(Posted originally on May 10th, 2006)
I've finally realized something about comics and why many of them are drawn in a rather simple manner. The single most troublesome and work-intensive issue about making comics is drawing the same faces and bodies all over again, from different angles. That's why it is very hard to keep a face somewhat similar to the one presented in the first panel it appeared. And the difficulty of drawing people in varying angles and face expressions easily tempts the cartoonist to use very simple figures, like in Peanuts, Dilbert or almost any other popular strip (interestingly, the makers of Modesty Blaise seemed to have solved this problem by having every female character look quite similar to Modesty and every male look like Willie).
It's the faces that are most difficult to draw. That's why even some otherwise very impressive comics tend to have very simply drawn people. Like Tintin: the houses, cars, airplanes and such are drawn with great detail, but the characters - most notably the hero himself - aren't quite as complex in their physical appearance. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing Hergé or Tintin here, I love the comics, but I'm just stating... a fact?
Naturally, not all comics have cartoony people. Like Lieutenant Blueberry, for instance. I just don't get it how Giraud could have produced all those stories with such a fine artwork. Hard Boiled (drawn by Geof Darrow) is another one. I might not be great fan of the story itself, but the sheer amount of skill and work that has been put into those albums is plainly stunning.
Where am I getting with this? Nowhere. It's just that I got a bit frustrated the other day and was cursing the repetitiousness and the difficulty of drawing different expressions on the same faces. Not that I mean to imply that my characters have complex features, it's more like, I'm not smart enough to create characters with clear features that are easy to mold and reproduce. Anyways, in my frustration I realized why most comics look the way they do: to make drawing them easier. It's just a bit weird that I haven't given this much thought earlier. Now I'll start studying faces and expressions and hands and all the different ways you can bend your body, as well as trying to create faces with recognizable and easily copied features. And then learn to pay attention to those features and stick to them.