Hangover

When you've lived for years in a dry country, you sometimes overdo it when you have access to real alcohol. 

This comic, like "Summer Hike" started with a sketch in "The Blank" comic book. 

There's a lot more backstory in the first panel, referring to the night before with family friends who we never meet. One of my unofficial rules for "Smith vs. Smith" is that I want to keep the comic focused on Emma, myself and/or the cats and the relationships between the four of us. Part of the reason is to keep all these pages standalone (another "rule"). This is because most people admit to reading the comics from most recent to oldest, in "reverse" order when they first discover the site (which bugs me because that way the art gets worse as your read on). There are of course exceptions to both these "rules," but you get the idea. 

So, I eliminated the backstory, starting in the middle of the story. 

This is the inked page that I scanned for the comic. I wanted to repeat poses in the middle panel, so I left it blank originally, planning on copying and pasting figures from the first or last panel in Photoshop. You can also see that I only drew us sitting at the table. This was done for two reasons. One, it mimicked the agony of a hangover when you wish you could fast forward to when you are no longer hungover, or rewind to before the hangover, but you are stuck in the moment. It also allowed me to again mimic film language, with a slow push in of the "camera" as I slowly realize something is on Emma's mind. 

I played around with the sizes of the characters in each panel, perfecting the change in size until I was happy. 

I once again shared the comic with some friends and on a Facebook group. They pointed out that Emma didn't look hungover enough, so I redrew her completely in the first panel. Then I added the grays and shadows. 

(There's a reason the panels go from skinny to wide to skinny, and it has to do with the narration captions, but I want to see if anyone picks up on it...)

On a personal note, today Emma and I fly to Canada. We will soon be starting our back-to-school year, with Emma attending art school and myself enrolled in Canada's only Comics and Graphic Novels course. We are both unbelievably excited! I can't wait for these comics to get even better!

- Matt Smith!

A Summer Hike in Scotland

It is shocking how much time and effort went into this page! First, I drew two quick versions in "The Blank," a gift from my friend Ed Moline. "The Blank" is a blank comic book that is becoming a helpful way to get my ideas down on paper. I like it more than typing out my comics like a script because for me, the writing and drawing process is so closely linked in cartooning.

The first version of this page, drawn in "The Blank." Looking back, I miss the progression of pants, coat zipper, hoodie in the first few panels. 

I re-ordered the panels. I like the idea of ending with a soggy sandwich, as if that is the worse thing to happen all day, but the panels needed to build to the "punchline" of the fog ruining our victorious photograph.

The second version of the page in "The Blank."

In the second version of the page, the first few panels are all close ups, intending to mimic "getting ready" movie montages and build interest until the reveal of me in my winter coat. This is an extension of something I've tried to do in comics like "Late Night Feeding" and "Manual Labour." I like how in this page there is no text until the reveal of me in my winter coat (something that was eventually lost because I just couldn't find a better place for the opening caption).

From here, I moved on to thumbnails. I just finished re-reading all 24 issues of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip's FANTASTIC "Sleeper" series and their zig-zag panel layouts stuck with me (they also showed me how to draw rain on my sandwich). I am hesitant to use overly creative page layouts, preferring to stick to more basic pages, unless the story calls for it. However, I've also become obsessed with how a cartoonist can guide a reader's eye and I felt that a winding climb would be a good opportunity to experiment with a meandering page layout. I decided to try something different (after all, part of this webcomic is about experimentation). This decision would nearly be the death of me... 

Before I drew anything, I had Emma take some reference photographs with me. 

You can just barely see Thor, getting in the way as usual...

With these and other reference photos, I began to draw.

This is the first version of the page, closest to my thumbnails. I've included Emma much earlier in the story at this point. Originally, I was going to draw us walking up the hill in the upper left (just below the boot) and then walking down the hill after the panel of us at the peak. I didn't get that far when I realized the page wasn't working. I spent a few hours moving the panels and captions around. 

I was happier with this version (though disappointed that I couldn't push the layout as far as I originally envisioned). 

I stared at it, showed it to Emma and sent it to some friends. I had to admit the first caption had to come at the top of the page and the final caption felt like there was more to the story, making this page feel incomplete. I made the appropriate changes, thus creating the page you see above. 
Then, I decided to spend even MORE time with this (far too) in-depth behind-the-scenes post. Please let me know if you found this fascinating. If enough people dig the behind-the-scenes stuff, I'll keep writing more. If you've read this far to the bottom, thanks for reading and have a great week! 
Matt Smith!

matt@smithvssmith.com

Cats and Dog

The last few comics have been about Emma and my summer in Scotland, but this week I felt it was time to show what the cats have been up to. Usually, Neo and Thor spend their summer in a (shockingly expensive) cat hotel, but as Emma and I are moving to Canada, this summer they get to travel. We were worried about their first plane ride, but they handled their British Airways flight quite well (Emma and I had to settle for a KLM flight, but I'm glad the cats were comfy...). 

Our main concern with bringing the cats to Emma's parents' house was the family dog, Maisie. Neo is skittish, but Thor, the smallest pet in the house, is now in charge. The three of them seem to be getting along, which was a huge relief. 

This comic is a bit of a spiritual sequel to the wordless cat comics "Late Night Feeding" and "Thor's Yawn."


This week's comic took much longer than the normal weekly comics take. I really wanted to improve my animal drawing, and since it is a (mostly) silent panel, I wanted to draw the pets in some really animated and exaggerated poses. I originally intended to do more with the backgrounds, letting the pets run across the background through multiple panels, but I could only use two panels in each row because the action is so horizontal. I'm trying to use more black in my comics, but when one of your main characters is a black shaggy cockapoo, the pets got lost in the backgrounds. After staring at the comic for a while, I decided to go back and lighten the background to let the pets POP more. Let me know what you think of the experiments in the comments. And if this comic amused you at all, please share with your friends. Have a great week, 

Matt Smith!

Last Day in Kuwait

After packing everything up ahead of schedule, we had very little to do in the apartment aside from staring at the wall... Emma and I are both in Scotland for the new two months staying with her parents. Despite being on summer vacation, I'm determined to update the webcomic every Tuesday! I will be making comics soon about our summer! If you can't wait another full week to see some Smith vs Smith content, please follow me on Instagram @smithvssmithcomics

Packing

After several years teaching in Kuwait, Emma and I are moving on... We will be spending the summer in Scotland before relocating to Canada where Emma is attending art school and I will be studying comics and graphic novels at Camosun College

Comics will be posted on TUESDAYS now! If you are desperate for more comics before next Tuesday, be sure to follow @smithvssmithcomics on Instagram. You'll also get tons of exclusive content, like process videos for this comic! Follow us now! 

Trail

When I first started making comics, I never would have guessed how many comics about cats I would be writing... 

Speaking of cats, subscribers should have received my mini-comic "I'm Just Not a Cat Guy." I'd love to hear what you thought about it in the comments! If you haven't subscribed yet, be sure to do so and you can receive cool exclusives like future mini-comics! 

Are you following @smithvssmithcomics on Instagram? I post much more than just the weekly comic. Follow and tell your friends!