These are pages 87 and 88 of my graphic novel about the Iraq War.
Page 88 was featured on this site back at the beginning of the project as page 92, which I drew right at the beginning in an effort to get the time-consuming cityscapes out of the way and ensure that they were consistent in style (even if nothing else is). Some changes to the script in the last year and a half mean that it it is now 88 of 101 instead of 92 of 106.
Hopefully the transition between the two isn’t too abrupt. I didn’t want to draw another boring sequence of these guys picking their way through an urban maze, although it would be pretty realistic to make that 90% of the book.
I’m also hoping that at least some readers catch the shadowy figures on the rooftops on page 87, which is supposed to provide some ambiguous dramatic tension in a Chekhov’s Gun sort of sense, as well as show the other side of the Iraqis we saw watching from the roofs on page 86. When you’re surrounded by tall buildings like that there’s an inescapable sense of being watched, at best, or at worst trapped in a shooting gallery, and that’s the kind of feeling I’m trying to convey.
As most readers will have no doubt guessed, the MRAP on 87 and the city map on 86 are traced, from a public domain image and Google Maps, respectively. This comic is mostly done freehand, but for a complex object portrayed up close, like the MRAP, there is absolutely no way I could do it justice. I drew the city based on an actual map in a few scenes so that knowledgeable people would be able to guess pretty closely where this takes place.
A big artistic revelation for me, personally, came after I got through reading Alison Bechdel’s book, Fun Home, which is excellent. I went to read more about the author and learned about her painstaking artistic process, which apparently consists of posing and photographing each scene, then tracing the photographs, printing, inking and scanning. The end result looks great, but I remember thinking, “wait a minute . . . you can TRACE shit and still be a serious artist?” Of course, as Mark Rothko demonstrates, the bounds for what you can do and still be considered a serious artist are only as limited as your own chutzpah.
It was liberating to realize that I could make art whichever way I liked as long as it was original and expressed what I wanted it to; which is good, because in terms of technical skill I am at best moderately good at drawing. I’ve long felt that if I am in any special it is because I happened to be in the right place at the right time to tell some of these stories, and had the desire to tell them in this medium when few if any other people are doing so.
That went about three paragraphs past where I meant to. Anyway, two more pages next weekend.