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Anatomy of a Comic

We recently completed our 20th comic for Tzivos Hashem's Kid's Zone, a magazine for Jewish kids, so we can finally show off the previous one since it's now seen print. Aquatic Adventures starts off with a SPLASH! as Joey and his pals are pulled into the river while fishing off a dock...

...where they come face-to-face with a huge talking fish! It was fun to have room to blow out this panel to a sizable semi-splash at the bottom of the first page. Now underwater, little bubbles/circles begin to appear, which I used throughout the three pages as a design element, in the panels and gutters, leading the reader's eye. We carried this through to the word balloons of the fish, which we also gave a different font, more open and round than the comics font we usually use (one based on my own hand-lettering). Mary approached coloring the fish differently than I probably would've, weaving warm and cool colors together, and shading various blues and greens. A nice touch, adding depth and color to the fish, helping to pop the Big Guy from the watery backgrounds.

On page one (below, left), I established the scene, the boys fishing off the dock on the river, the city in the distance. We used cool and warm colors to distinguish one panel from another, and to break things up. I prepared a diagram (below, right)  to show shapes and flow of the page. The orange line shows a couple main shapes. The blue line tracks the flow of the text/word balloons and sound effects. The red line shows further the composition of the page, how I used the fishing poles and line to direct the reader's eye so the action flows naturally from panel to panel.

I wish I had even more room one page 2 to show the magical underwater world in which the crew finds themselves, but somehow was able to pack a lot of stuff into this panel (shown larger here than in the printed comic). For all the underwater scenes we considered and could have cast everything in darker hues, but decided to bring it to life, keeping things colorful and magical.

Pages 2 & 3 (below) appear in the mag side-by-side, bleeding together a bit. The red line I drew for page 2 shows the general flow for the page and panels. We kept the background for the masthead white to pop the title, utilizing the bubbles as I mentioned earlier. On panel 2 I used a series of arcs (as suggested by the sunken ship), carrying them through the whole panel and to direct the eye to the proper following panel. I bled out all the background for page 3 to establish an underwater backdrop for the talking fish and Joey, using panel borders for cutaway shots and an inset. Because this page is therefore more free-flowing and open, I overlapped word balloons over panels to make sure the reader followed along in the right order.

Here's a close-up which shows how we bounce and balanced warm against cool colors. Notice again the difference between the fish font and boy's speech.

I've written and posted more about how we've created this comics series, which we've now been doing for five years. Read all the comics at Google+,  or Facebook. It's already been a good run...with more to come!