Hereville page 16 is online

New page of Hereville. This is probably the page I’ve done that required the most work, despite it having only three panels; I ended up having to redraw Fruma again and again.

The problem with a page like this is it requires someone who draws much better than I do. Hopefully, after a few years of doing Hereville, my drawing will improve until I can manage pages like this one better – but, of course, I can’t put off drawing this page until then.

Then again, who knows? Gerhard (the background artist of Cerebus, who draws better than just about anyone in comics nowadays) apparently loathes his own work, because he can never get it to look the way he wants it to. So perhaps it’s hopeless. :-)

Anyhow, for those of you interested in work process, below is a pencil drawing of panel two, which I worked on for a couple of hours (erase, redraw, erase, redraw, erase, redraw) before deciding to dump it and start over from scratch. I just couldn’t get Fruma’s hands to work right from this angle. I like the Mirka head, though.


UPDATE: I’ve added the final panel here, too, so people could
compare the two even after I put the next page up on girlamatic.


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17 Responses to Hereville page 16 is online

  1. 1
    Elayne Riggs says:

    Don’t fret about it, Barry, hands are one of the hardest things to draw.

  2. 2
    lucia says:

    Looking at her here, she looks terrific. I’ll take your word that you meant for the hands to look somehow different– they seem right to me.

  3. 3
    Jake Squid says:

    I agree w/ Lucia. In fact, I like her hands in your discarded drawing better than in the one that you chose. Why do you like the one you chose better? What are you looking at that I’m not seeing? Is it that you feel her left hand is not correct in the one you discarded?

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    I knew someone was going to say they liked the hands better in the discarded version. I mean, that’s just a given, isn’t it? :-P

    The main thing I don’t like about the discarded drawing is the way her wrists are bent at different angles, rather than being symmetrical; and the way her left arm connects to her body, which just looks wrong to me somehow. But the reason I couldn’t fix those things is that when I drew the arm and the wrists differently, the hands have to be at different angles, and I couldn’t get the hands right at the different angles.

  5. 5
    Jake Squid says:

    That’s what I thought. But I’m not a particularly drawing observant comic reader and so, at first glance, I like the hands better in the discarded drawing. When I start to examine it more closeley, I can see the problems you are talking about wrt the connectivity of upper arm/forearm/wrist. But the hands, the hands are nicer in the discarded. I don’t care if the arm/forearm/wrist connection doesn’t work quite right. And you only mentioned the angle of the hands (which I didn’t read as arm angles & spatial relationships), so I looked only at the hands. You’ve gotta learn how us unobservant folks look at comics. But thanks for the explanation.

  6. 6
    ScottM says:

    I’m wondering… the last three pages have been much slower. Can you hint at why you decided to slow the pace– are you hoping to build anticipation, illustrate balance in Mirka’s life, or something else?

  7. 7
    lucia says:

    Amp… You sound like I do explaining to Jim why a particular sweater, or something I sewed wasnt’ “just right”. He in points to tiny details in the rooms he remodeled and shows me what’s “not right”. (Or possibly the commentators at the Olympics explaining what was wrong with a dive! Then they put it in slow mo– twice and you, the listerner starts to say.. yeah.. maybe I see that!)

    Ahhh.. the specialist. Self criticisizing.

  8. 8
    Decnavda says:

    Seriously, dude, you are being WAY too hard on yourself! I like the first, I like the second.

    Don’t get me wrong, here, I like your drawing, but I read comics, and Hereville in particular – for the stories. A good comic can tell a story quicker and more efficiently than prose. Prose writers are always being told, “Don’t TELL the reader what’s happening, SHOW the reader what’s happening.” Comics by nature are FORCED to do this. But it seems to me that if you get TOO caught up in the drawing, you are letting the style interfer with the substance.

    Of course, I do keep reading Hereville, and I do keep coming back to your blog partially because its design is so pleasant, so perhaps your perfectionism pays off.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    ScottM wrote: I’m wondering… the last three pages have been much slower. Can you hint at why you decided to slow the pace– are you hoping to build anticipation, illustrate balance in Mirka’s life, or something else?

    Well, in the original plan pages 14 and 15 were a single page. I eventually realized that it was insane to try and fit that much onto a page, so I split it into two pages, which gave me room to do the smelling-the-challah sequence but also slowed down the pacing quite a bit.

    This page, with the candlelighting, is different. Lighting the candles (which actually takes place about 18 minutes before Shabbat officially begins) is where preparing for Shabbat – and the non-sabbath week in general – ends and Shabbat itself begins. I paced this page super-slow to try to indicate that the change from regular-week to shabbat is an important, meaningful thing; and to also try and depict the change to “shabbat time,” which (many observant people say) feels different, slower and more relaxed, than time does during the regular week.

    Finally, I need to show that Shabbat matters, because – well, because if I don’t do that, I’m not doing a good job of showing the readers Mirka’s life. The central place of Shabbat in life is one of the major differences between our lives, and Mirka’s life. For Mirka, everything about the regular week is on pause from Friday night until Saturday night, and I wanted to try and depict that.

    At the same time, although I could spend another 20 pages showing readers the details of an Aherville Shabbat, obviously I’m not going to do that – eventually we’ve got to get back to the plot. So there will probably be another two or three pages of Shabbat in this sequence. (And, of course, that leaves pleanty of Shabbat details left to depict in future Hereville stories.)

    This page was also odd in that it’s a last-minute rewrite from what I had originally planned – while researching to draw this page, I came across some information that made me completely rewrite the page. Now I’m not quite sure how I want to approach the next couple of pages – although I’ll figure it out.

  10. 10
    Ampersand says:

    Decnavda, I agree with you that story matters more, but I think art does matter. I think Bill Watterson once said that great art can’t rescue a bad story, but great art can take a good story and send it blasting off to the moon.

    Of course, I don’t think my art is anywhere near that good. But hopefully it gives the story a little extra oomph.

    Besides, if I didn’t think the art mattered, then it would be very, very hard for me to spend all this time drawing. :-)

    Lucia: I remember I was once talking to Alison Bechdel (the excellent cartoonist who does Dykes to Watch Out For) and we agreed that a lot of “improvement” in our drawing is just a matter of becoming more and more fussy over the years. So a drawing that several years ago would have been “good enough’ becomes “I’d better do that over.” I think you’re right, that craftmanship in any field is always like that.

  11. 11
    Echidne says:

    I like them both, but I think I see what you mean, ampersand. In the first drawer the right armpit is closed, using qigong terminology. Her energy isn’t freely flowing into the hand though it is to the other hand. If her right shoulder was more relaxed, the gate would open up.

    (All in jest, I’ve been doing a lot of qigong recently, but that would be the energy interpretation.)

    I like the feeling in the faces!

  12. 12
    Echidne says:

    Um, I meant the left arm and armpit, not the right, I guess.

  13. 13
    Echidne says:

    Um, I meant “drawing”, not “drawer”. Maybe I should take a break?

  14. 14
    pseub says:

    Hands, schmands. You’ve really captured the emotional essence of the moment.

  15. 15
    Kip Manley says:

    Forget the hands: Mirka’s focus is on the candles in the final, and on Fruma in the discarded version. The final is vastly superior in that regard.

    Don’t sweat it (too much), Barry. The page is a knock-out.

  16. 16
    Raznor says:

    This page is absolutely beautiful.

    I note however, you choose to be very gender-nonspecific in the prayer (sovereign of the universe). But I don’t think Chasids would be. The prayer uses atah which is the masculine form of the word you “you” so translating “melech ha’olam” as “king of the universe” would be maybe more appropriate. Although I understand why you chose to be more gender-nonspecific.

    In some reform temples, I know they’ve changed the line to “Nivarech et ay’in ha’hayin” which means moreorless “blessed is the source of life” to eliminate any gender-specific words from the Hebrew, but Chasids aren’t into that sort of reinterpretation of prayers.

    But once again, this was gorgeous. And I guess I’m being a bit anal anyway. So good job, Amp.

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    No, you’re right, I should have used “king.” I just copied it from a translation I found online, alas.