it was deeply frustrating the extent to which they swallowed his line about Iraq. There was actually a great deal of skepticism about WMD in Iraq, but somehow little of it found its way here. And I really do remember the morning reading this thinking “maybe they’re finally coming around on this idiot” and they never really saw Bush the same way again. Possibly b/c of that the lede of this piece has stayed in my mind.(via markrichardson)
Trying to get into the mindset of 2005, where FEELS takes place, is interesting. Not to get too spoilery, but Katrina will obviously play a part in the story. Its tough to remember what it was like to have Bush at the head. What it was like for Kanye to say “George Bush doesnt like black people,” and only really comment on Mike Meyers’ terrified face.
Some things change, some things dont. Funny to remember what has.
It’s Movie Buddies episode 3 with special guest Scott Benson! This episode our jump off movie is David Lynch’s Dune. But we talk about a million other things as well.
Get ready to meet your new best friend Floyd: the king of cartoons.
Episode One, Part Thirty.
FEELS Episode One is done!
First, and obviously, thank you all for reading it, and telling me day in day out how much you like it. That means a hell of a lot, and it’s very wonderful to see this thing connect.
Second, a reminder that you can read all of Episode One in order right here.
Third, what’s next? A commercial break! Before Episode Two “airs,” I’m going to be posting sketches, talking about process, and plugging the hell out of the comic. I ask you to do the same! People are reading FEELS, but I’d like everyone to! Spread the word, give them this link, tell them about how accurate it depicts moving into SAIC dorms!
Fourth, another thanks!
SEE YOU NEXT WEEK