Monday, January 2, 2012

Mad-House Comic

Here are some highlights from a comic book I self-published a while back. It tells the tale of the corrupt master of an insane asylum in England during the 1700s. The comic is a silly Mad Magazine-style affair packed with idiotic jokes, but I used it as an opportunity to pay tribute to some of my favorite artists through visual reference.

To set the scene, I not only paid visual homage to William Hogarth's classic satirical print "Gin Lane," but used it to set up the ironical disparity between the ideals of that era an its realities. Notice how Hogarth includes the tiny diminutive figure of Reason mounted on high, far off in the distance, the center of a swirl of chaos. In my version you can see it a little better in the first panel, but it is soon forgotten in the sudden tumult of the third.

Here again I swiped from my man Hogarth. This time I used figures from the painting "The Madhouse" which was part of his eight painting series "A Rake's Progress," itself a progenitor of the modern comic.

The original idea for the comic sprang from the Val Lewton produced film Bedlam starring the immortal Boris Karloff. My  character design is obviously based on Karloff in that film. The movie also brings to life the Hogarth painting above and gave me the idea for that splash page.

My preferred layout for comics is the 9-panel-grid, the classic style if you will. The variety of rhythms you can create when sticking to this lay-out is amazing.

I've always been a huge fan of George Grosz, but I have to credit Ivan Brunetti for exposing me to this particular drawing, "Riot of the Insane," which, needless to say, blew my mind. It's horrific and hilarious. Compositionally, it's a masterpiece. The scene happened to fit the ending of my comic, so I decided to shamelessly steal it.

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