(Sorry it's been a little while; I finally finished sorting and unpacking all of my stuff here- I'm officially back in Nottingham now! But anyway, let's get going.)
One of my closest friends, Hannah, recently gifted me a Spider-man comic from 1992 on her return from America. My immediate reaction (as well as being glad she was back after 3 months, obviously) was that I needed to make a blog post on this comic as I think it's a great example of how to go about producing a comic book. I also thought it could be nice to compare it to a more recent Marvel comic book at a later date to see how the techniques compare. Most importantly, I felt obligated to write a post on this because it's a Spider-man comic (my favourite comic hero) but regardless, thanks to Hannah for providing the material for this post!
I immediately absolutely loved the cover (by Alex Saviuk) as it creates a really powerful, punchy and exciting feel for the content inside. The black and white/light blue creates a great amount of contrast and makes the cover feel exciting. I really like the rim lighting on Spider-man himself too, as the yellow highlight helps to keep the focus on him, also maintaining the level of contrast on the cover. I really like how the mini Spider-man in the top left panel actually overlaps onto the main cover illustration; this adds excitement and interactivity between the elements; a theme which is continued throughout the inside of the comic. One thing I found really interesting was that, in my opinion, the cover doesn't really feel dated. In fact, I feel like it would almost fit in with today's comic book cover designs; we still see the use of bright red, yellow and blue today in similarly styled bubbles and titles to catch the attention of the comic book audience. The interior is a little different, however.
Although the comic appears a little outdated inside (maybe due to the faded nature of some of its' print) the comic uses a wide variety of angles on each page, continuing the dynamic feeling of movement and excitement. In these particular examples, I really like how the perspective varies so much just on one page; an extreme wide angle with Spider-man appearing as a small, almost silhouette-like figure is followed by a super close up just of his mask. In the wide angle panel, Spider-man is barely recognisable; but his distinguished colours still allow him to be identified. The shape of the panel also aids the communication in relation to how high he is; the vertical nature of it specifically allows for more of the buildings to be seen, establishing a scale when next to the tiny Spider-man. I also really appreciate the use of an upward facing angle in the panel of Spider-man climbing downwards; it really communicates the steep slope of the side of the building and demonstrates the height that he is at. This is helped by the use of a vanishing point for the bricks and increased space between each brick in those closer to the front of the panel.
In my second example, I really liked the alternation of close up and far out angles, communicating what is happening with only the necessary details. The perspective I really liked, though, was the one in the centre panel; a three-quarter angle is used, allowing for a dynamic view of Spider-man and his environment, which isn't seen too often, as straight-on angles are commonly used.
In the next example, a similar technique is used in that a portrait panel allows for height and scale to be communicated clearly; we understand much better that the characters are falling from a great height than if a landscape panel had been used. A technique used in both examples below that I really liked, though, was the alternation of front and back facing perspectives; we view the characters as they are about to be hit from behind first, followed by seeing the finishing of the hit from the front, so we understand the events properly, and most importantly understand that Spider-man has not been hit. In both examples below, the use of silhouettes or extremely dark shading allows us to understand which characters are in the foreground and which are in the background, again aiding the communication of the comic. I feel like this comic communicates the story and movements of each character well, which is incredibly important in a medium where there is little text-based description of what is happening; the readers need to understand the events of the story visually and quickly as the little dialogue that is there will not take long to read.
Another interesting technique I saw throughout the comic was the use of overlapping elements or elements that extended outside of their own panel. This is commonly done with Spider-man himself to show that he is moving quickly or that he is advancing towards another character. This is the case in my second example; we see that Spider-man is jumping high as he is higher than the edge of the panel and appears to be close to the character in the foreground as he overlaps the panel above. I really like this technique and feel it is not overused in the comic- it may become boring if used on every page. In my first example though, the technique is used for the beam of light coming from Betty's gun; because the light is pure white, it extends into the area outside of the panels and becomes the white background behind them. I thought this was a really unique way to demonstrate that the gun is firing at a distance and towards the other characters in the panel it points towards.
In my last set of examples, similar techniques are used. I really like how the characters at the top of my first example aren't constrained to a panel; this was visually interesting to me and created a sense of diversity in the panels and how characters appear. It also communicates that Spider-man is speaking to a character above him and that he and Betty are crouching down to avoid the white beams being shot at them, represented by the white of the page. As Warfare reveals himself, he also stands in front of the panel that houses him. I think this is a really strong method of communicating how powerful he is, as he is much larger than the other characters and appears to be some kind of machine-like character who would be intimidating to Spider-man.
I was really attracted to the web string overlapping the panels in my second example. It doesn't add much to the communication of the piece (although it does indicate which direction Spider-man is moving in) but I felt it was rather visually interesting and added a bit of excitement to a page that would otherwise feel a little dull as it lacks the action of the other pages in the comic.
I really enjoyed flicking through the comic and getting a sense of the techniques commonly used in 90's comics (as well as seeing all of the SNES and other very 90's adverts thrown in throughout it!). I feel like looking at this as well as Hamish Steele's Deadendia has really helped me to get a good sense of how to pace and design comics to tell a story while maintaining strong communication. It has also helped me to document potential stylistic and illustrative techniques I could use in illustration generally, mainly in relation to the use of different perspectives and keeping both visual consistency and excitement.
I'd love to look at some other comics in future but feel I should try to broaden my net for the topics I'm writing posts about, so this might not happen for a while. I'm going to focus on some other elements of design (like branding/packaging, other types of print based media, and maybe some video game related things) so stay tuned!