I once had to draw a comic book panel where a Sheriff hit a Zombie with a rifle.
The specific instructions by the writer were that the Sheriff had to swing the rifle as if it were a baseball bat. And that the Zombie had to go down to the floor unconscious.
Knocking a Zombie out is a major deal so the baseball-bat-like-blow had to look very impressive.
But also this presented an opportunity to add gore to the drawing.
Zombies look disgusting, they’re losing parts, have open wounds. Adding gore to this action panel seemed like a good idea. Or was it not?
Well, this was going to be the very first gory panel in the graphic novel. Our readers were not used to this. But I did like the idea and so they could like it too.
So I went ahead with it.
But to minimize the potential “shock”, gore should be mild to moderate at the most.
The first thing to do was to decide on the most effective camera angle. The reader had to know exactly what was going on, and the drawing should not be too explicit.
I placed the camera a little above the two characters and behind the Zombie.
As per the artwork itself, it should shout “BAAAM!” without the need of sound effects and it should be gory, but not “too” gory.
When I sent the drawing to the writer and editor for their comments and approval (or rejection), they were surprised with it but liked it. On the other hand, some readers who were shown the drawing at that time didn’t like it; they thought it was too gory.
The drawing ended up being approved and it was included in the final, printed comic. It has been well received by most readers.
Conclusion: Unless you are drawing comics for a very young age or your comics must be very family oriented, adding mild to moderate gore to your drawings when the opportunity presents, it is a very valid and powerful ally to make your artwork stand out. This catches the reader’s attention, and makes the overall comic more entertaining.
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