This is the 2nd submission for the “5-in-5” Major Studio.

Just like travel, comics have been my love since childhood, and just like travel, I was only able to make something of it in my late twenties.
I was not great at illustrating nor could I afford the many expensive Marvel and DC fine printed comics. I did read the traditional comics that were really famous in India before the advent of today’s superhero movies… like Tinkle, Suppandi, Chacha Chaudhary among others. I then realized that my love for comics largely lies in the essence of the presentation medium and less towards the technical skills towards it or its content.

I like the black and white font and text bubbles, the thought bubbles, the boxes, the print, the colors. What also inspired me most, is the daily comic in the Times of India newspaper, by R. K. Laxman, and several others in most Indian dailies. I recall my mornings as a kid, how I rushed to the newspaper, towards finding the colorless comic squares in the ocean of black-and-white. So simple, no colors, just a pencil, yet so strong, so funny, so impactful.

I want to improve my drawing skills and illustration and while I can draw fairly well, by copying what I see in front of me, I want to develop the natural habit of drawing from memory, eventually. I have taken up Comics as an elective this semester, and my inspiration for this single day project is inspired from here.

Idea

I need to ‘draw from life’ in my comics class and I thought, while I anyway need to practice my drawing… why don’t I tell a story or create some food for thought with a simple comic out of my random compilations?

I set out on this lazy Saturday to the subway close to my home. I had no plans to go anywhere. Just me, my sketch pad, my pencil and the umbrella because of the darn rains! I sat at the platform and observed whatever I could and drew as much as I could. I did the same inside the train. I built a quick compilation, put my thoughts into it… the thoughts that I was thinking while drawing them, and built this into a comic that would ideally try to generate some reflections on one’s own routine to a subway.

Inspired by Prof. Ben Katchor, my idea was to make people think about the many things they are missing on a simple daily routine if they are simply observant and the many things to learn from around them. A little physiognomy is natural to humans and one must learn to respect people despite it.

Constraints

  • Sprint through the day and finish the project. All work stops by 11 pm and only documentation is allowed after.
  • Do not spend more than 2 hours in research/ study. Spend at least 1 hour on the plan.
  • Focus on the essential output only, and add details if time allows.
  • Take photos/screenshots whenever possible as you may lose proof of concepts during the one-day sprint. This will help faster documentation.
  • If the best option cannot be decided, go raw, go brute force.
  • Resist new softwares / code / assistance / suggestions. Go totally solo.
  • Strive for a single page of your observations.

Goal

  • Project completion is when you get the initial frame of text and image together which a flowing compilation, with title, spacing and basic presentation.
  • The images and drawings can be enhanced and refined if time permits.

Process

  • I took only a pencil, sketch pad and began drawing whatever I could see or hear at the subway platform. Then again inside the train.
  • I refined the raw sketches on the sketch pad into my iPad Pro.
  • I used the Paper app which I think is one of the best iPad apps out there. Due to the sprinting in a day, I directly used the storyboard template from the app and started converting raw to digital.
  • Importantly, I was also notating what I experience while I was in the subway and the train. I described the expression on peoples faces, tried to write whatever I could hear them speak, the announcements, etc. I could rather have taken their pictures that would cut down the visual notation by far, but then I’m violating laws and that’s creepy!
  • I then arranged my storyboard and decided what I could get in a single page frame for the day. I only drew those frames, condensed the text that would reflect the thought that I had when I experienced those frames, and then arranged all the entities together according to the storyboard.
  • I checked back my constraints, and I almost forgot about the Title. I added the title that I had in mind for this. I initially decided that “Unusual Routine” would be apt, but then a routine is never unusual unless you change your perception.  So on basis of my own reflection on my final product, I tinkered the title to “Routinely Unusual”.
  • I then quickly arranged and polished this with Photoshop and used Cardenio Modern font for the typeface.

Success

  • The satisfaction of doing all this in a day was unusually satisfying. At times, since drawing doesn’t come very swiftly to me, it was tiring and exhausting.
  • I am glad I could make a basic, original, fresh, comic out of nowhere within a single day.
  • I have to mention my biggest success here. In my live sketches on paper, I tried to vary my method of drawing. I went from rough sketching with multiple strokes starting from random, to drawing skeletons and then completing it with details. However, my most effective one to me, was when I decided that I need to clear our lines in my head and look at the image in 2D.
  • I ignored shadow, depth, and other 3D metrics and focussed on the flat image. I did not use multiple strokes at all and just went with a single clear final line. That, gave me the best sketch of the day, like this woman I drew below, as compared to the multi-stroke sketches above.

Improvement

  • I wish I could capture at least one conversation. That would have pretty similar multiple comic frames and the focus would be on the text alone. Hence I saved this for next time.
  • Since I’m not used to paper I think I could have saved a lot of time, drawing from life directly onto my iPad? I shall give this a try next time.
  • I also realized that I enjoy the Apple Pencil and iPad more than the experience of pen and paper.
  • I need to improve my drawing speed, the perception of lines and translating thought to sketch.

Future Iterations

  • I will have to include an entire conversation with text/thought bubbles for next time.
  • Focus on color, paint better images.
  • Add more expressions to the storyline, rather than just reflection of thought, like mystery, joke, riddle, shock, etc.

[Work in progress]