Time Stop

Archie’s The Return of Dr. Wily- Mega Man 2 Adaptation -Part 2-

Ok, so I’m gonna make it through these Mega Man comics. Its my mission.

Here’s issue 10, drawn in late 2011!

Page 02-

Here are my pencils but what I really want to point out is the color work, so you’ll have to grab the comic or look it up online.

All I’ve really got to work with is line so drawing any special effects is putting a lot of trust in the colorist to follow through and complete the desired effect. In this case I want Quick Man’s after image to fade just as Mega Man’s bullets reach him and check out how well Matt pulled it off. The effect looks so good!

Page 05-

Again, comparing this to the printed comic I’d like to point out Heat Man’s attack in panel 06 at the bottom. That blue fire was such a cool idea and not something I would have done! I would have been too hung up on capturing how the attack looks in the game, and creatively closed myself off from bringing any further life to it. Dynamite stuff on Matts end.

Page 10-

Crash Man is one of my favorite Robot Masters from ‘Mega Man 2′, such a great design and a blast to draw.

A small detail I thought was funny about the Robot Masters, they’re seemingly standing around waiting for Mega Man to show up. Here in my layout for page 10 you’ll see my initial idea was to make it clear Crash Man has been waiting for a while.

You’ll also notice that I’ve reversed the direction from layouts to pencils. I really like the idea of using subtle storytelling techniques and was thrilled the first time I heard about the general approach of staging villains from the right. They become an opposing force not only to the hero but to the reader! In the layouts I thought I would play around with this idea as Mega Man lost his mind, bringing him in from the right, giving him the villains role and setting the tone that something is wrong.   I think his face in panel 03 of the layouts is really funny- what a punk!

It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t follow the layouts because I wanted a clean story flow from page 09 to page 10. Panel 01 in the layouts is extremely dull, the story could not told more straightforward, but by continuing the momentum from page 09 I could produce a more threatening shot of Mega Man, showing less of him, making him huge compared to Crash Man.

Take a close look at the bottom of the page, you’ll notice the live zone, crop zone, and bleed zone markers. The crop zone is where the page will be cut and any information contained there is expected to be lost. You’ll see here in my pencils that Mega Man is fully contained within the crop zone with room to spare, however in the printed comic you’ll find that his toe is cut off. This is all due to a mishap on my part when I changed production methods. In the past I was drawing (tracing) directly on to Archie artboards, with the zones clearly marked. When I shifted to printing my pencils out in light blue ink on blank paper, I forgot to include the zone markers for Gary and the rest of the team making it difficult to determine exactly where the crop should be.  I think this whole issue has that problem, losing all kinds of information and making for weird panels, but I learned my lesson and issue 11 should be on track. I’ll have to remember to take a look when I get there.

Typically when drawing an Archie comic, the production is divided in half. I draw the first half, scan the pages for approval, then mail it off to be inked before moving on to the second half. This is page 10, my stopping point for the first half of the book-

In the bottom panel Mega Man has his buster on his left arm.

After pencils are approved and delivered to the inker, I picked back up again to draw page 11-

I forgot to check my continuity, diving straight in and drawing the buster on the right. Fortunately, someone else down the production line is keeping track of this stuff and helped me out by reversing the arms in the printed comic.

Page 13-

I thought about drawing the shoulder launchers Crash Man uses in Super Adventure Rockman for panel 03 but I just couldn’t find clear enough reference and at the time I wasn’t into making it up…

In the previous post I talked about Wood Man’s Leaf Shield and that it doesn’t make any sense out of a 2D environment.  The moment you try to think of how it would work in reality, the gaps in its defense are apparent. Here on page 13 Mega Man has activated the Leaf Shield in an attempt to protect himself from a barrage of bombs, but how can I depict and convince the reader that these rotating leaves will block the explosions?

Luckily the world of Mega Man is super stylized and realism should rarely be applied. This was a chance at using one of my favorite storytelling elements in this kind of world! An opportunity not to get hung up on the reality of the situation and use stylized visual information to tell story unique to Mega Man! Here he activates the Leaf Shield (in which the reader has previously been made aware it blocks damage), bombs then explode and Mega Man crawls out of the wreckage unhurt. We don’t have to know exactly how something works, only that it does work and that its then used to tell a good story.

Not only is this one of my favorite storytelling elements, but I believe its an entire philosophy for storytelling in a universe like Mega Man or Sonic or Pokemon or it can even stretch all the way to things like Star Wars.  In regards to Sonic, I’m fond of presenting this philosophy like this-

Question: “How does Tails fly? How do those bones rotate?”

Answer: “Who cares, he does. Now go tell a good story with him flying.”

Question: “Why does Sonic run so fast? How did he get that way?”

Answer: “Who cares, he does. Now go tell a good story with him running.”

So in this case, how does the Leaf Shield block an explosion? Who cares, it does. That’s how Mega Man works and let’s move on tell a good story about him blocking stuff with his Leaf Shield.

Don’t get too hung up on reality , that’s not what this universe is about, and bend the rules all over the place, BUT make sure you establish an internal set of rules to your universe that stay consistent and that make sense where your story needs to make sense.

Page 14-

It may not look like it, but this page was the hardest thing I was assigned to draw professionally up to that point. The problem was wrapping my brain around it in the first place, around an environment with pipes everywhere, all of them twisting every which way but converging on a large building in the center. Trying to figure out-

A) how it works as an object in a 3D environment

B) how to then take that 3D understanding and still make it immediately recognizable as the 2D NES level it comes from

C) how to then blow it up and for the reader to make sense out of it

D) how to blow it up a second time later in the comic and for the reader to make any sense out of it

I didn’t know how to make that work at all and I spent an unnecessary amount of time killing myself over it. I also have a tendency to get overwhelmed by too much work and my brain starts bouncing around. I start penciling a panel and then jump to another panel, then jump back before jumping to yet another panel. I spend hours chipping away  but by the end of the day none of the panels are finished. I fall into despair and feel like I’ve made zero progress. In this case I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know how to even approach the page. Luckily in my darkest hour, my wife suggested I draw every panel separate. It was the solution I needed and everything came together. I use that approach on every single page I work on now. Every page is literally one panel at a time so I can’t overwhelm myself. I can’t jump around and I tend to move right along.

Anyway, given how much grief I experienced with this page I was shocked to see all my art plastered over with sound effects in the printed version. Why did I bother drawing any of it?

Page 16-

I was afraid it would get censored out so I didn’t make it obvious, but all thats left is the top half of Crash Man’s torso. Now you know.

 

Page 20-

I thought this was a funny layout.

This is the one and only time I got in trouble with Capcom. There was an issue with me ripping up the armor on his back, it was confused as clothing. I felt really bad, still feel really bad, to give Capcom the idea that I- “just don’t get it”. Gary Martin the inker had to come in and black the whole thing out to cover it up.

I looked long and hard to see if I could find any reference of his back for the interior robotics but only discovered the usual front views. I decided to keep it super simple as a lot of his important stuff seemed up front, and give him a kind of power meter or something like on his buster. I don’t know, I needed something and I was still at a stage where I felt really uncomfortable making stuff up in the Mega Man world.

 

 

2 comments to Archie’s The Return of Dr. Wily- Mega Man 2 Adaptation -Part 2-

  • You did this issue a long time ago. That scene on page 14 that was so difficult, do you think you would have such difficulty with that now?
    I like the storytelling in the unused layout for page 10. It’s a funny idea to make fun of the story you are telling.

  • No, I was thinking about that while I was writing this post. It wouldn’t be that hard at all anymore and I could do sooooo much more with that environment than what’s on the page now.

    Its pretty cool to look back through these challenges in my career and measure my progress.

    And as for making fun of the stories, it is incredible how much power we, as the artists, wield in this job. A scene, or an entire script can have its intention undermined, altered, or even outright mocked by the staging and acting of the characters. In this case I was making a conscious choice to have Crash Man sitting down, or in the case of Flash Man in issue 11 (which I haven’t posted yet) standing in the middle of an empty room, but I wonder about how many times we read a script and misinterpret a characters line, or the mood of a scene, without realizing it. And then neither the editor or the writer say anything about it because they assume its a little artistic liberty. So off the comic goes, hobbling into the world as an even more hideous frankenstein, because no one quite has a bead on what the story is.

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