Beanworld "? and !" Doubletake

At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to write my own post about the MDHP Beanworld, just because I find it really hard to articulate what is probably just this stupid kneejerk aversion to things that are digitally drawn, based on my lack of interest, and consequent skill in the medium. But it's not that tablet drawing or whatever doesn't have it's uses, it's just that when applied to Beanworld, or when done over original scans like these images from Larry Marder's blog, so much of the initial charm and line quality is lost.

In old issues of Beanworld, and the black and white version you can see on the link, you really get a sense of Marder's hand in the drawings. You can see where pressure was applied in the little jiggly marks around everyone, and all of their limbs seem way more stable. I don't mean to sound like this Beanworld fanatic, and I'm probably going to, but a huge part of why I Love Beanworld is how inclusive it is. Marder's mantra, "It's not a product, it's a process" can only partially give non-Beanworld readers a sense of the feeling of becoming a part of this completely different, but entirely relatable world. Over the time spent reading the series, you begin to feel more comfortable with the workings of the Beanworld community and ecology. You feel a personal connection to each character, and equally to Marder himself, who is so present in Beanworld through his art and the overall spirit in each character and the work as a whole. Obviously, I'm kind of saying Marder is this God of Beanworld, and I'm being more passionate here than I've ever been about any sort of notion of God in the real world, but whatever. Fuck the haters, I love Beanworld.

Anyway, in the version done over in color, and throughout a lot of the MDHP story, the beans' limbs and bodies seem a little more loosely drawn, or like, what happens when you try to draw with a mouse vs. your own hand. It's a little shaky, and it just looks like anyone could've done it. It totally ruins the feeling of seeing old friends that new Beanworld material should have.

Another problem I have with the new, digitally drawn Beanworld is the color. Monique touches on that some in her post, and I actually don't have the same problem as her with the gradated backgrounds, but that's the only tolerable use of color I can see. Again, we see use of digital techniques taking away from the original aesthetic appeal of the comic.

The way Marder shades with hatch marks appeals to me personally, just because it's more visually interesting, and for that reason that's how I tend to shade when drawing. You can see in the color version of Beanish above how it looks when it's just done digitally, and I can't really say anything else other than it looks shitty.

Monique also already commented on the problems of using the MDHP Beanworld as an introduction to non-Beanworld readers. Outside of not really making a lot of sense and maybe being too boring for new readers, I would worry that maybe seeing all these baby beans would give first time readers the wrong impression about what could appear to be this totally cutesy bullshit.

New readers aren't alone in having some questions, as the use of color for the first time in a black and white world opens up some new discoveries and questions from older readers as well (Granted there has been color Beanworld merchandise, but I never considered that those colors would actually be present in the world itself). Chow soldiers' lower halves are both blue and red, which match their shoes. So they've just been wearing these weird pants the whole time? And so then if Beanish changed his pants when he broke out, how come the Boom'r Band is blue? And if Beanish's "hair" is green, since they're only a couple of chips he picked up, could Beanish's Look See Shows have been in color? What would they have in Beanworld to color things with? Or make pants for that matter?

Honestly, I wouldn't mind if Marder never gave us these answers, and just went back to black and white so we can all pretend this color thing never happened.


Anonymous said...

Beanworld is my favorite comic, ever, but I'm not diggin' the color much either.

So far. Maybe, maybe, maybe it'll look better on the actual printed page.

But my life would be slightly happier if the Beanworld itself were canonically declared Black and White.

Karen Peltier said...

yours and mine, dude. I just can't help feeling like my punk rock 13 year-old self saying "Beanworld would be so much better if it never signed with a major label and sold out." Like, if it's what Marder wants, I feel like I should be more understanding, but come on.