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:
Look out, gang– Cally is headed into full-on “Wolverine” mode now!
So we’re back after a missed week. I’m not going to harp on it too much, I already explained what happened over on the blog. That said, if there is one aspect I’d like to reiterate, it’s the fact that last week is the first we missed in 79 weeks. I don’t say that in defense, either—I actually mention it as a point of pride!
Ok, let’s roll right into:
* You may or may not notice, but this week’s page marks a production change for Spy6teen: It’s the debut of DJ using a brush to ink, as opposed to the pens he’s been using.
As a quick history lesson on inkers:
Inking (in ye ‘ole days also called “Finshing”) was a necessity of the printing process in the days of newspaper print. Since the replication of the press at the time wasn’t advanced enough to reproduce straight pencils, an artist was required to reproduce the lines of a piece of artwork using black ink…usually, India Ink.
Traditionally, this was accomplished using a brush, although over the years, inkers began using pens—today, it isn’t uncommon (like everything else) to ink digitally.
Inkers have long been the butt of jokes in the comic production process—famously, if you’ve seen Chasing Amy, Banky (Jason Lee) is told he’s just a “tracer”—not a real artist.
Which, of course, is hardly the truth. Inking is its own art form—a good inker sets the mood, pace, and legibility of a page. A good inker can save a shoddy page, while a bad inker can surely sink a good one.
After ECCC, DJ decided to switch his pen-based inking on Spy6teen, over to a brush. I thought it’d make an interesting guest spot for the writeup to ask him why, and what he thought of the difference between the two tools.
I’ve been meaning to switch from markers to brushes for a long time but it just wasn’t feasible until now. I started using markers tech pens just because it’s a natural transition- pencils and pens are pretty much the same weight. But markers have a way of taking the life out of pencils. It’s not very forgiving. For instance when I pencil something especially characters theres a life to them that only the pencil can really create with its varying light grays almost black- or a dark gray. And then there is line weight that is very hard to replicate with markers and tech pens.
Switching to brushes has been well worth the wait for me. I was kind of saving that experience. All that life that the tech pens take away in my character work- the brushes don’t. I just came back from ECCC and I took the extra time to really just look at some different artists inks and how different they were to my own and I had to see it for myself and I did. The brush is just superior to markers and techpens anyday. But I will keep using the markers and techpens for background and ruler work. They can compliment the brush work real nicely. The markers also are better for man-made things like guns and buildings and precise things. I’ll have to see whether the brush is better for cars or not there’s something about cars that is man-made but the body designs are actually created by artists like myself so they take on their own life, but inking cars with markers really suck.
And just to (literally) illustrate what DJ was saying, here’s this week’s page as inks:
And a few other pieces that DJ’s been playing around with the brush on– If you’re an old school X-men fan, you’re gonna love these:
Click to enbiggen!!
Keep an eye out on DJ’s inks as future Spy6teen pages roll out!
* Minor piece of fun: I love the “skid lines” on Cally’s feet in Panel 3—a little piece of comic book iconography that could easily be overlooked with Lisa calling it out in the coloring.
* Stellar work from Lisa in Panels 4 & 5 as well, where she calls out the color of Cally’s eyes much bolder than usual, which really calls home the fact that Cally. Means. Business.
* Brant’s “Rock Star” moment of the page comes via panel 2’s “THUMMMM!” I’m a big fan of BOLD sound effects like that. I know some creators shy away from SFX, but personally, I love ‘em—and the bolder the better!
Nothing to plug from Team 16 this week—I think we’re all busy working on the next set of things to plug! In leiu of that, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce you guys to a new webcomic called “The Ghost Engine”
The artist is an insanely talented guy named Eric Z, who I worked on a few projects with a few years ago. In addition to the comic (which is great!) they’re also running a dual process blog, so it’s chock full of cool information.
The Ghost Engine is 8 pages in, so it’s a great time to jump in on the ground floor!
So, that’s a wrap on this week!
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And NEXT WEEK:
CALLY IS ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM!
(+2 if you get that reference!)