Well, I thought that I’d talk about comics, and about what can influence your comics without you even knowing, today.
Although I’m going to spend quite a while talking about my own comics (yet again), there will hopefully also be some stuff later in this article that might be useful and/or interesting to you. But, you might want to skip to the last few paragraphs if you aren’t interested in reading about my comics again.
Anyway, even though it’s been six days since I finished posting my “Diabolical Sigil” comic here, I started to think about what influenced it and about the subject of influences and comics in general. I should warn you that this article will contain plot SPOILERS for “Diabolical Sigil” though.
One of the things I noticed after I finished making this comic was that it was far more influenced by manga comics than I expected.
Although my art style has used a few small elements from anime/manga styles for most of the time that I’ve been drawing (this was probably due to watching “Pokemon” on TV when I was a kid ), there were a few manga-like things about my comic that caught me by surprise.
Most of these things were kind of subtle, but they certainly stood out to me. One of them was the rather convoluted, and vaguely “Death Note” – like mystery at the heart of the comic.
If you’ve never read “Death Note”, it’s a supernatural thriller series by Tsgumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata about a high school student who finds a book that will kill anyone whose name is written in it (since it orders a creature called a “Shinigami” to kill them) and about an amateur detective who is trying to track him down.
It’s a really cool comic – it’s filled with plot twists and (slightly convoluted) schemes and tricks. It’s a story of a battle between two highly sophisticated minds and it’s incredibly compelling.
Anyway, it’s been about seven years since I read all of “Death Note” and I certainly wasn’t thinking of it consciously when I was making this comic. But, somehow, I ended up making something of a parody of “Death Note” without even noticing (after all, I’d just set out to write a comedy/horror comic). See what I mean:
Not only that, I also noticed that the panel layouts and style of my comic (eg: using black gutters between each panel etc..) was also heavily influenced by manga comics in general.
This is probably due to the facts that I made this comic in black and white and quite a lot of manga comics are traditionally printed in black and white (I’ve obviously read non-manga B&W narrative comics, but at least half of the B&W narrative comics I’ve read were manga ones).
In other words, I’d picked up a lot of tips about how to make comics in black and white without even consciously realising it until shortly before I wrote this article.
Hell, even some of the humour in my comic was at least slightly manga-like in nature, like this:
So, yes, there was a lot more of a manga influence in my “Diabolical Sigil” comic than I even realised and – well – this made me think a lot about the subject of hidden influences.
As this excellent punk song by Bad Religion points out, everything that you read or encounter will leave some kind of impression on you.
This means that, for example, things that you really liked a few years ago (but have almost forgotten about) may still have an influence on what you create. This is for the simple reason that they’re part of your own personal definition of what a “cool” comic/movie/novel etc.. looks like.
To a certain degree, you can consciously use this process to your advantage. For example, after reading the holy trinity of cool novels (“Lost Souls” by Poppy Z. Brite, “Neuromancer” by William Gibson and “Crooked Little Vein” by Warren Ellis), I noticed a significant improvement in the narrative voice that I used when I wrote fiction. I’d read some cool things and I wanted to write stories that were like – but also very different to – them.
But, this process is far more interesting when it happens completely unconsciously. It’s at it’s absolute best when you finish a creative project and then suddenly realise “hey, this is a bit like that really cool thing I read a few years ago“. Seriously, it’s really fun when this happens.
Experiences like this make you realise that all creative people are just “standing on the shoulders of giants” – but that, to a certain degree, we all get to choose which giants we stand upon.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂