Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Kirby Layout Goodness

This time let's look at a page from Fantastic Four #58 . . .


(Apologies for the image quality, but I'm blogging via iPad from my father's hospital room in Florida--he had a cardiac arrest Thursday night, so I've flown south to be with him and my family.)

What we've got here is a beautiful Z-pattern that naturally syncs your eyes and the flow of narrative action on the page. The eye goes from Ben to Ben in each panel (expect for the transition between panels 5 and 6 which is handled via Doom's figure as well as the natural causal link between the makeshift spear in Ben's hand and the explosion that spear causes when it hits Doom). There is also the same sort of X-pattern that I discussed in my previous post on Kirby's Thor layouts. You have a line descending from the "ZAFFT!" in panel 1 through the "RAKK!" in panel 3 to the "ZOT!" in panel 5. Crossing that line is the one descending from the Ben Grimm in panel 2 through the Ben in panel 3 to the Ben in panel 4. The diagonal line formed by the wreckage that Ben demolishes in panel 3 adds to this larger portion of the X-pattern.

There's also a lovely bit of variation in panel size and shape here as well. The top and bottom tiers of panels consist of two equally-sized squares each. These tiers serve to frame the middle panel, a single rectangle that expands left (with the eye's own motion as it shifts down and left from panel 2) to mirror Ben's violent action in panel. A nice bit of emphasis by the King here!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Prospero (Supers!)

Public Identity: Prospero
Secret Identity: Professor George Faust

Resistances:
Composure 2D
Fortitude 3D
Reaction 2D
Will 2D

Aptitudes:
Academia 2D
Occultism 2D
Technology 2D
All the Rest 1D

Powers
Astral Projection 2D (Device: Book)
Mental Blast 5D (Device: Staff)
Mental Shield 3D (Device: Staff)
Paralysis 3D (Device: Staff)
Telekinesis 5D (Device: Staff)

Disads
Old Age

History of Science Professor George Faust was carrying out archival research when he came across a spellbook and a wizard's staff from the sixteenth century.  After years of trial and error, he was able to access the mystic power inherent in the two items.  Now he fights crime under the nom de guerre "Prospero."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dr. Sulfur (Supers!)

Public Identity: Dr. Sulfur
Secret Identity: Lowell Fry, M.D.

Resistances:
Composure 3D
Fortitude 2D
Reaction 2D
Will 4D

Aptitudes:
Occult 3D
Medical 2D
All the Rest 1D

Powers
Invisibility 3D (Concentration Needed)
Mental Blast 4D
Mental Shield 3D
Mind Control 5D (Delayed Use, Debilitating)

Disads
Old Age

For Dr. Lowell Fry, turning forty was not an excuse to buy an expensive sports car or seek out a young mistress.  Instead, Fry responded to the onset of middle age by beginning a quest for the Philosopher's Stone and the eternal life it promised to provide.  Alchemical pursuits are not cheap, however, and Fry had to resort to crime to fund his growing library of occult texts.  While Fry is still looking for the secret of the Stone two decades later, he has managed to parlay his alchemical knowledge into an elixir-granted set of potent mental abilities.  His teammates in the Ring of Fire provide him with the muscle and defense he needs to protect him while he continues his search for the Stone.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why Kirby Is King: Page Layout

I've been reading the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run on The Mighty Thor, and I came across these pages from Thor 137 ("The Thunder God and the Troll") that demonstrate Kirby's command of page layout.  Here's page 2, my first example:


Here Kirby depicts a competition between Thor and the goddess Sif, his new love interest.  (I get the sense that, by issue 137, even Lee was getting tired of mortal love interest Jane Foster.)  What I love about the layout on this page is the interaction of the six panels.  The first panel (Sif launching a javelin toward the reader's right) is mirrored by the sixth and last panel (Thor throwing Mjolnir toward the reader's left).  The second panel (Sif's javelin lodging in the pole) is mirrored by the fifth and penultimate panel (where the force of Mjolnir's impact on the ground causes the spears to burst out of the pole).  The overall effect is that of an "X" pattern: panels 1 and 6 form the first line of the X while panels 2 and 5 form the second line.  The coloring ties the layout together even more.  (There's no colorist credited for the issue, so I'm not sure who to praise here.)  Panels 2 and 6 match up due to their yellow backgrounds—but they're also linked diagonally to panel 3 by virtue of the rather large swatch of yellow represented by Thor's golden locks.  Blue dominates the reverse pattern of panels 1, 4, and 5.

My second example is page 5:


Yellow backdrops and action lines tie together panels 1 and 4.  So does content: in both panels, Thor is smashing an enemy's weapon.  The result is a diagonal pairing that continues the force of Thor's panel 1 blow down into panel 4: in both cases, Mjolnir moves down and to the reader's right.  Panels 2 and 3 are tied together by the diagonal line linking the troll missile before and after it is launched at Thor.  In panel 2, the missile points down and left to the center of the layout; in panel 3, it zooms up and right.  The layout is once again an "X" shape.  At the same time, though, Kirby ties together panels 3 and 4 in a lovely action sequence: in panel 3, Thor prepares to strike by moving Mjolnir down and to his left.  Then, in panel 4, Thor ends the page with a "Thbooom!" by swinging his hammer across his body to his right.  The layout result is a beautiful arc of motion across the gutter between the panels.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Burnt Rubber (Supers!)

Public Identity: Burnt Rubber
Secret Identity: Maria Brophy

Resistances:
Composure 2D
Fortitude 2D
Reaction 4D
Will 2D

Aptitudes:
Athleticism 3D
Fighting 2D
Occultism 2D
All the Rest 1D

Powers
Insubstantiality 5D (Debilitating, Side Effect: Generates Nauseating Brimstone Cloud)
Regeneration 3D (Side Effect: Generates Nauseating Brimstone Cloud)
Super Speed 6D (Side Effect: Generates Nauseating Brimstone Cloud)

Maria Brophy was a sprinter who dreamed of gold medals and world records.  But the speed just wasn't there: she was destined for a life of bronze medals and no records.  Desperate, she turned to the occult and actually summoned up a demon.  He made her a deal: in exchange for her soul after death, he would given her super speed in life.  Of course, the demon cheated: Maria's newfound powers produced noxious clouds of brimstone whenever she used them, making it impossible for her to compete and win.  Realizing that she was now on a clock, the bitter runner turned to crime as a means of funding her hedonism.  She took up the alias "Burnt Rubber."  She is the newest member of the Ring of Fire.