Do These Panels Make My Butt Look Big — by Raf

     As the de facto art wrangler for Kaleidoscope, I have the thrilling but terrifying task of finding the right illustrators for the many wonderful stories being produced for our two anthologies.
     While the process may seem easy (“I’ve got a new script, who wants to draw it?”), it is, in fact, an art; one I hope to perfect, and fast!
     I am, for those who dont know, a student of comics as well as a writer of same; I grew up reading every title imaginable, back when one could buy 10 comic books for a dollar. My brother was an avid collector as well, so on any particular afternoon, you could find me reading, in no particular order, Casper, Archie, Spider-Man, Li’l Dot Polka, Batman, Creepy, Our World At War... you get the idea. One of the most fascinating things was seeing that perfect marriage between word and picture. I can’t imagine, for example, the O’Neill/Adams Batman stories with any other team, or their Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories, for that matter.
     Trying to picture anyone other than Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson on Manhunter boggles the mind. I just don’t see it. I think it takes a certain simpatico, a symbiotic relationship between writer and artist, blending their skills to create not just works of fiction, but works of art.
     Here at Kaleidoscope HQ, I see my job as trying to replicate the magic that can only happen when the right mixture of story and art are blended together to create something wondrous. See what I mean? Daunting.
     Each person brings to the table his or her own unique and substantial gift. But that doesn’t mean you can arbitrarily mix and match. I’m reminded of an issue of, I think it was X-Men, where one legendary comic artist inked over the pencils of another legendary artist. I mean, neither one of these cats could ever be considered a slouch, right? Had either of them tackled the story solo, it would have been incredible. But the combination, for me, at any rate, was oddly clashing and discordant. And yes, I know, I’m talking about writer and artist, but my example is penciler and inker. I’m riffing here, kids. I think ya’ll get my point.
     Some of the writers doing stories for us are first-timers, and some are first-timers to comics, but well established prose authors. My job is to pair that creator to a more established artist. Some writers tend to be caption and dialogue-heavy, so we need to find an artist who can give me the same information with fewer lines, to open up the panel and allow the words to breathe.
      In the same vein, some of the artists we have are from other countries, and English is not their first language. I have to make sure that the integrity of the story doesn’t suffer because of some confusion in the translation.
     Oh, yeah, and I’m doing this while trying to write my own scripts. Yikes!
     I have to say, though, that, tough as the process is, I do so enjoy it. Taking all these different skill sets and piecing together a cohesive, exciting, overall  enjoyable experience for the reader. Kind of like putting together a puzzle. Or, given our name, it’s like viewing all these disciplines and twisting them around, looking at them in a different way, from different angles. You know, like a kaleidoscope.

No comments:

Post a Comment