Thursday, February 26, 2009

Roman Culture to others: OM NOM NOM

Oh, those Etruscan blues...

Am I so petty that I take a casual in-joke reference as a dare? Do I really need to ask these questions?

Only an art student could think "Etruscan Blues" would be an awesome song title, and only an art student could capture it. I am no longer an art student, so allow me some leeway. (I still intend to do grad school, so the spirit remains within!)

The concept is these Etruscan folk are doing their thing, civilization and all, when these young upstart Romans strut up, and on, and over, and by... It's like the Italian Borg Collective! As a student of the archaic arts (not as ominous or mystical as it sounds) I see these young, modern upstarts swipe what the need and digitize the rest. I'm a traditional ink and paper cartoonist, who uses the computer as a took to process the work and (usually) preserve the initial quality. This has, it seems, become a rarity.

First digital coloring happened, and I said nothing, for I thought it a fun exercise. The Waccom tablets came, and I said nothing, for that was actually kinda cool. Then someone posted on The Webcomics List forums looking for hand-drawn and hand-lettered comics, and only a few of us remained... with and embarrassed me halfway out the door and quietly shuffling around.

For me, original strips are important in cartoon. It's a real example of what you've done. You can hang them on gallery walls! They are special, because they show the craft and effort the artist put forth with his or her hands! They are outdated? If every strip is in color, it often means the original is just some pencil. (VG Cats is like this, I think.) Waccom-drawn, clip-art and sprite comics all exist purely in digital forms. Even people who letter in Photoshop don't have a complete original to offer. That's sad. It's also what I'm doing now. For the Precocious parents arc I'm digitally coloring *and* digitally adding text. Yes, it's a font of my own handwriting, but anyone looking at my originals can see the decline. Dialog is hashed in, often incomplete or missing completely. I just need to write enough to figure out where to put the dialog balloons. After that, it's all in Photoshop. That's sorta sad, because the completeness of the original is gone. Progress has come through, taken what it wanted and discarded the rest. Etruscan blues.

Of course, unlike the Etruscans, I am free to switch back to hand-crafted comics as soon as the arc is done. Will I? Am I going to be seduced by the convenience? Am I going to head out and buy a Waccom tablet? Who knows.

As for the actual painting here, it's been a fun flashback experience. The Etruscan blues idea is 10 years old, and this painting looks like something I would have made 10 years ago. The idea was to have people or faces being assimilated into architecture. That's what this, even if my MASSIVE STYLIZATION has taken over to send most of that to an, "Uh, I'll take your word for it," level. Also, after working on all the large canvasses, my old canvas size seems positively tiny! The color here is probably far off (now with three monitors which don't agree, I've lost all perspective) so know it's a bit darker, and was done with periwinkle, white and a dark gray. Let your imagination color correct!

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