Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Isaac & Ida, episode 1: Parasites

Since I never get tired of humiliating myself, I thought today I'd give my lovely readers a glimpse of my attempts at cartooning, from way back in my second year of college. For fifteen weeks, I put together a comic for the University of Chicago campus newspaper, the Maroon, called "Isaac & Ida," under the pen name of "Brian McEnergy." (It's a long story.) Here's the very first strip, from October 1, 2004.



Liberal arts college students in general, and University of Chicago students in particular, seem to be prone to obsessing over whether our fancy sheepskins will really help us contribute anything of value to the world. In general, I'm inclined to agree with Isaac's comment in panel 5, as well as add that the knowledge we acquire—lines from The Odyssey, the various types of stars, a history of samurai in pre-shogunal Japan—is not nearly as important as the skills we develop—critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to write a paper on two hours of sleep and three bottles of Mountain Dew. I thought this question would make a good topic for my introductory comic.

Looking back on this comic, there's a few flaws that stand out to me: Isaac's hands and arms in panel 4, Isaac's mouth in panel 5, Ida's arms in panel 6—really, all of the anatomy—Isaac's total lack of hairline, the unbelievable amount of hatching in the background. But overall, I'm actually pretty proud of this comic, despite all my humble protestations to the contrary. I like the polyptych of the first four panels and how it works with the layout: Ida opens the door, comes in, drops her bag on the floor, falls on the bed, and then we see Isaac at his computer. It helps organize the narrative. As much as that hatching in the background gives me the fits, I think the shading on the clothing worked out okay. I like how Ida's eyes make her look properly wasted. And I'm particularly proud of the overall joke of the strip, and the punchline specifically—I was really channeling the webcomic Cat and Girl, which has similar non-sequitur punchlines.

Note that I give very little information about who, exactly, Isaac and Ida are and what their relationship is: they're comfortable enough to share their personal space and/or beds, but are they dating? Are they siblings? Are they just really good friends? I intentionally left it vague, mostly because I'm lazy, though I do comment on this lack of information in a later strip.

Like I said, I did fifteen of these strips, so I can milk at least fourteen more posts out of this particular topic. For now, enjoy the crappy artwork!

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