Grinding It Out

And Then One Day #9: Page 24 (Elephant Eater): Panel 1: With this wide open panel, and Dr. Polkinhorn verbally setting the stage for something different, the possibilities of where this will go are equally wide open…

Panel 2: Shoot, I always love when Ryan pushes himself this hard and tries something different. The combination of the design of the panel border, and the levitating figures (which totally remind me of the otherworldly monsters in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode entitled "Hush" – Best. Episode. Ever.) immediately transport us to another place which allows “dream logic” to take over and consume our attention. Capturing the ethereal dream vibe and the unnerving sense of “dream logic” I mention are things that many artists attempt, but few nail. And? Yeah, Ryan nails it. He captures the sense of isolation, the uncertainty, the uncommon physical abilities, all with just enough realism to somehow make it plausible to our sleepy senses.

Panel 3: Here, Ryan certainly captures that fleeting sensation we experience when all dreams inevitably come to an end and begin to fade away from our mental grasp. The end of the dream coincides with Polkinhorn discussing the end of their collaboration, and the end of the book we’re reading nearing the end, in a nice bit of visual, textual, and thematic synchronicity. As Polkinhorn drifts away, you can’t help but notice the barren landscape that Ryan has created for the dream sequence, while all of his artistry we’ve been discussing is in full effect. We see the depth, texture, line weights, balancing in terms of graphic design elements, and general page and panel composition playing out seamlessly.

Panel 4: This is a small little tactical thing, but I really like when Ryan draws that little bursty star design. I always hear “poit!” in my head. I’ve seen him use it to denote slurred hiccupy drunken speech in his book The Machinist, and various times through the ATOD run to denote exasperation or the groggy eye-opening wake-up bit as he does here. It’s really those small little details that can make or break a panel sometimes. If you imagine this panel without those marks or the small little bubbles emanating from Polkinhorn, it would come off pretty cold and lifeless. As is, those small marks carry a lot of meaning and convey something instantaneously that two sentences of text would probably struggle to. That there’s true visual storytelling folks!


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