Window of Opportunity

(NC-17; Ranchy Satire) Betsy and Veronika visit their first big city, all-women's health club. Those icky men folk, however, are closer than they think.

Story Notes

If I've done my job well, you'll think someone at Archie Comics went crazy in 1965. The idea came from passing a first-floor fitness club at night. Looking through the windows from outside, the well-lit room of attractive females doing aerobics or yoga is extremely visible. From their interior view at night, the ladies could only see darkness and reflections. Perhaps too many Playboy and Humorama cartoons made me ..., well, you'll see.

I tried capturing the feeling of the Madmen-era, 1960s sex comedy. This led to using Archie Comics artist Dan DeCarlo as a style guide (he also worked for Humorama). Rather than mimic Dan, I tried incorporating parts of his style into my own. Unlike his contemporaries at Marvel and DC, Dan expressed an entire universe with very few graceful, open strokes. He used body language, attention to fashion and staging to make mediocre stories look great.

Like "Six-Year-Old Horse Thief" and "Bottle of Red", the original art is 12 x 18 inches (matching the most popular working size of Golden Age and Silver Age comics). This size not only helps the drawings, but the lettering as well. The Ames calibration increased from the modern 3.5 to 4.5 -- which allowed me to use the Speedball B6 nib for most of the text. This round-ended nib adds warmth and charm, in contrast to the wordy superhero lettering of Artie Simek, Sam Rosen (who also lettered for Archie) and Ben Oda (who mentored Archie's long-standing letterer Bill Yoshida). This was also the first time I've used a brush to outline word balloons.

My little prank wouldn't be complete without emulating the dotted flat colors of Silver Age comic books. "GrubHub Delivery" and "Go Snow!" (wonderfully wholesome comics) attempted this with Photoshop's "Color Halftone" filter, but didn't quite hit the mark. I was about to make Photoshop patterns out of all 64 colors, then stumbled on the CMYK channel manipulation solution from Richard Starkings of Comicraft. Settings for this story are 60 dpi screen (6 x 9 inch print resolution at 400 ppi).

Tools and Materials

  • 12" x 18" live area on Strathmore 500 bristol paper
  • Speedball Super Black India Ink
  • Short-handle round #4 sable brush
  • Ruling pen (borders)
  • Speedball nib #512 (straight lines, details)
  • Speedball B6 and B5 (lettering)
  • Ames Lettering Guide (4.5 two-thirds calibration)
  • Adobe Photoshop CS5 (production, color)

David Marshall, following his dirty, dirty dreams

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