And the cat in the box is released!
Here’s the payoff moment that we’ve been building up to since introducing Everett and the idea of Schrodinger’s Cat waaaay back in Issue 1!
I’ve always been particularly proud of this little payoff beat, since it perfectly illustrates Cally “winning” by applying knowledge. Even better, she gets to use/flip that knowledge only because Dr. Everett forced her to do a paper on Schrodinger’s cat– so, in that regard: he’s responsible for his own demise.
In writer terms, this is called “Sticking the landing…”
Alright, enough of me congratulating my own wit– let’s move on:
* Interestingly, this panel layout SHOULDN’T work– DJ has been playing around with different style tier layouts, this week in a 2-tier combo, as in: You can read the top “half” of the page as one block, and the bottom half as another. It’s something we’ve been talking about behind closed doors for S16 2.0, but I’m just going to leave that tease sitting there (more later)– As he’s been getting used to it, this top tier didn’t play quite as we’d hoped it would, since your eyes should read it as panels 1-3-2 (reading right to left)– that said, we all took one look at the lineart and said: Y’know, Brant can fix this!
…and indeed he did! We’ll get to that in a second…
* This was also the page that DJ had an inking accident. One of the dangers in switching to an ink brush is splatters and well spillage– well, this page was cursed with one of those. Interestingly, DJ did such a great job cleaning it up, we barely noticed in the lineart. And, of course, by the time we’d gone through Brant’s flats and Lisa’s colors, you guys would never even know it was there!
* In non-Spy6teen, but super-awesome DJ work, here’s something that popped up on his Devart a few days ago– a little Daredevil vs. Cap action!
C’mon, how awesome would it be to see DJ on a Marvel book?!
* Here’s a pretty great Lisa Rock-star moment! When it came to Panel 3, I originally thought the lineart looked a little “empty.” I knew it was a “wordy” panel, but I was a bit worried that there wasn’t enough detail in Warpy’s tentacle –
But, Lisa naturally came through with came through with flying…ahem, colors– adding in a dimensional weight through colors, by highlighting and shadowing along the curvature, giving it some real substance:
It’s also cool how Lisa gave Cally a pale-er look than usual, particularly in her lips, in this panel– giving a real sense of being choked out.
* As mentioned above, Brant came in and saved the day on the upper tier of panels. I always go back to saying that lettering is the “hidden art,” and here’s another example that proves it:
If you notice, Brant bridges the balloon “…and the only way to collapse the waveform is to…” which basically forces your eye into reading the panel BELOW panel 1 first– even though traditionally, you’d think to read it right to left.
It’s a subtle little letterer trick that counts on the fact that you “read” a page (with a quick scan), taking in the whole page, before moving to read individual panels.
Lotsa “behind-the-scenes” stuff with Team 16 this week– we’re all doing some prepping for the future of Spy6teen. It’s too early to really start talking about anything yet– but one of the cool things that did pop up in my researching of emerging digital storytelling was a little “proof of concept” rough that was made by Balak, who many of you might remember as being the guy who “cracked the code” on Digital Comics with this little test.
The art is a bit rough, but the art isn’t the point– it’s the storytelling and techniques used in the format. I’m not sure this is the “future of comics,” but it’s the closest I’ve seen yet.
Give it a gander and let us know what you think in the comments–
…and that’s that for this week! Seeya in 7 for…
That’s it?! What’s IT?!
Heya gang! Welcome back for Page 18, which is our “loopback” page for the flashforward on Page 1 of this issue!
Everett is such a blast to write– particularly when doing these megalomaniac speeches, where you get to use insults like “mindless algae”. This guy didn’t enjoy teaching one bit!
This page, in particular, is why the issue runs a bit long– In the v.1 of the script, we pretty much rolled right from the Don/Sears fight and into Cally v. Warpy– but shortly before DJ started art, I went back and re-read the script and noticed that things seemed to move way too fast– what we were lacking was the beat of this page and last: Cally’s “darkest moment”– Adding it in did mess up our 22p/issue count, but seeing as there are no page limits for the web (and we’re formatted more to a trade at this point)– cutting a beat in order to make a theoretical pagecount seemed silly.
* One of the most admirable things about DJ’s art is the fact that the guy never takes shortcuts. He works completely analog, and it shows: Particularly in Panel 2, which is a “repeat” of Page 1’s spash– but, unlike a lot of artist, he didn’t cheat with a Photoshop cut/paste– but redrew the panel from a new perspective.
And nothing against artists that do use Photoshop to repeat panels, I just think it’s really worth noting when you see a guy doing the old school way!
* Another nice little piece of Lisa atmosphere on this page as well! I noticed the slight coloring in the top right corner of Panel 1, which matches as a light source to Cally’s right hand in Panel 2–
I also thought it was kinda cool how Lisa uses different skin tone colors for Cally and Everett– With Cally (being our heroine) looking a little healthier, while Everett has a slightly pallid quality. Mostly because bad guys shouldn’t have nice tans.
* Brant pretty much completes Everett’s verbal transference to Warpy– I gotta say, it’s a little device worked out like a charm for this particular story beat!
Props to Brant for the design!
Speaking of Brant, he’s running a bit of a garage sale on Ebay right now– he’s got some great stuff up, so make sure you swing by to see if anything tickles your fancy!
SPYING ON THE NET
We seem to have had a pretty decent couple of weeks in terms of visitor traffic– spiking up in terms of page views, which is pretty nice. In fact, according to InkOutbreak (one of the webcomic listing sites we’re on) we had a 3k day a few weeks back.
I’ve actually mostly stopped fretting about the hitcount– One of the nice things I’ve noticed is that we seem to consistently have a great number more page views compared to our visitor count– which means when people stop by, then tend to read a bunch of pages.
That said, I am looking at rolling out some changes when we hit the next arc– possibly toning down on the Process pieces, and doing some new segments.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about our format– Warren Ellis recently posted up an interesting little article on the (literal) shape of webcomics, and how many of them have moved to a two-tier format– actually, in much the same form as we began on Zuda– but, at the end of the day, I’m sticking to our guns with our normal “print” layout– mostly because I don’t mind scrolling, and I don’t want to shackle DJ’s layouts to a fixed form.
What I am really focusing on tightening things up for the next issue. Since this first one was written to the trade, it tended to unfold a bit slowly. So, I’m attempting to beatsheet things in more of a single issue format– using 3 acts at 8 pages a piece to create a single 24 page issue, that also works as three 8 page issues, in the hopes that propels the storytelling momentum.
All of which is to say, I’m starting to get really jazzed up about the next phase of Spy6teen– I think you guys are really going to dig the directions we start heading in!
Well, that’s it for this week, gang! We’ll see ya in 7 days for:
How much would it suck to get pimp-slapped by a tentacle?
Well, here’s a page I’ve been foaming at the mouth to show off to you guys! THUNK and WHAP, indeed! There’s just a ridiculous amount of energy coming off this page!
Lots of news and stuff to cover this week, and I blather hard about Marvel’s Infinite Comics– so let’s jump right in!
* Like I was saying, a TON of energy on this page, and much of it comes from DJ’s use of angles– particularly the dutching in Panels 1 and 2, kicking the whole thing off with a one/two punch!
(Blake would have probably preferred to miss out on that first punch, though…)
* Part of the reason this page works so well from a compositional standpoint is that DJ orientates the angles on the top of the page so the action flows from left to right– while, in Panel 4 the energy switches to right to left– in essence, creating a Z-like pattern for your eyes to follow– Obviously, since we all read in that same direction, it feels balanced and natural to our eyes.
* Action lines are always awesome if they aren’t overused– Here, DJ uses them to great effect, while also guiding your eyes as to where to look next.
* Here’s a cool little thing to take you through the stages of one panel:
DJ’s original pencils/inks for Panel 4:
Brant’s Flats (the initial stage of color separation– we talk about it in this writeup) and part of his lettering layout:
Lisa’s final colors for the panel:
Man, I do love Don’s “Buhwha?!” expression in this shot!
* Notice we did swap out the stack order of Everett and Warpy’s balloons– That was Brant’s suggestion, which I thought perfectly illustrated the transference of Everett’s mind from one body to another…
SPYING ON THE NET!!
Ok, super quick process writeup so that I could jump into today’s big digital comic news– which is the release of Marvel Avengers vs. X-Men Infinite Comic.
I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now, but in case you missed the announcement, here’s a really cool video with Marvel head honcho Joe Quesada.
(by the way, how jealous of that office are you?)
This morning I fired up the Ipad and re-downloaded the Marvel app, hopped on and found the first Infinite comic fairly quickly– login was fairly simple, as luckily I apparently already had a Comixology account, and the download was super quick.
A minute or two later, I was looking at “THE FUTURE OF COMICS!!”
…hyperbole aside, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t– but it sure is a sweet little app.
There’s some really nice and elegant solutions to things that have plagued digital comics, including double page spreads.
Probably the biggest compliment I can give Infinite Comics is that everything felt natural and intuitive. I didn’t find myself frustratingly double tapping on a panel because I needed to enlarge it, or getting stuck in “Panel View”–
Mark Waid talked recently about the length of content in a digital format– and how he believed 8 to 10 screens was an ideal amount– well, Infinite runs at 65 screens– although a number of them are repurposed screens– and feels pretty “right” in terms of a read to me.
I’m not a huge Nova fan, so I’m not going to comment too much on the actual story– but “weight” wise, it runs about 4 scenes long, with each scene comprising roughly 10 to 15 screens. So, if the Infinite format takes off, say goodbye to decompression!
In regards to the repurposed screens, many of them are done so for effect– one in particular involves a character in the foreground, which (upon swipe) rack focuses to the background for a reveal. It’s a really nice effect– and you get to double dip on a piece of art using nothing more than Photoshop’s “Blur” tool.
Here’s a screen:
Same art, different focus. Really well played and works to great effect when you’re viewing it on a tablet.
The real draw of this app is that it isn’t a “regular” comic refitted for a tablet– this is a comic that was designed to be a read on a digital device– and it shows. The majority of the panels are designed at the Ipad aspect ratio, taking advantage of the full screen– and balloons/Caps at a very legible size for panel reading. No need to pinch and zoom.
I showed the comic off around the office today, and everyone (including ex-comic readers, non-comic readers, and the print guys) all seemed intrigued and impressed.
Thumbs up from me. I’d be okay with calling this the future of comics.
Plugs time from Team 16!!
I don’t have ordering info quite yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll post it here! Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!
Bonus awesome shot: Here’s DJ hanging out with current Batman artist, Greg Capullo!
Man, Greg is RIPPED!
Meanwhile, if you happen to be in the Los Angeles area this weekend, our Editor extrodinare, DJ Kirkbride is going to be signing at Gallery Nucleus for the anthology, Titmouse Vol 2! Swing by and tell DJ that Spy6teen sent ya!
Finally, Brant Fowler’s Zone 4 Podcast celebrates it’s three year anniversary this week and will be throwing a little internet party on this Friday’s episode. Long time 16’ers might remember that I was on the show waaaay back in episode 90– it’s a super great crew and comes highly recommended!
Plus, how many podcasts run with their own webcomic?
So set a calendar reminder for Friday and get Zone’d with Brant and the crew!
Finally, a quick reminder that Spy6teen issue 1 is available FOR FREE ON ITUNES! Kindly give us a download and a review/stars!
Ok, gang! That’s it for this week–