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Trade Loeffler p4

Trade Loeffler talks about writing stories of increasing complexity, and about some of his plans.

READERSVOICE.COM: I really like your choice of colors in your comics. I know this is a big area of study, but can you give some advice on how to choose colors that go together well like these, and how to create atmosphere with them, or any other points on color?

TRADE LOEFFLER: Color really is a huge area of study. I’ve been working as a designer for ten years now and still don’t honestly feel like I have a good grasp of it (I hope my boss doesn’t read this).
Finding colors that work well together or create a certain atmosphere really seems like an instinctual thing to me. It’s a process that I always have to feel my way through and if I do manage to come up with something that works, I feel more as if I’ve gotten lucky than actually been successful with it. One aspect of working with color that I do feel confident about is using color to help define the shapes in my artwork and try to direct the reader’s eye where I want it to focus on the page.
With my webcomic, Zip and Li’l Bit, I’ll tend to use a little brighter, or more intense colors on my characters to help keep their form and keep them distinct from the backgrounds. For the TOON Book that I illustrated, Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, I had an interesting problem. One of the main characters was a space alien, so my first choice (although I’ve never seen an alien) was to color him green.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the story took place in a grassy, bushy environment which made the character blend right into the background on those panels, so I changed the color of the character to a bright, reddish brown, which looked great with the green backgrounds.

Using color in that manner is a pretty basic concept I think, but I’ll see examples all the time where there’s no sense of design to a page because the artist has used areas of color that are too fragmented, or placed colors that are too dissimilar in value or hue or intensity all over the page without any apparent thought to the overall look of the page.

RV: In future writing, do you think you’ll strive for increasing complexity and length of works, or do you like the style you have now as far as writing goes?

TL: I do hope that my stories will develop more complexity as I grow as a writer. The story I’m posting online right now, The Captain’s Quest, is much different from my first two stories in that it features a character, the Captain, whose circumstances will be changed by the events of the story.
In The Upside-Down Me, or The Sky Kayak, I don’t think you could say that any of the characters ever learned any lessons or grew over the course of the stories. So I’d use that as an example of a way I’m trying to develop my writing skills as I gain more experience.

Of course the level of complexity of the writing is wholly dependent upon the story itself. The Upside-Down Me I look at as really just a playful series of events. I think there is an element there that pulls it all together and makes the reader want to find out what happens next, although I’m not sure what that element is, but overall I think it’s just a very simple linear story.
The simplicity of the story is what I find charming about it, and I think it would be a much weaker story if were to have added elements like backstory, or character growth, or theme, to try to make it resonate more with the reader.

RV: What are some of your plans for future projects or publications?

TL: I’ve recently had my first print book come out. It’s called Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework. It was for a series of comics for early readers called TOON Books which are published by RAW Junior. The story was written by Nadja Spiegelman, and my editor on the book was Francoise Mouly. I’ll be starting work on another book with them soon, which is very exciting.

For my webcomic, Zip and Li’l Bit, I’m now posting their third adventure, The Captain’s Quest, online every week. I’m writing a fourth story for Zip and Li’l Bit and will have that one ready to go when The Captain’s Quest finishes up. It’s a story that I’m really excited about.

So those are the upcoming projects I’ve got sitting on my drawing board presently.

-copyright Simon Sandall.