14 February 2012

Behind The Comics IV - Maré Odomo

We continue looking 'Behind The Comics' of the upcoming š! #10 'sea stories'.

Maré Odomo was born in San Mateo, California and has been living in Seattle since 2006. He’s got a BFA in Visual Communication from Cornish College of the Arts in 2010. He makes things that are small and honest and is best known for his Pokémon fancomic Letters To An Absent Father. His name can be translated to sea, so it is a no-brainer, that we had to invite him for the upcoming sea issue (especially after Ryan Sands suggested him to us).

So Maré told us the following about creating his comic 'Okinawa':

This is my work desk. I keep changing my setup (that's not usually where I put my computer) but I've been using a standing desk for a little while now. I'm trying to use fewer art supplies, or at least move them out of the way. But then I forget about them. I don't know what's worse.  

Please take note of the banana in a jar.

My comics usually start as scripts/poems, but nothing's set in stone. There's always room for improvisation and improvement.

I like writing in Evernote because it keeps everything tidy. For larger projects, I have separate 'notes' dedicated to scripts, inspiration, and photo references. These two scripts are free-writes. The one on the left is kind of long. I ramble about a girl from high school that moved from California to New York, and then about my mom's plans to move somewhere closer to the beach. It goes on. I started writing about visiting my Dad in Okinawa and decided that was a good direction to go. The script on the right is a more distilled version. I keep the false starts (like the lonely "the") because it keeps me going. I guess that's part of free-writing? I don't know if other people type like this, but I recommend it.

This is essentially the same thing, except written. I'm just writing down what I remember of the typed up script and trying to add on to it. In the days that I'm working on a specific comic, I repeat the words in my head and try to compose it mentally. The words that stick in my head are usually the ones that get picked for the comic, because they're punchier and easier to remember.  

That first sketch was a rough comp for the title page. I don't really do a lot of thumbnailing. I just overwork my final drawings. I think of it as sculpture.

I like using stumpy 2B/4B pencils for more spontaneous sketching, but mechanical pencils are more precise. Same with the eraser stick, or whatever it's called. Kneaded erasers are pretty good too (as long as you keep them clean, which is why I have mine in a little case). I also used an inkwash in this comic, but it's pretty subtle.

This is one of the few comics where I've used a lot of personal photo reference. I wanted my drawings of scuba equipment to be more accurate than the image in my brain. There are a handful of pictures from this trip on my facebook, but they don't really capture how the whole experience felt. I hope my comic does it a little more justice.  

Oh, and I cut the pages out at-scale + bleed. I usually don't work on bristol, or cut anything out until it's finished. So that was new. It was kind of nice.

On the left is a raw scan. I mess with my levels a lot. Sometimes the contrast helps, sometimes it doesn't. I have to find a balance. On the right are some colors. I'm trying to use fewer Photoshop tricks, but it can be addicting. It's like a puzzle game, it just keeps going. There are no right or wrong answers. Except for lens flares, I guess.

Maré, thank you very much for letting us see over your shoulders and even out of your window! This was a very nice insight and hope you don't mind if we copy your idea of the banana jar...

š! #10 'sea stories' featuring the comics by Maré Odomo and 28 more international and Latvian artists will come out in the beginning of March and is available for pre-order here. To get an even further insight into Maré's work, we recommend to read his interview on the Studygroup blog or simply follow his tumblr.

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