Kabuki plays are almost entirely about ghosts... The drama’s form, nearly invariable, has the ghost disguises as human in the first half of the play, the latter half being devoted to its recognition and subsequent exorcism.
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Home FAQ 2.2: How does he approach the creation of his pages?

6/4/01, 5:43 a.m.

I feel kinda stupid for asking, but I'm wondering about your triangles. Do you include them in your paintings to direct the eye, as a David Mack 'signature' or just 'cause they look cool? I thought it was something to do with Kabuki, but then I saw it in a lot of your other stuff.
I do use the triangles as an element of design to direct the readers eye to focal points on the page. Besides the sequence of images there is also a hierarchy of images on each page. I generally just keep working at the design until I think the map is there that navigates your eye in the right order, direction, and keeps it on the right points for the right amount of time.

The triangles are one element of design that I pull out of the tool box when I think it is appropriate. Usually the triangles are reserved for when the rest of the page might border too much in the dimension of realism, or a more literal stream of thought.

Here's why:
I noticed that when I talk on the phone, i'f I'm not already drawing something specific, that I will begin drawing things without any conscious thought behind them. I noticed this like twenty years ago. Except that whenever I do this, I don't draw any images. Without thinking, I just draw these bizzare patterns of geometric shapes. Some kind of unconscious sacred geometry looking things that sometimes look like the shapes that make up crop circles or some outdated pictographic language. The primary shapes in these are often triangles, trapezoids, rhombuses and parellelograms.

So I decided that whenever my consciuos design sense seemed to fail at achieving the right ballance in the picture, that I would try to incorporate elemements from my unconscious design sense into the composition. The triangles are a part of this. They often bring in an extra dimesion to the design and very simply create the heirchy in the page that I am looking for.

I always try to keep a certain balance between my conscious and unconscious design sense, and between my analytical and my intuitive approach to the composition.

6/25/01, 1:47 p.m.

So how long have you been drawing?
As long as I can remember.
where you one of those people who just picked up a pencil and could draw what ever you want?
I did always draw whatever I want. It didn't always necesarily resemble anything recognizable in the material world, but making your own marks is something anyone can do.

In terms of drawing images and anatomy accurately enough to tell a story with images that have some grace and charm, that is just a lot of practice and self-discipline, and study. I've been drawing as long as I can remember, so I should have some control of it by now.

But it is something that I had to work and struggle for. It is more an effort of willpower, ambition, and problem solving than some innate talent.

There are a lot of talented people in this industry. And I have seen some that seem to have that more inate drawing ability, in that they are able to draw comic book type figures effortlessly. But that is not really my talent.

My talents probably involve more of a way of seeing. I figure that seeing or unique point of view gives me the ability to develope whatever discipline interests me as long as I put a lot of effort, thought, and will power into it.

How long did it take you to write and draw you first comic book?
I did my first complete story when I was in high school. I think it was fifty something pages, and I sort of worked on it all year. But I worked on developing that craft all the time on projects before and after.

Time really wasn't something I considered when working. One of fun things about working is that I can lose all sense of self and time. When things are going very good, there is sort of another dimension that you are operating in which time and self are not a factor.

So I always wonder what is behind that sort of question of how long it takes to do a page or a book. I'm probably naive, but I always wondered if I'm missing something in that people ask that. I guess it is a way of measuring something with time as a unit of measurement of the activity.

In my freshman year in college, I got my first paying job just penciling a comic book. It took me twelve hours a page for just about every page. And I was paid $10 a page. Now it seems rediculous that I actually did six issues of it at that price! But the point was the practice. I was developing. It was like college, but they were paying me (although barely) instead of me paying them for the lesson in work and craft and business.

10/12/01, 3:43 a.m.

Could you explain once again the little triangle things in your artwork? I know that they are there for a reason, I just couldn't remember why. Bill Sienkiewicz has a habit of using the little triangles too, so obviously, great minds think alike.
Well, the way it started is this: Whenever I talk on the phone (even as a little kid) I do a lot of mindless drawing that I pay no attention to. But I realized that I don't really draw any actual renderings. I just draw all these strange kind of designs and shapes. Like geometric patterns and mazes. But they still seemed fascinating to me.

So i wanted to integrate that kind of unconscious design into my very deliberate conscious layouts and storytelling. I wanted to blend the analytical with the intuitive. So I started integrating it in two main ways.

1. I sometimes use it as a pattern inspired by the way that Gustav Klimt used geometric design.

2. I also use it as an element of design in the actual story telling, in that it is a graphic element that leads the readers eye to the order of the page, the heirarchy of the compositions, or points to things in the page. It tells them what is most important in the page, and in what order to read it. Sort of like road signs.

4/16/04 12:29 pm
I don't have a fixed method for it. Each project and each issue usually developes its own way.

Often I work on several pages at once.

Or when doing one page at a time, it still turns out to be several at once. When doing one page at a time, I try to do the best I can for that page in one day. I do as much as I can figure out for that day.

I know the page isn't 100% done. Maybe 90%, or maybe 50%. But I did as much as I can figure out for it at that time.

Then I set it aside and the next day I just move on to the next page.

Then after having a good percentage of the work done on each and every page, I can see how all the pages fit together.

That is when I know what to do to all the pages to make them work.

This is sort of the most fun part. Because it all comes together, and then I work on all the pages at once. I can spend another two weeks on all the pages at once making them work as a whole and try to tweak to the rhythm of the story. I might change the order of the pages, because one page looks better next to another and has a better effect than my previous plan. or I may move panels around. Or re-write things. Or add panel, or add different media for contrast at this stage.

And some times I work scene by scene. One scene at a time.

Most of the time for Kabuki, I make rough layouts of each of the pages in the entire issue before I begin doing anything more detailed. I sort of draw it all out, but not in a detailed way. A very crude way just to map it out. That can take a couple days to a couple weeks. It is really when I am figuring out the storytelling style of the issue. The pace and rythm of it. Sort of like writing music.

After that, I go page by page like I said before. I put all of the pages upright on the wall surrounding me as I work. This way, I can come back to some in the morning with a fresh perspective and see what it needs that I couldn't see when I moved on from it to the next one.

And when I have all of the pages mostly done, I come back to them and fit them together. This almost always involves changing the order of the pages, and rewriting the story to accomodate that.

I don't have to do this in black and white, but from the first painted book I did, I've always had to switch the order. The colors add such a different dimension to the story. So while one order worked in the layouts without color, the color adds something else, that I have to switch the pages for maximum contrast and effect. Otherwise, some pages can cancel each other out if the color or mediums are similar and they are facing each other. And likewise, one page can look twice as good if it is next to another one that compliments its colors and media and texture with contrast.

I did the first issue of Echo this way too. But the remaining issues, I did not have time to map it out first. I just went page to page, without mapping out the entire book in layouts first.

Just the first page, the best I could think. Then the next one off of that and so on without seeing how the pages are mapped out. It was a fun change.

When doing Kabuki, I like to have 2 months for each issue to accomodate, the whole thing including lettering, letters collumns and design.

With Echo, I did the first issue in 2 months. But the rest of the issues, I had to do in closer to one month each. Thus the new method. And I didn't have to do all the production work with Echo.

· David Mack examined his storytelling approach on page 31 of Kabuki: Metamorphosis #1

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April 11: Webmaster's note

April 7: David Mack attending New York's MoCCA this weekend, MoCCA pre-party, thoughts on two films & more

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