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The Family Name – Collaboration at Work

Hey All,

Thought you might be interested in seeing some of the choices Daniel provided before deciding on his final page layouts. This post is great example of the communication we want to foster between the writers and their artists to make this a true collaboration!

Remember we had a few ideas to make the first page, with the skeleton of Sherlock Holmes its grave,  pop? Well Daniel tried three separate ideas! Here’s his approach in his own words.

While I was pushing around the layout and extending the corpse panel, I wanted to explore how I could make the image more intense.  The result was an attempt to depict a large flashlight illuminating an otherwise dark grave.  I also took the opportunity to explore Ty’s suggested layout to take the corpse down the full left side of the page.  Please let me know what you think. – Daniel

Three approaches but only one could win. What did we choose?  Let’s it hear in Ty’s own words (and mine)!

I’m crazy for version #2.  You guys were right, it doesn’t need the left side taken up by the corpse…version #2 for me. – Ty the Guy.

I’m with Ty.  # 2 really works well. Having the corpse image be a full bleed while floating the second and third panels gives the whole page impact. Subconsciously we know that corpse takes the whole page. Dividing/cutting the page with panel borders and pushing the opening image to the side dilutes it’s power for me.  Love it!  –  Rob the Corn on the Cob

The other choice Daniel presented us was regarding his new two-page spread layout. Here was Daniel’s dilemma.

Redoing pages 4-5 really showed me how difficult it is to do double page spreads (and my lack of experience drawing them.)  It took me way longer than expected to come up with a layout that I was reasonably happy with.  I took all the advice dispensed last week and tried to rework the old layout, but in the end I felt I had to rethink it entirely.

The main thing that I’m not entirely pleased with now is the merc’s face at the centre of the page being too close to the gutter.  How many inches of the centre should be assumed lost to the gutter after the binding process, particularly with perfect binding?  My other worry is that the pages looks too busy or cluttered.  –  Daniel

Daniel attached the original layout and version #2 below.
Version 2:

First our story writer, James, weighed in then Ty and I added our own comments.

Daniel, I’m really liking the flow of this version a lot. The one thing that really stands out to me as maybe needing to be re-thought a bit is finding a way to show Trey’s face in the big splash in the middle. With her head down and face hidden by her hair, we lose something there, I think.

I really like the new concept of cascading the panels down the side and leading into the big splash. Reads much better now, I think. Looking forward to hearing Ty & Rob’s thoughts.

– James

Ty – What I love almost as much as the new layouts are James’ comments about them which are completely spot on.  There’s no reason to obscure the face of our main character in so large an image of her, there’s no reason to obscure the face of our recently thwacked mercenary either.  I think you did that to draw attention upwards towards the right, and give our background characters a moment in the maze, which is a good instinct, but I’d still go with Trey’s expression in the shot, as it’s a lovely plot point to see how she’s dealing with the orgy of violence.  (my thoughts would be that she’s slightly enjoying it….).

But from a pure storytelling and design point (not to mention how good you are at moving the figure in space…) it’s just great.  Tweak up Trey’s face (and maybe…pull back from the gutter for the bad guy, that instinct might be right…) and it’s literally perfect.   GOOD JOB!   Each new page that comes in gets me all special tingly.

–  Ty the Guy.

So Daniel wnet back to the drawing board.. literally!

I’ve tweaked page 4-5 based on your feedback.  I’m somewhat partial to the previous head-down punch, simply because it reads more like an all-your-might finishing blow.  To me, seeing her face lessens the force of the punch.  But the head-up version does show her enjoying herself.  I’ve attached both versions for comparison.  I’ll of course go with the majority decision.  I’ve also pulled the merc back from the gutter ever so slightly — I feel doing it more would throw the composition balance off.

Well helloooo there, amazing! Reactions?
Loving all of this. The “head up” version of the double page spread is reading better to me. I think Trey’s body language sells the impact of the punch, so I don’t think you’re losing on that front.  – James
I love the back and forth artist and writer are engaging in and really dig your solutions. As for the two page spread, I prefer seeing Trey’s face myself.  We are selling the characters and this is the first story of the issue so we get a real sense of how the ladies take care of business! – Rob
As much as I understand your wishing to sell the power of Trey’s finishing blow to the bad guy, as Rob said so eloquently, we’re really selling these characters and this premise. She’s our star, and the more we engage in the star, the better the experience is for the readers. Verisimilitude is essential for good story telling, but your star is really the one that puts asses in seats!  LOVELY work.  – Ty the Guy
And finally, Daniel and James reworked page 6 and 7 together. And what a terrific exchange of ideas it was!
James explains how page 6 evolved:
I evolved page 6 somewhat from the script’s panel directions.  Below is what I wrote to James when I consulted him on the change and some of what he said in reply:

What I did was basically break up panel one into a series of moments to bridge the visual gap between the end of the fight on page 5 and entering Ashton’s office on page 6, while maintaining the flow of his dialogue.  To me, his dialogue on page 6 reads as a mad man’s monologue, a rant that would be spoken at the peak of his delusional glory regardless of there being an audience or not.  So, I think his panel 1 dialogue is complimented well with my 4-panel interpretation.  At the same time, I’ve melded panel 3 of Elizabeth and Trey into the panel 2, which is large enough to be an establishing shot as well as the reveal of his machine.  At first, I was going to use panel 3 to show Trey and Elizabeth’s reaction to the machine, as you had probably intended, but since there’s a bigger, more climatic reaction shot on the next page, I opted to let their dialogue speak for itself (juxtaposed against the rant) and use body language rather than facial expression to compliment it.

from James’ reply:  The build-up to the reveal is a lot more effective than the fast jolt to kicking in the door. I confess I’m a bit sad to lose the reaction shot of Elizabeth and Trey, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker by any means.  I love that we have no idea what he’s talking about or what he’s doing as the rant begins. It really does make the reveal work a lot better.

James also recommended I zoom in on the big panel more, which I have changed from the original draft that I sent him.
The push-in on page 6 is great. Can’t really think of anything to say about it other than how awesome it looks. – James
Daniel  then explained his thought process on page 7.
After laying out page 7, I shuffled things a bit and created 2 versions.  The art is the same, but I swapped panels 3 and 4 in version 2.  I don’t think it impacts the reading of the dialogue too much, but it changes things visually.  The location jump from panel 2 to 3 feels slightly more instantaneously recognizable (less confusion) by showing him behind bars before the ladies walking away.  I have attached both for your comparison. Your invaluable opinions please! – Daniel

A simple change can have a big effect.
In terms of page 7, for me it reads better when it goes: girls, Ashton, asylum. It’s a more gradual reveal to what’s going on, and I like the way Ashton’s dialogue flows when it comes one after the other. As always, fantastic work, man. See you tonight.
– James
As for the two versions of page seven…I’m with James.  It reads better to go the ladies first, then the shot of the madman, then the shot of the asylum.  It flows better without all the cutting back and forth between characters, smoother is better. LOVELY work.  See you in a few hours.   –  Ty the Guy
And that, dear Holmsians, is how collaboration works!
– Pinc!
Categories: Art, Thumbnails
  1. James Cooper
    April 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    The collaboration process has been an exceptional experience for me. As much as I learned with Ty in the classes I’ve taken, there’s no substitute for being in the trenches and putting the theory to work.

    Daniel has been a great partner to work with every step of the way, I can’t say enough good things about him.

  2. April 13, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Glad to hear it James! That’s the whole idea of Fit To Print – Rob

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