Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Interesting Ideas but Limited Knowledge
Eunice P at 8:16AM, Nov. 11, 2007
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Has anyone ever try drawing pages or coming up with ideas that you have not much knowledge of? An example would be like drawing a comic about French people and lifestyles when you barely know much about French cultures. Or drawing a war scene when you have no clue at all how people fight in wars.

How do you approach such situations if your comic ideas have placed you in such challenging position? Do you try to draw everything based on your own limited knowledge and fill it in with your own imaginations, assumptions and stereotypes? Or do you abandon the idea entirely even when your ideas seem interesting to you?

As for me, I would usually try to avoid stereotypes and do some bit of initial research. Even though doing research alone may not cover everything that I do not know of, at least it provides a basic foundation to avoid making a complete fool of myself. So, what about the rest of you on DD here? Have you guys ever approach situations such as this?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:23PM
CharleyHorse at 8:31AM, Nov. 11, 2007
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I will tackle any scene or dialog if there isn't going to be too many following strips or pages also in need of research. I definitely avoid entire cartooning environments where everything is an unknown to me. The only exception is sci-fi, because in that respect anyone's vision is as legitimate as the next person's.

It comes down to research and interest with me. I'm willing to do a bit of research to nail a scene or a bit of unusual dialog type, but not commit to extensive research on an ongoing basis. It would take the pleasure right out of the cartooning process for me and I would lose interest in the project.

As for the actual scene, a war scene for instance; I usually have an image or sort in my head to begin with that will serve as the general background and composition pattern. I would, however, have to kick up photo-references to place the specific details that create verisimilitude.

So I do try to put in key aspects of legitimate detail, but on the whole I find that the less specific detail overall in such instances the better. A suggestion, in other words, serves me better than trying to get everything just right.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
JustNoPoint at 8:53AM, Nov. 11, 2007
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Google is very much my friend in times like this. I am currently trying to study more religions and philosophies of various cultures myself.

For police stuff, luckily, I have a friend that can tell me some of the quirks. I also like watching things like Law & Order because it has many different themes regarding victims and such that can remind me to research deeper.

Anyway, I tend to have to research wherever my story takes me. I won't “not write a story” due to lack of knowledge. Usually after I research more I come up with all sorts of neat new stories from the knowledge I acquired.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:12PM
mlai at 10:06AM, Nov. 11, 2007
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Research is part of the fun of creating a story; my research takes me to all kinds of new places that I would've never discovered otherwise.

If research wasn't fun, I wouldn't do a shred of it to begin with.

Many of my interests today, such as in certain history, myth, and music, grew from doing research on a comic years ago.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
kyupol at 11:30AM, Nov. 11, 2007
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Has anyone ever try drawing pages or coming up with ideas that you have not much knowledge of? An example would be like drawing a comic about French people and lifestyles when you barely know much about French cultures. Or drawing a war scene when you have no clue at all how people fight in wars.

Invent invent invent… while research research research. Sorry I cant come of a better explanation. :(

I'm actually having the same problem right now as I work on the script of PARA-SAYO ('just for you').

The comic will be set in the Philippines. Basically about the war between Filipino troops vs communist insurgents… with a little twist about demonic and magical stuff.

Now my references are:
- news articles

- research on the equipment of the Philippine Army. Lemme see… M-16s… “Commando” tanks, other cold war and vietnam era USA army equipment, F-5 jets, Huey helicopters, howitzers, MSSR (marine scout sniper rifle), “Hari-Digma” tank, etc. etc. etc. Dont forget the uniforms. :)

- Watch communist propaganda on the internet. Especially the ones that show their training. I noticed it would be a challenge to draw them in swarms because they have no uniforms. Though sometimes they wear Filipino soldier uniforms but put up a red band on their arm with the NPA logo or the hammer and sickle.

The problems
- I woulda used Abu Sayaff but its the communists who love posting propaganda on the internet.
- I've never been in an ambush before or had any combat experience during my compulsory army training back home. I have knowledge of training methods though. So those combat scenes have to be improvised.

I imagine a rebel ambush to be a few explosions (roadside bombs) and mortar-rocket attacks… then followed by the rebel assault team supported by sniper fire. Skill-wise, the assault team would suck since thats where new recruits (sometimes 12 year old kids) normally end up. A poorly done reckless human wave attack. Some of the human wave combatants would only be equipped with a bolo or pistol or M-1 garrand rifle. :) Snipers would be a bit more skillful though.

While soldiers would take cover behind their APCs or lie on the ground with guns pointed outward as they return fire. Or… take cover even on the nearest lump on the ground that can be used as an improvised ‘trench’. Of course the troops need to SCATTER a bit to avoid being killed in large numbers by the rocket and mortars.

——

Other tentative settings in that comic would be pre-Hispanic Philippines (period before the year 1565).

As a small country, we don't really dont have that much appearance in cartoons unlike the Japanese and European medieval settings.

So far, my refpics could be children's books and Filipino martial arts websites and videos.

The combat scenes might be pirate attacks or forest combat where the combatants will fight like ninjas or something. Weapons will include blowdarts and yo-yos. For melee, it would be arnis sticks and knives. Based on FMA (Filipino martial arts) videos, I notice their techniques have little to no ‘defense’. The philosophy of FMA is to be on constant attack. By hitting the attacker's arm or leg before he hits you, you are “attacking” and not defending.

The problem though… I havent tried FMA hands on. lol!

—–

But on the bright side, doing that would make you learn how to draw better. lol
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:25PM
usedbooks at 1:14AM, Nov. 12, 2007
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I have had to research a lot of things. Wikipedia and Google are great for when you want to look up, for example, all the effects of Rohypnol (happily, I have no personal experience/knowledge of this). ;) I have to look up weaponry all the time. I've seen no weapons in use and very few out of use, but guns, knives, poisons, etc. are all very common in my story. I also have to look up karate moves, and sometimes I ask my brother what type of moves to use, since he knows a bit of karate. I've also had to ask my roommate about medieval weaponry and the tools of fortune telling and my other roommate can help me with the details of the criminal justice system.

In short, I rarely write about stuff I have any expertise in, but I keep a lot of resources and references around. It's kinda fun to learn about random stuff like that too. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:37PM
Eunice P at 3:45AM, Nov. 13, 2007
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Wow, I guess I'm not the only one who's having trouble with ideas that tend to go beyond my grasp of knowledge. I especially like the different kinds of approach you guys have mentioned in obtaining knowledge. And I'm even more surprised to know that some of you actually went into intensive research in order to make your comic storyline seem convincingly real to the audience. That was indeed awe inspiring. Thanks. :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:23PM
mlai at 5:37AM, Nov. 13, 2007
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My adherence to authenticity grew out of the specialty mangas I read as a kid. Mangas concerning golf, fishing, cooking, and such esoteric subjects. The author not only did research, but also made those boring things interesting to read about. Of course there's also Hikaru No Go.

Contrast this with American comic books. "Wait this isn't what the inside of the CIA looks like.“ ”Are you kidding me, this isn't what a hospital looks like!"

As I become older, I can stomach less of that crap. In this regard, Transformers (the movie) was just ridiculously stupid. They changed the emblem of the Pentagon just so kids could see it better.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
kyupol at 8:23AM, Nov. 15, 2007
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I find it hard to gather up info about Scout Rangers (Philippine elite army unit). Also known as “Musangs”.

That is the stuff nobody really wanna talk about because it can endanger the safety of actual members. Even a general idea like info about selection criteria is already considered enough to be a “security threat”. No need to reveal locations or names of people.

Security threat? But maybe they have the same selection criteria as the USA Delta Force?

http://www.army.com/enlist/delta-force.html

Delta Force members are selected for specific traits, whether it's language skills, an ability to shoot someone from a half-mile away or extreme physical endurance. But usually they pick them for a lack of showy machismo. They're extremely low-key; some of them look like superheroes, but most of them tend to be laid-back, slow to anger, not show-offy in any way. For one thing, it's difficult to be the best in an occupation and yet be sworn to secrecy. Once you're in that unit you dress as a civilian, wear civilian hair and can grow a beard.

Or maybe different. God knows.

Or I'd just make up stuff. lol!
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:25PM
Knuckles at 8:29AM, Nov. 15, 2007
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If I try to tackle something I've never done before, but I think it's interesting, then I will always do some initial research on it first so I can get in the right mindset.
I use Google images to look for reference photos so I can get a general idea of how things are done.

Myth Xaran (manga) - http://www.drunkduck.com/Myth_Xaran
Exodus Studios (Games & More) - http://www.exodus-studio.com
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:19PM
usedbooks at 8:39AM, Nov. 15, 2007
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I didn't know it was common to NOT research. I approached my project just like I write novels and novellas. Details are important. I can't imagine getting into a story that wasn't accurate. (But maybe I'm too critical. A single glaring scientific or historical error can ruin an entire book or movie for me.) Plus, I'm usually writing detective stuff, so it's important to have a firm standing in detailed reality so both the characters and the readers can interpret clues/evidence.

(I'm such a comic n00b. I've read maybe 3 manga titles and 0 American stuff aside from Garfield and The Far Side.)
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:37PM
kyupol at 3:18PM, Nov. 15, 2007
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I didn't know it was common to NOT research. I approached my project just like I write novels and novellas.

You know why?

Its because research takes time and effort. The average webcomicker would prefer putting subject matter into their comic, where info was gathered through entertainment. Be it books or movies or other comics.

Though I don't really think that research accuracy is an important factor for most comic viewers. At least it ranks below “cuteness”. lol!
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:25PM
CharleyHorse at 6:12PM, Nov. 15, 2007
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Personally I'm all for research, and I tip my imaginary hat to the artists willing or compelled to do it. As for the necessity of research, that may depend on what sort of cartooning you are doing and the academic and personal experiences that make up your lifespan.

For instance, for nearly any hand-to-hand fight scene I would not need to research much, if at all, because I have many years of experience in M.A. training. On the other hand, I do, also, have an extensive book, magazine, and video reference library at hand on the subject matter; therefore there would be no real effort involved in my refreshing my knowledge of the subject matter.

I'm ex-military, and so within a limited scope of experience I'm home free there. On the other hand I've never worked as a stock broker. If I were going to have a stock-market related plot-line then I'd feel obligated to do some research in the field; but in my case, not much. This comes back to my theory that a hint, a suggestion, a general air of familiarity works better for my storytelling style. Also since I always have distinct fantasy elements, kinks in reality - if you will - in my environment nothing really needs to be spot, bang-on so far as accuracy is concerned.

But is this a chicken or the egg question? Have I gravitated to my particular storytelling style because I don't like to expend much time and effort in research or am I simply experiencing a coincidental merging of traits? Darned if i know, but I suspect that if I were a keen researcher then my stuff would naturally adhere more closely to reality as we know it rather than to reality with a few kinks and twists.

So it goes.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
kyupol at 9:36AM, Nov. 16, 2007
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I'm ex-military

Were you ever been in actual combat before? If so, what is the typical reaction to a guerilla ambush consisting of:

1st step: roadside bomb or carbomb to block the front
2nd step: shell and rocket attack
3rd step: assault team rush from all sides. As in alot of guerillas pouring in from all directions.

Am I correct in assuming that the troops will spread out as they engage the guerillas? The doctrine of ‘attack the ambush’

Or do they normally fall back to fight another day since there might be hundreds lying in wait?

Or take up positions such as hiding behind their tanks and returning fire, while some will lie on the ground with rifles out anticipating a human wave. Then call in the air support (which would consist of helicopters)?

Or a combination of everything depending on the situation?





Am I right in imagining that military bases in jungle areas have high walls consisting of sandbags (with barbed wire on top to slow human wave rushes) as well as trenches and heavy machine guns?


NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:25PM

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