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Some Comic Progress

Since last writing, a few things have (not) happened.

As to what did not happen, I was not able to go to the bookstore and buy the second volume of Murakami. That was the plan, but it didn't work out. It's been about three weeks since we ventured out on our bikes for that failed "shopping day". Though we have a good route to Friedrichstraße, we were not interested in a 45 minute one-way ride. So instead we opted for a much closer jaunt to Kreuzberg, but were quickly put off by the sheer number of people wandering the sunny streets.

And so I had to think, what is the new normal?

On that day you wouldn't have called the streets bustling, but in contrast to our expectations, it was definitely hoppin'. I had expected a few people here and there at measured distance from one another, but there were people chatting and joking in groups every couple of meters. You didn't zigzag down the sidewalk to keep 1.5m distance, you zigzagged just to keep from running into someone. I was annoyed. Disappointed. But then again, I saw it because I also belonged to a pair of people walking around Bergmannkiez. Just as we had waited for a government-sanctioned reopening of small stores, so had a lot of other people. True enough, some could have been more considerate of space and face masks, but I was certainly not in the position to play judge.

After a month and a half of indoctrination that staying at home is the only moral choice for those not working essential jobs requiring travel, what was returning to a shopping street going to look like? I felt bad even going, but also figured it would be better to buy a book from a local business than Amazon (which gets enough of my money anyway). My bad conscience told me that this many people with seemingly no clearly defined destination, however, was not good. People just enjoying themselves outside was not good.

How quickly can the parameters for "good" and "bad" shift? Whatever used to be normal before isn't normal now, and so many things that previously were innocuous are simply "not good" now. I was uncomfortable to be around so many people going about their business with seemingly little regard for the virus, but I was also very uncomfortable with myself for my initial knee-jerk condemnation of the people around me. And I'm wondering how this transition period will continue. What will it look like as more people want their old "normal" back while others cling to the necessity of the new distanced normal? What conflicts will arise when those demanding a return to the life prior to March 15 run up against those who have come to embrace the new restrictions (even after they are slowly lifted)?

Well, we'll see.

In other news, what did happen? I have discovered for myself a means of digital coloring that looks like watercolor! That is actually a big deal because it is something I have wanted and not been able to grasp for the longest time. I had actually given up for a while, but a recent tutorial practically jumped out in front of me. I will certainly need time to practice and start getting the results I want, but here's a taste of my first coloring sample.

This is an excerpted panel from the second page of Die Pest in Sachsen. It's close to what I'd like, but there are certainly some aspects that will need changing, such as: shading, gradients (?), palette. Since I'm already taking forever and a day drawing and inking each page, I cannot have an overly complicated coloring scheme. At the same time though, I would like to have something with a bit of panache. Something at least a half-step above flats.

I'm not sure this row of houses was the best panel to start with, considering that close-ups of people will fill most pages. Nevertheless, starting with something relatively complicated is a great experiment to test out a palette of about 5 colors. If I can manage to nail down about 5-7 colors that could be used for the whole comic, I would be golden.

Looking at this panel, I'm not too satisfied with the green and the brightness of the white. The amount of "unpainted" parchment color is also a bit boring. Yet on the whole it is, I think, a good first shot. Let's see how it develops!

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