The Process – Pt. 2 Character Refresher

Some Goldfarb reference drawings

Dealing with the layout planning was a huge problem, but one I thought I could work around at least temporarily.  And there were certainly other fish to fry, namely the characters themselves.  Now I can whip up a kick-ass Tom Sparks doing or saying just about anything on command, but Doc and France were a completely different story.  I decided France had to be on the page, she provides an opportunity for dialogue beats and for some funny stuff and because she was perfect for all the little background details I wanted to do.  Plus she’s Tom’s sidekick, he can’t very well have gone on an adventure without his favorite smart ass assassin.  And as for Doc, I hadn’t drawn him since the Dust Bunny comic-con issue we did a few years back, so I was going to need a refresher.

France staring off into space...

When Sean and I created the characters we took visual influence from different real/fictional people, and to prepare for drawing them the first time around I dug up tons of photo reference and just got down to a little recreation.  I’m a big fan of photo referencing stuff, if even to just get ideas for clothing and help with little things that have always been problematic for me, things  like chins, breasts, and the back of the collar.

So I packed my bag full all my favorite goodies and headed off to a local coffee shop to get to work.  I love working from little cafe’s, and a good portion of my drawing career has been done from the tables of shops scattered throughout Southern California.  I can stick the IV in and ensure the flow of coffee is constant, tune in to my favorite drawing music and generally zone out for entire hours of time. You may be asking yourself, how does a caveperson deal with the chaos of all the unwashed masses walking around, going about their caffienated thang.  But that’s never really been an issue– in fact, it’s just the opposite, the movement keeps a part of my brain, the real twitchy part that hates to sit still and requires a high-powered nailgun and a police negotiator to keep it’s ass occupied while the rest of me is allowed to just drift off in to a scribbling messy zen place.

More France ref, I'm sure you can find the original somewhere. I really liked the collar.

And speaking of drawing music.  Forgive some drifting as I wanna take a moment to talk a little about the music I use when I work on stuff.  Any page or script or what-ever-the-fuck tends to have it’s own soundtrack pulled together from music designed to both keep me entertained but also help generate ideas.  Or at least invoke similar imagery to the project I’m working on. The Atomic Detective soundtrack is pretty vast but there is a top ten list (in no real order) of albums that are always in permanent rotation when I’m drawing the robot detective.  Some of these are amusingly obvious, others I have there for my own reasons:

Panel 1 - Rough layouts - first pass

First Panel - smooth start, and that giant stone head looks coolio.

The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us
The Mistfits – a Best of I made myself
Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump
Modest Mouse – Lonesome Crowded West
Marilyn Manson – Mechanical Animals
David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider’s from Mars
White Zombie – Astro Creep: 2000
The Verve – A Storm in Heaven
Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Supergrass – I Should Coco
Bauhaus – In The Flat Field

So there’s that.

Rough layout - 2

Switching back to where we intended to be.  In addition to the reference refreshers I scribbled out a rough idea of the script out in the notebook, mostly free-form notes and a scrawling imitation of screenplay format, the only format I really get.  I liked the flow, the panel count came in at around 20, give or take some for beats and things.  I’m a huge fan of silent panels, enhancing dramatic or comedic moments and you can’t ever be sure where one of those will require to be included.

I'm a huge fan of scribbling, sometimes I'll just sit and scrawl layer upon layer to try and get a feel for the subject

So I drew up these big panels, two to a page and tried one more time to flesh out the over-all layout, but now with a little more eye for the actual panel contents.  Obviously this still didn’t do much to help me figure out how much space was needed for the final, and flipping pages between the test pages was perhaps an even shittier method than the thumbnail scribbling.  But I have a much better idea of what every panel was going to contain.  Which is nice.

Ok, that’s all for now.  Next time we’ll get to some of the hairier (and much funner for me) bits.

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2 Responses to “The Process – Pt. 2 Character Refresher”

  1. Aw, I miss that big metal nincompoop. Can’t wait to see the finished page.

  2. joeylabartunek Says:

    I missed him too, I didn’t realize how much I missed drawing the sap until I sat down and actually doodled him again, then it all came back.

    I have one more step of the pre-process to get finished and posted here then we’ll move to the final thing, I’m pretty excited.

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