After broadly gathering research and putting together a mood board, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I want to do something silver age comic inspired, the fantastic four comics in particular as they creation was largely inspired by the Apollo Missions and the race to space so in a round about way I thought I would take inspiration from the work of Stan Lee and even more so Jack Kirby to tell the story of what they took inspiration from to make a new story of their own. Thinking about how it all ties together warms brings me so much joy as a designer but also I love reading marvel comics and delving into the history of comics in America so I’m very keen on this idea.
What Brought Me Here?
So the idea of taking inspiration from comics in such a specific way as this didn’t spur from nowhere. When looking for inspiration I often looking to my book shelf that has a number of different kinds of comics and graphic novels on it, but this time I wasn’t spurred by my book shelf exactly. I do have a little book about the fantastic four on there but I’ll get to that later.
I remembered this video I had watched back in like October of last year which was sort of a deep dive video by this YouTuber I follow about the bizarre and spectacular collage work of Jack Kirby and how at one point in the 60’s he managed to incorporate it into the comic pages of the fantastic four’s space explorations. Here is a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvx4ncV-rvA&t=8s&ab_channel=NerdSync , I seriously recommend watching it.
So I kept thinking about how cool they were and how it would be really cool to do a sort of collage or scrap book style design with a blended mixture of comic style illustrations, typography and layout with real photographs from the events to tell the story of the Apollo Space Program and cutouts of planets to maybe achieve some of that collage effect. I also thought that since in comic the work load is divided between like 5 or 6 people; writer, penciler, inker, letterer etc. and I’m just one person who has to consider the ui and ux of it all as well, not putting pressure on myself to draw everything is good.
My Little Book
Ok as I mentioned before I have a little fantastic four book on my shelf which I just sort randomly stumbled across in a book shop I also just randomly stumbled across when I was staying with my sister in Dublin back in August. I’m really glad I got it because it was in reading that then that I found out about the fantastic four’s creation being largely inspired by NASA and the Space Race of the 60’s. It’s also a really good resource as it has a lot of different things relating to the visuals of those comics that I can easily refer back to while I’m designing.
Some Further Research
Since Fantastic Four is Marvel, I’ve decided to mostly take inspiration from Marvel Comics, the work of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in particular.
The Marvel stuff on my shelf doesn’t date as far back as I’d like it to for this project. Most of the graphic novels I have are from the last 20 years. I don’t have enough disposable cash at the moment to buy ones from earlier so I’ll have to use my libraries online services for looking at comics from right time period but I felt that there must still be some good in me observing what I do have at hand to look at. So basically what I did was I scoured through my modern comic collection and snaps some photos of type and layout elements I could maybe incorporate into my design.
I then did the same thing looking at old fantastic four and spider man comics, really taking them in and analysing the layout, typography, illustration, and any other visual elements of note.
Then I took to pinterest and made a bunch of different boards relating to comics (aside from the ones I make for specific artists and characters just for fun because I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a nerd). The biggest and most helpful to me is my comic covers one but I also made a board specific to the fantastic four. These helped me notice patterns in what shapes and lettering showed up in which contexts so I now have a pretty good idea of the kind of typography I want for different things and and also the layout.
One major thing I noticed was that panelling in older comics is very linear for the most part, where as modern comics tend to be a lot more fluid. I think because I’m going for a more silver age vibe, I’ll stick to a more linear layout structure.
I have a lot more manga than I do marvel comics so I thought I might look through them as well to see if I’d find anything. To my surprise, I did actually find a few with quite linear layouts. The most linear of all was Nozaki-kun. Izumi Tsubaki has managed to have exactly 4 rectangular on almost every page though every chapter to date. As well as a fun wee vertical header running along the side of the page summing up the event occurring.
I really like her use of screen tones and I think I might incorporate more of a manga or pop art style screen tone background into my design. Also I think that kinda linear paneling is something that could work quite well for a comic inspired website as opposed to an actual comic.
I wanted to gain better knowledge of the fundamentals of comic book creation. Even though I’m not developing an actual comic, just something comic inspired i still thought it would help so I looked different places online to see if there were any good recommendations online and based on what I found I ended up getting the book Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner and I thought it would also tie in well to what we’re looking at in this module.
I learned so much from this book and I think I was right about it fitting well with what we’re looking at this module. Yes the book is focuses on comics but a lot of the things in it seem to apply to visual narrative and storytelling as a whole so I think a lot of the things I read in there helped me better understand comics as a medium their importance and all the intricate subtleties within them but also, I learned a lot about storytelling, using particular types of imagery as narrative tools and how readers read.
Now that I feel like I have a good look at the different elements that make up comics and how they should be I think I’m more confident about sketching ideas for my prototype.