Animating comics – The Red Star

For my final project in Comm Lab I ended up doing a piece of animation using a body of artwork that I’ve wanted to work with for quite a while: The Red Star. The Red Star is a graphic novel by Christian Gossett and its art has a great sense of scale to it.

I’m so taken with the art and story of the original that I didn’t really want to do something narratively transformative with it, which left me with attempting to animate what was already there. This project ended up being an extremely educational one on two fronts:

1) This was the first and only project for Comm Lab which I undertook solo. I found that working in groups teaches significantly different things than working alone does. This is probably because we were working in new groups with new people pretty much every week, so a large part of each project was developing functional group dynamics. This meant that I spent more time doing the creative work at an intuitive level while spending my conscious mental energy on group management. This was fun and useful, but it made for a very different experience from doing solo work. I found myself much more focused on composition, structure, and style while working alone. Part of this may also be attributable to the fact that I was working on something I cared about pretty deeply, but I’m not sure if that was a significant factor or not.

2) The second thing I learned, other than the interesting (to me) revelation about what I learned when, was that taking comic images and animating them is extremely difficult when one tries to maintain the “look and feel” of the original work. The problem is that since comics are sequential in a way that guides the mind to fill in gaps of movement, making the art move is somewhat jarring. Most comic art illustrates only end positions, allowing the mind to fill in the simple transitions. The problem with this is that without art of those transitions, it is hard to animate things. End positions moving around don’t tend to work very well.

The sequences I was happiest with were, by and large, scenes with little movement. The ones that made me happiest were the opening sequence, with a single animated part that is overwhelmed by the static art, and the long shot of the cemetery in which the movement was accomplished with cross-fades that made it seem much more comic book-y.

The problem is that this sort of scene is often hard to handle with comic book sources since the art is often dominated by the parts that should move. Many close-ups on faces and such. I feel like The Red Star might be a near-ideal source of material for this kind of thing because it has so many epic-scoped images.

Without further ado:

Overall it was a fun project, and I suspect I may continue working on it. I feel like I learned a lot about animating comic art, and I’d like to keep at it for a bit.



One Response to “Animating comics – The Red Star”

Leave a Reply