Friday, October 15, 2010

It's all black and white.

I have made a big decision about the strip and it's sort of bitter-sweet. Since the strip began it has been in color. I did this because I knew that it added something to the overall appeal. However, it takes forever to create a strip from pencils to color, especially if you're trying to do it more than once a week, and if you have another full time job.

So, after much thought, the decision that I have come to is to move to pure black and white, with maybe a screen tone here and there. There are several reasons for the change in the strip, including the ones listed above, and I think I owe it to my readers to explain as best I can why I have decided on this change.

  1. Time: As mentioned above it is very time consuming doing the color. I have a full time job and the other commitments that anyone has. Until (and if) the strip turns a profit, that's not going to change. I would love to do this full time (hint, hint to readers who might want to donate or click on the ad links).
  2. Quality: If I have to decide between the overall quality of the story and the art, or having color, I vote for the story and art. Basically when you're a one man show you have to draw each strip around four times, if you include color and shading. There are quicky solutions like using the paint bucket or magic wand. However, these require an unbroken line and usually there is a lot of clean up that has to be done afterward. Also, the colors don't trap very well, meaning that the color doesn't under-lap the line art if you use these techniques. To solve this I use the pencil tool to trace around the line art making sure that I trap the color under the black line. Then I use the paint bucket to fill these enclosed areas. When I'm finished with the flats I use the magic wand to select these areas of color and use the brush tool to do the shading. So starting from scratch: 1. pencils 2. inks 3. lettering 4. flats 5. shading and special fx.
  3. Print Publishing: It's the dream of most aspiring comic book creators, even webcomic creators, to eventually have enough content to publish in print. However, unless you have a huge readership, publishing in color is cost prohibitive. Most small press and self published books are black and white or monotone.
  4. File Size and Storage Space: This is one of the least important reasons, but still a factor to consider. The more art that is produced, the more disk space used. Right now, with three months under my belt, Strange Cargo has taken nearly 9 Gigs of disk space. So assuming that I keep doing this for a year we're talking 36 Gigs. Now I knew from the start that eventually I would have to invest in some external storage, but wow! Color files, especially CMYK master files take more space. This includes the reduced web versions.
  5. Not My Strong Suit: Color has never been my strong suit. I'm a draftsman at heart. Pencil and ink baby.
  6. Others Are Doing It, So why Can't I?: Some of my favorite web cartoonist started out in b&w until they could work on their strips full time. Scott Kurtz and Brad Guigar are two. And some still do b&w (or grayscale) strips, like Dave Kellet and Kris Straub.
So for the good of the strip, for me, and most importantly for you, the loyal reader, this strip is going black and white. I will keep the archived color strips up for now, but if this ever goes to print they will be in b&w.

Thank you for your time reading the strip and this little missive. And don't forget to be back here on Saturday for the next installment of the Halloween epic, "Reality Bomb: Persephone"

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