Monday, December 21, 2009

Reach Out And Touch Space

In a recent discussion with Rico brought on by my sudden need for a topic, he pointed out the fact that comic characters rarely touch each other. I had never thought about it before and had to see for myself. I quickly looked at the most recent comics of my current reading list (as it was a random sample) and only 5 comics had people fully touching (or 6 if you want to count partially off panel stuff). The comics were Gunshow, Lackadaisy Cats, Nedroid, The Meek and Three Panel Soul. This brings up the question - why the hell don't more creators draw their characters touching? The reasons themselves fall into three categories - they don't need to be (which is self explanatory), they can't be drawn that way or the artist is afraid to draw them that way.

If the scene doesn't call for the characters to be touching, then there's no need for the creator to draw them touching. The last thing I would like to see infact is more and more people having their characters touch solely because of this article (haha, that would never happen). Touching can be an important tool in storytelling though. The embrace is one of the most telling signs of body language.If two characters are having a discussion there is likely no need for them to touch. If nothing else, there is a need to understand anatomy and it is a reason a lot of comic makers struggle. They must be able to grasp anatomy and use it like the tool that it is, otherwise they are in trouble.

If their grasp of basic anatomy and physicality is so poor that they cannot draw their characters touching, then the artist must figure out how to get past that hurdle. This is possibly the fault of the author though in my experience as an artist, drawing these interactions between fully imagined characters can be difficult. They must cease to be 2-dimensional figures and have a more real depth. They must now be able to exist more outside in the reality than before. Basically it is more difficult.

The difficulty here is overcoming that fear. I honestly hate artistic fear more than anything as it has the power to destroy and distort dreams. Unlike that average trope the schoolyard bully though, standing up and saying you are not afraid of anatomy is enough to master it. Anatomy is a difficult thing to learn as you must still find the skills needed to overcome it. Perhaps this fear is what keeps some artists from progressing. Perhaps it is that force of progress though, that may cause webcomics to become a more respected medium.

Fear, difficulty and necessity are all forces that gather to stop the webcomic artist. This truth extends beyond simply being able to draw characters touching. It becomes the sole truth of drawing anything. You must learn and gather what you need, be able to do it no matter what doubts you have. Those five comics I pointed out are all drawn by artists who know this truth in one way or another. They are not the only ones on my list who do. Either way, the next time you are drawing take a look at their work for inspiration. Leave your comfort zone and try something a little different.

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