INSPIRATION FROM COMICS

Originally posted on the MA Character animation course blog, published April 17th 2016.

I’ve been drawing for a very long time and even though I started thinking about becoming an animator really early (four-five years old) I have also considered drawing comics for a living. I eventually skipped that idea when I realised that I was more drawn the dynamic drawing than the static.

I still remain a fan of comics and in this post I thought I should show some of the comics that somewhat influenced my style of drawing. I tend to focus on story when reading comics so I like many comics even if they look very basic and simple, but when I find a comic I like that also look nice they tend to stay with me much longer and I tended to study them to see how to frame a picture, look at angles and ways to show textures, shapes and lighting.

In Norway, where I come from, we have a strong tradition for comics. Mainly Disney and European ones, in the last few decades there have also been popping up several good Norwegian comic strip artists and reading comics is seen as part of the Norwegian culture as they usually have a broad audience. American comics other than Disney has never had a strong influence in Norway and I didn’t read a single superhero comic until I was in high school. The most popular comics in Norway other than Disney tend to be funny, absurd and sometimes a little over the edge. Since we never had that superhero influence we also tend to prefer comics that makes fun of everyday life.

So, here are some of my favourites.

Frode Øverli

This man is the most successful comic strip artist in Norway. His main comic, called Pondus, is about a man in his forties and his family and friends. Pondus, which is the main character, lives in Bergen, Norway has a wife, two children, a dog and a good friend, Jokke. He is a living football encyclopaedia, supports Liverpool and only listens to rock n’ roll. The series is mainly everyday situations and conversations between the characters.

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Øverli’s other comic is called Square One. And drawing wise this is my favourite of his as this comic doesn’t have a set of characters or locations and is just based on jokes or absurdities. This means that the comic artist can draw whatever comes to mind and shows an even broader range of his abilities.

Nils Axle Kanten

Nils Axle Kanten is another one of Norway’s more successful comic strip artists and probably the one that have had the most influence on me as he also is my former animation teacher! He has a background from animation, but unlike me preferred comics and is currently working on two different comics while also working on illustrations. The ones that is shown here is from his comic Firekanta which is like Øverli’s Square One a one drawing comic based on a joke with no particular characters.

Carl Barks

Me, and my parents, have spent a small fortune on Donald Duck comics through the years. Not only did I get a comic weekly for 15 years of my life, but I also have several collections of Carl Barks’ work. My favourite thing about these comics growing up was the stories and the enormous variation in location and time. I also like Barks’ style of drawing as he has a nice amount of detail and colours. It was in these comics that I started to study how to balance out a fairly simple character towards a detailed background.

Talking about details, that brings me over to my number one Donald Duck comic artist in terms of style.

Don Rosa

I have for as long as I can remember loved to study Don Rosa’s intricate and highly detailed comics. The details are not only there to define textures of shadows, but as well as to flesh out the scene in every drawing. This is a style that although I know it wouldn’t work with animation is one of my goals in how I wish to be able to draw. In this style the humour is in the drawing just as much as in the story.

Jerry Scott and Jim Borgmann

Zits is another comics that I like for the same reason as Don Rosa, the details. It’s about the life of teenager Jeremy Duncan and although American keeps very close to everyday life.

Bill Watterson

One of my absolute favourites is Calvin and Hobbes. A comic that is so well drawn that I think this is the comic that made me realise the art comics can be and so well written that I keep coming back to it. Although the dialogue in this comic strips are great I tended to like the strips with little to no words the best. Just because Watterson was amazing at telling both story, atmosphere and emotion with just his lines and colouring.

Herge

I don’t remember when I was introduced to Tintin, but I do remember that I was young enough that someone had to read it out to me. Since then I’ve been a fan of the clean lines and simple character designs. I’ve always admired Herge’s ability to draw cars, planes and buildings especially. I like to look at his drawings to see how to define weight and textures with quite even lines.

André Franquin

Another Belgian comic artist with a style that is maybe the closest to what I want to achieve. With a background from animation his comic book characters are loose and softly drawn, but with quite a lot of detail! They have a graphic approach with defined shadows and a clear sense of movement. It’s completely opposite of Herge’s style and Herge has been quoted that he highly admired Franquin’s work. The images are from Franquin’s work on the comic Spirou.

And for last,

Yoann Chivard and Fabien Vehlmann

The two artist that is currently drawing Spirou and is keeping it in Franquin’s style although even closer to a graphic novel. This style is just so beautiful, I never get tired of looking at it.

So that is some of my favourite comic artists. A few out of many more.

And to round it all of, I found this comic, drawn by Frode Øverli, that is definitely representing how it feels at the moment for me to be stuck in the studio with my final project.

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