tommi musturi

Working with Samuel
August 22, 2009, 11:13 am
Filed under: 1

I’m glad I can say this: the book of Samuel is finally ready and being printed. It took +3 years to finish. I’ve been pushing it all into book form slowly and spent last spring and this summer to finish it all. Lots of work it was but now I can say I did my best. In the end it’s 140 pages in four colour with hardcovers.

The book will come out from the printers in September and will be released as four editions during autumn. Finnish edition will be out until The Helsinki 24. Comics Festival from my own label Huuda Huuda and Swedish edition until The Gothenburg Book Fair from Optimal Press. French and Portuguese editions will follow from La 5e Couche and Chili Com Carne. Feels kind of weird getting this book out in four countries at the same time.

While I’m waiting for the book from the printers, I could actually explain a bit about the way Samuel is done. That’s where you should look at the image above…

I started to work on Samuel like half a year before it ended up in comics. He was someone that appeared in my sketchbooks every now and then. With Samuel my aim was to create a VERY simple character and try to express emotions with it without words, without expressions. So, it’s mostly body language. Anyway, few months later I went to Benin in Africa and continued working with it. Meanwhile, the sea and creatures there fascinated me and I filled one sketchbooks with all the organic and mathematic forms. These drawings became later the surroundings for Samuel’s comics. In the end this specific “style” of doing it took few months to develop. I didn’t intend to create something like that but mainly played inside my sketchooks and noticed that “I’ve got this character that started to live and one book full of drawings that look like the world he lives in” … and that’s where I decided I’d try him on a short story. So, I did that, did another episode and after a while he became a very close friend that I can tell stories to.

But, I was supposed to write something about the way it’s drawn. So, first of all, the method is just DAMN SLOW and if I could choose now, I’d do it all differently. First I draw this thin mathematic line drawing, which is very focused work – takes patience and makes me sweat. Being so mathematic, the line doesn’t leave you room to go wrong. Every mistake here is visible. After the line drawing is done I do what I call “the shadows”. That’s actually another line drawing that’s done on another paper and presents the shadows of the image. This phase is much easier already, BUT I have to be very concentrated with this also – this layer makes a lot of the atmosphere in the image – what’s in light, what’s in shadow – how much there’s light – is the light hard or soft, dead or alive and so on. One could say this could be done much easier, with a computer and so on… and that’s maybe true. Anyway, why I’m doing it like this is the fact that I cannot see the actual image developing on the paper – I mean: I want it to be like that. The image I’m creating is inside my head, it’s not concrete but fantasy. This leads often to surpising results. In a way this reminds of methods of doing colour layers for silkscreening – you will see the result only in the end when it’s printed. THAT’s the funny part.

Anyway, after the line drawing and the shadows are done, I scan them and colour the first line drawing in Photoshop. What comes to colours, their role in Samuel is important. As I wrote before about atmosphere of specific image, colours of course play an important role in that. The working title of Samuel in English is “Walking With Samuel”, where “walk” is a metaphor for thinking. That means the surroundings present different emotions and states of mind. One aim and focus with Samuel was to present the world as rich as possible. For two reasons: it’s a positive world and a possible – a world of details and possibilities, an ideal world that IS here but we’re blind for. On the other hand I was very aware of the fact that mute comic can easily become somehow boring, something that you just browse through. I want the images to be so rich and imaginative that they drag you inside them. I’m not sure if I succeeded with that but anyway.

After colouring the image I’m putting the shadows over it all and the final image is there. That’s sometimes scary but mostly delightful.

I wrote already too much so I’ll cut it all here. The image shown here is from the upcoming book and presents the four phases of the work.

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I think you succeeded.
The black and white image is especially striking.

Comment by Miha

I think too you succeeded !
Thank you for the marvelous walk !

Comment by Sylvain K

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: