Some odd years ago I went to a comic book convention trying to find work as a penciller. My portfolio was a mixed bag of known characters and my own creations. Needless to say nothing job-like came out of the excursion, but I did come out with some wisdom.
I had the chance to show my work to a couple of professional pencillers, and in their critique, a few of them said a variation of this: “Your storytelling is kind of old fashion; it is more European-like than American. Do so and so to change it…” What they have pointed out as a mistake had actually made me very happy, because that was the whole idea. I wanted to have European-influenced storytelling rather than an American one. We’re talking the 1990s here, so this is the time when the Image Comics style of storytelling (or lack thereof) was all the rage. That meant splash pages peppered with no more than three small panels and no storytelling to write home about. As much as I still admire some of those artists, I never cared much for their way of cutting corners around deadlines. And don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for all the advice I got from the pros at that convention. Just the fact that they took time to guide an aspiring artist is reason enough to thank them.
Right or wrong I wanted to achieve a certain narrative style with my work other than what was “in” at the time. In Metasearch, I tried to work the storytelling aspect to the bone and making every panel as interesting and appealing as I could; since the pace and mood of the story are so integral to the overall experience of the book. I challenged myself to make even the most boring conversation visually interesting in order to keep my readers engaged.
I guess the bottom line is that, just like in any other art form, the success of the desired effect of your work is in the hands of the public. As an artist, one is left hoping to be right. A storyteller without an audience is like a swimmer in the desert. I’ll see you in the page.