Sunday, 26 August 2012

HARDtalk: The Dave Sim Interview (23b)

Can we expect to see more Dave Sim collaborative work in future? 

Brian John Mitchell is a regular correspondent and a very productive creator.  Every second or third envelope arrives with a good half-dozen of his micro-minis in it, all of which I would rate at least 3 out of 5 stars and many of which are easily 4 out of 5 or 5 out of 5 stars.  One of his more interesting series which swerves from poignant to outright hilarious is LOST KISSES.  It's really not politically correct, but it's hysterically funny when he's doing humour.  Especially ULTIMATE LOST KISSES: THE DAILY STRIPS, his self-confessed "bitter break-up" mini.

So, as usually happens, I was answering the mail and I knew his letter was coming up.  It had a script in it for ULTIMATE LOST KISSES -- that is LOST KISSES drawn by other people (Brian himself does stick figures -- so it was a funny idea already).  Well, no, I'm running ahead of the freight train as I always am.  I can allocate a couple of days to answering the mail every month or two but answering the mail doesn't include drawing a 25-page comic -- even when it's not much larger than the size of my thumbnail.  Maybe especially.  I've never worked that size.  So then I get to the letter and I'm reading the script.  And it's a good script.  Actually it's a GREAT script. It has to be. It's BJM.  He's never written anything bad that I've read and he sends me everything he does.

So, then I go, "Well okay, what would be involved here?  What if I did it JUDENHASS style?"  That is, doing a single drawing and then "Ken Burns-ing" it.  Enlarge it on the photocopier to do a close-up. Reduce it to do a "camera pulls back".  Pan across it by chopping it up left to right or right to left.  How many drawings would I need to do to "cover" the material?  I'm still not committed to DOING it but I'm not outside of my comfort zone of answering a letter...YET.  Takes maybe five minutes to break the problem down.  Yeah, I could do this with -- whatever it was -- four drawings, five drawings.  Okay, now, it's (as Gene Day used to say, without the hyphens) "S--it or get off the pot" time.  So I grab a sheet of scrap illustration board and do the four or five drawings which takes maybe a half-hour because they're size-as or slightly larger.  And then I start photocopying them and cutting them up on the light table and taping the enlarged and reduced photocopies into place in BJM's script (which thoughtfully leaves space for the drawings).
Extract from Lost Kisses #11 (2009)
Story and words by Brian John Mitchell, art by Dave Sim
I think it took me an hour and fifteen minutes to do a 26-page story (or however long it was) which was very empowering. I mean, it's not FINISHED but it's a complete blueprint for a comic book.  The rest of it is just a tech problem.  I sent him the original art, he scanned it and then copied my photocopy clip- and-paste job in Photoshop.  Clean copies, clean cuts, squared-up borders with the same line density.  But I don't have to do that (and, in fact, don't know HOW to do that).

Yes, this works.  Remember this.  So I DID remember it as I was working on Rich's ELEPHANTMEN cover.  Which is why I thought to pitch him on the idea.  I think I just did the first couple of pages so he could get the idea.  And he didn't say, "This is just one drawing reused" which seemed a real possibility.  No, if you know what you're doing, it isn't obvious.  The camera "movement" creates the drama in the same way that Ken Burns' camera work created an extra layer of drama in his CIVIL WAR documentary.  So you forget you're looking at still images because the "cinema tropes" are so deeply ingrained that you respond to the "movement" and how it's changing the emphasis of the words.

Tomorrow:  Will Dave Sim ever actually answer the question about possible future collaborations? It's been DAYS and DAYS!  Tune in Same Moment of Cerebus Time, Same Moment of Cerebus Channel!

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