Friends With Boys - Page 68

Several people pointed out how cool Alistair seemed in yesterday’s page, and in today’s page, he’s so cool Maggie is rendered cartoony.

Alistair was a character who changed a lot as I developed Friends With Boys. As I mentioned on the About page, Friends With Boys was original a pitch for DC Comics now defunct Minx line of comics, and the very first outline of the story was written waaaayyy back in 2007. Ages ago! Working on a story that many years means that naturally it goes through many evolutions, and I have to say I’m now very glad FwB wasn’t published in 2009 as originally intended. The extra couple years was very good for it. I cringe to think of that early outline!

So, Alistair. Originally his background was a lot different. There’s a reason why he has a mohawk, which I can’t tell you now as it’s a crucial part of the story and you’ll just have to wait until the pages are posted (ooh, so mean). But originally the mohawk made a lot more visual sense. He was a punk, and dressed like one, instead of how he is now in the comic, which is a pretty average looking guy who just happens to have a mohawk. As his character changed, so did his visual design. Here’s the VERY FIRST drawing I ever did of Alistair and Lucy:

See how different looking? Yes, quite a bit! Lucy’s punk-ness in the finished comic is dialed down from this design (she doesn’t have quite so many piercings), but she’s still recognizably punk (of all the characters in the comic, she probably went through the least changes). But now Alistair dresses completely differently, and doesn’t have any piercings. That’s because a character’s look, the way they dress and wear their hair, should reflect who they are as a person, and Alistair changed as a person from the character you see in the drawing above. Paying attention to a character’s design, making their character influence how they dress is, I think, very important in comics, and something that doesn’t get mentioned very much. It’s something that’s ground into one’s skull if you work/trained in animation (as I did), but it doesn’t get mentioned in connection with comics very often. Personally, I think it’s VERY important. Your characters should be visually recognizable. There should be a reason for why they dress the way they do, just as every real live human being has a reason for wearing a certain type of jean, dress, pant or shirt. Got a character who’s a slob? He/she will probably not be wearing expensive, well-pressed clothing. Got a character who’s a superhero and will be doing a lot of action scenes/butt kicking? They should probably wear pants.*
Here’s another drawing of Old Alistair with Old Maggie. Maggie’s character didn’t evolve as radically as his, but she dresses a little more nerdy in the finished comic … I felt the stripey arm socks were too gothy, and implied a knowledge of fashion she wouldn’t have, as an isolated homeschooled kid.

*Sadly, this continues to be a debate. Siiiiigh.

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24 Responses

  1. Alex says:

    I’ve just found this comic and Superhero Girl today thanks to Paul Taylor, and found “One of Those Days” via Superhero Girl.. I love it when I find cool stuff in general, but cool stuff in groups is even better :-D I’ve gone through the archives and am eagerly awaiting more!… just wish “One of Those Days” had an RSS feed.. Google Reader has become my daily source of comic goodness of late.

  2. Vanessa says:

    It’s so awesome to see your early concepts! I do the same thing, especially when I’ve been working on a story for a while. My characters morph as the story does, and then their character designs change as well. I couldn’t agree more about having your characters dress like their personalities! Also, I like to have my characters stand, move, or smile differently if possible. It actually makes comics so much fun to make, because then you feel like you’re acting! :) One of the first comments I made on here was how much I love your character designs, they’re all great and distinct!

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Yes, I agree, especially about body language. I don’t like having two characters doing the exact same thing, so if there are three people standing around, one will have their arms crossed, one with their arms at their sides, and one with their hands on their hips. It makes things much more visually interesting.

  3. I am just now at the stage in my writing career where I am revisiting older concepts, which is funny, because I’m pretty old. Now, I’m just a writer, so I don’t have quite as much say in the look of my various characters.

    But they surely do evolve over time, sometimes they end up where you originally intended them to be, but your storytelling had pushed them in a different direction.

    I appreciate the look at Alistair, Lucy, and Maggie’s “younger selves.”

    (This page kills, by the way. It’s really touching.)

  4. glopishloub says:

    Thanks for the early drawings! I never really gave thought of how a character should be dressed, and now that i read that it seems so logical!
    and Alistair sooo sexy! ;)

  5. CurlyJim says:

    Cartoony Maggie is the cutest thing I’ve seen today. If Alistair becomes even cooler, will she also become even cuter? Inquiring minds need to know!
    They wear skirts in kendo, so if the ass-kicking being applied is of a kendo nature, then a skirt would be appropriate?

    • Ara says:

      Hakama are more like really wide pants than skirts. I wouldn’t think of them as skirts at all…

      RE Alistair, I like his current “regular guy with mohawk” look very much, especially since he doesn’t style his hair. The old look was a lot of fun but it was a lot of look. As he is now his look provides an enigmatic ambiance/aura around his actual personality which makes him a deeper (and therefore sexier IMHO) character. ;D

      • Faith Erin Hicks says:

        Sexier, excellent. XD For the record, Al’s hair was the hardest to draw in the whole damn book, so I’m glad it came out looking decent!

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      I would be okay with a Kendo skirt. :) Unfortunately most skirts given to superhero girls are mini-skirts….

  6. Anton says:

    I love the sort of “backstage” stories of how things came to be what they are now. Fascinating!

    Something about your art style reminds me of Czech art/cartoons I saw when studying in Prague. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But I like it, whatever it is.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Weird, Czech cartoons…. I can’t say I’ve seen any Czech cartoons/comics. Got any artists names I can look up? Sometimes people see very odd things in my work, and when I look up the art they recommend, then yes, weirdly enough, my work is very similar. And yet I’ve never heard of it … funny how that is.

  7. snapdragon76 says:

    First time commenting here. I must say, I am loving this comic so far (so much I pre-ordered the book already). I get disappointed on the weekends because no new updates!!

    And thanks for sharing the early character designs and how they evolved over time. I love seeing the behind the scenes processes.

    And I close by saying Maggie and Lucy are adorable and Alistair is kinda hot. *is a little shallow*

  8. Sarah says:

    I’m not sure which is cuter – Maggie’s deer-in-headlights look, or Lucy’s nervous/hopeful smile & wave… :)

  9. Greg Carter says:

    Oi, that pic of First Alistair and First Lucy makes me want to read all my Hopeless Savages TPBs again when I get home. I mean that in a very good way. :)

  10. Kat says:

    I think I’m really going to enjoy the friendship between Maggie & Lucy – that contrast between our repressed heroine and the uninhibited emotions of her friend is always interesting, and provides more area for exploration than if Maggie made friends with someone “normal,” who guards their words and emotions more closely. It can also raise the “why does she want to be friends with me?” question, but anybody who’s ever been in an improbable friendship themselves will understand right away.

    I think it says a lot about Alistair’s personality that he’s willing to claim forming “an awesome social rebel group” as his own idea. Obviously Lucy’s desire to know Maggie better has a lot to do with it, Maggie doesn’t seem like the kind of person Alistair would seek out on his own, but he’s fully on board.

    And, interesting contrast between Maggie’s brothers leaving her to sink or swim, and Alistair’s willingness to do the socially awkward jobs for Lucy.

    All of which is to say, good job establishing complex social relationships in a few words in an art form a lot of people think is shallow and just for kids.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Thank you! I enjoy making my comics character and relationship driven (even when they have genre trappings), so I’m glad to see that’s coming through.

  11. Amstrad says:

    I think it’s sort of funny that you consider Alistair to not be punk. Looking at your old design he’s clearly got a more 70′s inspired punk look to him, but in a modern sense it looks more like a costume than something a person really wears anymore. His current look of hoodie and dark jeans is much more modern punk.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Yes, very true. What you said about the original Alistair/Lucy designs looking like a costume, it kind of still is, for Lucy: For some people what they wear is like their armor; they put it on to have the strength to face the world, and sometimes it’s easier when you’re wearing something that distracts from the person underneath. It’s important to Lucy, less so to Alistair, so he gets the subdued outfit, while hers is very much inspired by (well, probably) pictures she looked at of how punks dressed. They live in a tiny town, so there probably isn’t much of a punk scene anyway. ;)

  12. Miguel S. says:

    Some great facial expressions on this page :)

  13. Hmmm… from your comments, I predict that Alistair used to be in with those guys he keeps getting dirty looks from, but they were disrespectful to Lucy for her punky hair, so Alistair got a mohawk and left the cool club. :)

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Friends With Boys, webcomic edition!

Hello readers, new ones just discovering the comic and those who’ve been with it since the beginning. Friends With Boys is now complete online. You may read it in its entirety, all 200+ pages, for free, for the next eight days. Then the image files of the comic (except for a short preview) will be taken down. While the comic was being serialized online, I blogged a lot about my comic making process. I did write ups about how I make comics, what my opinions on what makes a good comic are, and pointed out various Easter eggs throughout Friends With Boys. That stuff will all remain up, so if you buy a hard copy of Friends With Boys, you can still read along with my thought process.

And now (today!), Friends With Boys is a published book! Yay! I hope that if you’ve read the web version and liked it, and want to support me as a creator, you’ll consider buying the book.

I’ve really enjoyed serializing Friends With Boys online. If you’re new to my work, I started out making comics online before moving into print. I posted the very first page of my very first online comic on my very first website back in August, 1999, and wow, was that page ugly. Here it is! Notice a weird similarity to the first page of Friends With Boys? Yeah, that was not deliberate, I promise. But look how much your drawing skills can improve if you draw thousands of pages of comics over a ten year period! Anyway, I’m really thrilled my wonderful publisher First Second Books has allowed me to return to my roots and put Friends With Boys online as a lead up to its publication. As a reader and purchaser of comics, I have bought quite a few hard copy versions of online comics, because I enjoy the reading experience of having the whole thing collected, and I want to support the author. I hope you will too. :)

Otherwise, there are a few upcoming events I hope to see some readers at:
Book signing! At my local comics shop Strange Adventures, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 3rd (Saturday), 2-4pm (EDITING TO ADD: The book launch has been moved to the following Saturday due to the books not shipping to Strange Adventures on time. The launch will now be March 10th from 2-4pm. Go here for info).
Comic convention! I’ll have a table at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 6th-7th. There are a few other conventions I am trying to attend, but everything else is up in the air at the moment. For updates, please follow my twitter or join my Facebook fan page.  I’m pretty good about updating those two spots.


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