Friday, February 11, 2011

Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Comic Book Pages (Manga Edition)!

Sometimes people ask me how to get into animation. Mostly I encourage them to keep drawing, preferably from real life to get those fundamentals solid, and that's pretty good advice, I think. But the curmudgeon in me just wants to warn them away, because the truth of the matter is that animation is, by and large, a lot of work for very little reward.

By way of example, lets consider a sequence from Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases! As a transition from Bat-Mite's lair to the manga section of the show, we had to come up with a few fake pages of a Japanese Batman comic, based on the old comics by Jiro Kuwata. Legal wouldn't let us just use scans from the originals, so we had to cobble together some fakes, made to look enough like Jiro Kuwata's art to be recognizable, but not enough to exact duplicates of the original.

So I spent a couple weeks coming up with these 6 fake pages -

-and then we sent it off to legal, who had some tiny changes. Next up, inks-

-so with the legal hurdles cleared, we got Craig Cuqro to colour the pages, and added a layer of aged paper texture from Bill Dunn. We also got some dialogue translated into Japanese by Toshi Hiruma (I can't remember what it says any more, sorry) -

 -and wrapped it all up in this cover, drawn by Lynell Forestall, inked by Robert Lacko and again coloured by Craig Cuqro and aged up by Bill Dunn -

All told, the whole process probably took about a month. Now watch it go by onscreen - 

And that's after we duplicated the cycle to extend it. So in a nutshell, we compressed a month's worth of labour into three seconds of screentime. So there's my advice for aspiring animators - always remember that animation is a medium that will drain years off of your lifespan and leave you mere snippets of footage in return.

And keep drawing!

All characters and art ™and © DC Comics