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Monday, February 23, 2009

Minions #152 - Working Overtime

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Greetings, Part Timers!

Back to shooting some new stuff this week. Kind of pleased how this came out.

Usually I try to keep the photo editing in these cartoons to a minimum. Really, there's no reason for that but my own false pride.

I set a lot of rules for myself in doing "Minions at Work" cartoons, and I rarely break them. Single panel, sometimes with a caption over the photo, and a bit of single-character dialogue below. No attribution of the dialogue (you've got to be able to figure it out from the photo or from the speech patterns) and no word balloons.

Why the arbitrary rules? Well, for one thing, it defines the form we're doing here. My model here is the classic "Far Side" cartoons of Gary Larson. Not that I'm comparing "Minions at Work" to that brilliant, classic, and sorely missed daily cartoon panel. It's just the ideal to which I weekly aspire. Aim high and do the best you can, that's what I say.

But the photo-editing rule is something else, and I do break it in big ways on rare occasions (like one of my all-time favorite panels you can see here), or in small ways on a regular basis (adding signs, adding liquid, fire, or energy effects, and brightening or darkening selective areas of photos). But with exceptions like the exploding silo cartoon, I try to do as much as I can "live," with real sets, props, and action figures, all photographed in one shot.

Two reasons here. Well, three actually, because the first one is that I enjoy doing it this way. Making my little bench-top lair come alive it part of the enjoyment and challenge of doing this thing. Almost everything you see here is photographed on a corner of a work-bench just a little more than two feet square, and it gets even smaller by the time I incorporate the various set pieces and background panels. I hope it looks bigger, that it feels like a more extensive world, but that only you guys can say.

Next reason is that I think it makes us a lot different than most of the other photo-based web-comics out there. Some of these started out shooting "live," but most have evolved into completely, or almost completely Photoshopped art. Take for example "Alien Loves Predator." (No slight on "Alien Loves Predator," which I really enjoy and follow religiously.)

Finally, one of my visual touchstones for these strips are the classic sci-fi puppet TV shows of Century 21 Productions, like "Thunderbirds," "Stingray" and even his live-action shows like "UFO" Done in the 60s and 70s, long before fancy video effects or CGI, when even fancy camera matt-work was beyond TV budgets, these shows made ingenious use of minature sets, puppets, and models filmed suspended on wires. They remain great cheesy fun for young and old.

All this comes round to is, I did edit a bit this week, though it intentionally isn't obvious. I don't actually have three copies each of the figures for Number 9 and Number 2. (I DO actually have a back-up Number 2 finally, but he wasn't used in making this week's panel.) But even though there's some heavy photo editing here, I did it "honest." It was shot with a carefully locked-down camera, and repositionaing and redressing the characters and shooting them three times on the same set, then combining all three images into one.

This pushes my rules to the limit, but stays inside them. Which makes me happy.

Now, go scratch your heads and try to figure out why I care about these things. I just do.

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See you next week!

- Your Operated Remotely by Strings Minion Master, Steve


Anonymous said...

Cool setup, and great way of doing things. Like your comments about why you do what you do - and I would never have guessed it was set up on only 2 square feet of bench space!

Anonymous said...

Haw! Well, I sure enjoy your weekly efforts!

In fact, as I looked at today's frame I was making notes to myself about how effective your 'sets' are. I do enjoy them!


Anonymous said...

Great work Steven! A most excellent pic!