It's no secret Iowans, and many other Midwesterners, love their sweet corn. We love visiting the road-side truck with it's harvest piled in the pickup bed. We love the trust that comes with a crop guarded only by a large mason jar full of cash. We love to consume one of the state's most enduring cultural icons. But as suddenly as the sweet corn season comes upon us, it goes just as quickly. The trucks and tents pack up one by one. We see fewer and fewer plywood signs on our morning commute. As the real harvest sets in for farmers, the supply of sweet corn tapers off, but in some ways our desire for it increases.
I suspect it's more than the taste of it or it's cultural compliment to the backyard barbecue. It's a longing to extend summer. It's a desire to visit with the children we've watched man their stand since they were knee-high (that's a corn joke). It's a deep-seeded want to prolong some of the best parts of living in small town Iowa.
Don't worry, those days will return.
I had this panel in the works for several weeks. I worked on it bit by bit, knowing the end of the sweet corn season was approaching. Frankly, I probably missed it by a week or two, but the joke still has some punch. I chose an overhead perspective to add to the atmosphere of the piece. Originally, there was a truck parked behind the farmer, but I found it actually distracted a bit from the central composition, so I ditched it (well, originally, it was going to be the proverbial glass jar on the tailgate of a truck, but I couldn't think of anything clever for the jar's label to say other than a price per bag of corn).
The dust cloud actually gave me some trouble. My first instinct was to use very thin line weights, but that just wasn't reading right to me. I browsed some other cartoon panels form other artists and actually adapted a technique some of them use for bushes and other greenery. A heavier and almost more jagged line conveyed the rush of the crowd more effectively, especially when I added the highlights back in after the color.
The color itself was done a bit differently. I thought I would put this one to print sooner than I did, so it was originally going to just be a black and white. But, with an extra week, I decided to colorize it. I used an overlay layer of solid color to do the job. Basically, that means the depth of the gray tones dictated the saturation and intensity of the color. There were a few areas to rework, but overall it did the trick. I know some artists actually choose that route on the regular for their digital work.
The last aspect to consider was the speech bubble. I knew the letters had to be bold. I took some advice again from Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics, and considered the letters to be characters – equal to the figures in artistic representation. Again, it was effective and I'm glad for the umpteenth time in my life that I was introduced to McCloud's books. But, even after the letters were formed, I had some trouble forming an appropriate bubble. I knew the letters couldn't and shouldn't be contained by the bubble, but there needed to be that understood symbol for the viewer to take in and orient themselves. I made as quick of marks as I could to try and contrast the heavy lettering with a breathy bubble line, but in the end it required me to go back with the pen tool and form a graceful curved bubble. Leaving the top of the bubble open with almost nothing but negative space seemed to make for a nice contrast between the frame's heavily active bottom.
Like I said, this one was spread over bits and pieces of days for several weeks, so I don't even want to hazard a guess as to how little or how much time I put into it.
Thanks for reading.