3.08.2011

Grinding It Out


And Then One Day #9: Page 10 (Elephant Eater): Panel 1: For anyone who’s been on the San Diego State University (SDSU) campus and seen the plethora of public sculptures, from such notable artists as Donal Hord, the rich background details in this panel will certainly ring true. Even if you haven’t visited this particular campus, it’s obvious that Ryan’s background and general world-building aesthetic have grown tremendously in recent years. Once again we see meticulous attention to detail and a great effort to provide depth in multiple layers, from the main players up front, to random passersby at two levels of background in the distance. It’s apparent even with the inanimate objects, such as the sculpture, the buildings, and then the clouds in the distance. Ryan and Dr. Polkinhorn explain why comics criticism in the form of actual comics is such a rarely seen type of art, because it would require blending at least three different disciplines in a fairly competent manner – writing comics, drawing comics, and (if I can be so bold) the art of offering meaningful feedback and constructive critique to other practitioners – certainly a daunting task for anyone.

Panel 2: Here, Ryan uses that noteworthy texturing technique in the background again and the way it’s shaped, the dome really forces your eye down onto the two characters. Not only does Ryan capture great facial expressions and figure gesturing with this panel, but there’s something about the good-natured laugh that really gets me. I like the way that these two individuals, from different generations, with different sensibilities, and at least a couple decades of age between them, can share a hearty laugh and connect in this way. It’s almost as if Ryan’s look suggests that he’s surprised he cracked up the professor to the degree he did. It’s a fast little moment, but a realistic one, and I can only assume this is a fairly accurate representation of what it was like in reality, because I don’t think you can fabricate these complex little lightning-fast experiences.

Panel 3: This panel is another in a scale that is quickly becoming my favorite. For whatever reason, I keep calling out this “camera position” and seem to really appreciate Ryan’s figure work at this relatively smaller size. There’s something about the general size, not the look or feel, but the general size, that reminds me of an artist like Eddie Campbell. It’s almost as if the artists view the world through a distorted microscopic lens, and it really emphasizes the point that they are carefully observing the world around them, as well as their place within it. The detail also never stops; for me, I think a lesser artist wouldn’t have even bothered to include the trash cans to the right or the bench with the guy leisurely sitting, but Ryan always seems intent on giving the extra effort, and as a reader the resulting effect is well worth the labor involved!

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