I changed a few lines of dialogue yesterday, which is always a risky thing when I'm in the middle of drawing a comic, as my perspective on the big picture is inevitably skewed by this point. I also experimented with a colour palette that I think is going to pay off--see, I have a minor problem in that a lot of this comic takes place in places where there are dim or no light sources, and since I'm a big fan of natural lighting, I'm compelled to completely obliterate a lot of what I've drawn with darkness. Ultimately, I still see this as a gain. I like darkness to look like darkness. I love it when filmmakers have this sensibility--look at David Lynch. Twin Peaks is especially illustrative; if you compare the Lynch directed episodes with the others, you'll see Lynch has these wonderful pitch black forest night scenes, lit usually only by a shaky flashlight. In the pilot episode, you have that oddly scary shot of James and Donna's pale faces close to each other surrounded by blackness. And yet, in a later episode, when a different director takes us to the same location, also at night, the place is lit by a boring ambient yellow.
I took another cue from Lynch last night, though, by using a general dark blue lighting for pitch black, a sort of wild artifice I borrowed from a scene in INLAND EMPIRE. It serves a number of functions for me; it marks the passage of time, it reflects the mood of the dialogue, and it makes everyone's faces visible, all while being artificial enough to cue the reader into the fact that the characters can probably see less than we can.
If nothing else, this is going to be the best looking comic on my web site. I've scanned the pages at a much higher dpi than Boschen and Nesuko and Moving Innocent, and, for the first time, I'm using a ruler on the edges of the panels when I ink them. I always kind of wanted a slightly squiggly quality to the lines in my comics previously, but jeez, I like how this looks. I'm getting comfortable with it; hopefully I'm not on the road to putting cg AT-ATs and dewbacks in my old comics.
Last night I actually listened to a commentary I'd already listened to before--Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince's commentary for Kagemusha. But it's such a dense commentary, practically a history lesson, there's no way I could retain it all after just one or two listens. Kagemusha is a movie thick with historical references left utterly unexplained that nonetheless are crucial to the viewing experience, so a history lesson is rather useful. I wonder if Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas knew what they were getting into when they decided to fund the film.
Prince talks about the fact that Kagemusha was originally planned as a comedy, written to star Shintaro Katsu, a well-loved comedic actor best known for playing Zatoichi. Unfortunately, Katsu showed up on the set expecting to direct his own scenes. I suppose you have to admire the chutzpah of a guy showing up to work on an Akira Kurosawa movie and telling that legendary director he's going to take the reins. But of course, it simply meant that Kurosawa fired him on the spot, and called in Tatsuya Nakadai as a last minute replacement. I like Tatsuya Nakadai, but I rather think the movie would have been better served by having someone more suited to comedy in the role to balance out the dense historical drama and bloody battle scenes of the rest of the movie. It might have made Kagemusha as good as Ran.