Here’s where I started:
I wanted to do the middle-panel as one of those Kirby narrative balloons where he has the character’s head floating over a kind of thought bubble. But it didn’t work here, as you can see, because I had to have Pirate Mike butt in to set up the punch line in the final panel. The perils of the three panel strip, you see. Four panels, and I could have pulled it off. I usually don’t mind one panel, or two panels, but, for some reason, unless absolutely necessary, I think four panels are me just being lazy in my editing. I don’t think I’ve done a four panel Mike strip yet, though they used to be standard for me on my previous strips.
The other problem: do I want Mike to give a final observation? I have him saying, “of course,” here, but I thought that it took away from the joke landing with a decisive beat. I think something like “of course” works, but I opted against it as one of many good options I chose not to pursue.
Another problem: yikes. I wasn’t so crazy about how tiny Artie looks there in that third panel. I fiddled with it for a bit and resized him, resized Mike, and then I decided that I just couldn’t get their relationship right size-wise when it hit me: duh. This is why God created copy and paste. So I decided to invert the first panel and use that as my layout pencils for the my third panel as well, as you can see here:
I’ve eliminated the Kirby cloud in panel two and moved Mike below Revenger Man. I had had Artie giving a longer exposition of why Revenger Man is so grim, but then I decided it would be best for Revenger Man to illustrate the point himself. I might change the uniform a bit in the future as the coloring and design reminds me a bit _too_ much of The Incredibles and, as one astute reader pointed out, Robin. I have a couple of ideas in mind that might push him more in a Batman direction, but not too much, I hope. I just got caught up in the color scheme of the strip generally and I don’t think those colors are good for Revenger Man. I’ll have to think about it.
Then I started inking which revealed a few more challenges:
Again, yuck! What is it with that third panel! Artie is still killing me. The sizing is all wrong. I tried (again) to size and resize with the editing tool in Manga Studio and I just couldn’t get it. Also, oddly enough, I found Artie’s hair from the first panel difficult to pull off again. So I decided to ink more in line with the underlying pencil layer, which brought me to this point:
Here, I start fiddling with Mike’s reaction. I felt the reaction in the immediately preceding version was not pronounced enough to highlight the fact that Artie’s statement is bizarre considering the context. So I made it a little bit more of a “huh?” reaction.
I also moved Artie’s word balloon to the middle of the panel as I felt that it received more weight that way, making any words from Mike really unnecessary. Thus, we (finally) wind up at where the strip came out:
See you Friday for the new strip!