Monday 29 May 2017

Sorting Stuff Out

Maybe you know I'm packing some boxes, moving a few (thousand) kilometers to a different province. This cartoon comes from my experience of finding a box of letters that I initially thought I'd just move, but then I opened it. You can see what happened next.

Believe it or not, this one is a bit of a triumph for me because I was able to start and complete it so fast; about an hour to do the rough (done on one piece of 11 x 17 paper, and another small piece to add an additional panel (more on that later). Then I took out my last piece of transparent drafting paper and inked it in about an hour. The only things I did in Photoshop was arranging the panels and adding the borders. 

Previously I've drawn panels on various pieces of paper - in case I make a mistake and screw up a panel, then I don't screw up the whole page - and then combine them at the end, but that doesn't work so well for me. By doing most of the panels on one piece of paper helped me see how it would all come together. Obvious for you perhaps, but it was a stroke of genius for me!

The middle panel where the fellow is reading the letter and the woman is seated and gesturing in front of him was tough. Initially it was as tall as the panel to its left. I was going to have something above the man and woman to describe the contents of the letter/discussion but couldn't settle on anything. I took a few minutes and thought that I needed to get across the idea that he realizes he is "looking back", perhaps at bygone things, so I drew the panel just below where he is looking at the books and "Golden Oldies" record. By adding this panel, I was able to communicate his realization, and by not drawing something above the couple, I thought the viewer could imagine what's in the letter, and what he's feeling/thinking.

I like the inking. Nice and rough, but still clear and clean enough. I like the character design; his funny blocky feet and she turned out really well. Nice clear, sharp, flowing lines - my hand was working really well there, no shakes! I like the jokey quality - that he's going to "sort" the boxes with a shovel, and then how that metaphor continues with the hole he's dug into all the boxes. The box of letter's he's reading is meant to look a bit like a casket. It was hard to suggest that without making it obvious.  Perhaps some clever lighting would have helped. I also like how the border drops away on the second last panel. I did that because I thought it would better communicate the link that the old stuff and the woman are related.

I think it reads clearly and there is some heart there. I don't think it is trite nor sentimental, but let me know if you think it is. My feeling when shredding those letters was complicated. I wasn't happy, a bit sad, but felt I was saying goodbye. I knew if I kept the letters, if I sat and read them, I'd just be staying back with old stuff and didn't think that would be good at all. I needed and need to move forward. I hope some of that comes across. If you have an idea how that could have been communicated better, the comments box is listening!


  1. Not trite. Not sentimental.

    A very well represented (with VERY intricate composition elements that I'd never have been aware of - but which maybe subliminally worked on me anyhow) life moment.

    I like it. I might even love it (especially the panel of the big hole in the stuff).

    My only problem with it is the panel with the golden oldie records. I found that it stopped the flow of the story. Interesting that you added it later.

    Still, great story. Seemingly simple but full of emotion and human complexity.

  2. Interesting that that panel that I added later was the one that stopped the story flow.

    I see that that is a perhaps a negative, but then again, perhaps it is important that it stopped you because that is where the man stopped reading the letters. Seeing the "Golden Oldies" record and other stuff also popped him out of his reverie.

    I wonder what was it that stopped you reading there. Was it that there was very small text and things to read?

    On a slightly different note, I've found these sorts of pages are much more poignant and interesting if there are no words, that you as the reader pour over it more.

    Thanks for checking it out and commenting.

  3. I hate to say it but I think that panel stopped me because it didn't fit into the story. It was different and a bit jarring and I actually looked back a few panels then forward again and went "whuh?!!".

    Before that, you have a progression. Guy packing, there's a lot of stuff, needs a shovel, digs a hole, finds an old treasure -- looks at records?!!

    It makes sense in your explanation but didn't work for me before I read that explanation.

    And maybe it's just me.

    And maybe it doesn't matter much at all. It's still a great little story that works like a charm. And you're right about not having words. It makes it more poignant and urges me to pore over it again and again.

  4. Oh, when oh when will we get a new piece of art from you? It's been too long!

    It's like you up and left town or something.

  5. Yeah, you're totally right. It feels that way too!! I'll see if I can dig out some pencils, steal some time and do something.


Thanks for your input!