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Steamroller Man
Issue Three
Issue Three, Page Twelve

Steamroller Man

Starting from Comic #64: Issue Three, Page Twelve
Issue Three, Page Twelve
There's probably more black on this page than any other page so far - except this one from last issue. I've always admired artists that can use shadow and negative space effectively, and lately I've been studying the work of the great Will Eisner. He has described his technique as being influenced by the sparse sets and stark lighting of stage plays. He doesn't draw every detail in a room; rather he will, for instance, draw a window and a door against black - kind of like this. It suggests the room without having to draw all the detail.

It always looked great, so I wanted to try that technique, mainly to add a sense of mystery and foreboding to this new subplot. I have so many ideas for new characters, stories and gags for Steamroller Man that I'm a little worried I'll never get to them all. I haven't really done any subplots before, but it seems like a good way to start sneaking some more characters into the comic, while making the city of Kurtzberg feel a little bigger. These little one-page interludes also help give the feel of the superhero comics of the 1970s (a major influence) and also serve the practical purpose of allowing me to change the scene when the story needs it! More subplot interludes to come!

Overall this page was completed fairly quickly. It took about 7 hours, quite a bit faster than my average of 10 hours per page. I think it was purely a function of having the majority of the panels somewhat lacking in linework - thank you Mr. Eisner!

Panel One was easy, after sketching out the shapes it was really a matter of just drawing lines in perspective.

Panel Two introduces our mysterious new character, the Chairman of Eco-Opt Corporation. I wanted to do a riff on the well-worn cliché of the Shadowy Villain In The High-Backed Chair. I thought it would be funny to make the Man in The Chair have the position of the Chairman of the Board... Man/Chair, Chair-Man... ehh? Get it? Ehhh? This panel was pretty heavily influenced by Frank Miller's work. I couldn't find a particular example to link to, but I when I think of his work I always think of shadow grids cast by window lattice.

Panel Three was easy and fun - recycled an old drawing of Steamroller Man and turned into a halftone image so it would look like a grainy security camera image.

Panel Four - Manga horror artist Junji Ito draws the scariest eyes in comics, in my opinion, so I was definitely trying to emulate his style here, to make the Chairman look scary. The bandages on the arms were an improvisation. To be honest, I don't know yet what he's going to be wearing. I thought bandages would look a bit weird and off-putting, and hopefully somewhat intriguing for the reader. This choice also gives me the option of either keeping them for the eventual reveal, or changing it and having him say "glad I finally got those bandages off!"

Panel Five is probably my least favorite on the page. It didn't quite match the image I had in my head, but it does the job I suppose.

Panel Six is the punchline, and I discovered that, at least for me, a character's facial expression plays a big part in the comedy. Originally I had drawn only the eyes, but I didn't think the expression was reading clearly enough, so I went back in and added some pencil shading to show a wrinkled brow, at least. Looking at it now, it kind of reminds me of the way they would have lit an old black and white movie.

Anyway, I hope you like this page. Thanks to everyone who posts comments! I love reading and responding to them, so please keep them coming!

If you like the comic, spread the word!

Reader Comments

Only a monster would take away Hawaiian Shirt Fridays.
I really should read some Eisner. Which of his works would you recommend?
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Issue Three, Page Thirteen
"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." - General George Patton

This is my most dialogue-heavy page so far, so it was definitely a shift in gears for me creatively. The writing took longer than usual, and I don't think it was just because of the higher word count! I hopefully have shown the contrasting philosophies of Steamroller Man, who barrels ahead, come what may, and Paige, the scientist who is used to analyzing a problem, testing theories and planning careful action. I came across that Patton quote as a teenager and have always been fond of it. It was at the top of my mind when writing Steamroller Man's dialogue here. My first thought was to actually have him use the quote, but it didn't seem quite right that he would be familiar with it.

I used a slightly different creative approach here, finalizing the dialogue at the thumbnail page, rather than at the pencil stage as I usually do. The reason for this was to make sure I was composing the panels in such a way as to account for the amount of words in each word balloon. Another example of how drawing comics is not the same as illustrating prose - the words themselves are a visual element in comics, and how they look on the page has to always be taken into consideration.

I actually felt a bit out of practice drawing Steamroller Man and Paige here! It took a couple of tries to get warmed up. At times like these, I'm so glad I work digitally, otherwise there would be quite a lot of eraser shavings to sweep up!

In panel five, I was originally going to have an empty balloon above Paige's head, to represent the fact that she has a moment of kenshō as a result of Steamroller Man's comment, but I think a wordless panel is actually more effective in this case, since it contrasts nicely with the verbosity of every other panel on the page.

What do you think?

I'm already thirteen pages in to this chapter/issue, which means if this was a standard, printed comic book I'd be past the halfway point! There is still a whole lot of story to tell, so I don't think we're halfway through this chapter yet!

Reader Comments

Let's face it, the only reason why Sugar Daddy wanted the sample is because it looked like 'Candy'. Either he's going to try and eat it, or he's going to try and put it into actual candy. I think the water supply is safe.
AAAAAA! A friendship is starting to form!
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