In the previous episode, I had sent Toni & Charlie into space, travelling in something that looked like a removal box. While working on that episode, I realized its potential for a serial episode. A comic artist who sends his main characters into an orbit has the darn duty to get them back. Safely. Wouldn’t you agree? 🤗
1. The writing and sketching process of episode Re-entry
So the goal was set: bring back the kids from outer space, and please remember the funny bit in the last panel.
This goal is very typical for many of the stories that I draw. So I would sit down, jotting down dialogues like a screenplay writer, while simultaneously producing first rough sketches for the panels.
This draft contains the number of panels I need to tell my story. It sounds like a simple thing but let me assure you: it is anything but. Are all panels the same size? Do I need some larger panels, to fit all the information into it? Should I add a spectacular view, to enhance the attention and enjoyment for the reader? How do I raise the suspense? Sometimes, you want the reader to linger on a thought, sometimes you’d rather hurry the reader along.
Who speaks which text? How should I position the figures so that they support the reading direction? As long as there is only one balloon in the panel, it doesn’t matter much, whether the balloon is in the left or right corner. When there is a dialogue, however, you want to have the person saying something first on the left-hand side, whereas the answering person normally is on the right-hand side. Simply because you don’t want the balloon’s tails to overlap. That’s confusing for readers and therefore should be avoided.
Occasionally, I change the order of two or three panels when it helps the story. Remember, we are still in draft mode at this stage, so it can be done easily. Mark it with gusto, making sure you see it when it comes to pencilling stage 🙂
The cartoonist Michael Jantze has coined the expression „draw-writing“ for this stage. And I must say, he’s absolutely right: writing and drawing happens simultaneously, it works hand in hand. I’ve had occasions, where I had a text-only script. When it came to pencilling stage, I noticed that it didn’t work as foreseen. The same is true for sketches only scripts. I think this is mainly due to the close interaction of words and pictures in Toni & Charlie 🤗.
2. Fitting in the texts (balloons) in episode Re-entry
Episode 74 lives on (again!) on Toni’s and Charlie’s dialogues. Dialogues need room. Sometimes plenty of room.
Contrary to how I normally work, I decided to fit in the text balloons prior to pencilling the story. Starting with episode 66, I use a font with a slight similarity to my handlettering. It’s faster and that comes handy when I translate the episodes into English.
The first picture below shows how and where I place the text and the balloons. The second picture shows where I plan the characters to appear and what their postures may look like. When I look at the result, it gives me an idea of how much room I need in each panel. In this case, I also realized that the balloons would overlap the following panel.
3. The last panel
The last panel shows a verbal exchange. Sometimes, Toni & Charlie surprise me with the profound knowledge they have already. Of course, this is what makes the story funny, simply because we know how kids really talk at that age.
The observant reader will also notice: hey-ho, looks like another cliffhanger, doesn’t it? Well, you are right. Quite obviously, the adventures of the Flycarbo* are not finished yet.
When you zoom into the last picture, you can see a castle, a river and some surroundings. That is very much what you see, when you look at my hometown Aschaffenburg.
So, enough said. Enjoy the episode below!
* Flycarbo = flying cardboard box