Comics Creators

PJ's Friday Fixup


Hey all, been a while, but looking for places that people might find this interesting. The past few weeks on twitter I’ve been doing this thing I called #fridayfixup (a terrible hashtag but all I could think of and weirdly it’s a fairly clean/unused hashtag) where someone submits a single page of sequential art and I try and ramp up the storytelling. Open to people at any level. It’s much easier for me to work from unlettered, pure b&w finished artwork, since most of the tools I use are really about moving art around, flipping things and generally just tweaking what’s there to see if I can’t eek out a little improvement in the pages.

I’ve a few you can read on my blog:

And if anyone wants to reply to this thread with a page, I’ll try and do the same thing (I’ve generally been able to do about 3-4 pages on the Fridays, so assuming ANYONE asks it’ll be first come first served)

I can’t guarantee I will be able to improve your page, but I’ve found, so far, most of the pages have been interesting whether you agree with the results or not.


I did another one…

Every Friday I ask, on twitter, if anyone has a page of art they want me to go through and see if I can’t help them ramp up the storytelling (it’s always about making it better, even by small degrees) and then I talk about the decisions I’ve taken and why they might be good (or bad, who knows, right? it’s all subjective)

Steven Grey sent me a couple of pages, I went with the first one, so here’s his version to the left and mine to the right with notes to follow…

Ok, the first big thing I did, and something I want to talk about: black panel borders.

Black panel borders can be awesome, they can add mood and moodiness. The can realy draw a reader in to the story, but like most decisions that impact on a whole page there are down sides. For me, the downsides are considerable. I LOVE open panels, I LOVE being able to blow out a background and panel borders and have the reader just look at the characters reaction, and these are things you lose once you decide you want to have a pure black panel border.

So, for this page I decided to go all out and remove the panel borders. Panel 1 is the one that is most impacted.

Panel 1: There are two things on this page that seem to be important… the boy and the boys reaction to the butterflu (which implies the butterfly is important). I opened up Panel one so it became a vista on a wide open space, allowing me to uncrop the tree (because cropping is great at making you feel like you’re in an enclosed space it felt interly inapporpriate to crop on this big picture view). I also added a silhoutte of the boy walking toward the tree and made the butterfly more obvious (there’s a little noodle drawing, that, due to the low resolution on the original, may have been the butterfly or might not, I just tidied that idea up a little)

I also took the dense foliage around the tree away, lifted it slightly above the panel border, but keeping it on the ground plane, and added clean black into the bark of the tree. All this is to help the reader “read” that they’re looking at a tree.

Panel 2: Flipped the panel and added more black in to the butterly. Added a little bit of foliage to the background (never needs to be too complicated, just enough to suggest background. Film and TV can do a focal effects – basically pushing the background into a blur and that’s harder to accomplish with lineart [you can blur lineart but it looks horrid] but you can lightly draw some background. Flipped the background here because it felt like, as a reader I was skipping over this butterfly, flipped it feels like I’m forced to stare at it a little longer (this is very much, as is all of it really, in my humble opinion)

I really like the lineart style, but I think there’s a danger of things getting a little losed in the light feathery lines, so I decided the butterfly was in that danger, so gave it a solid black wing so we’d never lose it in any panel.

Panel 3: Unfortunately, I think you’re art style can be a bit of a rod for your own back, it feels light when there’s no background details (even simple ones) so added stuff here.

I wanted to drop the panel out and just have the butterfly, and the boy in the panel but as they’re both cropped slightly to the opposite sides of the panel borders it felt like that would look odd.

Panel 4: Couple of big edits here. I flipped the panel, It felt like our reading of it in the direction meant we skipped over the butterfly entirely (it also felt like it was so hidden in the foliage we’d never have seen it) so flipping the panel actually produces a slightly more interesting narrative witin the panel – in the flipped version: boy reacts to something, we see the hand of the big guy moving foliage, butterfly flies off. In the original unflipped version: big guy looks at boy (who lets go of butterfly and it flies off in the opposite direction, zig zagging our view). Also tidied up the foliage around the butterfly and gave it black wings with eyes, so we never lose sight of it (eye joke!)

Panel 5: unchanged. Nice closeup.


This is really interesting. The fourth panel in particular - it feels much more natural in the revised (flipped) version, partially because it reduces the number of actions and maintains the same direction of movement: the kid stays facing in the same direction and looks up to see the big guy who disturbs the butterfly and it flies off, rather than the big guy looking in, the kid turning, noticing him, and then the butterfly flying off.

In comparison, as originally drawn it creates a real zigzag effect and forces a lot more movement into a single panel, as well as suddenly introducing us to the big guy rather than letting us notice him as the kid does.

(The only thing that the flip affects negatively is causing a continuity blip by reversing the bow/quiver positions on the kid! :slight_smile: But I guess that can be easily fixed.)

Really interesting anyway - please post more of these!


Someone made a decent point on twitter that the unflipped version of that panel had more of a disorientating effect, arguably for the good of the story, and I’m kind of with them. There’s something to be said for using the tools to jar the reader when you want to do that! (Though always better to do that with intent than by accident)


FRIDAY FIXUP! I did another one! Ahmed Raafat sent me this page, caveat: this is for an Egyptian comic book so reads right to left, so I had to flip it before I could make sense of it, so from here on in I’m going to talk about this newly flipped version as though it’s the original (make sense? otherwise I’ll be talking about flipping things back to the way before and it’ll drive us all mad)

Anyway here’s Ahmed’s original (ie his page flipped to read left to right) and my amendments, notes, as ever… to follow…

Panel 1:

Ok, first off. This is clearly a night scene in a busy location, but owing to the stylistic choice of the buildings in panel one it felts too bright. So That was my first job – bringing the lighting down. I pushed all the buildings in to silhoutte in the background leaving the odd lit window as an indicater they’re buildings and then I masked off the top of the buildings and added a splatter stars (more than were originally there – some time ago I created an ink splatter and scanned it and turned it into a brush for Clip Studio Paint, this is my go to splatter brush for stars or blood or just chaos). The splatter allows us to read a continous set of straight lines for the roofs (rooves? roofeses?) Then I blacked out the floor. Next I wanted more crowding so I added another -I’m calling them – tucktucks just to beef it up, then I figured I needed depth, so I took the waiter guy and blew him up and moved him so he was taking up a big bit of the foreground (I fixed the cups he had in his hand which seemed to be tilting forward and about to spill) but him in isolation looked great, but it’s not really his story, is it? So I needed a good visual link to the next panel so I ended up poorly drawing the guy in panel two in panel one – just a suggestion to link these panels, panel 1: reach for cup. Panel two? drink from cup.

Panel 2: The glass looked like it was weirldy floating. Our hands and fingers curve around and take on the shape of the object they’re holding – as best as they’re able. The squishy flesh touching the object soaks into the shape of it increasing the surface area and grip, and on the exterior surface of your hand the bones wrap around and you’re seeing mostly bone and sinew on that side, but bone and sinew trying to be a cup holder. Unless it’s a light glass we will try and get as much of that glass in to our hands as we can. I also flipped this panel, there was a lot of symmetry going on with the next panel and I needed an easy way to disambiguate the two, I also think this is a neater way of hemming the second character in here.

Panel 3: The facial expressions on the smaller character here and the smaller character in the previous panel were nearly identical, so I needed a way to stop that. Decided that since the character turned up first off in a lot of shadow he should remain in a lot of shadow this further made it look different to the smaller character in the previous panel. I also blew up the other character in this panel, helping to add some depth to the scene.

Panel 4: I pushed him back in to ominous silhouette, we lose the facial expression, and maybe the intent – depending on the script, but really it felt much better to have him in all silhouette here, it looked cool and felt like a good moment on the last panel of the page.

I should point out, I’m really looking at these things out of context of overall script, so, arguably, I’m losing information and intent from the overall story, so it may well be that edits I suggest here are unworkable, but still, it’s fun to figure this stuff out, right? Anyway, as every YMMV!


Another Friday, another Fixup! There’s two new ones on my blog, I’ll post one here, you can read the other over there if you like!

It’s friday fixup, this slice of sci-fi silliness is from Stephen Ward who has a whole strip for you to read here.

I took his first page to see if I could pep it up with the story telling, His page then my edits, then notes to follow!

stephenward stephenward
So let’s talk SCALE!!!

You have the vast, endless expanse of space (“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.” the great Douglas Adams) and yet panel one feels super cramped. It’s also got the main characters flying against the direction of the reader (reader is, of course, moving left to right – anything that is on the page attempting to move right to left is gonna feel either very jarring or like it’s not moving at all – a still moment). So panel 1 I pulled the camera right out – since we have two characters the dialogue – in the context of the rest of the page – is actually pretty clear which character is speaking so we don’t need to show them just yet.

I’ve also ramped up the threat – and I think it makes the first line funnier – “he’s gaining” is vaguely worrying when the other guy has a ship the same size as you, but it’s very worrying when his shape is so vast that it’s really gonna pulverise you (plus he’s so close it’s very much an understatement)

Second panel: It’s always a pain to have the first person speaking on the right – it’s not ideal, but sometimes you have no choice (I always blame the writer) making the second person to speak (on the left) lower down in the panel, and giving the letterer plenty of room to work on in the middle is about the best compromise you can make (ideally you don’t get in the situation, but here we are!)

I’ve added some background, both of the interior of the spaceship – needn’t be too much, just some lines to help us know where we are, and windows to the exterior with stars flashing by – it all helps give us a sense of movement. You could also maybe give the panel a dutch angle which would help give a sense of a spaceship jigging left and right to avoid being shot at and would elevate the character higher on the right so it helps the letterer even further.

I’ve also changed the body language, I think the joke works a little better if the character is one minute deeply lamenting the mistake, then the next sort of “but it was delicious”. Panel 2 made me go back and change panel 1 a little, I took the reference to the pineapple and decide to give the big spaceship in panel one more of a pineapple look to it – helping to reinforce the silly (the big teeth on it are supposed to be a big docking bay with an crunchy open/close gate thing)

Panel three: BACKGROUND! doesn’t need much, just some moving stars and planets and some odds and ends round the ship, stuff to add personality (I added here a tree car smelly thing – you want to add tchotchkes around and about, things that show the world is wider than the blank walls of the ship)

Panel four:

Show don’t tell! Pulled the panel out, dialogue from inside the ship showing intent, the giant wall of asteroids, bullets flying past – we see a plan, the threat and the possible solution. All better than another shot of our heroes inside the ship which conveys little information that “let’s do this”

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got – ymmv, pick from this what you think works and what doesn’t.