Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Any sufficiently advanced brush pre-set
July 30, 2010 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Arron Diaz of Dresden Codak (previously previously previously) shows us how he makes his colorful comic pages at Indistinguishable From Magic, an art/instruction blog about Character Design, Hands In Storytelling, and Batman.
posted by The Whelk (51 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
how he makes his colorful comic pages

Very rarely?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:21 AM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's busy delivering mail.
posted by The Whelk at 11:25 AM on July 30, 2010


I wish I hadn't read the Batman one because dammit, he's right.
posted by yhbc at 11:27 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, come on. Everyone always knew that Batman was the least realistic superhero. And that has nothing to do with his superpowers, as the blog indicates, but because he spends his money stupidly. For the price of one batmobile you could run a dozen highly effective anti-crime programs.
posted by GuyZero at 11:31 AM on July 30, 2010


That's in the last paragraph, GuyZero
posted by The Whelk at 11:32 AM on July 30, 2010


However, we run into problems when we start to believe that he is the most “realistic” or “believable” of superheroes.

Who the fucking fuck actually believes this?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:34 AM on July 30, 2010


Who the fucking fuck actually believes this?

Dick Grayson?
posted by Greg Nog at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2010


FAMOUS, what I think is meant by that is the theory that Batman is so popular precisely because he is "realistic", in the regular non-super powered sense. This means that anyone could (theoretically) become Batman if he or she applied him or herself hard enough, so the reader can sympathize with the character in a way you can't with an alien from Krypton or a radioactive spider-bitten teenager. But now I realize that even if I did devote my life to becoming Batman, I would necessarily have to make irrational and nonsensical choices to do so. Aargh!
posted by yhbc at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2010


Who the fucking fuck actually believes this?

Fans of Atlus Shrugged?
posted by yeloson at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad."
— Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash)
posted by The Whelk at 11:44 AM on July 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


I recently decided to seriously work on improving my drawing skills. Seeing an illustration that's way better and more complicated than anything I've ever done, captioned with "I'm not worried about the details yet," is just a little bit terrifying. I'm off to look at some Dilbert strips to make me feel better about myself.

I love seeing other people's creative processes, though.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:49 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's in the last paragraph, GuyZero

yeah, I know I'm just sort of repeating the guy and while he's very funny and a good writer, was this not obvious all along? I mean, it occurred to everyone who read more than one Batman issue, right? amirite?
posted by GuyZero at 11:51 AM on July 30, 2010


I mean, it occurred to everyone who read more than one Batman issue, right? amirite?

This is why I hate the fanboi adoration of Batman.
posted by nomadicink at 11:52 AM on July 30, 2010


My point, really, is that I've never seen anyone try to argue that Batman is realistic at all, let alone the most realistic of superheroes. This dude makes a post trying to argue that Batman is absurd - I mean, really? A kid's parents get killed and he decides the best way to handle that is to train at everything in the world and become the best at it and then put on some pantyhose and punch muggers and this guy thinks he's lifting the veil from anyone's eyes that Batman is absurd?

Superhero comics are inherently ridiculous. To me, that's part of their charm. But this guy is saying he can totally suspend disbelief for Superman or Spider-man, but there are just too many logical inconsistencies for him to buy into Batman. Maybe I'm just tired of reading arguments from nerds who start with a conclusion and work backwards. It's entirely acceptable to say you're just not into a popular thing. This article read like one of those people who insist that there's a huge flaw in the movie The Matrix (other than it being a crappy movie) what with the phrase "a form of fusion" not sufficiently handwaving their trampling on the laws of physics, but have no trouble accepting "dilithium crystals" as a perfectly rational explanation for all the science-related howlers committed in your average episode of Star Trek.

It occurs to me that my wording probably makes me sound a lot more annoyed by this than I actually am. If this spirit has offended, etc.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:55 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seeing an illustration that's way better and more complicated than anything I've ever done, captioned with "I'm not worried about the details yet," is just a little bit terrifying.

Never look up Masamune Shirow's rough drafts then. He'll have a ridiculous city-scape, intense action shots, complicated mecha designs, and then have a note, "I didn't like the layout" with 7 different versions.

GUH.

(Of course, now, all he does is softcore porn, so, I guess he's calmed it down a bit. I hope.)
posted by yeloson at 11:58 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone always knew that Batman was the least realistic superhero. And that has nothing to do with his superpowers, as the blog indicates, but because he spends his money stupidly. For the price of one batmobile you could run a dozen highly effective anti-crime programs.

That doesn't make him unrealistic. It makes him Republican.
posted by DU at 12:01 PM on July 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Batman: His Parents Are Dead.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 12:05 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Who the fucking fuck actually believes this?

Well, he does piss himself in-canon like the rest of us.

What the fuck, Kevin Smith?
posted by griphus at 12:05 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aside from the objections raised in the Diaz critque, there is a fundamental problem that arises in virtually all melodramatic fiction, which is that although the hero always wins, this happens not because the hero logically would win, but just because the writer is on his side, and so things just work out for him or her. When villains shoot at the hero, they generally miss, and the hero doesn't; we can accept that the hero is a really good shot (this is easily possible) but there is no reason why villains are always bad shots. And that's just the beginning. Endless coincidences conspire to bring about the eventual triumph of good over evil. Necessary information is accidentally overheard just at the right time. People, vehicles, or whatever, show up accidentally when they are needed. The hero needs a wire clipper - oh look there's on on the counter. How fortunate. It never ends. Even in season 7 of Buffy (my favorite heroic fiction of all time) at one point Buffy needs a chain with which to strangle the uber-vampire, and how about that, there happens to be one just lying by accident on the ground. Why didn't she take one with her? Presumably she knew by then that things would always work out for her, somehow. The writer is on her side. We accept it on some level because it is fun, but it is certainly not believable.
posted by grizzled at 12:05 PM on July 30, 2010


I would be more likely to accept this criticism of an unrealistic batman from pretty much anyone before I accepted it from a comic book artist whose protagonist, in the only real story arc of the comic, risked her own life, the lives of her friends, and the entire world over and over for the goal of building some kind of ill-defined planetary artificial intelligence that she didn't really understand anyway.

I quite like Dresden Codak most of the time, but, dude, look in a mirror once in a while!
posted by gurple at 12:15 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This dude makes a post trying to argue that Batman is absurd - I mean, really?

Sure, but isn't that where a lot of fun comic book blogging (or writing about any obsessive hobby) finds its sweet spot? The characters I love the best are the ones I'm the best at making my friends laugh about.
posted by yerfatma at 12:16 PM on July 30, 2010


Batman always wins because he cheats. That is his superpower, to be prepared with the ultimate cheat for all occasions.
posted by Artw at 12:17 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Restated, putting the brakes on your suspension of disbelief is like coming out of the water for air: necessary and adds to the enjoyment of what you were doing.
posted by yerfatma at 12:17 PM on July 30, 2010


Oh god, I'd forgotten thatthis guy did the horrible unreadable transhuman epic. You're going into buy into that crap and be upset by Batman? Really?
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the thing about Batman was that he's absolutely fucking insane, so of course he's not going to spend his money intelligently. I mean, realistically, he's a supervillian who, instead of desiring wealth or world domination or destroying Superman or whatever, has a huge evil crazy psychotic supervillian boner for disproportionately punishing petty criminals. I mean, he's basically just the guy from the Saw movies, only with tights. The only difference is that the narrative is ostensibly on his side.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:19 PM on July 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


To sum up what I think Artw and I are both saying:

So we like Batman, and that’s fine, but he’s absurd, more absurd than any other character in modern fiction. Except Dagny TaggartKimiko Ross.
posted by gurple at 12:22 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Batman always wins because he cheats. That is his superpower, to be prepared with the ultimate cheat for all occasions.

Yep, almost every Batman plot can be summed up as:

1: Villain does something.
2: Batman loses.
3: Batman invents something.
4: Batman wins.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:30 PM on July 30, 2010


this happens not because the hero logically would win, but just because the writer is on his side, and so things just work out for him or her.

*ding,ding*

The ultimate (yet quite common) superpower is authorial fiat.

(This actually fits right in with the in-thread jabs at objectivism.)
posted by weston at 12:46 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reading that Batman thing, I was reminded of why Dresden Codak isn't on my shortlist of webcomics that I try to keep up on regularly; despite his obvious gifts as an artist, there isn't a single plate of beans that Diaz won't overthink.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:05 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


P.S. The single strips are kind of nice, though.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:06 PM on July 30, 2010


I thought the thing about Batman was that he's absolutely fucking insane...

Yeah, yeah. That's nothing a bullet won't take care of.
posted by nomadicink at 1:16 PM on July 30, 2010


P.S. The single strips are kind of nice, though.

The "Dungeons and Discourse" strips are downright inspired.
posted by gurple at 1:16 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Caveman Science is so neat and simple I almost can't believe it's the same guy as the other thing.

Ah well, the art in the how-to is nice.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aside from the objections raised in the Diaz critque, there is a fundamental problem that arises in virtually all melodramatic fiction, which is that although the hero always wins, this happens not because the hero logically would win, but just because the writer is on his side, and so things just work out for him or her.

Oh man, grizzled, I hope you don't watch Doctor Who then.
posted by emjaybee at 2:13 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


The reboot especially, though I like to think there's some easing off on that with the passing of RTD.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on July 30, 2010


I would like to strongly reiterate my wanting that the Hob series be made into a very expensive movie.

Thank you, that is all.
posted by mhoye at 2:38 PM on July 30, 2010


shakespeherian:
I thought the thing about Batman was that he's absolutely fucking insane, so of course he's not going to spend his money intelligently. I mean, realistically, he's a supervillian who, instead of desiring wealth or world domination or destroying Superman or whatever, has a huge evil crazy psychotic supervillian boner for disproportionately punishing petty criminals. I mean, he's basically just the guy from the Saw movies, only with tights. The only difference is that the narrative is ostensibly on his side.
That nicely summarises the Marshal Law story 'Kingdom of the Blind' by Mills and O'Neil. Superhero critique at its most violent.
posted by bouvin at 2:55 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know, man, I always found it harder to believe that Spider-man can always find a spire or pole to swing from. I know it's New York, but come on.

Can you imagine if Spider-man lived in a small country town? He'd have to change his whole modus operandi to something truly spider-like, like holing up in deserted barns and waiting for criminals to stumble in.
posted by No-sword at 6:18 PM on July 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I would like to strongly reiterate my wanting that the Hob series be made into a very expensive movie.

Starring Keanu Reeves as Hob.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:34 PM on July 30, 2010


And Aaron Diaz in a pair of revealing overalls as Mary Sue Kimiko.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:48 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Mary Sue" is a bit unfair. How would you write Kimiko as a character?

More power or less? A naif or a sophisticate?
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:27 PM on July 30, 2010


From Diaz's own talk, she's supposed to be a borderline supervillian.
posted by The Whelk at 7:28 PM on July 30, 2010


My point, really, is that I've never seen anyone try to argue that Batman is realistic at all, let alone the most realistic of superheroes...

Superhero comics are inherently ridiculous. To me, that's part of their charm.


Ha ha, oh my, I agree with you, but if you really think that most of superhero comics fandom is on the same page, I envy you your ignorance. Don't read the message boards. Stay gold, FAMOUS MONSTER. Stay gold.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:34 PM on July 30, 2010


From Diaz's own talk, she's supposed to be a borderline supervillian.

And a bit insecure and nervous.

Can you imagine her with a different writer? Let's give her a companion - some Pretty Young Thing (™ ) to explain things to?

Pretty Young Thing: "Kimiko, I don't understand how that Disestablishmentarian Ray will take out [Insert Baddy]?"
Kimiko: "That's simple, Bob, it will [Insert Tech Here]"
Pretty Young Thing: "Of course, and thereby [twiddle their neurons *** rewrite this bit ***]! Brilliant"

--------------------------------------------------------

Dresden Codak is pretty good, frankly.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:36 PM on July 30, 2010


I really like the character design in this one
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 PM on July 30, 2010


How would you write Kimiko as a character?

I wouldn't. Or at least, I wouldn't write Hob. I'd stick to my fantastic single pagers where Kimiko's character can be examined more elliptically based on whatever idea I was exploring. In Hob she became a boring and cardboard mouthpiece for Diaz's frankly incoherent vision of...whatever the fuck Hob was supposed to be about. Transhumanism or something?

That said, I'm enjoying Dark Science so far.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:45 PM on July 30, 2010


Aside from the objections raised in the Diaz critque, there is a fundamental problem that arises in virtually all melodramatic fiction, which is that although the hero always wins, this happens not because the hero logically would win, but just because the writer is on his side, and so things just work out for him or her.

I like Steve Purcell's take on this in the Sam and Max universe. Half the plots involve Sam and Max bumbling into danger only to have an egregious act of deus ex machina save them at the last minute. In the very first comic, just when the duo are about to be sacrificed by the villainous cult leader at the top of the volcano to the volcano god (at the annual jamboree and pot luck sacrifice event), the villain succumbs to spontaneous combustion. Just close enough to Max's ropes to burn through. Sam remarks that they'll have to do some work because they can't expect "many more" combustible cultists.

To me, this is a parody on all the plots that get stuck in a corner and try to pass off extremely convenient developments seriously, to arrange a desired outcome or protect the heroes.

I think Sam and Max are aware of their special status in the universe and as a result they behave as characters that implicitly know nothing seriously bad can happen to them. This does add up to a consistent and often very funny universe, though. The invulnerability of the main characters becomes an integral part of the universe, instead of an ugly unwritten part of how these stories are often written.

When villains shoot at the hero, they generally miss, and the hero doesn't; we can accept that the hero is a really good shot (this is easily possible) but there is no reason why villains are always bad shots.

Sam and Max are terrible shots. (But so are the few villains that shoot at them.)
posted by Foolhardy at 7:55 PM on July 30, 2010


I don't know, man, I always found it harder to believe that Spider-man can always find a spire or pole to swing from. I know it's New York, but come on.

Can you imagine if Spider-man lived in a small country town?


"It fucking sucks," Spider-Man said. "I've been here on layover for twelve hours now, and I ain't saved jack-shit. No skyline at all, you know?"
posted by Greg Nog at 5:34 AM on July 31, 2010


The 15 Worst Comments From Yahoo's 'Batman' #1 Article
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on August 3, 2010


New Post: On Building Visual Vocabulary
posted by The Whelk at 9:08 AM on August 8, 2010


These are great fun: fan recreations of Dresden Codak strips.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:28 PM on August 9, 2010


« Older Free music downloads without committing piracy! Fr...  |  Faces,... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments