Alone on an urban rooftop, our protagonist decides to end his life of fulfilling every else’s expectations.
This was done for my Senior Degree Project as an Illustration major at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. My project was to spend a year studying the history of comic book art, then present my findings to my class, instructors and department chair. [gulp!] I focused on the developing history of content, technology and business, then showed how this history directly influenced the current industry.
I turned in my essay and lectured with the world’s worst slide show in May of 1986. To show the Degree Project’s effect on my work, I ended the lecture with an original 20-page story called “Needs?”. As my first attempt at personal fiction, it’s poorly drawn, badly written and predicability self-indulgent. (I’d show you the whole story here, but I’m trying to gain an audience.) I focused on visual issues (inking style, page layout and storytelling gimmicks) at the expense of the story (clarity, consistency, character definition, research, plot and dialog).
MassArt instructor Linda Bourke thought the last 4 pages worked better without the 16-page setup. She was right! The first pages were produced while doing the degree project (shooting slides, revising the essay, sneaking in last-second research). The last 4 were done after I turned everything in, a week before presenting. This and not writing dialog gave me the time to do these pages right.
Jon J. Muth, Ed Sorel and pre-crazy Frank Miller were major style influences. In particular, I wanted Sorel’s free-form cross hatch inking technique without his Op-Ed cartoonish exaggerations. So my “new look” is really a lame impression of Alex Toth inked by Ed Sorel.
Maintaining a 3-column grid was a very important number for my page design. For staging and storytelling, I used expressionist techniques pioneered by Will Eisner, Goseki Kojima and the wordless Lynd Ward comics. This story was made with love, dedication and the following art supplies:
- 10″ x 15″ live area on 14″ x 17″ Strathmore 500 bristol paper
- Higgins Black Magic India Ink (industry standard at the time, before Higgins changed their formula)
- Speedball nib #512 (art and lettering)
- Ruling pen (borders)
So now you know probably more than anyone needs to! Hopefully reading all this will add to an already enjoyable reading experience. Extra thanks to Cathy Leamy and Samantha Milowsky for suggesting I put all this extras stuff out of the way.
– David Marshall, retro-posting from his MassArt studio (4th floor Tower Building) in 1986.