Here’s the story of Neko, a short little comic I created for the artist publication of Antropical art residency at Kolla festival in Steinfort, Luxembourg. This is the first draft and it was published in the publication as you see it.
Following a three-act structure it was easy to make up the story as I went along. It is obvious the final panel needs more space, just by making the panel larger there will be more of an emphasis on the ending. The story is a bit messy in the middle, as I redraw it I will take more space to make the yawn-perceived-as-fighting more obvious and carry more weight.
It’s a simple story. Does it seem easy? Too easy even? I’m curious.
It actually has two rules to it. The colours for one. Black and red. Nothing else. One colour for each character, of course. On the cover Neko has a little red in him, because he is touched by Kolla’s lovingness.
Secondly, each character has its own distinct traits, which came about by their shape. It was funny how the pens I used decided the story, it started with Neko, he was immediately rough and cranky and edgy, this was the black pen’s doing and I rolled with it. The red marker I used for Kolla immediately gave a smoothness. And so the story came to be about edgy versus smooth.
Neko starts on edge and by the end of the story he allows for something new; relaxation and smoothness. That’s necessary for a story isn’t it? Change. Neko starts one way and by the end he is a different cat. The second act shows us how this came to be. Very simple, very clear.
It’s quite an obvious story choice to put two diametrically different characters opposite each other. I had three pages in the publication, no time for nuance. I like simplicity when it’s done well. But when is it done well? I mean, I want it to be simple, but not easy, you know? A clear cut theme and sharp choices are important. Everything that doesn’t serve the story distracts from it.
As I was making this, the story became applicable to how I was experiencing the residency. I was Neko, on edge and distrustful toward hugs. An experience I have had in other situations, everyone seems best friends from day one and I feel like I am not fitting in. When I feel this way I know I’m not the only one. I observe this feeling and I take it as an ingredient for my story. I like this way of working, taking this one autobiographical element and handing it to a character, blowing it up until it is all they are. For me this gives a sense of the real to fiction.