Commentary on Ondine Page 9:
You see, I first began working on Ondine in June, and in July I started penciling the pages in order to get a head start. My plan at the time was to get as far ahead in the pencils as possible, so that when the comic began, I would ink the page the night before posting it, and on the off days I would pencil a page, and the lead on the pencils would allow me some buffer room in case I missed a night of penciling. This plan sort of worked, in that when the comic began on August 1st, I had up to page 8 penciled and ready for inking.
This page, however, damn near killed me. It took me three weeks to pencil this page, and that pretty much killed my entire lead on the pencils and made the schedule much tighter than I planned. You see, I knew this page was going to have a panel layout similar to the last one, but I didn’t know exactly what I was going to put in the panels. Going in, I only knew that I had to convey the idea that the protagonist was on top of the falls, that Ondine was taking human form, and that she appeared next to him. But the execution, and how to properly balance the page, just refused to come to me.
The panels that gave me the worst trouble were the second one (the reverse L-shape), and panels 8, 9, 11, and 12 (the middle four showing Ondine’s body). In the L-shaped panel, I knew I wanted to show Ondine’s preliminary formation, when she just began to take human shape. I had to show that she was made of water, and that she was shaping herself from water into a human form. I experimented with several poses for her body to be in, before finally, after a lot of erasing and redrawing, I hit upon the fetal position. In retrospect it’s obvious (as most good ideas are), since the position itself suggest birth and embryonic development, so seeing her in the pose with her limbs still unfinished works well to show her initial efforts to form herself.
The middle four panels, on the other hand, were more or less the result of me admitting defeat. I thought that they would be four independent panels, some showing Ondine and some showing the surrounding flora or fauna or whatever, but I couldn’t think of good images that would support the rest of the page. Those four panels alone were what held me up for two of the three weeks. Eventually I just gave up and decided that I would show Ondine’s body rising out of the water, even if that was redundant to the rest of the page.
Somehow this worked, and it worked well. The row of panels showing her body connects with the column of panels showing the creek as it approaches the falls, and serves to balance the page both vertically and horizontally. And the panel of the creek dividing her body in half drives home the idea that she is rising out of the creek and connected to it. I hesitate to take credit for it as intentional design, but it certainly works well, in any case.
Continuing the color theme, we can see in this page just how strong Ondine is in this world. The panels showing nature and the falls still have green in them, where the protagonist’s memory is still dominant; whereas the panels of Ondine are all blue, with no green at all, and the blue overall dominates the page.
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