Grinding It Out

And Then One Day #9: Page 17 (Elephant Eater): Panel 1: Man, there’s so much going on in this page, as it appears that Ryan is returning home from his meeting with Dr. Polkinhorn at SDSU. I like the first panel because it seems to add so much context to the action taking place. Ryan appears as just one player in a much larger world of activity. There are cars, other people, and a bustling atmosphere. I really do enjoy this diminutive figure scale and the detail he’s able to cram in.

Panel 2: If you thought the first panel was a smaller scale that possessed high detail, then this panel ups the ante even further. We pull out to reveal the larger cityscape, clouds vanishing on the horizon as far as the eye can see, a busy intersection as we track Ryan’s tiny path through the chaos, and the entire vibe is one of contemplation, pause, or introspection as Ryan, and his audience by extension, can now reflect on the copious amount of information we absorbed through the first dozen pages or so. It seems like I keep repeating myself, but perhaps *this* panel is the smallest figure scale I’ve seen Ryan work at? The panel size is already relatively small, less than a 1/4th page, not quite a 1/9th size, and the detail is just staggering, receding into oblivion.

Panel 3, 4, 5, 6: This grouping of panels is a quick sequence that is very efficient because it gets several actions across, but doesn’t waste a lot of precious page real estate doing so. It’s also a rapid fire reminder of what an effective storyteller Ryan is from a sheer panel to panel perspective. These transitions are so tight, and so connected, that it almost spoils the reader because we don’t have to do a lot of work providing closure in the gutters.

Panel 7: There’s been a “raging debate” over Ryan’s automobile illustrations brewing across the interwebs during this issue of ATOD. Here, it’s very clear to me that Ryan is using photoreference of actual distinct makes and models, as he pointed out last time, and not simply drawing generic cars. You can clearly make out specific trucks, SUVs, and other types of vehicles. If I could offer just one further tiny little suggestion, it would be for Ryan to increase the relative size of the wheels and tires so that the wheel wells were filled in a little more and the space they occupy would be a larger proportion of the overall size of the vehicle. Since I live in San Diego, where this story is set, I’m always trying to make out backgrounds, and I wonder if Ryan intended this to be a specific street/block in SD. It’s also interesting that Ryan goes “widescreen” in the middle of the page. You’d think you’re eye would naturally be drawn to this panel, and it is briefly, but then it’s actually drawn down to the weight of the next panel. When I consciously track what my eye does across this page, it seems to work in three layers. One, I’m pulled immediately over to the cluster of panels 3, 4, 5, 6. I take that in, pause, and then two, dive into the widescreen of this panel. Three, my eye gets pulled down to panel 8. It’s a nice visual throughline of attention that traverses a diagonal line from top right to bottom left. I’m not sure if that’s significant or not, but I’m always interested in noting my own, almost involuntary, reactions to stuff like this.

Panel 8: Ryan does another Family Circus homage with the dotted line pathway trailing behind the protagonist. At first, I thought this was just a little flourish that he was doing for style points. Then, I realized that it’s a pretty good tool to use in order to save space. Were he to attempt this another way, he could either A) do the same panel, but without the dotted line, which wouldn’t really emphasize any motion, or B) split the action over (at least) two panels, with the first showing him riding down the sidewalk, and then the second showing him going up or already atop the incline. As is, he’s able to really show at least two panels worth of activity and direction all in one, with style points as a bonus. Cool.

Panel 9: Not a lot to say in this last panel, other than I like the camera placement, because it’s much lower than eye level, shooting up the side of the building and toward the sky. You don’t get this angle a lot in comics. That’s that, and I’m still very curious to see where this goes next!


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