Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Consistency



With any creative work it’s important to have consistency. Within comics, at the most basic level, I think this comes down to characters being drawn the same way every time. The Jack drawn on page five should look the same as the Jack on page thirty-seven. There is nothing worse than having the reader think that Jack is some new mystery character when he’s been there all along. I found consistency to be a problem particularly when I was first getting into comics. It felt like I was getting better with every page, and so not only did Jack look different but page five and page thirty-seven didn’t even look like pages drawn by the same person.

This isn’t a problem anymore.

Now what I find to be a problem is consistency itself. Page five and thirty-seven look like they were drawn by the same person and Jack is clearly Jack every time, but I feel trapped by that consistency. I feel like a slave to it. Choices that I made in the beginning now govern everything. 

For example, I established a very dense grid with my most recent comic. Thirty-five little squares on a page. There is some flexibility within that, but after ten or fifteen pages thirty-five panels per page, I feel like I cannot break away from that grid unless I have a really good reason. My simply being sick of the grid is not a really good reason. 

Another example would be the fact that I got a pretty good way into the comic without using any words, which makes it really hard to use words in a later section. If you’ve gone thirty-seven pages without words, you better have a really good reason for putting a word on page thirty-eight. Not only that, but think about the pressure is on those words. After thirty-seven pages of wordlessness, those words had better be wonderful words. Glorious words. They have to have some power. They have to have some meaning. These cannot be mundane everyday words. There needs to be some poetry there. Thus, no words for the whole thing.

I think it’s this loss of choices that can make finishing a work so difficult. In the beginning it is all fun and possibility, but as the work progresses, the choices become rules and there are fewer and fewer possibilities. 

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