What Did I Learn?
weekly webcomic reviews by Delos
(this is a repost)
This Is Me by Gerald Himmelein is a semi-autobiographical humor comic based on events in the author’s life. Some comics are based on real life events and people, some are those flights of whimsy that you can only get in comics. The main characters are the artist and his wife, with celebrity cameos and their friend Andrew. Each of them contributes a different voice to the strip, not only providing commentary and humor but also emotional color. They also look very different from one another.
The art consists of good, solid linework and grey shading, with occasional bits of color. Mr. Himmelein has great attention to detail and he does good research on what he draws. One strip had him searching for pictures of tv antennae for reference. Most of us artists don’t gather that sort of mundane reference. Usually, I’m drawing my comic on my lunch at work, which limits my reference to whatever is playing on Sportcenter or soap operas. I never think ‘say, I’ll need a picture of a tv antennae, so let me google one up before I go to work today.’ It would pay off big dividends in my final work, I’m sure. Gosh, I might actually draw something in my comic. Shame on me for not doing that and kudos to Mr. Himmelein.
There are other surprises as well. One This Is Me comic has songs, with the actual sheet musical shown above each panel for three different songs. There are also several celebrity cameos with very, very good likenesses based on, once again, good reference. It’s not the easiest thing to break a likeness down to just a few simple lines that will fit into the rest of the comic’s style.
The strip also has good timing and punchlines. This is another thing not so easy to do, simple though it may seem before you try it. You can tell that Mr. Himmelein works hard on This Is Me. If you read the comments below each strip, he is constantly agonizing over the details and trying to do his very best.
One thing you don’t see very often is a comic with bold use of color.There are many many colored comics, of course, but a black and white comic with spurts of color stands out as a great visual. It highlights the emotions and puts a special zip on the visual gags.
Once last thing that I took special note of was that Mr. Himmelein asks for email feedback and then responds to it directly in the strip. That’s great audience interaction and I think it’s a superb idea. I’d love to see more of it as the comments roll in.
What did I learn?
Use reference photos for unfamiliar objects and gather the reference before you start drawing. Don’t be afraid to actually draw something. Work on the strip and make it the best you can. Don’t hold back on including something special or fun, even if it doesn’t fit the style you set for your comic. Finally, make sure your audience can interact with you like they can in This Is Me