January 25th, 2011


Process And Stuff: Yo Gabba Gabba! Comics

Three panels-in-progress and some designs for the Super Martian Robot Girl comics Sarah and I did for Oni's upcoming Yo Gabba Gabba! anthology:

I finished these pages up in a non-straightforward manner. While penciling I'd pick up the Hunt 22 or 102 or a technical pen and start inking or lettering stuff when the mood took me. I can get bored, if not exasperated, working with the pencil for hours on end. Penciling wears me down more than anything (writing is a close second), I pencil slowly, and usually pretty tightly, and it's where most of the stress comes from on any given job. Sometimes I just want to see something get finished up, or mindlessly fill in some black areas or ink a fun-looking sound effect.  I'm far from the best inker around, but I do enjoy it more than I used to and have a lot more confidence in my inking than I used to. It helps that I draw a lot better than I used to, and I got a lot of practice inking more cleanly while working on the YGG cartoons (particularly the Story Time we did with the little girl and the monster baking contest). Because I tend to pencil tightly, there's usually nothing vague on the page that needs interpreting in ink. The more I leave up to my inker self, the more I screw up a job -- I am no Gil Kane, I simply cannot render in ink.

I had a lot of fun working on the two strips, although the schedule was a mess and as is almost always the case, everything took longer than I'd have liked. You'd think I'd know how to draw Super Martian Robot Girl decently and quickly by now, but I ached a lot of it, and the "simpler", cleaner and more open approach I planned on using didn't always pan out. I still put a lot of extra characters and business into the mix (the second story -- which the above panels are from -- has a semi-splash panel featuring every SMRG character I could cram in. I kept apologizing to Sarah while she was coloring it). Even so, I tried to ratchet down the  texturing and detailing I usually put into my comics (often superfluous, often counter-productive). I wanted to draw this more cleanly, not only to reflect the design of the cartoons, but to keep things fairly simple so very young readers don't get lost in a jumble of House of Fun clutter. I used less panels than usual, straightforward grids, less dialogue, and tried to keep things more open for color. The last time I worked that way was the World's Finest strip I drew in Bizarro Comics. I always liked the way that looked, it was definitely influenced by Ivan Brunetti's style at the time (he wrote the strip and provided some small, basic layouts which I believe I followed pretty closely), but I've never been able to work that simply again, even when I try. I just start junking the pages up with stuff. At least its better-looking, more cleanly-rendered stuff than it used to be.

Below: Final designs for the Recyclebot, who appears in both stories. I like the way he came out. Designing the monsters and creatures for the SMRG segments are my favorite part of the job and I wanted him to fit right in with the "rogues gallery".  He ended up having four arms, so he could grab more objects. Doctor Octopus-like, now that I think of it.

Okay, back to work.

Inking, in fact.