What makes a comic without any characters.

Comics have characters, places and things, a plot with events no matter how surreal. From Batman to the latest hipster wildness, characters take action in a world. Comics telling those stories is the same practice that Homer engaged in around a fire, the creation of empathy, narrative suspense, and fascination. If you remove the characters, the empathy, the narrative drive traditionalists think there is nothing there. But it’s a rich nothing that has paper, ink, paint, a cartoonist, a reader, pages, things that make a book. Can that basic of a book exist outside of narrative traditions?


Alan Haverholm’s “When the Last Story is told”, is a 61 page graphic novel. It has no words, a six-panel grid and pages that look like late minimalism, others pages look like action painting, still more are paper and or photo collages.

You can’t consume this like a traditional comic, with no words you can’t even read it. As you you turn pages you have to ask yourself why? In a book, 61 collages become one object. As one object each panel now has a relationship with all the other panels. The first page with juicy thick white paint built over collaged paper declares itself as “Art” these days. A textural stamped black smudge runs out underneath panel 2 and leads the eye to turn the page.


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Patterns in Kirby’s Work

Being able to pull skills from other artists work is hard, it involves analyzing their work. Summarizing it for yourself, then using it in a way that isn’t totally derivative. The goal is to not swipe or just steal others work.

Here are four two panels sequences from Jack Kirby’s Forever People #8 that I’ve redrawn. One part of my daily practice is just to draw Kirby every day to add the work into my hand.





In 3 Kirby adroitly pairs closeups with three quarter sequence.
By placing a large shape next to smaller shapes the impact of each is stronger.
Shapes of all the same size create a monotone pace, something that Kirby wasn’t interested in.

In the fourth two panels, he jumps from extreme close up to full figures.
A modification and one that is a great lead into an action sequence.

We could focus on the figures gestures and use this for the stick figure stage of drawing.
Or look at the structure of his forms,how he handles light or the rendering, but lets just focus on the one part of the drawing right now.
By writing up a pattern I can have an easy way to remember this for myself.

Name: Close Up to Three Quarter heads
Description: In a two panel sequence make one head large filling most of the panel. The second make the head three quarter and include others in the composition so that we have a sense of where we are.
Usage: Within conversations when a point needs to be emphasized by a close up. Check a sequence within the 100s drawing to use it at least once to add punch to it.

Next: Using a pattern to edit my work

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