techniques and secrets of Arsenic Lullaby
page composition as a whole
okay so, up to this point i've been showing page layout based on timing and eye movement. Now, here is a page that was laid out with a slightly more standard art composition in mind. In this page i was looking at the page as a whole, and combining the individual panels using standard artistic composition rather than timing and eye movement. let's look at it with a few highlighted areas.
This page is all about mood and the creepiness of it. since we have already gone over "implied lines" we can plainly see that the first panel has a series of implied triangles. just like different colors produce different feelings, different shapes produce different feelings- triangles for example imply security, permanence, stability. the sleeping woman is surrounded by triangles- she is in a secure setting, HOWEVER we also learned that the eye is drawn to doors and windows so the security is contrasted by our eyes being drawn to the open window with joe and merl lying in wait....that's the setting of the mood. BUT this camera shot also helps set the mood. it is a standard birds eye view where we are being drawn down into the action, so just as Joe and Merl are creeping in...so too does the reader feel like an onlooker, peeping tom. and rather than have the sleeping woman framed smack dab in the middle of the composition, she is off the the lower right. this...if that were all there was to the composition...would make for a crappy panel because your eye would travel right off the page as it went from middle left (joe and merl) to lower right (following down the woman's body to her head). However...large black areas stop your eye...they create subliminal barriers (I can't remember if i mentioned that or not...but now i have...black = stop) so the whole panel is blocked off by blacks - the night horizon in the window, the cabinet and dresser sides and the black headboard rails. these along with the triangles keep the eye bouncing around and stretching out the time spent in the panel. also i should add that the word balloons have no tails for a reason. tails on word balloons are an often forgotten element. they lead the eye as sure as the most imposing lines in a composition. so, to keep from disrupting the composition and to imply the most time possible...the word balloons have no tails...they simply exist on the page...whispers in the night.
the second half of this page is COMPLETELY different from the top panel in composition, camera angle, and timing. Joe and Merl are outside of the room, their victim is inside...so having drastic differences between the panels they are in, and the top panel that the room is featured in really help create a world on the page. it is as thought that top panel is a room and the bottom panels are outside. as thought the sleeping woman panel is still going on while Joe and Merl spring their evil doings in the lower panel.
one other technique in this page that i like and do from time to time is that the panels in the lower section can really be read from top to bottom as effectively as from left to right. in fact if you follow the red lines, the top and bottom panels could very well read like a flip book.
damn i'm good.
all false bravado aside, this is one of the best pages i've ever done, i really caught lighting in a bottle with it.
it almost makes me sad that i don't have the time, patience or tools to do those uneven grey lined areas anymore. the uneven grey really plays havoc with the eyes and makes the reader uncomfortable. unfortunately i did those with a technical pen that they discontinued long long ago. it was a steadler triple zero. man that was a great pen, i could draw three lines on the head of a pin with that thing, or write one straight line a block long without ever having it skip, stutter, blot or snag/spray on the page. it was actually discontinued before i ever did an issue, i got mine at an estate sale. i only had one and it got ruined when i was cleaning it one day. probably a blessing in disguise though, i'd have arthritis and coke bottle glasses by now if i had it past issue four. but really...look at the steadiness of my hands on those lines in the top panel, there must be a thousand lines there just barely kissing each other. Steady patient hands...that's the stuff dreams are made of...am i right ladies?...that's right, you know what i'm talking about...HEY! don't you back away from the computer!! my idle hands are getting lonely...HEY! COME BACK HERE! >:(
OH YEAH! in a movement of extreme foreshadowing/insanity...the nightstand has a tiny drawing of a pack of cigarettes on it...you hard core reader will get the significance of that. Arsenic Lullaby is FULL of little things like that, for instance the FIRST appearance or Baron Von Donut was on a bag of donuts Joe fed to a victim in issue...uhm 10 i think...five issues before he would make an appearance as a speaking character. in fact my favorite "you are a dumbass who will never truly understand my genius" moment is when a reviewer bitched that i kept forgetting to draw the back of voodoo joe's head. of course if you read Arsenic Lullaby Omega you know that WAYYYY back in issue no.2 i was already setting the stage for the end of the series.
AND if you get issue ten and cut out all the panels with that donut bag you can make a flip book out of them and Baron Von Donut dances.