Pipeline: Harley Quinn, Danger Girl & Godwin's Law

Tue, September 10th, 2013 at 2:58pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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THAT HARLEY QUINN THING

I had originally written an analysis of the blow-up last week over DC Comics' contest for aspiring artists to draw a funny page of a "Harley Quinn" comic. The long and short of it: DC didn't put an obviously played-for-laughs page in a proper context, and people looking for something to scream about went ahead and did so. Also, reading comprehension skills and knowledge of the comics-making process are two things in short supply these days.

The more I researched, the dumber the whole thing got. The vitriol thrown DC's way went over the top pretty quickly. One blogger quoted Jimmy Palmiotti and then said he "allegedly" said that quote. That quote came linked to a screenshot of the quote. My head spins.

In the same article, the writer referred to Palmiotti as a "contest collaborator."

That's close enough that I get to invoke Godwin's Law and walk away from the whole thing.

Given all the landmines DC continues to step on (here's a great timeline), I wonder if Dan DiDio isn't doing his impersonation of Daffy Duck here sometimes. "Dan DiDio: Fiddler Crab" could be a new hit comic, come to think of it...

In the meantime, let's all revel in the "JLA/Avengers" cosplay at DragonCon, instead.

CAMERA-OBSESSED NIT-PICKERY

By now, many of you know of my other hobby, photography. I'm a bit camera-obsessed. When I see a camera used in a comic book these days, I can be overly critical. Today is no exception.

"Danger Girl: The Chase!" #1 looks great. Harvey Talibao does a good job maintaining a style of his own while carrying through the series-defining look of J. Scott Campbell's designs. The story gets off to a good start, as we get placed in the middle of a mission by writer Andry Hartnell. There's some chatting going on, but it's all building up a bit of suspense that pays off with the beginning of a chase scene that, I might suspect, is what the miniseries is named after.

The preview pages for the first issue are up on CBR. They include a page with a big splashy image of one of the team members, Sydney Savage. She's on a recon mission with a big camera in her hands. Looking at the details included in the photographic equipment, Talibao clearly put some time and research into the page.

But I can't help myself, because I just see nits to pick. They don't much matter. Talibao draws enough on the page to get the point across and to carry the story. That's all that counts. That's all any sane person would care about.

For fun, though, let's look at what's right and wrong with the photographic situation on the page.

First, she's carrying a 200mm lens on a recon mission. The lens depicted in the first panel shows an "EF-S" label, so we know two things are at work here: First, she's a Canon user. Second, the lens is used on a crop sensor camera, which means the lens gets roughly 1.6x more reach than what the label says. So that 200m lens is effectively 320mm. In bright sunlight, taking pictures at that distance with that lens should probably be enough to get the job done without ridiculously grainy images. The page doesn't give a good sense of the distance between Sydney Savage and her target, though. Given the tight close-up images shown along the left side of the page, I'm guessing she's not terribly far. Maybe 40 feet. I just threw my 70-300mm lens on my camera and pointed it down the hall to test that. (Because, again, I'm a geek.)

I question the use of a prime lens on a recon trip, too. While prime lenses make better images than zoom images, having that leeway to zoom in and out during recon would be huge. If she's going to be that close, might as well go for a 70-200mm lens. If she thinks she'll be further out, she can go with a 200-400mm lens, though that might be a bit ungainly and awkward to carry around on the sly.

The next problem: Here's the Canon page for the only 200mm prime lens they offer. It is not EF-S. It is an EF lens, so it's full frame only. That means the distance of Sydney to her target is closer to 25 feet than 40. Too close.

That lens also has a 72mm filter size, though the first panel on the page indicates a 58mm filter size. However, Talibao did draw the proper Canon-issued lens hood of the flower hood variety.

The biggest weak spot on the page, though, is the flash on top of the camera. Using that while trying to blend in and hide from the target might be a bad idea. ("I hope this potentially deadly woman with a sword doesn't notice me taking her picture. Let me take her picture with this incredibly bright flash...") I don't think she's using it, though. The first panel indicates four shutter clicks in rapid succession. The flash wouldn't have time to refire that often. Is that just on the camera to make her blend into the crowd as a clueless tourist? Perhaps.

I'm also not sure what flash that is she's using. Doesn't look like one of the current Canon line-up. Maybe it's one of the cheaper Hong Kong knock-offs? I don't think it's the kind that would be powerful enough to add much light to a subject so far away, either. You'd need a higher-end Canon lens for that, and those are much bulkier.

Bonus points in the biggest panel for putting the "EOS" logo on her camera bag that's hanging on her shoulder. That's more Canon branding. Canon does make a backpack for its cameras, though I think it only says "Canon" on the back of it. No "EOS" branding. Still, I'll give Talibao points for creativity. Also, the EOS label is consistent with a lower-end non-full-frame camera that would use an EF-S lens.

Yes, in the end, none of this matters. If Talibao had drawn a completely generic and unlabelled camera, I'd likely never have noticed it. See what he gets for a little effort?

We can also learn a quick lesson in proper photographic technique: To help keep your camera steady to get less shakey pictures, use a high shutter speed. Keep your feet about shoulder length apart. Tuck your arms in. Use the eyepiece and press the camera against your head as an additional point of contact. And, between pictures, rest your camera comfortably in the middle of your pillowy bosom.

Credit also goes to the colorist, Romulo Fajardo, who does an awesome job with these pages, keeping them bright and readable without resorting to overdone Photoshop filters to fancy them up. This is a good looking book.

One more photographic link: There's an alternate cover for this issue that's a cosplay cover of Abby Chase. The cover editor explained the changes he made to the cover, which basically amounted to erasing flyaway hairs, tweaking the gun, and adding contrast. I agree with him, though, that it looks like the original image was edited to mirror Campbell's typical waist drawings.

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