May sketches-s01

May 15, 2013

All are marker over pencil with white chalk, except the last which was pencil and chalk only.

10m—

SK_05_2013

20m—

SK_05_20131

SK_05_20132

30m—

SK_05_20133

Pencil & chalk only, @30m—

SK_05_20134

Format change—

May 11, 2013

Back from Europe- and as most people do while traveling— I have nothing to show for it. The highlight of the trip (aside from spending a load of time with my mother) was finding a “test” store for the Koh-i-noor pencil company in Prague.

Koh-i-noor

So there aren’t any sketches, and I didn’t accomplish anything.

Additionally, the format of the blog will be changing now. I will no longer be posting my opinions on art, animation, or the like, anytime in the near future… if ever. Any posts I do, will just be random images. Nothing more.

I’m not a writer, as anyone familiar with proper punctuation, spelling, and/or grammar can see. I’m not a journalist, as any one doing fact checking on my blog will attest to. There are those who dissect what I’ve written, and like most who scrutinize the comics I draw, seem to spend all of their time looking for faults rather than taking any value from them that they might offer. They’ll ignore 99.9% of what is said, or shown, to clamp onto a mistake that wasn’t intended to be a major point to begin with. That in mind, this blog will be limited to the only thing I can do that’s worth half a penny. Drawing. That sums me up— as a person, as a professional, as a husband, and as a human. I don’t know anything else, and I never claimed to. My wife is a writer, so I know how much skill that profession takes. I believed, incorrectly, that I could pass along my thoughts, like a diary. Where things didn’t have to be perfect, and people who liked my work could get an understanding of my process, but I was wrong; as I usually am. Obviously, you can only use text if you plan to be perfect about it, but everyone else can b’stardize perspective, storytelling, anatomy, lighting, composition, and the 20K other things it takes to make a piece of comic art, while any criticism of their efforts is met with the “get out of jail free” card known as – it’s my style. People who don’t draw for a living can pick apart my writing, but if I were to come down on their cocktail napkin sketches, I would be “unfair” because they don’t do it for a living. Whatever, as I’ve never made a dime off my blog entries.

So, from now on, this is just a drawing “feed”. No captions, because I’m not a writer. No insights, because I’m not a teacher.

Just drawings. Enjoy the hell I call summer.

I’ll soon be running amok in Europe on a vacation with my mother, which will either be fun, or end with us offing each other in an Agatha Christie type murder. In preparation for the trip (as only a comic artist would) I’ve been reading some of the most famous graphic novels to come out of that area of the world, namely Asterix the Gaul and Tintin. As I’ve done in the past, I thought I’d play around with the design of my favorite character from those books… Obelix. There’s something about a fat, dopey, menhir carrying Gaul that appeals to me; well, except for the menhir bit- sounds too much like actual work.

Asterix_Obelix

I’m sure some of you have seen, or are at least familiar with, the animated film versions of those comics, but there’s also a live action set of films based on the Asterix books. In those movies, Obelix is played by Gerard Depardieu. My first drawing was done in sort of an American super hero style, and ended up looking more realistic than is seen in the original books. Weird thing is, my drawing of Obelix (on the left) was either Depardieu in the movie drawn from memory, or the man was just born to play the character.

Obelix_01A

Here’s what he looked like in the film…

gerard_obelix

My other attempts were really just variations on the original style, but it’s fun just to play around with such iconic characters. The main one I dealt with was Obelix, while only touching other characters. Aside from Asterix, the cast seems to be older Gauls, like the potion maker, or beautiful maidens, who all seem to be built like showgirls. Asterix, as I mentioned, is revered like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, or Peanuts are in the US; so you can’t stray too far from the original designs before people just reject things outright. It’s like changing the flavor of foods, where people won’t accept the new version because it goes against everything the brain expects. Changes have to be subtle, or minor, to be accepted by the audience. Even the creators knew this was true, as the characters were tweaked from their first appearance in “Asterix the Gaul” to the later book “Asterix and the Cauldron“. Just in these two examples you can see how the design has changed slightly. The first appearance is on the left side, and the later on the right; but much has remained the same. Obelix’s colors have shifted, his pigtails are longer, his mustache is less straw like, his belt and pants have been simplified, and his face softened. The biggest change was to his outline shape, with his lower half becoming more bulbous and pear shaped,— adding visually to his “good nature”.

Obelix_CompareGranted, my redesigns are just for play, so maybe I should have pushed these more; but I set up limitations, as if this was for a commercial relaunch. I didn’t want to do an anime version, or something overly angular like a Bruce Timm design. I wanted them to maintain the gentle, cartoonish feel one finds in the classic versions. The only issue I really wanted to emphasize was that I wanted his belly to look more like flesh, and not some wooden barrel shoved into a pair of pants. Fat has a way of filling out clothing, and even in real life, it often has a cartoonish appearance to it. That was something I thought would be interesting to bring to the character.

Obelix_02

Obelix_06

After a few sketches though, the “fat” got a bit creepy, so I tried to reign it in a bit. I can see now, why they didn’t do this originally. It’s hard to play that effect without becoming obscene with it.

Obelix_03A

These next few weren’t so much about design as just playing with the movement. I love how in the Asterix books the characters are so animated, with classic “take” shots, as if you’re looking at storyboards for a cartoon. These are just simple things like bits from a walk cycle, or Obelix  shifting his body weight; nothing too extreme. I left out the helmet, but I know he’s not bald.  I do like the idea that he could be, and to imagine there’s nothing up top makes it sillier to have those long pigtails.Obelix_04

Here I went back to the idea of making him shaped like a gorilla, with huge arms, small chest, and large abdomen. After all, Obelix (although generally good natured) is pretty much a cartoon ape, simple minded but incredibly strong. If you look at the originals above, that’s basically what his design has always been. I simply did variations on it, making his arms longer and longer, and defining his muscles to look more gorilla like.

Obelix_05

If you haven’t read any of the Asterix or Tintin books, but are a fan of classics like Carl Barks‘ Uncle Scrooge for Disney, then I bet you’d enjoy these as well. They’re very much in the same vein of art and storytelling, but I won’t lie, there are some bits that might not be considered “PC” in this day and age. If you can keep in mind that they’re a product of their time,  I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as a fun read; plus you can’t beat their art, both of which are amazing.

Hopefully I’ll have some nice sketches, or watercolors, to show off from my trip, so until then- Layt-ers!