What Did I Learn?
Sandra de Haan is an artist from the Netherlands who recently has translated some of her work into English. Read a few of her auto-bio strips and you’ll be glad she did.
This comic, like other bio comics, is often a moment taken out of life but I noticed a couple of things I need to appreciate more. The first is that a wider frame offers the chance to tell more story or dialog without needing to cram everything into small panels.
You often hear comic artists say that the dialog is a character too. Sandra gave as much face time (or more) to the dialog as the characters received. In this case, the action of the comic is mainly the dialog and requires that focus. The balance of text and image is dependent in a comic needs to be specific to that comic. Of course, a particular creator’s preferences then lend themselves to telling certain kinds of stories more easily than others. If we are aware of this, maybe we can stretch out in a slightly different angle and create something a little different than our usual fare – in a measured way where we are not totally out of our storytelling depth.
Notice, too that sometimes the comic has a more typical text to image ratio. It works very nicely for an immediate succession of events. What does McCloud call that? Action to Action (p15 of Making comics. Digression: I hazard to guess that the other comic is Subject to Subject, though there isn’t much switching camera angles.)
We can also look at the colors and the textures they sometimes generate. The sweaters in both comics have a real feel of soft wool to them, don’t they? I’ve been keeping an eye out for a coloring technique that primarily uses flats and saves the detail coloring for the important figures. I want to be able to use color but not spend hours in the coloring process. Pure flats can work and so can cel shading but that’s not what I’m imagining. I may have to adapt some of Sandra’s strategy here. Her colors are vibrant, strong and work well together.
What Did I Learn?
Overall, Sandra’s comics are filled with wry observations about people and the situations we find ourselves in. I’m just picking up on this a little more fully, but that commentary about life is a big part of what artists do whether you look at newspaper gag strips or The Scream by Munch. I suppose I could ramble on a bit more about classic comics and how they convey striking observations but I think you would rather go read comics by Sandra de Hann.