For the last two weeks, I've been adding behind-the-scenes commentary to the weekly comic. Last week's comic ended up being a huge process, so I hoped this week's comic would be simple. It was not. 

Like last week's "A Summer Hike," this week's comic started as a quick page in a page of "The Blank." 

I wanted to work on my figure drawing and character poses, so I enlisted my sister-in-law and had her take photos of Emma and in similar poses to my sketch page. Then I digitally inked over the reference photos.


Film is my first love, and I always wish my comics were more cinematic. So I took the opportunity to use some film language along with the comic language. The comic ends on a reverse of the first panel. Where we started with Emma downstairs looking at me on the stairs and asking me to turn around and go back up, in the last few panels, I am on the ground, looking up at Emma on the stairs asking her to come back down. In film, when characters swap from left to right, it is called "crossing the line." In this case, the fifth panel is the turning point, when the balance of power shifts and the direction of the scene changes. I highlighted the crossing of the line by drawing us in white silhouette against a black panel. 

The page above has good poses, but the realistic proportions look incongruous with the rest of "Smith vs. Smith." Realistic heads are much smaller than I draw them. And we both look... much wider than I like. I have drawn entire pages completely digitally before, but I keep coming back to inking by hand, so I printed this version of the page, and hand drew over certain panels. 

The version of the page above is a Frankenstein's monster of hand drawings and digital. This is the version of the page I showed to a few friends and shared on a Facebook group. Overwhelmingly, people had issues with the last panel. Showing movement in static comics is a challenge, but showing subtle, slow movement is especially challenging. Based on some suggestions, I moved Emma further up the stairs and out of the frame. Angie Coe, a talented cartoonist from the Facebook group (she also does relationship comics so if you like my comics you should check her stuff out) actually drew me a quick sketch to suggest an alternate pose for the last panel. 

Art by Angie Coe. Used with permission.

The new pose makes the action broader and therefore, clearer. I also liked Angie's suggestion that Emma's hand stays where it is, like an anchor. For the final version of the page, I kept my pose the same during the last two panels, only changing my expression. This forces the reader's eye to search for the differences between panels more, allowing the change in Emma's position to stand out more. 

This "simple" page took far more time than I would have expected. If you've made it this far, please leave a comment and let me know what you think and please share with anyone you think has ever been in a similar conversation!