Friday, September 20, 2013

My gallery of one page Poster Comics

I've just published my latest Poster Comic, "Kaiju Kamen". You can read it online at my DeviantArt page.
"Kaiju" is the Japanese word for 'monster', and is often used to refer to the giant monsters such as Godzilla, Gamera and others found in Japanese monster films. "Kamen" translates  as 'mask', so my title refers to the blue masked monster wrestling the giant octopus beast....

This is my 12th Poster Comic I've done since starting these in December 2011. Originally my goal was to do one a month, but in the later half of 2012 my workload became busier, so I suspended the project until May of this year. KAIJU KAMEN is my third one this year, and I've definitely got more planned. 

The original idea behind these 'poster comics' was to have a way to create comics featuring many of the ideas I have for new characters. A full-length comic book (30-50 pages) can take me several months to finish, and with other commitments I have during the year, it seems unlikely that I'd ever be able to get all these done as completed stories. So the relatively limited time it takes me to do one of these provides an outlet for these characters to make it into a story, however brief they are. Another reason I like doing these is that I can print them in color. Printing a one page, full color poster at 11" x 17" is cheaper than printing a full-color book, and it's way faster to color as well.

My first four, shown above, had that excitement you get with a learning curve, as they were my initial attempts. One of the critical things about these one-page comics is the planning and editing. How do you tell the story you want to tell, in a very limited amount of space, and still follow a beginning-middle-end story structure? And without drawing 30 panels per page! At least that was the challenge I made for myself.  

One page comics have a long history in the medium, so I wasn't creating anything new. What I did notice was that often, one-page comics have been used as humor stories, or as brief educational/informative devices. Also, they've been used to great effect to advertise products, such as the famous Hostess Twinkie and Cup Cake ads that appeared in comics from the 1970s and 80s.

One thing that's key to creating these is to not be too precious with the idea. Meaning that not everything I want to say about the character will be in the story, but I try to focus on showing them doing what identifies them, as far as their role as action heroes. 

For example, in the top left comic from the second batch below, the robot sentry, Andromeda X7X, is shown confronting an advance scout in a planned alien invasion. So the story specifically highlights her role as a guardian of Earth. Below that story is a biographic comic on Steve Ditko, the artist who co-created Spider-Man and continues his 60 year career even today. With the Ditko story, it was matter of identifying the key points of his career that I wanted to convey, so from there is was drawing those scenes and then scripting the narrative.

A lot of my character designs revolve around very distinctly identified characters. So if I have a caveman superhero, he's easily identified as such (the comic just below, on the left). Or the newest one, Kaiju Kamen.... A monster with a mask. I love the iconographic nature of comic book characters, so in some ways a lot of the character's identity is perceived upon initial viewing. That helps tremendously in these one-page stories. With an image that's bold and expressive, some of the 'writing' has already begun.

Comics have unique relationship to their reader. A certain amount of collaboration occurs between the creator and the viewer in that the story is read at whatever pace the reader chooses. As the storyteller, I'm providing the roadmap, but the reader brings their own understanding to the experience, perhaps filling in the thin space between the panels with their own mental imagery. So whether it's a 12 panel story or a 48 page comic, I still provide the reader with a reading experience, and hopefully it's a worthwhile one. 

My plans for this Poster Comic series include another round of stories featuring additional new characters as well as a variety of non-fiction stories. A historic political/celebrity event, an adaptation of a public-domain movie, and a couple of biographic pieces (similar to the Ditko comic). Eventually I'd like to collect them all in a book of some type. Perhaps a full-blown 11" x 17" collection? We'll see....

You can read all these Poster Comics online over at my gallery on DeviantArt. Just click the one you want to read and it'll open up to a much larger size. Enjoy!

No comments: