3.3 Girl Meets Boy

TASK

Create a sequential illustration that creatively re-tells the story of girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl wins the boy back, in whatever way you want. Make the re-telling entertaining.
You’ll need to think about how you construct the different twists and turns of the story and decide on how you’re going to draw the characters and action, and how you’ll use your panels, speech bubbles and sound effects to make the story come alive.
This sequential illustration should be no more than one page but can be as short as a three-panel cartoon if you can get the narrative to work in that format.
Feel free to replace the boy with a girl or vice versa.

Assessment of progress so far

This 1 page sequential illustration started with an idea from a sketch of an old woman and man from the upstairs window of the EAT. Cafe in Cambridge. I wanted to experiment with narrative ideas and techniques of some of Chris Ware’s wordless comics in Building Stories. I put together blocks of images to tell stories about the separate lives of the boy and girl, who meet in the central column of the cafe. It started as a tragedy – the woman becomes a vagrant and dies first (see below), but in the end I decided I wanted a happy ending.

I used both Manga-style black and white versions of some of my sketches. And also crayoning on photos in my sketchbook to simplify images and eliminate distracting elements and heighten/change colours. I quite like this technique – it gives an ambiguous effect of ‘is it real’ or is it a comic’.

Overall I like the idea – and the bright colours of the happy couple at the bottom. I need to test the story out on a number of people to see if they can follow a storyline in it.

  • The bottom series on the older woman needs some sorting out and new images – I would like to bring back in the idea of a vagrant. I also need to decide whether to retain the different styles – with the EAT story in comic/manga-style, and the lives outside in more realistic/handdrawn images.
  • The bottom left image where they meet should come in the middle.
  • There could be a better colour visual dynamic.
  • Some of narrative needs to be designed specially for this piece instead of juxtaposing images I have already – taking either new photos or new sketches/digital drawings.
My initial ideas

I wanted to use some of my life sketches drawn in the EAT. cafe in Cambridge. This is one of my favourite places for sketching – it has a very large window with comfortable chairs where it is possible to sit for a whole morning sketching the street and people drinking coffee and having lunch or snacks. I like imagining stories from some of the resulting images when I get back home – who the people are. How they relate to each other. What would happen if they meet some of the other characters I have drawn.

Sketches from life coloured in Procreate

I often have coffee at weekends on the upstairs floor of EAT. in Cambridge. This is a very good place to sketch – there are some comfortable settees next to a big window where it is possible to sketch both the people in the cafe and the street. This had been my original choice for Assignment 2, before I decided on Aldeburgh instead. This was partly because my first sketches were of too variable a quality for a sketch-based project – and it was summer to enjoy the seaside.

Instead of just throwing the sketches out, I decided to work on nthe in ProCreate experimenting with colour to reflect different moods, and different ink styles – including quite a flat style like Sally Pring and Rachael Ball.

Photo sketches and collage

I also took many photos of people in the street and pasted these in my sketchbook. Some of these I collaged, experimenting with perspective or narrative. While watching TV in the evening at home I practised sketching people sitting, walking, talking and playing from these photos so that my sketches from life could improve.   In the process I discovered the technique of simplifying the photos through overlaying with gouache or coloured graphite, then heightening the bits I was interested in in crayon, and outlining with a 2B mechanical pencil. This enabled my sketching to really focus on the essence of an image. But also I like the effect itself – hybrid of reality and fiction.

Version 1: Manga simple black and white

I started to think about narrative from the beginning, experimenting with different orders and layout for the pencil sketches in Photoshop. JUst using the rather random sketches I had from life I made the first mockup:

  • started with the boy on the phone
  • the girl is studying in the cafe
  • they meet, talk and look lovingly at each other over coffee
  • But the boy is seen with some very dubious looking men (was he ordering drugs?).
  • So the girl leaves.
  • The boy is left looking wistfully out of the window. I
  • n the bottom part he has become a Born Again Christian (I was fascinated by the determination of the man in the street with his cross in the collage above).
  • The woman becomes homeless – she is based on a woman who I found sleeping on one of the comfortable sofas one morning when I got to EAT early. I did quite a few sketches of her while she slept. She had obviously fallen on hard times and had no money – she was eating sandwiches she had made elsewhere. When I asked if she was OK (there has been a big increase in homeless people in Cambridge asking for money – some at least are genuine) and would like a cup of coffee she said no. I was worried I had frightened her – she seemed to have mental health problems.
  • Then somehow they meet again (how??), and walk off into the sunset.

I then used the sketches as the basis for manga-style black and white ink images in ProCreate.

Version 2: Coloured multilayered collage comic

In parallel to this I was doing a lot of reading of comics and graphic novels for some inspiration and became particularly interested in the work of Chris Ware. And in particular the wordless comics in Building Stories, where images are juxtaposed in different ways, linked by arrows or threads of colour and sometimes open to different sequential interpretations.

This led to a second narrative, this time with a thread of black and white images for the ‘EAT. Love Story Narrative’ together with some of the coloured ProCreate sketches overlaid onto some of the ‘real life outside’ photo-based images. This evolved into more of a tragedy of wasted opportunity, with the loneliness of the man Born Again Christian and the homeless woman.

This:

  • again starts with the boy on the phone, and then sitting with a friend (here looking innocent)
  • the girl is studying in the cafe and talking with her friend.
  • they meet, talk and look lovingly at each other over a drink

There is the ubiquitous cup – what does this symbolise? In the second image of the two of them they use two straws from the same cup.

  • But the man the boy is seen talking to now looks very suspicious (was he ordering drugs?).
  • So the girl leaves.
  • The boy is left looking wistfully out of the window.

In the middle is an empty coffee cup and a very sad-looking (somewhat unintentionally phallic?) knife.

  • The woman has children and a husband. Then he leaves. The woman becomes homeless and dreams of angels while she sleeps in EAT.
  • The boy becomes a Born Again Christian, then a grandfather, then a lonely old man (what is the narrative behind this? or just trying to put together pictures?)
  • The woman dies before they meet.

I quite liked the idea of a tragedy. But the whole story really needed drawing again from scratch to make it all hang together. It was just a hotch-potch of thrown together images for inspiration.

Version 3: Happy Ending

This version:

  • again starts with the boy on the phone, but mixing with some rather shady characters – a world of dark red and black.
  • the girl is studying in the cafe and talking with her friend – a aunny world, but she also has a family already.
  • they meet, talk and look lovingly at each other over a drink

Still there is the ubiquitous cup – what does this symbolise? In the second image of the two of them they use two straws from the same cup.

  • The girl leaves.
  • The boy is left looking wistfully out of the window.

In the middle is an empty coffee cup and a very sad-looking (somewhat unintentionally phallic?) knife.

  • The boy becomes a Born Again Christian, then a grandfather, then a lonely old man (what is the narrative behind this? or just trying to put together pictures?)
  • The woman is professional but lonely and sad (where is her family?)(I want here to bring back a better narrative with homelessness before they eat. Maybe do a crayon version of the top right image. With red coat)
  • They meet (do we need to know how? put the bottom left immage to the right) and walk together into the consumer heaven that is EAT.

Things to think about from course text p87

“This story could be set at any historical point with any set of characters and be told in numerous different ways.
Girl meets boy suggests an event that sparks our story into life. Without the girl meeting the boy, nothing would happen. It also tells us something about the relationship between the two.
Girl losing the boy creates a drama at the heart of the story and most of the narrative will play out between this point and the point where the girl gets the boy back.

How did she lose him? Accidently at the fairground? Through a complicated love story? Tragically, with farce and humour or as part of a grander narrative of world events?

Equally, this incident will provide the backdrop to the narrative as well as the motivation that drives the story forward. The girl wants
the boy back again. The winning him back will drive the narrative through its particular plot of possibilities, false starts and dead ends, before finally delivering the end point where the balance is restored and the girl and boy are back together again.

If Quentin Tarantino told this story he’d probably tell you how the girl gets the boy back first and then intercut between the breaking apart and coming back together, just to make it more complex, interesting, or
stylistically different to other people’s stories.
You can also add in the ingredient of genre – the type of story and the visual language and style of storytelling that comes with it. If the girl was a cowgirl in a western, there might be a different style of storytelling than if she was an heiress in seventeenth-century France.”