The S.P.I.N.E. of Good Comics

Previously, I’ve written about the characteristics that make up a good story, at least from the point of view of the audience, and how the writer has five key things they offer their audience in a story, which can be summed up by the acronym S.P.I.N.E..

  • Skills – the audience learns how to do something.
  • Perspective – the audience gains a new view of the world or has their current one confirmed.
  • Information – the audience gains information.
  • Novelty – the audience is presented with something they haven’t seen/known before.
  • Emotion – the audience is made to feel some emotion.

Today, I want to look at a more specific application- how these characteristics are what helps to make comic books interesting to read, and can make your comics or manga even better.

First, it’s important to understand that those five things apply on both the macro and micro level, so for example, a book might be a historical adventure set in Medieval England, and thus taken as a whole story (the macro level) it gives the reader Information (about the culture and history of England). However, even on the level of individual sentences (the micro level) each sentence in the book might be providing Information about people, dates, food, customs, events, clothing, or any other number of historical details. Taken as a whole, they inform the reader about the greater history and culture, but as usual, that information is actually presented in a bunch of tiny pieces that make up the whole.

So then, understanding that the S.P.I.N.E. covers everything big and small in a story, it should come as no surprise that they also cover the pages of a comic book- which is where I want to focus today.

In short, through the writing and art every single page of a comic book should offer at least one of those five key things to the reader. Preferably, it should offer more than one, but the minimum should be one thing if the writer/artist wants to keep the audience interested. In fact, the really skilled comic creators make almost every panel contain one of those elements.

Let’s look at some pages from the hit manga Dr. Stone by Inagaki Riichiro and BOICHI. (Remember that manga is read right to left, the opposite of American comics.)

(You can keep reading the story here to find out what happens next.)

As you can see, each of these pages (and panels) is packed full of the key five elements, as the writer and artist team make use of them to keep the reader interested and push the entertainment quality of the comic to new heights.

If you want to learn a lot about comic creation and writing, do what I did with the sample pages and analyze your favorite comics panel by panel and page by page. You’ll be surprised just how much information the best creators are packing in there in even the simplest looking of pages that take you seconds to read. (But filled with elements which your brain catches almost all of.)

Also, as you’re planning your next comic, or revising your current one, always be looking for the S.P.I.N.E. elements and chances to add them to your comic- in dialog, captions, panels, and pages.  It’s this focus on the reader, and these elements that have made manga a worldwide success, and which comic creators around the world (knowingly and unknowingly) have been using to produce works of comic art.

Rob

The Emergence of Talent

An interesting meditation on the issue of what “talent” really means for artists.

The Art of Sam Yang

Holy Crap is this guy good! His “realistic” Pokemon sculpts are amazing.

828_max

Check Out Sam’s Impressive Gallery Here.

Better Photographic Composition – Beyond the Rule of Thirds

Fascinating lecture on photographic (and artistic) composition. If you’re an artist most of this probably won’t be new to you, but for a newbie like me it’s really interesting stuff. Applicable to everything from CGI work to filmmaking.

Photoshop Rank- MASTER! The Flying Pirate Ship

Wow! The picture is amazing, but seeing how it was made just puts my levels of appreciation over 9000!

The Fox Cycle, Story Five- The Beating

This week’s Fox Cycle story is accompanied by my most ambitious digital art image yet. Not only was this the most complex image I’ve put together in Daz Studio yet, with five characters and props to co-ordinate, but it was also my first attempt at doing postwork on a rendered image. I used GiMP to blur the forground characters to give it more of a sense of depth of field (which is possible but difficult for me in Daz Studio) and to add the muck to Marlon’s face and neck.  I’m really quite proud of how it turned out.

In other art-related news, I’ve created my own DeviantArt page to start sticking my renders on, so I won’t clutter my blog with everything I’m doing. You can find me at ultrarob.deviantart.com.

 

Fun with CG II- The Twin Stars

So, I spent a week (and a few dollars) working away on Daz Studio to see if I could put together some decent looking characters for the covers of my upcoming Twin Stars novels. So far, I’m pretty impressed by how well it’s gone. Yes, there was a bit of a learning curve, but once I overcame that and learned a few tricks, it all came together pretty quickly. At it turned out, doing Tysen and Ping An was pretty easy, Esther has turned out to be the hardest one so far. (Which is why there’s still no picture of her I’m ready to share.) These aren’t intended to be cover images, just test portraits of the characters.

Let me know what you think! 🙂

Zhang, Ping An

Albert Tysen

Jack Kirby’s Julius Ceasar

This is what you get when you ask a comics legend to be your costume designer!

More pictures here:
Jack Kirby’s Julius Ceasar – Mego Talk.

Astoundingly cool (and incredibly huge!) picture of the Solar System!

Link

An amazing picture of the Solar System.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9f/Systemesolaire2.jpg

This thing is about 10 screens wide, so if it just looks like a tiny line at the top of your screen then click on it after it finishes loading. (It’s about 18mb in size.)