Almost every page of pencils for every comic and GN project I have coming out over the next two years is in the can. That includes commissions. Maybe 20 or so pencils left. Three paintings.

So, between now and April, I have almost nothing to do but ink those pencils.

Inking is time consuming and labor intensive, but does not require the same level of concentration pencils do. On projects like Gone to Amerikay, I may put six hours or more into location research for a single page. Once that research is done, the rest is moving the pen about. Spotting blacks, rendering brick walls. Not exactly rocket science, but technique counts. I do a lot of delicate hatching that can add hours of labor to each page.

I watch a lot of movies while I ink. Those big areas of black, those tedious little lines on hair, that cityscape: they will be drawn while watching some great movies.

Highly recommended: the Sergei Bondarchuk 1968 version of War and Peace. This Russian film features over 120,000 soldiers in the most fantastic battles ever captured on film. There will never be another film like this, because the spectacle predates CGI. What you see on film is what played out before the cameras. There are pan shots which go on and on without a cut: I can’t think how many times they had to redo those, or how many rehearsals were required to avoid having to redo them.

In today’s dollars, the film cost $1 billion, making it the most expensive in history.

The costumes and sets are treasures for any illustrator, and as a storytelling study it should be in every cartoonist’s library.

If my raves don’t tempt you, then some fellow has helpfully compiled a number of the best battle scenes into this Youtube montage: note the scenes at the 4 and 5 minute mark. Remember that overhead pan away from the swirl of cavalrymen was shot from the galloping lines of real cavalrymen and not in the WETA workshop.

I have read criticisms that the film is too long and dull. I suppose that is to be expected from the Twitter generation. There are people in this world who still appreciate novels that haven’t been reduced to Cliffs Notes form. I feel the same way about my movies. And my comics.

War and Peace

Handsome screen shot, though I doubt most gentlemen in the Napoleanic Wars died half so handsomely.

Don’t even think of wasting your time with the 1956 King Vidor-directed, Henry Fonda/Audrey Hepburn feature. Unless you want to look at Jeremy Brett in his glory, and for this I cannot blame you.

Oh, my.

You have now seen Jeremy Brett in breeches, and I have saved you the trouble of watching the rest of the film in which he appears for no more than about 15 minutes.

Get the Bondarchuk version instead.