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Finally, after experimenting and negotiating a learning curve I suspect that I am now able to embrace a comic life. Since I am not keen to put in the hard yards at the end of a pencil or pen I have to make do by reworking photographs.
Being a Mac user I am currently combining a couple of aps:
- PhotoEffects which I'm using to rework --and often take -- the original photograph
- Noir Photo for later processing: enriching the contrast and focus -- as I'm after the sharp black background.
I hope that by standardising this editing protocol I can convert a range of different images to a standard comic format that will constitute my 'style'.
And I want to do that quickly without dramas.
Characters, situations, topics and whatever content are different , for now, from the form. I wanted the means, the medium, settled before I could then explore the language.
Photo Comics are rare in the English speaking world outside of some Photonovels adapted from film or TV series. The term Fumetti (Italian for comic -- "litte puffs of smoke" ) is often deployed to describe these but now that there are so many easy-to-use photo aps available, who knows what may happen?
To give you an idea of what can be done, here are my four favorite Photo Comic sites online:
Inventive stuff. Creative. Some -- LifeStrips and Unsettled Skies -- are arty. Obviously if you use Photoshop you are going to get a sharper, neater 'effect'. But me, I want to focus on the storyline --such as it may be -- and the dialogue.
That way you are better placed to be optioned by Hollywood. (!)
I read a lot of graphic novels and while the art has its charms, my preference is for the pacing, dialogue and story telling. I nonetheless appreciate the POV compositions and my enthusiasm runs to film noir type perspectives -- expressionist stuff.
It's like making a feature film but without having to work with actors. B grade film making perhaps with cheap actors.
I, on the other hand, have to act in my own 'comics' or find folk who will hold a pose for me while I take a photograph of them.
For now, I'm not storyboarding what I make as I'm relying on improvising the images and drawing on them for inspiration.
But I want to advance to the stage where I sit down and write the thing and then use what I've written as the shooting script.
And filming may not be so difficult if you are Noir obsessed as I am. With noir you want sharp contrast , clear outline, limited detail, exaggerated focus...and you can get that by using just one light source. That's where the shadows come from. Noir is all about harnessing shadows.
The appeal is that since my preference and background has been with masks -- that's where I begin, at the face. The scenery is not so important to me. It's like a Shakespeare play or street theatre or theatre in the round. The basics is da people relating to you or others.
Why complicate things? Why introduce distractions? I want to work within those limitations. That's my platform: was in theatre, same with comics.
A comic masquerade.
This means that you gotta go grotesque and exaggerate the gestures or the facial expression. It isn't a photo op for the mags or the family album. You're cartooning -- channeling caricature.
Again I have the advantage of having worked in puppetry -- Punch and Judy especially -- and that's what I'm after: that sort of cartoony grotesque. While you can do that performing with puppets they can't change their expression from scene to scene or from panel to panel. In masked performance you rely on body gesture just as with puppets you move their little heads to suggest that the figure is speaking.
So as actors on a photograph, puppets are limited....but it is nice to use them. They work for peanuts.