Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Norbert and Billy




From the way-back machine, circa 1992. This was my first and only attempt at making a comic-strip for syndication. I noodled this out during my junior year of college when I was taking summer classes. Motivated by Scott's 'Cork' strip, I decided to dust this off and scan it in. I'll run the whole series if you guys like it.

10 comments:

Mr Goodson said...

Good stuff. I like looking at it as a small thumbnail first. It works for composition. Good gag set ups. Probably character design is the weakest point. A little too illustrative, needs some boiling down and simplification of shapes. Of course this is early early work I know. Post more

Mr Goodson said...

Lets see where you went

Surly Bird said...

The style and character design is weak. And my sense of humor at the time was pejorative, to put it mildly. My influences were varied, from the sketchy, timeless doodles of George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat' to contemporary comic strips like 'Bloom County' as well as weird, off-the-wall comics like 'Duckman.' Eventually, I stopped trying to crow-quill and cross-hatch my way across the paper and started focusing more on positive and negative shapes. Picking up a Windsor-Newton series seven sable was an eye-opener and I noticed my art became cleaner and read better, but you won't see it from this series too much (maybe a little at the end). I started several other comic strips that were just as weak and eventually abandoned them as well.

I have to say, as an artist/cartoonist/3D modeler, etc., I've never been able to really find my own voice and this has always been a frustration. I can never seem to decide what it is I want to do and generally I end up aping whatever artist I have discovered at the time. Mostly I try to find some way to make a living and maximize whatever tools I have at my disposal. Lately, I've been in the 3D stuff so long I've realized I have forgotten how to draw even simple things and it really bugs me. So I'm slowly trying to crawl out of this deep hole of personal artistic inactivity.

rickart said...

Having someplace to post drawings regularly and get feedback is a great way to start.

Perhaps you and I can start a "TAG North" group to get drawing regularly again. We can get Mike C. in on it, too!

I think the strip is charming. I like all the details of the characters and I think that they can work well in a web environment since space isn't so much an issue. I think the style is reminiscent of Underground comics, a style I have grown to admire, even if I'm not so keen on the content.

The voice thing is a tough one... it's hardest to find when you are actually looking for it. All I can say is from my experience the more you draw/explore things you like the more likely you are to find what you want to say and how you want to say it. It's possible to decide what you want to do from the outset and go for it, but that takes a lot more disciple than I have.

Thanks for sharing! I would like to see more, too.

Surly Bird said...

Thanks for the comments, Rick. I have had this creative lethargy now for years. I think I have had one crunch too many and something in my brain just got fried. For the longest time, I have not had the least little desire to draw, which bothers me as it used to be my absolute favorite thing in the whole world. Nowadays, it takes an act of congress to get me to sit down and doodle. It seems unreal to me that this comic strip is 16 years old.

Mr Goodson said...

Ronnie, that's me all over. Thankfully I'm forced to draw and paint on a regular basis. But no extracurricular to speak of. At least lately. Now that we all have the shining beacon of CORK, maybe we'll all get something new done.

As far as voice, you could always doyour character, and unbeknownest to anybody but you, that character is Captain Kirk. Anybody can write good voice for James Tiberious Kirk. That's what Buncake is doing with CORK.

Dok said...

I love the line quality - it's genuine and charming at the same time, something I really admire. If you were to do it in color - a very modern palette would be sensational - maybe look at some Low (New) Brow color treatments, yknow? That'd offer you another layer of that pos/neg to play with in flat color shapes. Free advice and worth every penny.

About voice, I'm finally reading Orson Scott Cards book on that subject, "Characters and Viewpoint". Heartily endorse - it's lays out a lot of options briefly and clearly.

http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Writing-Fiction-Characters-Viewpoint/dp/0898799279/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221084397&sr=8-3

Speaking of clarity, your strip has it!

Surly Bird said...

Dok, color would help this, I agree. It's something I thought about doing but wasn't sure about. I might go back and do it now.

About a year ago, I thought about dusting off a couple of old characters for a different strip I did in high school, updating them a bit and doing a six-panel style Sunday strip (kind of like 'Cork'). I couldn't decide if it was worth the time, though, and frankly, I didn't really feel like I had anything funny or interesting to say with these characters - a dilemma I still feel rings true. I'd love to do something similar to the old 'Pogo' strip by Walt Kelley - Nice lush brush art with warm, harmonious colors. I have a few ideas, and I guess I can actually start some exploratory sketches and maybe if it gels, I'll go for it.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Nice cross pen work! Poor Peabody though...

Tom Carroll said...

Well ... if we're really going back into the archives, I'll have to dig out the weekly strips I did for the Claremont Collegian college newspaper at Claremont McKenna College. Since I was the only art major, the field wasn't very crowded. This would be circa 1974 - 78 ... ;-)

What fun the "wayback" machine is!